Getting ready for summer

Carpenter ants, decks and gardens

It’s not hard to tell what everyone is doing with their weekends.

As spring fishtails into summer, Mike Frentz says he can tell just by looking at his shelves what the weather is doing and what customers are concerned about. He even tossed off a prediction that in just a few days, 15 amp fuses are going to be selling like gangbusters.

But that’s getting ahead of things.

Right now, Mike says the big deals are carpenter ants; getting decks ready for long summer afternoons; gardening like crazy; and preparing to spend evenings in those well-tended gardens, but without the bugs.

Going buggy
For example, ant poison, such as Ortho® Home Defense® Max®, is a huge seller right now, Mike says. "It like putting a bug barrier around the perimeter of your house". This is the perfect season for carpenter ants (warm days, cooler nights), and they’re making the most of it. If you’re in one of Royal Oak’s older homes you might be seeing more of them than, for example, the folks living in the new condos near on south Main Street near Holiday Market.

Carpenter ants tunnel to nest in rotted wood that has a large water source nearby. Mike says that means you’re more likely to find carpenter ants in Royal Oak’s more established, older neighborhoods. The wood ceiling on a front porch is a perfect spot for a nest.

Contrary to popular belief though, carpenter ants do not eat wood to survive. They use wood to make a nest – Mike says he hasn’t seen many cases of termites around Royal Oak. (He also says it’s important to remember that if you find carpenter ants, then the wood was rotted in the first place and needed to be replaced anyway – they don’t like fresh lumber.)

But he knows how to get rid of carpenter ants and their friends. Ortho® Home Defense® Max® comes packaged in a container so you can just shake it out – that way you don’t have to touch it. You can keep ants away by shaking out a perimeter of Ortho® Home Defense® Max® around your entire exterior of your house – spread a foot wide path around the foundation.

If you’ve got carpenter ants inside, Mike suggests Raid Ant Baits, in particular, for one reason – the holes are large enough for carpenter ants. Other traps won’t be as effective because the traps’ holes are too small and the ants won’t be able to get inside. He also says a poison called Shoo-Fly®, Ant, Roach & Spider killer, a spray, is "excellent stuff -- a lot of customers have had great results with it."

Mike is not a veterinarian. While he thinks your dog or cat would have to do more than just sniff or lick a little of this stuff to get sick, he still suggests keeping them away from the area until the powder or spray has been absorbed into the ground.

Clearly, gardening is a big deal in Royal Oak. "Potting soil, Miracle Grow, hand garden trowels, Round-Up Weed and Grass Killer, hydrated lime (which reduces the acid in soil), and pine bark or cyprus chips are flying out the doors," Mike says. A lot of it is leaving in 4 or 6 cubic foot wheel barrows, which he’s having a hard time keeping in stock.

A lot of people clearly want to enjoy their gardens, and it shows in the choices they’re making for outdoor mosquito repellents. PIC Mosquito Repellent Sticks are very popular – only three boxes were left on the shelves Wednesday afternoon, before restocking. Another repellent moving very fast is Eaton’s Coils, little green spirals that burn on a small stand and contain the same stuff as PIC sticks.

One item people didn’t seem to know about is Bonide Mosquito Beater. If you’re having a yard party and want your guests to be comfortable, this is the way to go. One package is designed to keep a 100-foot-square back yard free of mosquitoes – just make sure you follow the instructions for application, or ask one of The Hardware Guys.

Decked out
Decks? Hey. There was only one packet of Wolman’s DeckBrite™ on the spindle Wednesday afternoon, but there’s more in back. This stuff is Mike Approved. He has a cedar deck on his house, which is pretty maintenance free because it’s cedar, but it was really difficult to clean when he decided to do it. "This stuff (Wolman’s DeckBrite™) did it, though. Usually, you just spray it on and rinse it off and that’s it." He had a little additional scrubbing to do on his deck, but said it turned out "perfect."

Those amps we mentioned earlier? Right around this time of the year, when the temperature goes from spring to scorching, a lot of people crank up their air conditioners while something heavy duty is also just cranking up, such as the refrigerator. When you stop by Frentz in the next few days for fuses, let them know whether you live in an older home. Often, a 15 amp fuse is more than enough for older homes, although if you have a lot of appliances drawing a lot of energy simultaneously, and if your wiring is adequate, a 20 amp might be in order. Ask Mike or one of the others – that’s what they’re there for.