Ants

“Ants are found on all continents except Antarctica, and only a few large islands such as Greenland, Iceland, parts of Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands lack native ant species.Ants occupy a wide range of ecological niches, and are able to exploit a wide range of food resources either as direct or indirect herbivores, predators and scavengers. Most species are omnivorous generalists but a few are specialist feeders…More than 12,000 species are currently known (with upper estimates of about 22,000)…” quoted from Wikipedia.

I’m not a huge bug fan, but I do know they’re a necessary part of the ecosystem.  Most are tolerated outside and dealt with as needed.  But when they come into the house, they cross into the danger zone.  Pig loves catching bugs and is particularly good at keeping the crickets, desert cockroaches and flies from becoming a problem in the house.  He doesn’t seem to care for spiders, but my boys are really good at keeping them out of my sight…they know spiders terrify me.  We also have a gecko family living in the garage which is wonderful at keeping the bugs down out there.  Ants are the one bug that can become a big problem here though…particularly in the spring and fall…and sometimes in the summer during the monsoon season.

I’ve tried several different things to deal with ant issues.  Most of those I won’t ever use again because of their toxicity levels to pets and children…and some where quite useless.  I think it was last year, during a particularly frustrating kitchen infestation, I ran across a simple yet effective solution.  It’s easy enough to make up, set anywhere, and relatively nontoxic.  I say relatively because anything in enough quantities can be dangerous.  For ants, I mix up a small amount of 2 simple ingredients:

  • corn syrup
  • borax

Mixed to the consistency of toothpaste (there are commercial products that are basically the same, but this is cheaper).  I then put a dollop on an old canning lid and slide it under the stove, fridge, cupboards and under the sink…depending on where they’re coming in.  I’ll even set some outside around ant holes I might see in the yard.  But like any other chemical product I’m careful to make sure the kidlets and pets can’t get to it.

Here’s where knowledge and patience comes into play.  Unless you’re using a seriously strong insecticide, it’s going to take about 3 days to kill the ant colony.  Until then, scouts and workers will continue to do their work and seek out sources of food & water.  I’ve started keeping my vacuum handy…with the hose attached.  Even the kidlets enjoy ant hunting this way.  🙂  So much easier then spraying vinegar all over and trying to mop them up.  After the 3 days and the ants are gone, I then wash everything down with vinegar and peppermint essential oil…to break up the ant trails left all over.

You’ll probably have to do this a couple times a year.  A few years ago, I watched a documentary (or two) on ants and ant behavior.  There are so many species of ants that it’s no wonder there are so many remedies out there.  I found it fascinating to see how extensive ant colonies can be…they dumped a bunch of cement into one and then went back and excavated it.  That thing was HUGE!  It now makes sense to me why I have ant issues a couple times a year.  They’re everywhere…and when I get rid of one colony, eventually another colony will move in to the vacated “apartments”.

Look at the size of that thing!!

Very cool...I just don't want them in my house.

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