Ants, you're not welcome anymore
October 12, 2015 8:48 PM   Subscribe

I have ants in my kitchen. Anyone have any suggestions on how to discourage them?

Must be cat-safe, the kitchen is open plan to the lounge room which is cat central.

Official pest control guy is unavailable til Monday (today is Tuesday.)

Australian ants.
posted by Year of meteors to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Basic things: get potential food sources out of the way, identify / trace back the point of entry by seeing where the buggers are coming and going, use gel or liquid baits on counters or window ledges that the cats don't frequent -- places that are close to their way into the house. Also see if you can use borax barrier treatments.
posted by holgate at 8:59 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cinnamon and cream of tartar mixed together, sprinkled liberally around entry points. They don't like to walk on it.

At least, this works for Argentine ants. Not sure about Australian ones.
posted by number9dream at 9:07 PM on October 12, 2015

If you've seen any of them in your cabinets, then there is some stuff you can buy which is a thick sugar solution with boric acid mixed in. You pour some of the stuff onto a piece of carboard and leave it near where you've seen ants.

They find it, and carry it back to feed the queen, and it kills her. The nest will continue on momentum for a few weeks until all the remaining eggs have hatched and those ants have died of old age, and then it's gone for good.

You can also make your own.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:24 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's one product like the one Chocolate Pickle mentioned.

I used this exact product for a large carpenter ant infestation on a backyard tree, and it seems to have worked. I have cats and a dog and they didn't seem interested in it at all, and I'm not sure if it would be harmful to them in any case.

But do make sure if you use these that you don't also use an ant killer. You don't want to kill them outside of the nest, you want them to carry the bait back to the nest, which will wipe it out from within.
posted by The Deej at 10:00 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi, in Australia with occasional sugar ant issues. After having a professional come deal with mine, I did follow up treatments with the gel syringe I picked up at Cole's, the same way the pest control guy did - squeezing a tiny bit in a corner here and there where I commonly see ants. Works like a charm, and putting tiny bits exactly where you need them (like in corners of the pantry or along a window frame) it keeps it out of the way of pets.
posted by olinerd at 10:11 PM on October 12, 2015

Cats don't have taste buds sensitive to sugar, so they're not interested in things that are sweet.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:39 PM on October 12, 2015

Are your ants on the floor? Because I've always used the talcum powder/vacuum cleaner method to get rid of ants on the floor. Shake talcum powder (ACTUAL talcum powder, not cornstarch) on the ants, vacuum them up. The talcum powder kills them so they don't take up residence in your vacuum cleaner. I will actually be doing this tomorrow because a big rainstorm sent a bunch of ants into my kitchen.

This, of course, doesn't solve the larger problem of ant encroachment, but it will get rid of the ants on the floor. (I've gotten rid of smaller infestations by doing this daily for a few days and making sure there were no crumbs on the floor.)
posted by Aquifer at 10:48 PM on October 12, 2015

If they are coming from up high, can't hurt to trim back any tree branches or other plants touching your roof/walls/providing a highway for them.
posted by emjaybee at 11:04 PM on October 12, 2015

I use Terro ant baits here in CA, and they work really well.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:53 AM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Terro liquid baits, that is.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:53 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

On Lord of the Ants, the recent PBS documentary, ant expert E.O. Wilson suggested a scientific approach which he suggests to those who ask him how to get rid of ants in their kitchen (though it will certainly require inordinate patience): Crumble a cookie on your kitchen counter and observe the ants that come to collect it, where they come from and where they go.
posted by fairmettle at 3:06 AM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Locate where they enter the house and then smear lemon juice all over that spot.
posted by travellingincognito at 5:16 AM on October 13, 2015

I use bay leaves. I keep them in pantry drawers and tucked behind things on the counter, or other discrete places. Works a charm. I bought one of those huge containers from the warehouse store for less than a small container at the grocery.

I have pets and would absolutely not leave borax out where they could get to it.

