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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have one bale of alfalfa hay sitting in an old stall. The stall is dirt, then bedding, then old hay, then my bale. We found a bunch of ants in there today. I rolled the hay over away from where it had been, but I'm not sure what else to do. I also wanted to store maybe 20 bales of hay in there, but maybe I shouldn't now that there are ants? If I put in pallets would that get rid of them?
 

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Sounds like fire ants....
Drawn to where the bale sat and brought moisture and a habitat the varmints love to reside in...
If it was me, I would throw the bale out, burn it...
I don't know what you could use that not contaminate the hay..kill the infestation inside the bale now.
If you've never been bit by fire ants they HURT with capital letters on the hands and feet can't imagine what would occur in the mouth.
I know many bites can kill, take down a full grown cow and kill it.
Fire ant nests are deep and each nest can harbor hundreds of thousands of ants...this is not a joking matter.
As for can you use the area again for storage of hay....with caution.
Strip that stall of everything to the bare floor...
Treat the floor with ant killer bait, vapor barrier, pallets on top of a seamless barrier carefully placed...
Keep a close watch on your bales and make sure you rotate them so not just stationed in one place forever..will also keep your hay fresher if you use then replace once used not just load more on top of older stored.

The bale though infested....
Poof....cut it open, spread it some, add lighter fluid and burn it.
The vet bill is not worth losing a $20 bale of hay!!
If the bale is infested....junk it, please please just junk it.

FYI...Vick's Vapor-Rub is one of the best pain/itch relief products I've found for the fire ant bites...that and yes, taking the pustule head and pus field of poison out of your body and from under the skin...those bites take a long time to heal and hurt!
:runninghorse2:...
jmo..
 

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Is the source of the ants actually the bale? If you look carefully, can you see any ant trails coming from outside?


Bayer makes a really good fire ant killer. It's a powder in a blue shaker bottle and it says its for fire ants. I found mine at Home Depot. I don't know if what I have are fire ants, but we had problems with some ant hives in our yard, both big and small ants, and this stuff really kills them! I've used other products that are a dust that you dust the hive with and ants come back after a few months. Not this stuff! It actually takes out the whole colony.


The only problem is if they are truly in your hay storage area, I wouldn't want to powder that area and risk contaminating the hay........even in the future. I don't know how long it lasts but you don't want it to contaminate your hay (obviously!).



I had a trail of ants last year going into my hay shed but I tracked them back outside the shed next to a tree and put that Bayer fire ant killer on them and they didn't bother me this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Do you guys think they are EATING the hay, or they just want to live there? If they are just nesting, I thought maybe I could save this bale by getting a hay bag and putting the hay in there, then shaking it out really well. Or I could just dump it loose into their pasture? If the ants aren't eating it, and I spread it out, wouldn't they leave?

I guess I will clean out the stall and see what I can see. It's going to have to wait until it cools off a bit. I guess I won't be storing any hay for now.
 

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sorry to disappoint

Is the source of the ants actually the bale? If you look carefully, can you see any ant trails coming from outside?


Bayer makes a really good fire ant killer. It's a powder in a blue shaker bottle and it says its for fire ants. I found mine at Home Depot. I don't know if what I have are fire ants, but we had problems with some ant hives in our yard, both big and small ants, and this stuff really kills them! I've used other products that are a dust that you dust the hive with and ants come back after a few months. Not this stuff! It actually takes out the whole colony.


The only problem is if they are truly in your hay storage area, I wouldn't want to powder that area and risk contaminating the hay........even in the future. I don't know how long it lasts but you don't want it to contaminate your hay (obviously!).



I had a trail of ants last year going into my hay shed but I tracked them back outside the shed next to a tree and put that Bayer fire ant killer on them and they didn't bother me this year.
To be honest, I have no idea what I would recommend for this. I have never had this problem but I would like to see people's advice for stuff like this. As you said you don't want to powder it in case of it affecting the hay. :runninghorse2:
 

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Do you guys think they are EATING the hay, or they just want to live there?

If the ants aren't eating it, and I spread it out, wouldn't they leave?

They are nesting in it, not eating it...

