The Ants Come Marching…

31 May

It is only a matter of time until we are under siege again, unable to go about our daily chores and activities without being accosted by swarms of Argentine ants in our townhouse. They will invade – there is no question – but it will be up to me to organize a resistance.

(My husband might take issue with me shouldering the burden and ultimately claiming the victory. But with all due respect, my love, I am home all day and you are not, and it is obvious the ants wait until you leave for work to attack.)

We have lived in this home four years this summer. In those four years, we’ve had ants in the shower, in the bathroom cupboards, along the baseboards, in a pile of laundry in our bedroom, in front of the fireplace, at the front door, across the back door, in just about every kitchen cabinet and on the ceiling, in the hall closet, and coming up from the carpeting exactly at the place where I rest my feet while working on the computer. The January Invasion included all the shelves of our pantry, although their efforts were concentrated on my hand mixer and a tub of very expensive shortening.

We’ve enjoyed a respite but I knew it wouldn’t last. And today, while playing with my daughter on our patio, I found multiple trails and random confused singles and while I enjoyed the fact that they were getting drenched with her water-table activities, I knew it was time to bring out the arsenal.

In my years of do-it-yourself pest control, I’ve learned quite a bit about Argentine ants. (If you live in Southern California and have ants, you have Argentine ants.) They will nest just about anywhere – soil, walls, beneath buildings. They prefer sweet foods (but will eat just about anything, including insect carcasses. You weren’t eating, were you?). Each colony can contain millions of ants and multiple queens. They are evil and agents of the devil.

When you discover an ant trail in your home, your first instinct is most likely to pull out the nearest bottle of bug killer. I would advise you to resist the temptation, for two reasons: 1. Those chemicals are not good for you, your babies, your pets, and the environment. And 2. Killing the visible ants will cause the queen Argentine ant to lay more eggs to replace the lost workers, and often uproot to a new location as a secondary colony.

I know, I know, this is when everyone likes to come in with all the amazing tips they have read about getting rid of ants – pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves, cornstarch, cayenne, chalk, peppermint, Windex, Simple Green, etc. etc. etc. We have tried them, and they didn’t work. For us, anyway.

Here is what works: Terro Liquid Ant Killer

Terro

It comes in these nifty clear plastic containers, and all you have to do is take some scissors and snip off the end, then lay the trap close to the existing trail. Then – and THIS IS WHERE YOU HAVE TO HAVE NERVES OF STEEL – you let the ants eat the bait. This stuff is to ants what buttercream-frosted cupcakes are to me – irresistible. Within hours you will see the entire battalion traveling to and from your bait station, some of them so drunk from the solution they drown in it.

This whole thing, it’s not pretty. But warfare never is.

Add a second bait station if it seems like there are too many ants for just one. I’ve used up to three for a particularly heinous invasion. Do not interfere with the ants. I repeat – DO NOT INTERFERE WITH THE ANTS. All your hard work will be for naught if you pull out the bottle of window cleaner and spray the stragglers. They need to take the bait back to their colony, share it with their pals, and then they die over the next 24 to 48 hours. But not on your counters or anything – they die in some secret hiding place. I do not want to be here when someone rips up the carpeting in this place in a few years. (shudder)

If you have children or pets, it will be more of a challenge to take care of the problem safely. Boric acid, the active ingredient in Terro baits, is considered a much safer alternative to traditional pesticides. But you still don’t want to catch Timmy sucking on ant bait. Position the traps out of reach or out of sight – behind furniture or at the back of a countertop.

There. Hopefully I have helped someone win this battle – or at least hold off the enemy for a while longer. And while I now have the creepy-crawlies and am bound to peek under my comforter tonight multiple times, I have also strengthened my resolve to not let the ants get me down. When the ants come marching one by one this summer, I’ll be saying “Hurrah! I have Terro!”

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2 Responses to “The Ants Come Marching…”

  1. JoEllen June 2, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    this post was awesome Karen! you had me laughing and saying “i didn’t know that” at the same time.

    the ants have staked out our house too, grrr. (at least it’s not spiders… i’d be tempted to just burn the place down if that was the case)

    i’ll have to look for the Terro. thanks for the tip!

  2. align general insurance September 25, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    Maybe the most interesting thing I have read all week =D

    Sincerest regards
    Therese

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