There are ants everywhere – in my front and backyard, my potted plants, and they even crawl inside my dog’s food bowl. Inside my home, ants can easily detect whenever there are juice spatters or food crumbs. I guess this is largely my fault because I have been ignoring the problem for several months now.
Believe me; paying no attention to them won’t make them disappear. Instead, they’ll just go on living and breeding, and the next thing you know, your yard and home is swarming with these bugs.
A Special Type of Ant!
I can live with ants, if need be. But the problem is that the ants infesting my property are tropical fire ants.
These are tiny, red ants that deliver very nasty stings. I have been bitten, and I’m a bit sensitive to ant bites. Whenever an ant bites me, a small wheal forms, and it really, really itches; and it is both painful and itchy when scratched. It is tempting to scratch the area, but I try hard not to because it only exacerbates the itching. Hydrocortisone cream and ice are great for relief.
Because ants have restricted my gardening activities and because these insects are just a general nuisance, I worked on getting rid of them. I didn’t want to use strong insecticides because these harmful substances could endanger my family’s health. So, I stuck to eco-friendly ways.
Scent Trails and Ant Eradication
There are generally two ways to deter or get rid of ants. First is to eliminate their scent trails; second is to kill the bugs. Ants primarily communicate by releasing certain chemicals that create specific odors. These scents allow ants to follow others to their colony or to help them in finding food. When ants lose their way or when they get lost, they eventually starve to death or get so dehydrated that they die. Then, there are also methods that are meant to annihilate ant colonies.
If you want to confuse ants so that they’ll get lost, focus on eliminating scents. Of course, you won’t be able to smell what ants smell. So, how will you know where to spray? Well, just take a look at where the ants are. Do you see a line of ants crawling on your wall? This means that they are following a scent trail.
What you can do is spray these trails using concoctions with strong odors so that they’ll lose their way. Here are some options: a white vinegar and water mixture or a tea tree oil and water blend. Place bay leaves, cayenne pepper powder, or even baby powder on or near familiar ant trails as well. You can also mess with their tracking with ground cinnamon, pepper or coffee, or sprays with lemon or peppermint.
One of the most effective ways to kill ants is by poisoning them with borax. This is also known as sodium borate, and, though it sounds really toxic, it’s relatively safe. Borax is often found in many kinds of cleaning products.
Simply make a paste with borax (powder), sugar powder (confectioner’s or icing sugar) and water. Put some in small containers, and place the containers near ant mounds. The ants will eat the mixture or bring the mixture to their queen. Though it could take awhile to kill all the ants, borax is pretty effective in ridding your property of these nasty stinging bugs.
Try using Diatomaceous Earth as well. DE is pretty effective, and it’s not toxic. Just sprinkle some DE where ants gather. The DE will stick on the outer shell of ants, and it will gradually abrade and damage their outer covering. This will then cause ants to dehydrate and die.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Claire Pritchard is a freelance writer who specializes in pest-related issues. She blogs about pest control, environmentally friendly pest management methods, disease-causing pests, and other similar concerns. She also provides material for Admiral Pest in Orange County.