Thursday, August 2, 2007

Counter Ant-ivity


I’m an equal opportunity bug detester. Here, I most commonly find silverfish, spiders, and ants. The last one is currently bugging me. Yes, I said bugging.

We live in a 3-story condo with the primary living area, kitchen, and a bathroom on the second floor. One day, we found an ant casually exiting the bathroom. We haven’t seen an ant in ages, but it's been warm lately, and that’s usually when the trouble starts. I spent a good while following what turned out to be a sparse trail of ants into the bathroom in hopes of finding their source of entry. Eventually, I found it. A teeny little opening between the wall and the … I don’t know what you’d call it … built-in vanity? OK. That was the hard part. I then went off to mix some ground cinnamon and cayenne (a tip from Green Clean), and sprinkled it at the entry point. It stopped them…until they realized they can walk on walls. Dangit! So, they went up and started investigating the sink and various other spots. I got creative. I added a bit of water to the remaining cinnamon and cayenne and pasted it 360 degrees around their access point. Done. No more ants in the bathroom.

Then, an ant appeared in the kitchen, which happens to share a wall with the bathroom in question. Ugh. I could not find their entry point this time. I was diligent in cleaning and when I found one, I’d smoosh it in hopes of being more stubborn than the ants. Well, I’m stubborn, but I’m no match. Eventually, I got sloppy. I ate a nectarine, the tiniest fleck of nectarine fell into the sink, and I forgot to clean it up. When I came back a couple of hours later, a steady stream of ants had now invaded.

Can you hear the Patton music in the background?

Well, it was a blessing and a curse. The "ewww" factor was high, but at least I could finally find out where they were coming from. We have dark granite countertops, so I couldn’t see the ants very well. I grabbed a flashlight, and I was able to follow the ants all the way across the sink, across the one wall, across the other wall, down the cabinets to the floor…BEHIND THE REFRIGERATOR. So, I can’t reach them. The fridge is nicely nestled in and there’s no way we’ll be able to move it without causing severe damage to the kitchen or one of us. So I just sprinkled cinnamon and cayenne all over the counter instead. My husband probably thinks I’ve gone all Bill Murray in Caddyshack, but if it works, who’s gonna be laughing? Who, I tell ya?

That said, I did some research and found various non-toxic methods of dealing with ants. If my current path doesn’t work, I’ll just try something else. Cuz stubborn is as stubborn does.

  • The consensus from The Frugal Life's comments is that ants hate cinnamon, cayenne, bay leaves, and pepper, so if you sprinkle any of these around or at their access point, they will be deterred. If you don’t want the mess, consider JS Online's suggestion of adding peppermint oil, cintronella oil, lavendar oil, cinnamon oil, or citrus oil to some water and spraying as needed.

  • They also won’t cross a line drawn in chalk.

  • We had an ant problem a while back because my cat’s wet food was left out for random grazing purposes. We solved it by creating a mote around her dish. In a larger bowl (though not so big that she couldn’t reach), we added water, then placed half a brick in the center. We placed the dish on the brick. Problem solved.

  • Since they don’t like mint, consider keeping fresh mint in certain places around the house. It’s pretty, smells good, makes for yummy treats, and keeps you ant free.

  • Boric acid is another interesting solution. It is toxic, but like many things, only in large quantities. In fact, you might find it’s an ingredient in your contact lens solution. Getting the solution right is tough, and it varies by the type of ant (some like sweet, like like grease). This website suggests a solution of one cup water, 2 cups sugar, and 2 tablespoons boric acid. Whatever the solution, they say that goal is to make it strong enough to kill, but not so strong that it kills the foragers before they deliver the food to the queen.

Note: I have only tried the cayenne & cinnamon mix and the pet food mote. I make no claims on any of these methods, but let me know if you try any and they work. Or if you have any other good bug solutions.


MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

can totatlly relate to the ick factor!