Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holy Ants!

Umm, Houston? We have a problem.

Of anternomical proportions.

I don't think I've mentioned this here before, but we have a bit of an ant problem. I'm a very clean person & pick up any food or crumbs left out, but we don't have screens on the windows and leave the back door open 24/7, so creatures get in.

At first it was just the teeny brown ants, so small you'd miss them if you were in a hurry to grab the Nutella. Mid-summer we found some larger beasts - too disgusting to get into here but they rhyme with mock-broach - so we sprayed a full can of beast killer in all the cabinets. That killed the pests but, five months later, I still smell the chemicals every time I open the cupboard doors. And a few strays have found their way home.

Which brings us to my current problem. Ibis keeps telling me the little ants don't hurt anything and I should stop worrying about them. (yeah, right.) Well, now we have the next step in the evolutionary chain - black ants. The ones you most often see on a picnic at the park.

I don't see them carrying any food but they're taking over the kitchen. At least once a day I go on a rampage and kill all that I see, but they keep coming back. I wiped white vinegar over all the surfaces thinking the smell would throw them off, but the effects only lasted about a day. I've impressed myself with how un-squeamish I've become, squashing ants with my bare fingers like it's nobody's business, but my fingers are getting calloused!

Oh, and they keep finding their way into the water bottle I use on runs, so there's no telling how many I've eaten. "A source of protein!" Ibis claims, but I'd rather stick with chicken or fish.

Does anyone have suggestions for a non-toxic way to rid my house of these things? They're concentrated in the parts of the kitchen with food - duh - but I keep finding them in the bathroom too.



Not said...

Silly rabbit, ant's are full of protien. Can't y'all just go to the pet store and buy an aardvark? Okay, I hate ants too, they creep me out and I feel them on me when they aren't. I'm getting way to near my mom's reality now, aren't I? I have people come and spray once a month, so I dunno chica. Find out if you have un Hombre Orkin nearby? Complain to the Asociacion? Sorry, I'm a huge help, aren't I? I'm still cracking up at mock broach.


Melanie Avila said...

I was hoping to avoid spraying, but if that's all there is...

Janna said...

Cinnamon! Sprinkle it over the threshold and around windows. It's a natural deterrent. I hope it works for you!

Laurie (quidscribis) said...

Borax mixed with sugar and left out for the ants to find. The ants will take it back to the colony and it'll kill the entire colony. Better than anything else you can use.

We have at least a half dozen varieties of ants here, and that works on all of them except for one kind, and I don't remember which kind at the moment, sadly, but I think it's either the large black ones or the medium red ones.

Here, the red ones are biting ones, and they leave huge welts. I don't know if you have those there or not, but if you do, you'll want to nip this in the bud as fast as possible - you do not want those ants around.

The ants we have here live in our walls - in the bathroom, in the kitchen, nearly everywhere. They eat through grout, wood, and so on. If you're going to spray, follow the ant trail back to their home and spray that as well, although if the colony is deep enough in the wall or floor, you're just destroying one of their entrances and they'll find another way out. That's why I use borax/sugar.

I'm going to tell you some common-sense stuff on the off-chance that you're not yet ant-climatized enough to know that you have to do this. :) Keep all ant-attracting food in air-tight containers. Anything containing sugar to start with. Take out the garbage daily. Sweep daily. Keep food limited to specific rooms only - like kitchen, dining room, living room and never the bedrooms, otherwise you can wind up with biting ants in the bedroom and that can be miserable. Clean between cushions in the furniture to get all residual crumbs out. Immediately mop up any spills that involve sugar.

We have a designated ant-free zone - a wire/metal shelf with the four legs in small bowls that are surrounded by powdered ant poison. Everything that doesn't go into an airtight (we have a LOT of different bugs here) goes on that shelf. It's been my experience that ants will bite through thin layers of plastic on ramen noodles to get inside. Anything the ants like goes on that shelf.

You can also put water in the bowls the legs are in, but that has to be changed every few days to prevent mosquitoes, or you can add salt to prevent mosquitoes, but you still have to top up the water. That's why I use ant poison instead.

If you make cake, for example, that sits on the counter, put it in a cake pedestal thingie and put that on a plate or bowl that's filled with water - a moat. Moats are your friend. :) Red ants also like dairy products, so I have to moat my kefir when that's culturing.

We also put the powdered ant poison on all the counters at the edges and around windows and doors. It won't stop all ants, but it helps.

And good luck. I feel your pain, believe me. At the first house we lived in here, I was killing probably three colonies a week.

Melanie Avila said...

Holy crap Laurie! You are well-schooled in ant destruction - I'm impressed! Yes, I'm familiar with the biting ants & fortunately we don't have that breed, yet. I know how to keep everything sealed tightly - it's my husband I have a problem with. I've banned food from the desk & most always from the bedroom (I'm careful to clean) and I sweep everyday. The Borax mixture is a good idea, I just worry about poisoning the geckos, who help us out by eating the other creepy crawlies.

The cinnamon idea sounds interesting, and I have that in the cupboard. I'll try that until I get to the store and buy Borax. Our car died last night & is stuck in Ixtapa, so that'll have to wait a few days.

Thanks for the great advice ladies!

Jenna said...

We had a bad ant problem right after we moved in this house--big black ants. Heath bought several electronic pest repellers with ultrasonic and electromagnetic pulse (Heath says don't buy just an ultrasonic one--you don't need the ultrasonic you need the electromagnetic pulse).

I was skeptical until I saw the line of ants coming out of my house and down a small fence, carrying baby ant larva with them.

We still get some bugs now and then and did have some this year but nothing like what we originally had.

It might be worth a shot.

Ella said...

Ants are attracted to moisture, white vinegar is a great natural way to take care of them.

Jes said...

When we get the house in the Yucatan, Laurie's definately my go to girl for pest control. Dang woman!

Melanie Avila said...

I know, for serious!

Laurie (quidscribis) said...

I live in a tropical country. What do you expect? :p You know I'm from Canada, right? Well, it's too dang cold in Canada for ants to survive very long, so there, I never once saw an ant in my house. Ever. I only ever saw them in the forests or whatnot. So, moving here was a crash course in ant control.

The borax / sugar solution won't kill geckos. I keep hoping - I hate geckos and the crap they leave behind on absolutely freaking everything - but they just aren't attracted to it. So don't worry on that score, Melanie. (We have at least three varieties of geckos here, and some of the houses we've lived in, we've had condos and suburb developments for geckos - I know geckos!)

I wish we could get those ultrasonic dealies here. *sigh* Do you have any idea how frequently I scream at the geckos and spiders? *sigh*

Melanie Avila said...

Spiders I can deal with. It's the cockroaches that scare me. I had a fight with one this morning, and lost. It was hiding inside the saran wrap and scared the bejeezus out of me, then got away before I could flick him outside.


johnlalande said...

Where can I buy Borax in Mexico? Is that the name here?

Melanie Avila said...

I have no clue. I'm guessing you can ask for la quemica para las hornigas.