Ants are amazing! Unfortunately for our household, we are getting a lot of practice learning to control these very formidable insects!
First, make certain that the outside perimeter of your home is protected from invasion. Although, we do not like to use pesticides, we spray the outside walls with Ortho Home Defense. However, there is no guarantee. An expert recently informed me that ants can tunnel under the foundation, enter through hairline cracks, and make their way into flooring and walls. If you live in an apartment or condominium, it is even more difficult to control the perimeter of the entire complex.
Baiting is the best method of controlling ants that have made their way into your home. Spraying ants with pesticide only creates more problems. The most important reason to avoid spraying is for the health and safety of your family. The second is that it only masks the problem. The ants will avoid the treated areas, and simply emerge in another. Plus, the queen will continue to reproduce, making your problem even greater.
The best bait we have found is Terro Liquid Ant Bait. Since ants follow a specific trail you must first locate their entry point. When you find the point of entry use hot water to kill the ants already visible, and then wipe up the area of their trail. Place a bait station near this entry point. You might be surprised how quickly the ants locate the bait. Next, in order to keep stray ants from wandering, we cut an inexpensive dryer sheet into inch wide strips and create a border around the bait station. Typically, six inches of space works perfectly. The ants consume the bait, remain in their dryer sheet border, and take the bait back to the nest. After a few days change the dryer sheet strips if you notice ants beginning to cross the lines. They are only effective when the scent is strong. Also, do not remove the bait station too quickly. Sometimes the ants disappear for a few days only to return. If the queen ant discovers that many of her workers are dying, she will also send them to another area. When ants emerge from a different point of entry, begin the entire process again.
If you have ants in the kitchen, we decided that it is not worth baiting them in this area. They invaded our counters, and were too hard to control. From our experience, there are three things that you must do in order to keep ants out of your kitchen. First, be spotless! Make certain there are no dishes in the sink, wipe down all counters, and even put away dish cloths and sponges. (Try keeping them in the dishwasher or microwave during ant problem times.)
Second, convince the queen ant to stop sending ants into this area by wiping away any scouts with hot water. The third helpful deterrent is to make a non-toxic spray. Here is the homemade recipe:
- 4 ounces water
- 12 drops peppermint essential oil
- 12 drops clove bud essential oil
- 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap
Although the ants do not like to cross the spray, it only seems to last for a few days. It definitely takes determination to keep ants out of the kitchen, but a little work is much better than toxic sprays. Good luck!
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