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