{Green Living} Waging War on Ants

As much as I hate freezing temperatures and blustery weather, the one good thing that usually comes out of a cold winter is fewer bugs. However, this year we’ve barely gotten a token blast below the freeze mark and I’m pretty sure I can hear the ants chuckling about their impending world domination. The giant red piles never abated from last summer and somehow in the middle of February, I’m finding them in the cat food bowl. Grrr. This means war!

There are many ways to wage this war without resorting to chemicals. These are my favorites.
1. Death From Above: Instant Grits. Sprinkle them around the mound (but not directly on it!) and the ants will eat the grits, be unable to digest them, and basically explode. Sorry ants, but this is MY house.

2. The Barrier Method: any strongly smelling granulated substance, like cinnamon or fine coffee grounds will perform as a barrier and can be used around the corners of cabinets, your home’s foundation, or in the crawlspace. If you can see where they’re coming in, caulk it, or try temporarily spreading something like vaseline to interrupt their track. A vinegar and water solution will erase the scent they follow when making trails.

3. Build a Moat! In our house, pet food is a favorite attraction. During ant season, try putting your pet’s food bowls inside a larger, shallow bowl of water with a little dish soap in it.

4. The Trojan Horse: Sugar Baits!
Ingredients: Borax, granulated sugar, water, some small containers with a removable lid (baby food jars are ideal for this), a hammer and nail, and a spoon for measuring.
How to: Fill each jar about 1/3 of the way full with the borax. Then add the granulated sugar to fill it up to just over half. You might need to adjust this mix depending on how much of a sweet tooth your ants have. Tiny ants like sweets more than the bigger carpenter ants. You want enough sugar to mask the taste of the borax, but not so much that there isn’t enough borax to do the job. Add enough water to make something that looks like toothpaste.

Use the hammer and nail to poke holes in the jar lids big enough for the ants to easily get in and out of. Place these baits outside near where you see ant mounds, but again not directly in the mound. The ants will sniff out the sugar and carry the tasty, but poisonous mixture back to the nest and feed it to the Queen. Once the Queen dies, so does the colony.
You can also put these inside your kitchen cupboards. Just make sure your pets or kids don’t think they are toys. Borax is fairly safe, but it wasn’t meant to be ingested.

until next time! <3

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  1. This is war – as you say and I can never agree with any war small or big.
    The buddhists say “do no harm” it is do no harm do other beings and to the planet.
    This tip is not for me as I would not be able to sleep to know the queen is dying and the whole nest after that.
    Tt might be a good reminder for people to look behind our acts – it is so easy to get rid of little creatures…. think big please.

  2. Christina Barber says:

    Quite frankly this is horrible!!!! Ants exploding?????!

    You can discourage them from coming into your house with a simple solution of lemon juice and water (strengthen according to the ant) in their path— AND keeping tidy.

    Ants are here for a reason. They eat pests harmful to crops and orchards. They destroy garden pests, killing small larvae and culling aphids before they can destroy the plant they are on. Ants kill 40 percent of newly hatched plant-feeding bugs and 30 percent of flies, making them more effective than some pesticides. One species of ants destroys up to 12,000 larvae a day!

    Ants also pollinate while feeding on nectar, and their tunnels allow air to circulate in the ground, which is beneficial to the soil and plant roots. They are useful in creating a stable ecosystem.

    Encouraging frogs, arachnids, or 8-legged predators, feathered predators, serpents and other reptiles would be more humane than “exploding ants”. And any ant that falls into your pond is fair game too.

    Keeping it green is what I thought this blog was about. “Keeping It Green” should also entail being humane.

  3. Great tips. We’ve used many natural ways to rid our garden of ants. Next time we have a problem I will have to try the trojan horse. Thanks!

  4. Sugar baits look TOTALLY disgusting at the end but work great for me. At some point the ratio of dead ants to borax/sugar tips in favor of more ants than bait. Like I said, totally disgusting. But, it does make me feel victorious.

    Instant grits is genius. I’ll have to try that next time I’m attacked. Usually if I can identify a source that’s outside I attack with a kettle full boiling water.

    Thanks for these great tips!

  5. Thanks for the tips! We have had terrible ant problems every summer, living in a ground floor flat. They come in through the bath tub drain, among other places! Will try the borax mix and also the cinnamon around the cat dishes. Right on – MY house! Ants are not welcome guests.

  6. That’s right, this is MY house! Great advice. We get hordes of black carpenter ants and my husband can trace their trails to a nest, usually in a tree stump or mound of earth away from the house. He then uses your sugar/borax trick to wage war. On occasion we have had to resort to a pyrethrin spray. It is made from marigolds and is deadly to ants, but harmless to humans and animals.

    • Christina Barber says:

      How about putting a bird feeder next to the ants nest? The birds would certainly have a feast— and it’d be much more eco-friendly than the borax treatment.