DEAR JOAN: For years, any time tiny ants would appear, we would put out a couple Terro liquid ant baits and in a day or so, no more ants. This year they don't work.

We see a few inside the containers, but in the morning our kitchen sink looks like a convention. I guessed they might be living down the disposal. I used a Terro spray to spray down the drain and for a few days no ants.

Last night there was a throng of ants around something on the kitchen floor, a grease spot of some sort, so I sprayed. In the morning, lots of dead ants.

We are pretty finicky about cleaning up the counters and chopping block top. We still have many Terro liquid baits on the floor.

The Argentine ant is the most prolific in California.
The Argentine ant is the most prolific in California. (Courtesy of Dan Quinn)

Do you have any advice?

Allan J. MacLaren

San Jose

DEAR ALLAN: I have a friend who theorizes that the entire state of California is resting on a huge ant colony, and at times, I think she's right.

The Terro ant baits and others are designed not to immediately kill the ants, but to have them live long enough to bring the poison back to the colony, where it can be eaten by others. If the liquid baits aren't working well for you, then try the solid ones. No reason why one should work over the other, but sometimes you've got to mix things up.


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The tiny ants are Argentine ants, and they are the most prevalent in the state. The reason they come into houses usually is for water, but they won't snub food. I would think with everyone cutting back on their landscape water, we'll be seeing a lot more ant invasions as the drought drags on.

Argentine ants have a sweet tooth and are known to have aphid farms. They protect the aphids from other creatures in order to eat the honeydew aphids produce.

It's pointless, as well as shortsighted, to try to eliminate ants in the landscape. There are too many to wipe them out, plus they eat some pests that are destructive in our gardens, and are excellent scavengers, getting rid of dead bugs and small animals.

Look for cracks in your foundation or other places where ants may be entering and using your pipes and wires as highways throughout the house. Caulk the openings and cracks, outside and in. Put the baits around the outside of the house -- using them inside can actually attract the ants. If you have pets, however, use caution or don't use them at all.

DEAR JOAN: For the past several years, an osprey periodically shows up on a bare branch high in a redwood tree at the top of our street. It will perch there for a while and then fly off, usually when it gets dark.

We live quite far from any sizable body of water -- the closest would be the Bay and San Pablo Reservoir. We don't know if it is the same osprey each time.

Is this normal osprey behavior?

Mark Wegner

Kensington

DEAR MARK: Osprey feed almost exclusively on fish, although they will occasionally take a snake, squirrel or bird.

They prefer fishing in shallow water, however, so I suspect there is a stream, pond or marsh nearby, although it wouldn't be that unusual to find them further inland.

The bird could very well be the same one you've seen over the years, and the tree may be a stop on its migration route.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/AskJoanMorris and read the Animal Life blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/pets.