Sure you can spread it out, but if they don't leave...your horses would not be happy eating infested hay.
I see a mess at the least and if they are fire ants and the horses eat some of them... :eek:
I see a vet bill and very uncomfortable animals from the bites to the oral cavity, the legs from standing where the hay is and ants attacking them...
Yea, no.. :|

I can only tell you how much it hurts me to get one or two bites on my hand/leg...forget the tender mouth & lip area...good grief no way!!
I just would not take the chance with my horse knowing you found a nest of ants under the bale...
For you to open the bale and spread it, you have to handle it and are open to the bites of the ants.
If they're not still their, great...
You have a bale to feed...
If they are their, you are now bit up and will find what pain ants can inflict... :|
When the "home" is threatened, all insects will react and fight, attack to protect...let it not be you they attack.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Are you still located in Texas? If so, fire ants.



If they're fire ants, you need to get your hay up off the ground. I've seen them take over tack rooms in barns with dirt floors, build dens up against entire bales of hay. They'll get in your feed - and they DO take that back into the den. They also will take hay bits and other plant matter underground for their nest as well.



Winter is coming.


They know it. You need to get the hay out of there, off the ground, and get Amdro spread per directions, and you DO NOT want them moving into stall areas. They'll eat up a confined horse. I'm not a fan of using poison around horses, but if we're talking fire ants, take the gloves off and go to WAR with everything you can get your hands on - fire ants demand a swift and shockingly brutal response.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, this is still in Texas.

How do you guys know they are fire ants and not some other kind of ants, like crazy ants? I guess it probably ultimately doesn't matter, because whatever kind of ant they are, they bite (ask me how I know).

If I don't leave feed or hay in the other stalls, the ants won't go in there, right? I really only use their stalls to feed and tack up and in the case of incredibly terrible weather, they are otherwise outside 24/7. But the thought of one of them stuck in a stall with fire ants is making me want to cry.

Barn owner is also storing her hay in that barn, about 20 feet away from my hay, so I guess I'd better let her know about this so she can take any appropriate measures. I am going to take this hay out of the stall for now. I'll plan on cleaning out next week after the cold front comes through (please, cold front, please come through this time). I will try to figure out where the ants are coming from. Since there won't be any horses in that particular stall ever (it's our storage stall) I may spray the ant stuff in there. I can't change the flooring, but I could lay down a tarp between the dirt floor and anything else I put on there -- would that help? I also have a waterproof hay storage bag that I can go back to using. The thing about the bag is that it has some deliberate holes in the corners that seem to defeat the purpose, but maybe it's better than nothing.

The good thing about all of this is that it's yet another lesson I can learn while I still have my horses boarded. If they had been on my land and I had bought hay for the whole winter and ants had gotten into that, it would have been a disaster. Now it's just a pain.
 

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Yeah, this is still in Texas.

How do you guys know they are fire ants and not some other kind of ants, like crazy ants? I guess it probably ultimately doesn't matter, because whatever kind of ant they are, they bite (ask me how I know).

If I don't leave feed or hay in the other stalls, the ants won't go in there, right? I really only use their stalls to feed and tack up and in the case of incredibly terrible weather, they are otherwise outside 24/7. But the thought of one of them stuck in a stall with fire ants is making me want to cry.

Barn owner is also storing her hay in that barn, about 20 feet away from my hay, so I guess I'd better let her know about this so she can take any appropriate measures. I am going to take this hay out of the stall for now. I'll plan on cleaning out next week after the cold front comes through (please, cold front, please come through this time). I will try to figure out where the ants are coming from. Since there won't be any horses in that particular stall ever (it's our storage stall) I may spray the ant stuff in there. I can't change the flooring, but I could lay down a tarp between the dirt floor and anything else I put on there -- would that help? I also have a waterproof hay storage bag that I can go back to using. The thing about the bag is that it has some deliberate holes in the corners that seem to defeat the purpose, but maybe it's better than nothing.

The good thing about all of this is that it's yet another lesson I can learn while I still have my horses boarded. If they had been on my land and I had bought hay for the whole winter and ants had gotten into that, it would have been a disaster. Now it's just a pain.



Does it matter?

Crazy Ants are worse than fire ants - far more aggressive to nest disturbances, just as painful if not more.

