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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

HOW TO GET ANTS OUT OF YOUR MAILBOX



Sometimes during a heavy rainstorm a colony of ants will seek refuge in a rural-type mailbox. Desperate people, finding thousands of ants climbing through their mail, will get out the poison and spray. Then they wind up with a sticky box full of countless ant carcasses. The best way to get rid of the ants is simply to leave the mailbox open. The ants, not liking the light and the vulnerability, will immediately begin to move out, and will soon be gone, eggs and all, leaving no trace that they were ever there.







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43 comments:

  1. So THAT'S why I see rural mailboxes with their doors open, sticking out into the roadway like a bratty child's defiant tongue! I always thought it was from people so anxious to read their mail that they forgot to shut the door... I once had to swerve sharply to avoid someone practically stopped in the middle of the road, casually thumbing through the envelopes, totally oblivious to the 55mph traffic. Whew!

    Missouriboy

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  2. Gasoline works well.

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    1. Thanks, I bet it does. But why use gas when simply opening the door gets rid of them? We need the gas for our lawn mower.

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  3. Trying the open door policy & hoping that it will work! Thanks for the tip. Mount Kisco, NY

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    1. After it works, please let us know how well.

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  4. Just opened the mailbox door. They started moving like crazy. Anticipating great results. Thanks.

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  5. I'll try that next time this time I went and raided their asses we had a super bad rain storm all day yesterday I was surprised to see a colony of ants within my mailbox so I went to war with their asses. I know I could never kill all of them but they've got to go. Thanks for the tip next time I will start with opening the mailbox door.

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  6. Took your advice. Worked for us till the mail is delivered and the carrier closed the door. By the time we are home from work they are all over the mail. Ants and eggs. Don't want to use poisons. I read that spraying lemon helps. ?

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    1. (See reply below. I clicked the wrong button. -Dale)

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  7. I have had ants return to the same mailbox on my mail route, but months later, not right away. Of course the location of their nest in the ground would matter. They flee their home to avoid the flooding after a heavy rain, and would run to the most convenient mailbox. If you open the mailbox door and leave it open soon after the mail has been delivered, the ants and all signs of them will be gone in about an hour, and will find another safe harbor in the 24 hours before the mail is delivered the next day. (If ever you do find an ant colony all over your mail and you don't want to touch it, leave the mailbox door open and shortly your mail will be spanking clean again.) If you want to try lemon juice, spray in inside of your box with it after all the ants and eggs have left, to dissuade them from returning. You don't want to kill the ants while they're in the box, which gives you an awfully yucky job of cleaning to do.

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    1. Ant spray, then blast the carcasses out with a leaf blower, then place ant bait at the base of the mailbox.

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    2. That sounds like a lot of work and mess when only leaving the door open for an hour or two does the trick. And it saves money on poison and a leaf blower, which I don't have. The bait at the foot of the mailbox post is a good idea though.

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  8. This email came today:

    "Thank you so much for posting this information! I came home to a mailbox with ants and larvae. I googled what to do, found your blog and opened the mailbox door. Today, no ants or larvae! Amazing! : )

    Thank you,
    Susan"

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  9. I have this problem a lot- of course they're i our home too, unfortunately. I went to check the mail today and there were hundreds... I took the room spray I brought for protection and sprayed it in there, then shut the door. Only to learn minutes ago that my husband had thrown an ant bait thing in there to get the colony itself.

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  10. Thank you very much! After a week of rain, thunderstorms, more rain, tornado warnings, and more rain, our box and Mail were filled with ants! I washed the mailbox, and when I went back in an hour, all the ants and their relatives were back! I opened the box and left it opened all nite, hope they have moved by morning! Thanks for the advice. 📬

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  11. will this work on the ants in my house if I leave the front door open? it worked so well on the mailbox i was just wondering if it would apply to my house as well???

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    1. Perhaps if you lived in a one-room house it would help. But it would probably just let more bugs into the house. We occasionally have ants in our house, too. Talcum powder discourages them, and we've tried ant traps, but no surefire cure yet. Sometimes we just have to wait until they leave of their own accord - a time that eventually comes.

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  12. I also have any and larva living in my mailbox. The only problem I see with leaving it open is the fact that I also have a bush right behind my mailbox. I have lots of bees and things constantly flying around. I've had problem in other places where I had a nest of wasps living I my mailbox and would rather not deal with that again. Any suggestions on how the get rid of the Bush so neither I nor my mailman get stung as well?

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    1. As a mailman, whenever I'd encounter a wasp inside a mailbox, I would shoot and kill it with a rubber band, but I may be unique concerning this. Anyway, I have no experience getting rid of bushes other than cutting them down and dragging them away. Right now there are a couple small trees growing in our front yard that we don't want; and I'm thinking of tying a tow chain to them and ripping them out of the ground with our van. Hopefully the van will win the tug-o-war.

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  13. Well I rent a house here in ozark, mo. Not sure the company I rent from would be too pleased if I removed the bush, but I'd prefer not to get stung and 8 think my mailman would appreciate it if he didn't have to battle the rather large bees just to get to the mailbox. It's been raining almost non stop for the past few days and will continue to do so for the next few. I opened my mailbox. Sp hopefully that will help. I will check later after I get some sleep. I will let you know if I still have problems with the ants.

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  14. Throw a dryer sheet in there, they disappear quickly and don't come back.

