Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ant Season - environmentally friendly ways to encourage them to leave

Every year the cries goes out - "Ants! They're everywhere." My partner and I have been noticing them swarming out of their underground homes on our morning walks.  Over by the Music Building we even saw a sign on the ground asking people to respect the ants and let them carry on. Gardners often battle aphids - those plant sucking insects the ants like to farm in our gardens.  But it is the home kitchen defenders that take greatest umbrage with the invading ants.

Most ants - especially the tiny 'sugar' ants just aren't a problem - they merely a nuisance. Just the same a lot of people can't stand them.  There are some very simple things that we can do to hold them back and prevent them from taking over our kitchens.  The first thing is to appreciate that this is just a seasonal event. They won't camp out all year. However, if you just leave them alone and make no changes in your behaviour you might share you home with them until late next fall.  So here are some tips.

Controlling ants is essentially about keeping them out of your house. Ants are most likely to start trying to get into our homes when the weather starts to dry up a bit. They are looking for water.  But they are also explorers par excellence and if you see a few lone scouts scoping out your kitchen counters it's time to clean up and take a proactive approach.

One of the most efficient and least expensive methods of ant control is to take a teaspoon of liquid dish soap into a spray bottle and spray the offending critters. It is far safer then poisonous pesticides that, despite any labels to the contrary, are not very good for family and pets. But this is only the first part of the offensive.  You have to find where the ants are coming into your home and to aggressively engage counter measures.

Once you locate where the ants appear to be enter your home you need to place an environmentally safe barrier in place.  This is as simple as putting a solid application of lemon juice and/or dish soap across the entry point.  It may take a few days - but be persistent, clean the floor around the entry and the complete track the ants are taking (they navigate using chemical traces they leave for other ants). Cleaning persistently is one of the best approaches to ant control.

In the kitchen it is important that all surfaces are clean. Any sugar or honey should be stored in air tight containers. For the period of the ant attack don't leave any dirty dishes or leftovers out on your countertops. Clean  surfaces ants are moving over with a weak solution of white vinegar. 

With a bit of persistence, patience, and hard work you'll be able to reclaim your kitchen from the ants!

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