Either way - don't play around with them. Don't try corn meal, or any of those b.s. folk remedies. They. do. not. work.

If they've really infested the bale, you may have to just burn the whole thing. They don't leave an area willingly and you'll have to watch - they often just pick up and MOVE rather than die out. Fire Ants have multiple queens, multiple escape routes to ensure survival of the mound. Follow the directions for any poison you use to the letter or they won't be as effective.

My own hay bales, when I store square bales, are on a tall stack of wooden pallets - you want it about 1-2 feet off the ground so they won't be drawn to it for nesting. I use cinder blocks for legs - and then I have to poison around the blocks or the den THOSE up. I mean, you can leave a car tire or a rubber feed pan on the ground, and they'll be drawn to it for a den. If you've seen a wet summer there in your part of Texas like we have in SE Oklahoma and N. Texas, they'll be pushed to the surface of the ground because A. It's WET down deep, B. It's not as hot as it usually is.

And they do love to get in barns because that shelters them from both water/rain, extreme heat/dry conditions, and extreme cold..

About the tarp... you bet it would help - THEM. They'd love it.

Leave NOTHING on the ground they can use for protection from the elements. Nothing. Not even a feed scoop.


Here's the Texas A&M publication on the topic. I declared a jihad against the ones on our hill three years ago - I have yet to win the war.


EDITS: For clarity
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Poop. Poop poop poop.

Thanks everyone. This is not what I wanted to hear, but I guess it's what I needed to hear.

I really don't want to go back to storing hay bales in my car! It was such a mess. But I may have to.
 

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Get a hay bag?


We have them den up against our round bales, but they're stored a long way away from where they'll end up, ultimately. Once they're picked up by the tractor and delivered 200 yards away, they've mostly disbursed from the hay, the den in the ground where the hay was then picks up and moves.

But I've had them move in under the lean-to to my tack room side of the shop and take over my wooden ammo crate with halters in it... Had to grab it and just sling it into the yard, poisoned under it, used cinder blocks to get the crate off the ground... and then waited on them to leave my crate in the yard before moving it back. The trick is to keep absolutely everything up off the ground and be ready to poison around the 'legs' of things, like whatever is holding up your stuff.



They're drawn to anything sweet - horse snacks, sweet feed, even a pop can left out. Keep any horse treats or sweet feed in a plastic tote with a real solid seal (Cheap rubbermaid totes won't get it done, they'll get in anyway). So far, they've not been able to break into the round, white plastic sealing feed cans from TSC. (We have the larger version than in the link)


They bite AND sting, and both the bite and the sting have a toxin in them.

I can't stress enough how much a hate them. Scorpions freak me out... fire ants and crazy ants PAZZ ME OFF. I will throw down with them in a seconds notice - they've killed tress in my yard, rose bushes, infested flower beds and killed my flowers.... they're currently denned against my POOL and probably chewing on the darn liner... I've poisoned that group several times with Amdro and mound killer... I've spent a fortune on them in the past three years and still... here we are.

ONE GOOD THING. Once the weather cools off, they move slower. That's when you can do really horrible things to them and they can't fight back... as much.
 
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This is an FYI



I couldn't get this to reproduce so here is the link to the APHIS quarantine map. These are counties that infestations have been documented in. There are populations that have have been found in areas along the edge that are not in the quarantine zone.


https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/fireants/downloads/fireant.pdf#page=1&zoom=auto,-251,610


I am with HLG on this one. Burn the bale. You aren't doing any favors to yourself or your horses by letting them loose on your property.



Now is the time to put out baits as they feed during the cooler parts of the day (night) and this will have the best impact on future infestation levels. When temps drop too much they head further underground.