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  15. Wow, thank you. I opened the mailbox door, wiped part of the interior with a dryer sheet and they immediately started to pack up and get the heck out of Dodge! Amazing! It's cloudy and drizzling here and they seem to be moving to the darkest area. I pounded on the box in various spots and dislodged a bunch from the little crimped edge at the front of the box (the curved top, inside) so maybe that lip should be sealed with something (silicone?).

    It has been about an hour since I opened the door, and it looks like they are about half gone. There is still a big pile of larvae, looks like rice. Ugh. Will put a dryer sheet in and leave the door open and hope for the best.

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    1. Just opening the door gets them out, including the larvae and everything, but sticking a dryer sheet in the back of the box to keep them out is worth a try.

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  16. They keep coming back to set up housekeeping in the curved lip at the top of the door. Now what?

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    1. As long as the ground is saturated they'll be seeking out dry refuge, and if your box is the handiest one from their nest, they'll probably be back. If continuing to leave the box open when needed is getting old, I'd try spreading Vaseline or some such goop around the post(s) that they won't want to climb over.

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  17. This is such a great piece of advice! We had a heavy rain yesterday and there were ants (and larvae!) in the mailbox this morning. I left the door open and later when I went back, they were gone! I told my husband that I must be hallucinating-- I swear they were just there 15 minutes ago! Your explanation made me feel tons less crazy... thank you!

    Later when the mailman came to deliver the mail, he closed the door-- and the ants came right back. :( I need to leave a note for the mailman to leave the door open for a few days! What else can I do to keep them from coming back? We are in Chicago, and eventually when the snow comes, we'll have to shut the mailbox door. Will they go away once the first frost hits?

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    1. I've never had trouble with ants in the winter. They must hibernate or something, not wanting to move through the snow and ice. Since just having the mailbox door open for an hour or so will completely get rid of the ants, it doesn't matter if they come back. If their new nest keeps getting exposed to the bright light, they'll eventually move to another mailbox or wherever. Ants may never tire of working, but I doubt if they want to keep working for nothing.

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  18. I found ants today, after a long day of rain.
    Glad I just had small amount of mail. I've got it open now. Thanks for the tip.

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  19. We had a couple of days of heavy rain last week, and that's when I noticed hundreds of ants in my mailbox. Will give the open door method a try.

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  20. Ants follow other ants around through scent if you draw a line with sidewalk chalk in the seams of the box and edge of the door they get lost and pick up a different trail

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  21. I would not like leaving my mail in box with door open. Not always home right after mailman comes.

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    1. Few mailmen know the trick of getting rid of the ants, so they're not likely to leave the box door open for you. After you take your mail out of the box and shake off the ants, then leave the door open for an hour or two.

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  22. Opening the door did the job for me. Thanks.

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  23. Trying the open-door mailbox trick when I get home today!!!!!!
    Whether it works or not...
    You, Dale Lund, are too cool for school. :D

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. You’ve got some interesting points in this I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Thanks!.
    pest control san antonio
    #pestcontrolsanantonio

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    1. A commendation from Pest Control -- very cool. Thank you.

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  26. Thank you, I found ants and thier larva in my mailbox and thought it was cool, they were trying to survive the massive down pouring that came I guess. I saw them and shared with my neighbors. I checked on the ants progress for two days then shared the sight with my neighbors. Big mistake--when I went back to see the ants; someone had sprayed something and the ants were gone and only a few dead carcasses left behind. Lesson learned; I won't share my cool findings again.

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  27. Guy Tanzer here:

    The dryer sheet is a really elegant idea; my mailbox got invaded the last few days, and that's easy enough to do.


    The weird thing about mailboxes, by my understanding, is: the outside belongs to you but the inside belongs tot he Postal Service, an interesting situation. You have to be careful what you do with the inside of your mailbox. I was considering putting in a dish of ammonia, pouring bleach in with it, and slamming the door again and letting them deal with that for a while, but was kind of hesitant about deploying poison gas on USPS property. The mailman might not appreciate a faceful of chlorine gas when he opens the mailbox.

    A 100-watt light bulb would likely make it too bright and warm for them, but I'd need a long extension cord, and it would run up the electric bill, and be a tempting target for the teenage kids up the street.

    The only problem with the leaf blower was getting a faceful of angry ants and eggs. A 90-angle attachment on the end of the leaf blower nozzle would sure be handy.

    If light bothers them that much.... in Popular Mechanics years ago, in the Wordless Workshop, they had a comic where The Husband replaced the back of the street-side mailbox with a piece of glass or plexiglass. The original purpose was to be able to see if the mail had come in while still in the house and using binoculars, to avoid stomping down to the mailbox in the rain. But with the additional light shining into the mailbox, the ants might just find it uncomfortable.

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  28. For the first time in more years than I'll admit to,,,,I came home from shopping one day,,then went to get my mail and saw my mailbox full of small ants and their larvae. There was only one envelope in there, so I shook the ants off and just figured the best thing to do was to leave the mailbox open. It's Memorial day weekend, so I didn't check my mailbox until now/Monday,,,and ALL ants and larvae are gone. I didn't get the tip from this site, but found this site in case me leaving the mailbox open didn't work out. It works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With more rain coming in the following days,,,I'll just let my mail deliver know to keep it open if there is NO mail. In this part of the country,,,I have a basket in my barn for drop off's/pick up's too big for the mailbox. No problems on either end, so hopefully, the ants will get the hint. That was a gross experience! Seriously,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,just open your mailbox!!!! It really does work!

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