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Friday, August 31, 2012

I won the battle of the ants. I hope.

12 days ago I awoke to find the kitchen sink filled with ants. And the weird thing is there wasn't even any food in it. Nonetheless I could follow the trail back to a tiny gap at the top of kitchen cabinets along a wall near the window over the sink.

Some of you may realize I face a moral dilemma when it comes to killing bugs. I just don't like killing anything. Begrudgingly I will kill fleas and mosquitos but everything else is catch and release when found in the house and I let nature take its course outdoors. So that first day I sprinkled chili powder and cayenne pepper flakes all around the counter. But it didn't seem to deter them at all.

 So I waited for hubby to wake up the next morning and told him to deal with them. LOL. I hate pesticides so that was the first I learned that he had a liquid ant poison hidden in the back of a cupboard. He put some drops out. The ants flocked to it. It contains borax which is toxic to ants but they carry it back to the nest and it will kill the queen. Once that happens the colony will collapse.

So we waited. It got worse before it got better because the ants thought they'd found a food source. After several days they were back in full force so my friend Carl suggested we try a different ant bait called Terro. Again the ants flocked to the bait but it didn't stem their flow.

At this point our friend Harpreet asked if I could see where they were coming from. I went home and looked outside the window and sure enough could see the steady flow of ants climbing the side of the house and entering through a little spot along the underside of the roofline. In the past I've successfully blocked ant trails by filling the interior entry point with Elmers Glue. But since the entry point was hidden in the tiny gap over the kitchen cabinet I couldn't find it to block it. There were so many ants in the house I hadn't wanted to block the hole as then I'd have to deal with all of the ants trapped inside.

My friend Dana said to pour boiling water down the sink to wash away any debris caught in the pipes. I did but first I turned the water on slowly and ants came out. I gradually turned it on higher and higher and more ants came out. When I turned it to hot the exodus was extreme! When it appeared most were out of the drains I added two huge pots of boiling water. The ants pretty much steered clear of the drain from that point forward. But they still kept coming in.

So then, also Dana's suggestion, we purchased Grants Ant Stakes. But they aren't instantaneous. Apparently the worker ants won't collect the bait until a scout ant gives the A-OK.

Enough was enough. I haven't been able to cook in the kitchen for almost two weeks as the steady stream of ants wandered around our sink and counters! So I went online and searched "How to get rid of ants" and found many non toxic solutions and tips on how to remove and avoid them.

The first was to spray the area they were targeting with vinegar so I did. OMA (Oh My Ants) they did not like that but instead of making them retreat all of a sudden four times more ants were streaming into the house. So I wiped up what I could and went to the second home remedy: baking soda. I sprinkled it all over the kitchen counter leaving a gap for ants already there to return to their nest but it didn't deter the incoming ants at all.

So then I tried another suggestion cinnamon. Immediately it was clear that the cinnamon was the ticket. They did not want to walk across it so I liberally sprinkled it all across the counter. At this point I took a spatula and began pushing the baking soda and cinnamon in towards the ants shrinking the area they were occupying. So then they started walking sideways across the glass window.

So then I began throwing pinches of cinnamon directly into their paths. It stopped them. I reasoned if the ants were that averse to being in contact with the cinnamon I need to put cinnamon everywhere. The best solution I came up with was to take a wire sieve and scoop the soda and cinnamon powder with a spatula into the sieve and fling it all around that area of the counter and wall. It worked!

I knew at that point that putting cinnamon near their entry point would be helpful. But the space they were coming through was only 1/8th of an inch high. So I got a plastic drinking straw, shoved it into the jar of cinnamon, put my finger over the end to create a vacum to hold the powder in, placed the full end into the gap and blew the cinnamon into the crack.

And it worked!

The flow of new ants almost ceased. But now I had dozens trapped between two points. This is where the kitchen sponge comes in. To catch them one by one would have been tedious so I began swiping them up with the sponge in groups and walked them to the front porch to release them. It took about 20-30 trips to get almost all of the ants back out where they belong.

I blew about 4 more straws full of cinnamon into the gap and tomorrow will go get some clear caulk to patch the entry point from the outside.

It's been around 9 hours and while I've found a few stragglers to catch and release I think the worst has passed.

If you have ants in your house try the cinnamon first. It's working for me so far and on the upside my house now smells like Christmas :)

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