Batteries and Ants - WTF!!??

So, the alarm company calls and says our garage alarm is going off (once at 11 and once at 3:30), so we come home early. The panel said there was a battery trauma. So Mr. Kalhoun opens up the little sensor thingy and much to my disgust, there are a gazillion ants AND EGGS…LOTS OF EGGS…in the sensor thingy.

What would attract them to that spot? There is no food…not even cans of pop… in the garage. Why? Why would they choose to nest there? And only in THAT sensor? :eek:

Dry and warm? Makes for a nice nursery!

I’ve heard a lot of anecdotal evidence for fire ants being attracted to electric devices, and if you search Google for “fire ants” and “electricity” you’ll get a lot of hits about it. Oddly enough, if you search Amazon for “fire ants” and “electricity,” as I accidentally did, you won’t get squat.

P.S. The first Google hit speculates that electrical devices create arcs that can create ozone in the air, which might have some sort of attraction for ants. If ionizing air really creates ozone, and ozone really attracts ants, and if you have an ionizing smoke detector (like one with a radioactive source), maybe that explains what happened.

But I’m talking out of my ass here, and maybe shelbo’s common-sense explanation is right. Hold on while I write up a grant proposal.

Well, we don’t have a smoke detector in the garage. Funny thing is, they don’t seem to be hanging out with the other sensors or the big ol’ control panel (although I shudder at the thought of taking the cover off and checking it out). This is revolting to the freeking max.

I’ve had to clean my heat pump’s electrical contacts up to four times a summer due to fire ants crawling between the contacts and getting squished when they close. When enough ant paste builds up they quit contacting. It’s only happened in the summer, and it seems to me that they are attracted by the ozone made by the spark. I haven’t conducted a control experiment though.

More anecdotal evidence;

I worked for several years as an A/C tech. Many, many times I have had to clean ants out of the contactor for the A/C. The really curious part of it is that they were invariably under only one of the contacts, the one I would consider the neutral contact (yes, I know that residential 240 VAC doesn’t really have a neutral, per se). Nonetheless, it was always the contact with the white wire attached to it. I have no idea why.

Ants are revolting to the freeking max?


My mailbox gets infested every couple of years the same way. The nearest electricity is 75’ away.

I suspect some other larger bug crawls in there and dies, and the ants decide to use the carcass as a food source for the kids. So they lay a bunch of eggs there and a little while later, viola, a teeming throng of baby ants in the middle of a smogasbord. And that’s when you notice them.

I took a look at the sites that talked about electricity and ants. Isn’t that the damnedest thing? Now I’m afraid of everything with a plug. WTF. They’re so freeking creepy…walking around with their eggs and trying to save the ones that fell out during the melee. We sucked them into a vaccuum cleaner. I just know a super-colony is forming to kill me in my sleep.

Ants get between the electrical contacts of my well pump relay.

At the moment we’re in speculation territory, so:

LSLGuy, maybe there are dissimilar metals touching somewhere in your mailbox creating a minute battery effect, and that’s the attraction.

Mine too.

Everyone keeps talking about a problem with pump contacts. Presumably you have a 120vac power source nearby (or can pull one off the pump). Would it be possible to hook up a small 12vdc computer fan to a transformer and plug that into a nearby outlet (or wire it directly to the power source for the pump) and have it blowing over the contacts. Seems that might help dissipate the ozone and keep the bugs away.

I have visions of them reclining in tiny lounge chairs drinking tinier drinks with even tinier umberellas in them…

The relays are under a cover to keep them dry and stuff out.

Can the covers be sealed. Caulk maybe?

That would probably work.

Sounds like the system still has a few bugs in it… :wink:

Not bugs, undocumented features.

It just proves that old electricity rule…it’s not the volts that get you, it’s the ants.