Ant problem
December 25, 2011 1:47 AM   Subscribe

We're having a bad (and sudden) ant problem in one of the two bathrooms on the second floor of our home. I don't know what kind of the ants they are or where they are coming from; they are really tiny. They are on the counters, in the shower...the ant traps don't seem to be working. Any suggestions please?
posted by htm to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
when this happened to me (also in the bathroom), I sprayed the surfaces where they were traveling with windex. this not only kills them immediately, but something about disrupting their scent paths so they find a different place to travel (preferably outdoors). i found them coming in through a crack in the window seal. after some spraying (it took a few times) they disappeared (within 2 days or so), and we never had a problem there again.

googling reveals all sorts of results about ants and windex.
posted by franc.o.bolos at 2:00 AM on December 25, 2011

If the ants are going into the ant traps then I think you will see success if you just let it go for a couple of days. If they are not going into the traps I have had great success with the liquid ant bait traps. I just put out the bait and let the ants do their thing. They take the poison back to their nest and in a few days the ants are totally gone.
posted by JayRwv at 2:15 AM on December 25, 2011

Same as franc.o.bolos, but I prefer vinegar over windex.
posted by anaelith at 2:46 AM on December 25, 2011

We had this and they were getting in through small cracks around the tub, where it met the tile, and where the sink pipes came up through the floor. Finally called an exterminator and he put some goo in the cracks. It was the same stuff you can get at a hardware store, mixed with borax and something to attract them.

Something like this product.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:21 AM on December 25, 2011

posted by k8t at 5:12 AM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Normally I would say Diatomaceous earth because it is a natural powder that works by dehydrating the ants, but in the bathroom it might get too humid to work. This wiki how has a lot of good methods, including the scent disruption method mentioned above.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:15 AM on December 25, 2011

Windex or vinegar or bleach or Ajax or boiling water, etc. will kill them immediately.
posted by dfriedman at 5:45 AM on December 25, 2011

Don't need to know where you are; given your ants are 'really tiny' the Argentine Ants have found you. In times past cockroaches were our biggest insect pest, now it's these. In my experience traps are a waste of money, the ants ignore them. Some luck with Terro but the scary thing about the Argentine is their colonies have multiple queens, so the 'taking the poison back to the queen' idea doesn't always work. I've had the best luck with the tactics described by franc.o.bolos.
posted by Rash at 5:56 AM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hmmm, maybe a little more detail would help.
  1. Spray the Windex, which kills all the ants you can see immediately.
  2. Clean up the mess with paper towels, then observe -- where are the new ants coming from?
  3. Find the entrance and seal it up.

If/when they reappear, repeat.
posted by Rash at 6:08 AM on December 25, 2011

Have you tried lemon juice? Ants hate the scent.
posted by Yellow at 6:15 AM on December 25, 2011

Nthing Terro
posted by bricksNmortar at 6:48 AM on December 25, 2011

If the ants aren't attracted to the traps at all they might be looking for protein rather than sugar. If you mix a beaten egg white with the liquid bait from a Terro trap, it will work if they're on the hunt for protein.
posted by corey flood at 7:22 AM on December 25, 2011

Boric acid
posted by devymetal at 7:28 AM on December 25, 2011

Killing workers does no good. They would have died in a few days anyway, and the nest considers them expendable.

What you really want is to kill the queen. There's stuff you can get at hardware stores which looks like thick, clear syrup. It is mostly sugar but it also has boric acid mixed into it. The ants will take it back and feed it to the queen, and eventually it will kill her. Then the nest runs on momentum for another two or three weeks until all the eggs have hatched and all the workers die of old age -- and then the problem is solved.

It's great stuff. Much recommended!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:07 AM on December 25, 2011

I live on top of an Argentine ant colony (hell, everyone on the West coast does, pretty much) and bait traps generally don't work so great. If you DO have Argentines, you've got to block the entrances and put out diatomaceous earth. Also ants won't cross a chalk line for some reason, so get yourself a couple of sticks and draw all over your bathroom. Eradicate their scent trails if you can so they won't find their way back.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:36 AM on December 25, 2011

Seconding boric acid to kill ants (although I don't know about Argentine ants). I make my own ant-killer (which is safe for non-ant beings) from a recipe I found on the internets. I don't remember the exact proportions but it contains water, boric acid and sugar. Saturate cotton balls with this stuff, place the cotton balls near or on an active ant trail, and the ants circle round and nurse until they are full. (Won't work if cotton balls dry out.) Then they go home and don't come back. I've had good luck with this but it's not a quick fix - it takes days, maybe even a week. You can get boric acid at the drug store. Sometimes it's behind the pharmacy counter. Costs about $5.
posted by plague at 8:44 AM on December 25, 2011

Also, make sure you don't have moisture or rot. Ants need to be near some water, so they may be an early warning of a water leak/rot.
posted by theora55 at 9:03 AM on December 25, 2011

Response by poster: You guys are GREAT! Thanks so much!!! I sincerely appreciate your helpful & immediate feedback! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the holiday, and Happy Holidays to those who don't!
posted by htm at 9:05 AM on December 25, 2011

A little late, but I had amazing results with black pepper. These were red ants, not fire ants, down in Texas. I didn't have any luck with Windex or vinegar for long, but when I got mad and sprinkled black pepper all over my window sills, they left and never came back. Huzzah!
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 9:16 AM on December 25, 2011

If all else fails (and it did with our ant problem), try a product that contains fipronil, like this one for example.
posted by gudrun at 10:21 AM on December 25, 2011

a big second here on the ant bait gel (i use the combat brand...tho it can be surprisingly hard to find...home depot seems to only carry it periodically...i.e. call around first). every year when the landlord clear-cuts the yard in the middle of summer, they come pouring into the house...i just swipe an inch of that stuff across their trails and they're gone the next day...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:25 AM on December 25, 2011

Boric acid mixed into peanut butter works for both ants and roaches. We would mix it up and put blobs of it on pieces of paper or index cards and leave them very near the ant path. Good luck!
posted by kamikazegopher at 9:19 PM on December 25, 2011

I've had really good luck using Cinnamon to disrupt Argentine ant invasions. You can use a straw to blow Cinnamon in to the cracks the ants are getting in from. It's a non-toxic first step.
posted by dws at 9:22 PM on December 25, 2011

Response by poster: The Windex (knock off) worked like a charm! Thank you again! Just in case, I have printed out all suggestions and will go down the list and try each one of them if necessary!
posted by htm at 10:31 PM on December 25, 2011

Since nobody else mentioned it, if you have a tree with branches touching your roof or the side of your house, this can serve as an ant highway if the nest(s) are outside. Always a good idea to get up there and trim branches back.

Most important thing is to find where they enter, and seal it.
posted by emjaybee at 11:08 PM on December 25, 2011

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