View Full Version : Ants!! :(

09-14-2005, 09:19 PM
Okay, so I am pretty ticked right now, so I apologize in advance if I sound pretty nasty. I just had to dump my first batch of wine down the drain. I just pitched the yeast this morning, and when I went to check it this evening as I putting a batch of strawberry wine must down to cool, it had a layer of ants all over the top. Not exactly a taste I would want to try. My cranberry mead doesn't seem to be to the ants' palate though, because it has been bubbling away since Sunday, and there were only a couple of ants on the outside of the bucket, none inside.

Does anybody know of a way to keep the buggers off my wine/mead?!?!? Or do I give up this hobby altogether, seeing as I live in Houston, the fire ant capital of the world?

In general I try to adopt environmentally friendly ways of dealing with pests, but the two ways I know of that are, well . . .I didn't actually want cinnamon in these meads or wines, and as for wiping the sides with vinegar, I think you can see the problem with that one. I am currently using a plastic fermenting bucket with a towel laid across the top. Someone please help!

09-14-2005, 09:35 PM
Get a lid? Ants are sneaky buggers and a towel sure as hell wont stop em...closefitting lid and an airlock should tho

09-14-2005, 09:40 PM
Mynxy is right about airlocking -- many people do this in primary, and just mix it up good and well (and periodically) to aerate. Another solution is to set the primary buckets into a shallow container of water, like one of those Rubbermaid bins, so that there is open water on all sides. The ants won't usually cross this, and it can help to keep your primary cool.


09-14-2005, 10:16 PM
One thing about the shallow water is to put a small amount of liquid soap into it to reduce surface tension so the ants will immediately sink to the bottom. I have seen ants make it across a water barrier to get to my dog's food in the back patio, so the soap makes it even more of a lethal barrier for the ants.

Another solution is Chinese Chalk. For some reason ants don't like and won't cross this stuff. I use it in the patio to keep them out of my dogs food as well. Works like a champ.



09-14-2005, 11:22 PM
one last thought: a cinomon mead is not unheard of, and I have read many great reviews of spiced meads.

By the by: I keep critters out of my must with a lid and airlock. If there are real problems, I can rubberband a rag over the top of my bubbler to keep flys out.
Have you tried wiping down the outside of the bucket with vinegar? It shouldnt hurt your must one bit.

best of luck

09-14-2005, 11:34 PM
Anteaters!!! Buy one, Rent one, Borrow one!!! If you are lucky it will be a slow picnic week and you can get one cheap. Not only are they earth-friendly, but everyone knows they are more into beer than wine or mead, so your stuff will be safe. (at least from the ants, unfortunately they do nothing about cellar rats and Oskaar).

I know.. bad joke, but someone was gonna put in on here, so it mighta well been me.

On a serious note, sitting your batches in pans of water might work the best. And if nothing else, using David/Oskaar's suggestion of adding some dishsoap in the water, means that if on the bizarre chance the ants DO get into your batch, their feets will be clean, so you can pick them out. :D Although another suggestion is to put a little beer in the dish under your batch. The beer is a little harsher than the soapy water, but the ants drown happy, although the singing might get a little much.
anyhow.. more rambling

09-15-2005, 12:15 AM
Talcum powder ;D
Put a circle of talcum powder around the carboy.


09-15-2005, 12:17 AM
According to T.H. White, ants sing "mammy...mammy...mammy..." Too disturbing to lie in bed, listening to the poor little creatures getting drunk and going off to a watery grave with this song on their little ant-y lips. I'd go with the soap. Although the anteater solution sounds pretty good too. ;D


Also, a couple of layers of plastic film, tightly secured, should keep them out of the bucket. I'd still stand the bucket in a moat of soapy water, though.

09-15-2005, 12:53 AM
Eek! I'm in Houston, too, but no ant problem thusfar.

I used to live on a farm in WV where we had a serious ant problem. I walked into my bathroom one day and one wall was entirely covered in ants, like something out of a horror movie. I actually screamed, and I am not a squeamish girl. Our solution was turmeric. The spice, used in Indian cooking a lot. Ants HATE it. We laid down plastic and put it EVERYWHERE. So my suggestion is to put down some towels under your carboys or jugs and sprinkle them with a good amount of turmeric. But be very cautious, turmeric stains everything a very intense yellow. When we did this in our bathroom, the ants were gone within hours.

09-15-2005, 09:50 AM
Anouther enviroment friendly solution is boric acid powder. Find where they are coming into your house and spread a thin layer. They track it back to their nest and wipes it out.

Have used it over the years, it is always effective.


09-15-2005, 09:56 AM
That much Turmeric would drive me away too.


