Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ants Go Marching

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

Ah summer, the season of strawberries, backyard barbecues, and ants. If the ants stayed in the backyard I would not have such a problem with them , but my ants prefer the comfort of my home. In my home. And so it goes every summer, the ants come marching in.

A quick search of the internet turned up these home remedies for dealing with ants from Buzzle.com:

Borax: It is a laundry detergent which is mixed with sugar solution in water. This method is very effective. Ants carry the borax into their nests, which kills them. You can also spray the mixture.

Vinegar: Another very effective method to get rid of ants, is to spray vinegar on their entry paths. Strong scent of vinegar, repels ants. Hence, they will avoid vinegar because of its odor. The same can be accomplished with the use of apple cider, peppermint oil and black pepper.

Cucumber: Ants do not like the taste of cucumber. Hence, placing pieces of cucumber in ant-affected areas will make them abandon the place.

Mint: Used mint tea bags are very effective in driving away ants. Put mint tea bags at the points from where ants enter. Mint leaves can also be dried and crushed into a powder, which can be sprinkled at the entry points.

Soap: The ingredients of soap are harmful for ants. The soap breaks down the waxy layer of the insect's exoskeleton and dehydrates them. If you know the entry points of ants, just put some soap. One can also mix soap in water and spray the mixture on them. This home remedy is very effective.

Grits: Spread grits (coarsely ground grain like rice, corn or oats), wherever you see ants. Once the ants have ingested the grit, it expands and as a result, ants die. This method can be used to kill ants outdoors too.

Salt: Spreading salt at the corners and on ant nests is another effective way to repel ants. Mixing salt with hot water and then spraying on ants, is also a good way to get rid of them.

Grease: Grease acts as a toxic barrier. Ants may get attracted towards it at first, but are soon repelled.

Baby Powder: Sprinkle baby powder, wherever you see ants. They hate scented talcum and hence, stay away from it.

Chili Powder: Putting chili powder on the nests of ants is another very old home remedy that can help to get rid of them.

I use vinegar to erase the odor trail ants leave behind for others to find the way. Then find their entrance point and seal it. I have also found that a mixture of borax and honey works wonders. It does not take much. Just mix the two together on a small square of cardboard and set out where they will find it. Use some common sense here. I do not have small children to worry about, but I do have a dog. So the mixture is put out of reach for the dog, but where the ants will have access. Which is just about anywhere. They scale walls for heavens sake!

I recently came across a couple tips for dealing with ants outside the home. I have not tried either version so I cannot attest to their effectiveness. I prefer to deal directly with the ones who invade my personal space. You stay out of my home and I will stay out of yours.

From Great Green book of Garden Secrets by Jerry Baker:

Ant Control #1
4 to 5 tbsp. of cornmeal
3 tbsp. of bacon grease
3 tbsp. of baking powder
3 packages of yeast

Mix the cornmeal and bacon grease into a paste, then add the baking powder and yeast. Dab the gooey mix on the insides of jar lids, and set them near the anthills.

Ant Control #2
1 cup of sugar
1 tbsp. of boric acid powder
3 cups of water

Add the sugar to 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Then add the boric acid. Place the mix in small jar lids, and set the lids in the middle of ant trails or near anthills. Store any unused portion in a secure container, and keep everything out of reach of children and pets.
How do you deal with unwanted house guests?


Condo Blues said...

I have ants but I'm not sure where they are coming into the house. I'm using EcoSmart ant killer when I find them but I really wish I knew where they were coming into the house to stop them. Can't they be content with my backyard compost bin?

Nana Sadie said...

Cayenne pepper in the windowsill stopped the mini-ants in their tracks last summer...hope they don't return.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

I'll try the cayenne....our go-to is the borax and sugar solution. We have both children AND dogs, so what we usually do is wait till everyone goes to bed and put a few goo-soaked napkin or paper towel strips somewhere in the kitchen, then put a gate up across the kitchen door. (The dogs seldom leave the bed at night, and it takes a lot of borax to make a dog sick, but it's still not good for 'em. It's mostly for my peace of mind that we put up the gate, otherwise I'd be on alert all night). Then the first grownup out of bed disposes of the strips and we face the day. We only had to go through that regimen twice in the early spring and they've been fairly managable...but now I think a new surge is coming up.

mudnessa said...

Ground cinnamon works too. I have a line of cinnamon on the inside of my front door to deter them from coming in there. Sprinkled cinnamon around pet bowls works great for keeping ants from the bowls, as long as you don't have messy eaters, and it's harmless and doesn't bother the pets.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

I spray them with my household cleaners while yelling, "Die, bugs, die!!!" The yelling part is very important...My cleaners are made with either vinegar or borax - both on your list, so no wonder it works.

Pure Mothers said...

I'm surprised you didn't find orange oil in your google search. I used a store-bought non-toxic orange oil spray that is safe with kids and pets and it worked like a charm inside. It damages their exoskeleton too. Outside at the nest it wasn't as effective though. Thanks for the tips!

Toni's Treehouse said...

We use vinegar to clean our house, and I add some mint to give us a pick-me-up while cleaning. Ants have aversions to both, so it helps keep them away without any added work on our part!

ehmeelu said...

I lived in an apartment in Taiwan that was like living in an ant hill. They even ate the rubber feet off my alarm clock!! I found the only solution was to avoid feeding them - all food stored either on shelf units with legs in cups of water, or in the fridge, and garbage can kept out on the balcony. Wipe up every crumb and definitely no sugar bowl on the table! I couldn't get rid of them, but I could avoid attracting hordes of them.

Robbie @Going Green Mama said...

Cayenne has worked so well for us, that we're buying in bulk at Sams each summer.

Rpsa said...

Whenever we do work on the house, we sprinkle boric acid along the struts and the base of the walls we open up.

Two years ago we had an infestation of ants that we only noticed because we found a heap of dead ants in the basement - I assume it was the borax.

Every once in a while we get ants in the kitchen that are coming in through a gap in a window or door, and I deal with them by squishing individual ants and spraying the places they walked with vinegar.


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