Ants are very hard working. As E.O. Wilson the founder of Sociobiology discovered, they are amazing to observe, but they can sure be bothersome if they are unwelcome guests in the home. This article will detail the process of getting them out and away from your home.
People confuse ants with termites. Ants have thin waists and bent antennae and termites have thick waists and straight antennae. This article does not cover termites, nor does it cover the larger carpenter ants.
Ant Proofing Your Home
The first step in battling ants in your home is to eliminate the things in the environment that are attracting them. This is usually their food. A side benefit is that ant-proofing your home will also help with preventing cockroaches. Since, different species of ants eat different things, and since there are over 15,000 species on this planet it is hard to list their food attractions. You can observe them to see what they are eating and carrying off. Also where are they getting in at? Where is their nest? And are they a species that bite? Harvester ants and those nasty fire ants you might have learned about on TV can bite and cause allergic reactions, but they rarely enter homes.
You will likely have to clean up live ants during the ant-proofing. If you need to kill a quantity of ants, use either a sponge soaked with soapy water or a spray bottle filled with soapy water. When you do locate a trail of ants, try to discover where they are going and coming from. Seal up any openings with silicone caulking.
Eliminate Food Sources
Ants are normally found in places with a high food concentration such as kitchens. Here are a few tips about how to kitchen. Store your food in Rubbermaid type plastic containers, jars with lids that have sealing gaskets, or jars with tight-fitting hinged lids. Refrain from storing anything in the open, in bags, or in jars without sealing gaskets. Make sure you clean out your toaster or toaster oven after every use. Clean with soap all surfaces in your kitchen at least once a week to remove crumbs and food residues. Sweep or vacuum the kitchen floor weekly. When throwing away food wrappers or containers rinse them out to remove any organic material first. Save all of your organic waste in a sealed container and dispose of it separately. Either compost it in your garden or throw it in the trash bag as you take the garbage out. Other suggestions include: use trash liners (bags) and ensure your trash can has a tight-fitting lid. Finally, Rinse out the trash can if it ever gets grime or garbage on it.
Now that all of your cabinets are packed away and the food is in protective containers, take a good look around for anything else that may be attracting the ants. Potted plants, unprotected pet foods, open bowls of fruit or nuts are all possible targets. We can keep these things safe by erecting barriers that the ants cannot or will not cross. Try sticky ant barriers on table legs and around plant platters and pots. The ants don’t like these and won’t then try to go up the table legs looking for food. Detergent ant barriers made of water and detergent can be helpful. Detergent barriers are made by placing something (a potted plant or your pet’s food dish for example) in a larger dish or platter partly filled with a water and detergent mix. Other ant barriers include baby powder, Petroleum jelly, Eucalyptus oil (a little on a cloth), Cinnamon, and tea tree oil.
If you’ve battled the ants back this far, consider stopping if the number of remaining ants is tolerable. With no more human-foods left, they will focus on picking up tiny organic crumbs that would normally be food for cockroaches and beetles. On top of that, they will also eat other pest insects. The population size is relative to the amount of available food, and will actually help you keep the house clean.
Moving ant colonies
If your ants have a nest near your house and you need to remove an entire ant colony you should do more research on dealing with ant colonies.
There are many poisons you can use and you should research this carefully as well. Some might be toxic to plants and pets and some are more natural. Drax is one of the least toxic products available (It uses Borax). It’s easy to make your own Borax-based poison bait. Just purchase a quantity of borax and a box of pint-sized mason jars and then follow these steps: Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Mix in 4 teaspoons boric acid. Fill 4-8 mason jars with about 1 cup of bait each. Loosely pack cotton into the jars to about the half way point so they sit in the bait solution and then saturate the rest of the dry material with more bait. Separately, take the lids and poke 3-5 holes in each lid top with a hammer and nail. Screw the complete lids tightly onto the mason jars. Place the jars out in the areas of infestation. Keep these inaccessible to children and pets! If the sugar doesn’t work, trade it up for something you’ve seen the ants go for already.