09-15-2005, 10:44 AM
Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions, guys! Since my local grocery store is all out of anteaters right now, I think I am going to try to find some kind of container that is not currently packed that is large to stand the bucket in and fill with soapy water. I didn't get lids for my primaries, so I will also be putting some plastic wrap on top (will this let enough oxygen get in for the first part of fermentation?) and I think that I am going to go ahead and rack my mead into a secondary and get it under airlock today instead of waiting until Saturday. The ants don't seem to like it was much as the peach wine (tasteless ba*****s! :) ), but I'd rather them not go after it once they figure out they can't get to the strawberry.

Thanks again for al the helpful solutions. Turmeric, eh? I'd much rather use that for cooking . . . :)

09-15-2005, 05:51 PM
Okay, so I got my strawberry wine started, the bucket is sitting in a pot full of soapy water with at least a 1/2" gap around all sides, and I have a layer of that press and seal plastic wrap on top (it's the only plastic wrap I have since the other kind turns into big wads of garbage in my hands). The recipe I'm using says to stir it every day for a week, and then transfer to secondary, so I figure there will be ample opportunity for the yeasties to get their oxygen for the beginning.

Thanks again for all the suggestions. And to think . . I thought my biggest worry was my CATS getting into the brews . . . *shakes head ruefully*

09-16-2005, 06:29 AM
Do what you do if you have a hive, just put it in a dish of water, so the ants cant get to it. Sit it in a tray with water around it. Have a moat about it. Ants won’t go over water.


09-16-2005, 09:18 AM
Hmmmm . . . maybe I should build a moat for my house, too. :)

09-16-2005, 11:35 AM
Last night, I discovered several tiny ants in my pantry closet, where I keep the brewing stuff. Argh.

09-16-2005, 11:44 AM
Is the ant problem bigger than just your mead? Maybe you need to lay out some ant traps.

09-16-2005, 11:57 AM
They were definitely sniffing after the mead. I moved it and I'm putting it in secondary a day early so it'll be under airlock. I'm going to mop out the closet with Castile soap and add tea tree oil to the water. I'm hoping that works, it's a bit more eco-friendly than ant poison.

David Baldwin
10-20-2005, 12:59 PM
OK, so I'm late in reading and responding to this but...

Always the curious type, I read that and my first thought was: "Hmmm natural yeast nutrient..." Maybe I spent a few too many weeks out in the field during my stint in the Army...

I've heard that bears like ants because they are sweet. So when life gives you lemons - make hard lemonaid. When life gives you ants...??

I've seen it quoted often enough here. "Take a chance...Custer did."

Too bad you lost an entire batch - right off the bat too.


10-20-2005, 05:23 PM
With so many thousands of species, ants are as all over the map as you can imagine. Some members of honeypot ant comunities store up sweet liquids in their bodies, and are considered yummy treats by animals and humans around the world. But many ants use formic acid and other noxious chemicals as defense mechanisms and those are far from tasty! Besides, ants travel all over in their restless search for food, and they often walk over, and taste, some pretty nasty stuff. They'd be bringing these gifts along with them if/when they come and sample your mead!


10-21-2005, 08:09 PM
Ok, David, all I can say is EWWWWW! Ant Mead? That sounds as bad as that goldfish mead. That and I am here in Houston, home of some the most horrendous fireants in the country. Formic acid? You betcha! Not something I'd want to drink. *grins*

10-30-2005, 08:55 PM
Ways to handle ants. First know your enemy. Ants are blind and use chemical breadcrumbs to help the others in the hive to find food. So when you see ants imediatley clean the outsides of any and all containers. and mop your floors with bleach water or disinfectants. If you have carpets in the area then just wipe down the fermenter and surrounding area daily. Adding the soap to the moat will denature the hormones in the moat and keep any ants from being able to find the path to yor mead.

As for ant baits. Use them if you want. But remember sometimes the ants can be helpfull too. Especially if you spill some must in and area you can't clean. The ants will get into the cracks and get out the nutrients before mold and bacteria can take over, helping to take care of your cleaning.

Great mead.

10-30-2005, 09:08 PM
When I have an ant problem I tend to sit there and shoot them with a bb gun. Teach all the others a lesson! Just kidding, but it sounds like fun.

12-12-2005, 04:28 AM
The tray of water to stop ants is the easiest solution. Any sort of tray with a one to two inch lip would probably do the job.You should also try to find out where they are coming from. That way you can hopefully find the nest (more likely not as they can be very hard to find) and take out the lot. Keeping a good seal on you brews is the best solution. Stop them even getting interested. I haven't found any ants that can swim through an airlock. Another option is to get some exterminators in. You would want to make sure you have really good seals on everything if you decide to take that route.

12-27-2005, 07:26 AM
I would have left them in and let them ferment. The proteins might have added some body and the formic acid would save you money on acid blend later.

Ant scrumpy!