I do not know Australian ants, however.
posted by slipthought at 5:22 AM on October 13, 2015

I had good luck based on a tip from a neighbor about using very soapy water. I mixed dish soap with water and liberally squeezed/sprayed it in counter crevices and pantry shelves, and left a thin film of soapy water to dry. That really worked. They seem to hate soap.
posted by Miko at 6:11 AM on October 13, 2015

I use Orange Guard, especially in the kitchen and around pets - I still keep them away from it until it is dry. It is oily, and will leave marks on walls, if you aren't careful. I have used it in conjunction with the Terro baits - use the Terro baits for a couple of days, and then kill all remaining ants.
posted by needlegrrl at 6:13 AM on October 13, 2015

I also use Orange Guard, after doing the basic kitchen hygiene steps (cleaning counters, putting away all food). I've found that following the ant trails back to where they're getting in and soaking that location with the spray tends to be most effective. Even if Orange Guard isn't available in Australia, it's at least proof that pet-safe ant sprays exist. (And none of the cats around whom I've used it have shown any interest in licking it or otherwise getting into it.)
posted by jaguar at 6:51 AM on October 13, 2015

Our exterminator said to use Windex to keep them down until he could get here. Real Windex. Worked great.
posted by raisingsand at 8:10 AM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

The local equivalent to Terro is Ant-Rid.
posted by zamboni at 8:51 AM on October 13, 2015

Terro and equivalents are amazing. Nothing toxic to pets. You can even get the liquid in a squeeze bottle and leave little drops of it on pieces of paper all over the place (more cost-effective than the bait traps) and it works like magic.
posted by jessamyn at 8:59 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Terro is great and we also use the Windex method. If you wipe it across their "trails" they become confused (temporarily) and "forget" how to get to whatever it is that drew them in the first place. If you spray them with Windex, they die. Then Terro for the old "bait and switch" which draws them to it instead of the food source they'd been heading for. Also cayenne pepper on the floor where you see them entering and exiting your room/house.
posted by Lynsey at 9:55 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

1. Clean, very thoroughly. Wipe every surface with Windex or a similar ammonia-based surface cleaner.
2. Then put down Terro or another similar product that has both an attractant/food and a take-back poison. Terro et al are basically just Borax and sugar in a gel base; you can make it at home if you want.
3. Steeple your fingers and wait for victory.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:51 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh and as far as cats are concerned, none of the cats I've ever owned have shown any interest in Terro baits at all. Sometimes they'll bat around the containers (because it's a new thing! and what else do you do with a new thing except poke at it?) but if they're taped down they're much less interesting.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:53 PM on October 13, 2015

During any season, we use painters tape to seal any gaps between door and frame, between baseboard and floor, etc. See if u can figure out where they are coming from, and then tape away!!Good luck
posted by leslievictoria at 8:46 PM on October 13, 2015

Somebody I know noticed that they started getting ants in the kitchen when they switched to the big, long, white plastic bags. As soon as they went back to the black ones, the ants stopped coming so something in the physical makeup of the large white plastic bags kept attracting the ants. Weird, I know.
posted by I-baLL at 9:29 PM on October 13, 2015

Half a cup of white sugar
Half a cup of boiling water
1 teaspoon borax

Stir until everything dissolves. Store in a screw top jar in the fridge. You've just made bulk Ant-Rid.

Put a bottle cap half full of the syrup somewhere near where the trail of ants is coming in. Cover it with something heavy that the cats can't knock over but ants can crawl in and out of (I use a little upside-down gravy jug).

The syrup doesn't really smell of anything, so as long as the cats don't encounter a sweet treat by accident they're unlikely to bother with it. Ants, on the other hand, will lose interest in going further than the Bottle Cap Of Doom almost as soon as one of their scouts finds it, and you will end up with a short ant superhighway that just ends right there. Three days later the bottle cap will be empty and the nest will be dead.
posted by flabdablet at 7:35 AM on October 14, 2015

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