I really, really, really don’t like ants. I saw Legion of Fire: Killer Ants! when I was fourteen and I’ve been terrified of the swarmy little creatures ever since. This aversion has led me to become unusually militant when they attempt to take up residence in my kitchen every summer. I tend to get a little…rampage-y.
That being said, as a lover of bees and other beneficial insects, I am always incredibly reluctant to use pesticides. I would sooner take a flamethrower to my kitchen than coat my baseboards with Raid. A couple of summers ago I was subject to a pharaoh ant infestation — which was crazy hard to get rid of — and ended up testing just about every natural ant control method out there.
Here’s what I found…
Know Your Ant Enemy
Finding the right treatment depends on the specific ants that are giving you the business. Each species has distinct behaviors and food preferences — meaning you have to cater to their habits in order to successfully eliminate the problem.
Getting Them With Borax
If you have sweet loving ants, mix a 50/50 solution of Borax and powdered sugar. If you have protein loving ants, mix a 50/50 solution of Borax and peanut butter. Place the Borax mixture onto a thin piece of cardboard or plastic and situate them where you suspect the ants are entering your house.
Ants will carry the bait back to the nest and share it with the entire colony. The Borax interferes with their digestion and they essentially starve to death. The more ants that carry the bait to the nest, the faster the colony will die off.
Warning: Borax is poisonous if ingested — take care to keep it out of reach of children and pets.
More Info >>> Getting to the Bottom of Borax: Is it Safe or Not?
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
When Borax doesn’t do the trick, you can be sure that diatomaceous earth will. DE is made from the tiny skeletal remains of algae-like plants and kills insects by absorbing lipids from their exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate.
There are different types of DE; you’ll need to use food grade DE for pest control. Food grade DE is completely safe to be used around kids and pets — in fact, it’s used in agriculture for grain storage as an anticaking agent!
You can sprinkle DE around the perimeter of your house or inject it directly into the nest. Unfortunately, DE is rendered completely ineffective if it gets wet, so you’ll have to reapply after it rains.
Ant Infestation Prevention
If you’re not down with killing ants, there are ways to prevent them from invading your house without causing permanent harm. The trick in this situation is to interfere with their scent trails and send them packing. The most common substances used to do this are:
- Baby Powder
- Mint (either fresh or essential oil)
Line baseboards, door jambs, window frames, and anywhere else you see ants marching with the substance of your choice and watch the little buggers turn tail and run.
I’ve battled ants every summer, and both Borax & DE have kept me from having to nuke my house from space. You can find some fantastic information on a number of different methods I didn’t cover here and a guide to identifying ants here.
And if all else fails, just break out the flame thrower.