Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Defeating the Empire of the Ants!

Okay, so a bunch of you have emailed me asking what exactly it was I did to get rid of my ant invasion.  Rather than reply individually, I figured I'd do it here.  Because I'm lazy.

But first:

No, Joan!  Not polyester gauchos!  Arrrrgggghhh!!!

Okay.  So after extensive research (I Googled "homemade ant bait"), I discovered that there are two kinds of ants: those that like sugar and those that like grease.  The kind of bait you make will depend on what kind of ants you have.

I didn't want to put on my lab coat and do a bunch of experimenting, so I just made two kinds and let the ants choose.

Bait #1 for grease-loving ants:  I took about a tablespoon of peanut butter and added in a little squirt of honey to make it extra nommy and stirred in about 1/8 teaspoon of boric acid powder.

Bait #2 for sugar-loving ants:  About a tablespoon of grape jelly mixed with 1/8 teaspoon of boric acid powder.  I used grape because that's what I had.

A word about that boric acid.  You get it at the drugstore in the First Aid department.  As to why my Wrong Aid was charging over six bucks (!!) for a little bottle of stuff that probably cost a penny to make is anyone's guess.  But I was desperate so I paid.  Oddly,it was on sale.

It's the boric acid that kills the ants, and you have to be careful with how much you use.  You don't want to put so much in that the ants die right away.  What you want is for them to take the bait back to the hive and share it, killing the rest of the colony as well.

Look, Ma--I'm a myrmecologist!

Hubs walked into the kitchen as I was working and, puzzled, asked "What are you doing?"

"Why, I'm preparing a very special cocktail for our little friends," I replied, sounding exactly like Boris Karloff.

So I took the baits, spread blobs on squares of aluminum foil, and put them on the counter where the ants were.  That's when the fun started.

Now, on the (few) occasions where I think of ants, I generally picture them as industrious little buggers, you know, marching in straight lines, carrying food, being all efficient and stuff.  Not these suckers.  Boy howdy, these were the stupidest creatures ever to crawl on the surface of the earth.  They were just running in circles, bumping into each other, all "Derp! Derp!  Derp!" and I'm looking and them and saying "Dudes, get your act together!" For a while, I was convinced that they were too stupid to find the yummy poison I had set out for them.

But find it they did, and it was most unpleasant.  After a couple of hours, the jelly was covered with little tiny ants.  Every time Hubs went into the kitchen, I could hear him say "Ewww!"  He returned to the den and reported that "The jelly is winning."  Apparently, we had the sugar-loving kind of ants.

So yeah, it was disgusting.  The ants didn't seem to be moving, so I thought I had overdone the boric acid and killed them right then and there.  Well,that's not what I wanted (see above), but I decided that a bunch of dead ants was still a good thing and that I'd mix up another, milder batch in the morning.

Next morning, however, all the ants on the jelly were gone!  They weren't dead after all.  I guess they were just napping after eating all that delicious, delicious poison jelly.  There were a couple of stragglers who got thumb-smashed, but for the most part, they're all gone!

I'm going to leave the baits out for a couple of days just to make sure, but I really think this worked.

One final word.  Or a bunch, actually.  Please keep in mind that while boric acid is a low-toxicity insecticide, it's still a poison, and you need to keep it away from children and pets.  Personally, I'm not above saturating my house with environmentally-hazardous petrochemicals, if it means getting rid of an ant invasion, but the reason I didn't was because I didn't want to take the chance of making the little weiner dog sick. By using the baits, I could put them up out of her reach and not worry about her eating them or walking through puddles of chemicals.

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