Help us block ants from our house
June 2, 2014 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Today we found tiny ants on a kitchen counter and followed their path to a stretch of baseboard. We sprayed it with Sevin & left for work. Don’t know what to expect EOD. We’d prefer to use more natural products, but we’re willing to go nuclear if necessary. (We own the home; no landlord.) How have you handled ants?
posted by LonnieK to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Coffee Grounds work wonders. Ants don't seem to like it and wont cross it. (however they may go around it).
posted by Twain Device at 7:36 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Orange Guard. Spray in the morning before you leave, the orangy mist will be gone by evening. Wipe up if sprayed too thickly (in the evening). May stain baseboards painted with flat paint. I'm all tile so I don't have to worry, really.33
posted by tilde at 7:57 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

If they are sugar ants, you're in for a battle. I found this article on them that looks promising but haven't tried it myself. If that is in fact what they are (commonly found in warmer climates, attracted to sweet foods/syrups and basically can get in anywhere), in my personal experience you just need to be obsessive about keeping the counters and surfaces clean of sticky residue and all of your food in tightly sealed containers. I lived in the tropics for years and battled with these pesky guys all along the way. What I ended up doing was basically storing anything sweet - sugar, cereals, honey, peanut butter etc - in the refrigerator because even a little of the sweet stuff on the lids would attract them.

Good luck!
posted by danapiper at 7:58 AM on June 2, 2014

I had ants in my kitchen recently, coming through the corner of a window. Got some Terro gel and put a blob on the little piece of cardboard (that you cut out from the back). Ants swarmed all over it for a few days and then they were gone.

Terro is borax based with an attractant and they take it back to the nest. Just spraying doesn't really get rid of them. I have made homemade borax and sugar traps but Terro is the best. You can also get the ant traps, which are a bit more expensive, but the gel is then covered up in a little plastic container. Put it where you see them coming in and leave it alone, they will swarm for a few days, like I said.

Also, clean your kitchen counter with something with orange oil to interrupt their scent trail. They drop pheromes and the other ants go, "hey! this way to food!" and orange oil blocks it. Then they will stick to the Terro bait.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:02 AM on June 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Terro works very well and it's basically non-toxic (to humans and larger animals; to ants of course it's sweet, sweet death).

Buy a box of them, put them around everywhere you see ants, particularly in their paths if you can figure out where they're going to/from. Give it about a week to kill the nest.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:16 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thirding Terro. We used it last year after ants invaded the kitchen and it was amazing.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:24 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can also make your own Terro-like stuff by mixing up Borax powder with some sugar (about 50/50) and leave it near where you saw them. We just took care of what seemed like all the ants in the world by sprinkling near the crack in the door they seemed to be coming in, and leaving some little piles where they seemed to be most active (for some reason the bathtub on our 2nd floor).
posted by goggie at 8:33 AM on June 2, 2014

Terro, totally. We are on day two of our victory campaign against our annual springtime invasion of kitchen sugar ants in New England. They always come when the peonies bloom. The marching lines have already faded to lone scouts.

We've tried mixing our own sugar/borax but that adsorbed humidity and went all goopy everywhere. Terro is just simpler for us.
posted by BlackPebble at 8:35 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can clearly identify where they are getting in, you can use some clear caulk to seal up the cracks and keep them from coming back in that same spot. But, if they're anything like the small little black ants we get here every spring/summer, they'll probably just find another place. We use the Terro self contained bait stations. Place them as close to the point of entry as you can, and wait ~24 hours. It'll look really gross for awhile as the ants glom onto it, then when you look the next day they'll have disappeared and you can chuck the plastic container.
posted by msbubbaclees at 8:40 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Orange oil rocks at repelling ants. Any orange based cleanser really works as, I imagine, does the orange guard.

My mother used orange oil based cleaners to repel generations of Australian ants from our kitchen.

I'm less caring about saving insects once they enter my house and have used a product like Terro to great effect too.
posted by wwax at 9:07 AM on June 2, 2014

Borax mixed into a paste with jam or jelly, spread thinly on cardboard and set in their path. Knocked the sugar ants in my kitchen last summer down from "aaaah! Ants everywhere!" to nothing in about a day and a half.
posted by okayokayigive at 9:10 AM on June 2, 2014

We went the sweet death route with something called Optigard - if you see a trail, a little blob right in their path - they swarm, carry it back, done.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:17 AM on June 2, 2014

Use both the indoor and outdoor Terro.

If they do not show much interest (as in completely swarming the bait station) in the Terro, put down a little crumb of butter or drop of olive oil. If that's what they want, call an exterminator.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:57 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

The best way to get rid of them that I found was Combat Source Kill Max Ant Killing Gel (I bought it at Home Depot).

Twenty minutes after a squirt of the gel near where it seemed the ants were getting in, the gel was teaming with ants bringing the poison back to their nest. Within a few days, no more ants.

I tried numerous other brands of ant traps, and none of them drew in the ants like the Combat Gel did. My opinion is you want something that doesn't just repel ants as they will find ways around it. You want something that they will bring into their nest to feed and poison the colony.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:10 AM on June 2, 2014

Caulk has worked for me, but it took a surprisingly large amount.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:28 AM on June 2, 2014

Just nthing that Terro is literally the only thing that has worked for us, and we tried everything you can imagine. We struggled for years with a just ungodly amount of ants every summer, and then someone finally recommended the Terro bait traps to us. We put them all over the house and within a week we were ant free. The relief was enormous. Now we use them every summer.
posted by katyggls at 10:35 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

My last car, of all the places, used to get sugar ants in it every spring, like clockwork, after the first big rain of the year. I put a little dab of Terro on cardboard squares near each door and the dashboard, and it worked like magic.
posted by PearlRose at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2014

nthing Terro.
posted by beefetish at 11:35 AM on June 2, 2014

I've had success with using ground cloves (the kitchen spice) to repel ants (by spreading powder where I thought their access routes were. It's also a good idea to thoroughly clean areas they might have left invisible trails.

Also, the couple times that tiny ants have been a problem, I've had no luck at all with commercial ant bait traps (Raid and Combat; but I have never tried Terro, so I can't say about those). Good luck.
posted by aught at 12:48 PM on June 2, 2014

Another Terro fan. Prefer the plastic baits rather than the kind you put on the little squares.
posted by candyland at 8:30 PM on June 2, 2014

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