There’s a war going on inside my house, particularly in my kitchen. It involves me and a whole bunch of creepy, crawly little black ants. I’m on a mission to destruct and they refuse to go away. It’s a volatile war. There is aggression, there is destruction and there is mortality. Most days end in a paper towel-smashing, spray bottle-drowning, wild rampage. Desperate for victory, I reached out to the experts for help on breaking up my countertop pest party.
Start at the Source
To put a stop to an ant problem, you have to start at the source.
“The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources has an integrated pest management program that provides advice for controlling several pests,” says Pamela Kan-Rice, assistant director, News and Information Outreach at University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The program offers five things to do to rid ants from a home:
– Determine what the ants are attracted to and remove the food source.
– Vacuum trails, wipe them with soapy water, or spray with window cleaner.
– Locate entry points then caulk openings or plug with petroleum jelly.
– Put out bait stations or apply gel bait at entry points.
– Baits take time to work, so continue to clean up trails.
I followed some of Pamela’s suggestions and they appear to be working. I searched for food scraps high and low and I eventually found the culprit under my stove. It was a chip. I vacuumed it up, scrubbed the area with soapy water and wiped it down with natural glass cleaner. Three days later and still no ants.
Use Grocery Store Items
Your local grocery store is also packed with pest repellent items. In a recent blog post Marty Overline of Aardvark Pest Management in Philadelphia writes that many commonly available household grocery items can be used as repellent to keep your home free of insects such as ants, cockroaches and fleas. All three have an aversion to citrus, so leaving a trail of lemon juice, or an item soaked in it, across likely points of entry will stop these insects trying to access your home that way.
I haven’t tried lemon juice, but I have tried distilled white vinegar and water. I mixed a 50-50 mixture of vinegar and water and wiped down my countertop, floors and windows. I read that ants hate the smell of vinegar, so I made it a point to douse everything in it. The smell wasn’t overwhelming and it neutralized pretty fast.
Invest in a Product
If you’re not into the whole DIY repellents thing and don’t mind spending money on a natural pest prevention product, you may want to check out Stay Away Ants pouches. The pouches are made of essential oils, like lemongrass and peppermint, and plant fiber. “Stay Away smells amazing to people, but pests are repelled by the scent,” says Kari Warberg Block, Founder and CEO of earthkind®.
Out of all the suggestions I received, Richard London from A Handbook for Life had the best and funniest response by far. It went a little something like this.
I just had to give you my immediate thought about how to kill ants
Step on them.
Be well and keep smiling.
Thank you, Richard, for making me laugh at my very frustrating ant situation.
For more tips on keeping bugs out of your home check out Tips to Keep Your House Bug-Free.