Sunday, 17 August 2008
I haven’t had a big problem with ants this year (touch wood) but a few weeks ago I noticed a couple of the blighters crawling around in my back porch and knew it would only be a matter of time before they’d invaded the house and would be driving me absolutely insane.
Now, I’ve nothing against ants in general - they’re very beneficial little chaps that help clear away dead insects and animals while aerating the ground and carrying organic matter into the soil so that our plants will grow bigger and stronger. What I dislike is the fact that at this time of year, they tend to think it’s their given right to just move into my house whenever they please and I’m sorry, but I just ain’t sharing!
The thing is, if they’re not controlled they can make nests in the insulation layer found below houses and from what I’ve heard, that's when you really have problems.
Of course, the best thing to do is make sure there’s nothing in the house that’s likely to attract them in the first place. Anything sweet and sugary that can easily be found will be like a magnet to them; once one has found it, the entire working population of the nest will be marching in to pick up their share. Unfortunately, even if we’re careful to keep sugar, honey, fizzy drinks, sweets, and the likes tightly packaged and away from kitchen work surfaces and other areas that are easily accessible, ants can still find something that attracts them. Just one tiny grain of sugar or biscuit crumb is all it takes.
Not wanting to use commercial ant-killer stuff to get rid of my visitors - the common Lasius niger, otherwise known as garden ants, that are the general cause of problems here in the UK - I decided to look into ways of deterring them through natural means. This is what I came up with:
Lemon juice - pour around the areas that ants frequent. This is meant to destroy their scent trails, confusing them into marching around witlessly rather than following their trodden path. A piece of string soaked in lemon juice and left where they come in is meant to do the same job.
Chalk - draw a line across their path and apparently they won’t cross it. A couple of people have told me they’ve successfully tried this but as I didn’t have any chalk, I didn’t get a chance.
Bicarb (baking soda) - does pretty much the same job as chalk. Sprinkle a line of it across their path.
Baby Powder - again, does the same as the above.
Vinegar - this one worked for me! Apparently ants absolutely loathe the stuff so spray it around doorways and anywhere else they may be coming through, as well as across their paths. I tried a mixture of 50/50 white malt vinegar and water and the ants were gone the next day!
If ants in the garden are a problem (and who wants them harvesting green fly on the veggies?), growing mint amongst the plants is said to be a deterrent. I can’t vouch for the validity of that, though. If that doesn’t work, you could always try laying your own sweet, sugary trail leading them elsewhere (like the compost heap, for example).
I have my vinegar at the ready should they decide to return to my humble abode. Until then, I’ll just relax and be happy that once again I managed to solve a problem without turning to synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals.
Other posts that may be of interest: