Keeping Ants Out of Doors

Invading Insects


There are all kinds of signs that we need rain. One is that the ants are marching through my kitchen. Ants come out of their holes when it is either too wet or too dry. Their favorite stop on my kitchen sink is the damp dish rag. Of all the places they could go for a drink, that seems to be their favorite. Of course, they may also be attracted to the grease from the stove that I just wiped up or the spilled chicken soup as well. No matter, they are a nuisance, and I just want them to go away.

There are a number of effective products on the market to get the upper hand for at least a while. They fall into several different categories, and most are quite safe to use. One class of poisons contains ingredients that prevent the ants from converting their food into energy. The active ingredient is either hydramethylnon or sulfluramid. The formulations vary from baits that the ants will take back to the colony or granules that you can broadcast around their known home. The bait stations are the easiest to use. Control may take a week or more and some are more toxic than others, so check the labels carefully.

Another ant bait is made by extracting a nerve toxin from a natural soil fungus. It works as a growth regulator and inhibits the production of viable eggs. It does not kill the adults, so control takes longer and is only complete when the adults have lived out their normal lives. There are other insect growth regulators (fenoxycarb, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen) that keep the ants in a juvenile state, preventing them from laying eggs.

Boric acid is a tried-and-true insecticide. It can be added to sugar or syrup to attract the ants, who then take it home with them to kill the brood. A few plant-derived poisons can also be effective. Pyrethrin-based products; those formulated from a citrus oil extract, D-limonene; and rotenone are all useful. Nicotine formulations, water drenches, and diatomaceous earth are only minimally effective. Remember to keep any poisons out of reach of children and keep their original labels on them, as they contain valuable information about use and storage.


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