I can handle critters, but not crawling up my legs while I'm doing the dishes.
December 29, 2012 2:21 AM   Subscribe

Any Aussie ant experts around? I'm tired of having sugar ants crawl up my legs while I wash up after dinner.

Due to an over-zealous daughter overloading the dishwasher causing it to tip over and bugger the door, I'm now washing up dishes by hand. No problem, except I've just abandoned the kitchen again because I got tired of swatting sugar ants off my legs as I wash decades-old crockery.

They're not in the kitchen at any other time of the day/night. It's about now, 9pm-ish, that they seem to swarm. IME, ants seek water inside if you're undergoing a drought... we got 63 mills on Christmas Day alone, and my lawn is still slightly damp. They're not seeking water. They're seeking my flesh!

I've used Ant-rid in the past, but not with sugar ants. I really don't want to kill them if I can avoid it. But how can I stop them invading my kitchen after dinner?

Yes, I've dealt with redbacks and cockroaches and huntsmen and brown snakes... but none of them tried to crawl up my legs while I was washing up.
posted by malibustacey9999 to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
ARGH! And baby Christmas beetles, all over the back veranda. Hundreds of 'em, I kid you not! (They fly into my hair and get tangled and I freak out.)

We moved into this house in early November. Does that explain the influx? Am I just unused to sugar ants and Christmas beetles?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:44 AM on December 29, 2012

Do sugar ants have the same scent trail thingo going on that normal ants do? Can you not just interrupt their scent trail with something... like dilute bleach? I would suggest vinegar, but that might make it worse. Or not.
posted by taff at 2:51 AM on December 29, 2012

We get ants inside during the rainy season, not drought. Constant sweeping/cleaning and talcum powder/insect spray along doorways helps a bit.

And Christmas beetles were just a factor of having an outdoor area in northern NSW. Not having lights on helped a bit, but mostly it was sweeping the little buggers up in the morning.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:05 AM on December 29, 2012

When I had a similar problem, a neighbour suggested using something with orange oil in it. This disrupts their scent trails, apparently.

So I bought some Orange Power Multi-Purpose Cleaner from supermarket. Wiped the counters every day for about a week, concentrating on where I could see ants. I also did the back door frame and the step outside, as I knew they were coming in that way. Success!

It's been about two years now, and the ants are yet to come back.
posted by Georgina at 3:25 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came to recommend the Orange oil cleaner too. My mum has used that with great success and it smells nice too.
posted by wwax at 5:11 PM on December 29, 2012

From the Blue, in August, this photo album (CAUTION: SPIDERS), actually more of a photo-essay, of an entomologist who for unexplained reasons had to sleep in disused room that was generally overrun with Brown Recluse spiders. [This reddit post is linked to the album.]

He's no arachnologist, but the tactics he'd use for ants may be similar: clear a safe area, protect it from invasion, wage chemical warfare defensively, and gather allies.

I'm not sure what, if anything, you should trust to consume the ants, and if there is such a critter, whether you want it/some in your home. What did come to mind, though, is what he did with the bed he'd be sleeping on. After clearing it of spiders, he wrapped the bed's legs in foil and sat each leg onto a paper-plate covered with insecticide.

It sounds silly, but can you do the same or similar? You don't even need the insecticide here, but perhaps the orange-oil cleaner, plus some alumin[i]um foil (which you can re-use until it tears or whatnot) wrapped upwards around your feet/shoes and ankles to deter a vertical expedition?
posted by Sunburnt at 7:33 PM on December 29, 2012

The orange oil cleaner did the trick. I cleaned the countertop with it a couple of times over two days, and then diluted it to wash the laundry and kitchen floors a couple of times yesterday. (I was worried it would be too slippery with overexcited kids on school holidays running around the house, so I didn't use it straight.)

I washed up last night with nary a critter in sight.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:10 PM on December 31, 2012

Excellent! Glad it worked for you.
posted by Georgina at 6:00 PM on January 1, 2013

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