They use hay as a nest site when driven up from rains or if the bales are fresh and moisture levels in the bale are better than the soil levels (too wet/too dry). It then makes a convenient food source as well. They are omnivores and will search out meat sources to round out their diet. - typically insects like ticks, scorpions, spiders - especially egg sacks, grubs. Worker ants that do the collecting don't eat the solids they collect as they and the queen are liquid diet only. The larvae are the only capable of ingesting solids and the liquid excrement is collected and fed to the queen and workers. The only place I have seen them kill trees are the young stock in the citrus fields in Florida. They girdle the trunks and ingest the sap (high sugar content). When they nest at the base of established trees they are actually doing you a favor as they are ridding the tree of pests that would cause damage. They also are hecklacious aerators and allow for high levels of oxygen to penetrate the soils. Interesting to note that they are also the farmers/ranchers of the insect world as they will actively herd aphids and protect those populations to collect the "honeydew" they produce as a food source. They'll enter corn stalks and destroy corn plants for the same reason as well as easy access to the "fruit". They are seed eaters and collectors as there are varieties they "plant" outside their nest to discourage other plants and animals. Fruit is another target for the sugar content so developing fruit structures can take a big hit. For some reason they have a preference for okra here.



They only time they mound are in wet conditions and enough wet they will head for moist, dark, dry. Typically the nests are areas about 1 1/2 foot in diameter where soils are disturbed from their digging and numerous cracks and crevices are located and used to enter and exit. They are not a one and done entrance/exit ant as most that mound or nest in the ground do. Dry, drought conditions and they head further down in the soil strata looking for moisture. Too wet for mounds and they head indoors. They also have a fondness for electricity, establishing in electrical boxes and the likes.




 

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@QtrBel


Well put. These are nothing to play with. These aren't beneficial ants at all and are quite problematic. Once they find a happy place to live, they'll take over and then they're a tremendous nightmare.

They'll even attack air conditioning units, especially the central air types, because they set off a vibration in the ground. EVERY SUMMER someone I know has had them move into the ac unit, and pile off into the wiring, attacking it, get fried, and keep piling in, until it shuts the unit down.
 

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Actually they are beneficial - they just aren't worth the benefit. Mean, nasty critters. Love monocropping. They worship at the foot of the Ag Giants for providing them such perfect habitat. I have found for those with improved pastures of one species that adding in other species by over seeding or drilling. Even lightly ripping and spreading - anything to increase your diversity chases them out of pastures.



@ACinTX they aren't going to go up past a certain height for hay. Sealing the floor off and raising the bales on double pallets should do the trick. I would not poison the soil below as you risk future contamination of food stuffs. If you have the time and money then I would dig out the floor and lay a clay base (80/20 road base works well) covered with crushed run as thick as you can afford to dig out, cover that with a vapor barrier and put your pallets on top. Other option is cement but I'd still put pallets down to store on as you do want that air flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update: just talked to barn owner and she doesn't want me using poison. I get it, it's her barn. I really hope those ants don't get into her hay, though, because it's fed to my horses as well.

Any other suggestions? Am I just going to have to store it in my car again?
 

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I was adding to the above and we cross posted. Didn't realize it wasn't your barn.

Tx A&M extension and the Tx Farm Bureau both put out some good info all the different ways that you can get rid of them in areas. They also are good about letting you know the best time of year for each method.
 

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@ACinATX there are ant identification sites. Easiest way is nest/mound identification and location. Food source can narrow it down as well as behavior. Color and size can help some as fire ants are red&black and workers are several sizes where other ants are more uniform in color, markings and size..
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK. So. I went out today and took the hay out and opened it up. It was almost a full bale and there were maybe a couple dozen ants in there. I don't think they had successfully made a nest. I took all of that hay somewhere else. I cleaned out the old hay and bedding where the bale had been. I didn't find any nests, mounds, or holes, but I did, in the corner, find a lot of ants wandering around. I got down to the bare dirt and then spread out some diatomaceous earth that I had left (not much). I'm going to buy more and really cover that area. They don't seem to be anywhere else.

For those who aren't familiar, diatomaceous earth is a repellent that works because it has tiny sharp edges that cut the exoskeletans of insects. If I lay down a good layer of it, they shouldn't be able to move around over there. So, if I keep the bedding and hay out and keep it stripped down to the dirt, and put this diatomaceous earth down liberally, then put in a few pallets, do you guys think I could then store hay in there?

Diatomaceous earth, at least the stuff I get, is food safe, and in fact I've given it to my chickens and tried it myself, so no worries about toxicity.
 
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It should kill those that come in contact but will not stop them from coming from their source searching for whatever it is they are searching for.
 
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