How can I solve my annual ant problem?
May 11, 2004 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Ahh the pitter patter of little feet. Well, I can't hear the feet but I can see them. Every year around this time I get an ant problem. I would like to solve this problem and I would like advice on solving it.

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I live in Central Wisconsin and the ants themselves are tiny little creatures with a reddish tinge to them. I've tried to bait them with grease and sugar but neither seems to attract them at all. The only thing which they've gone nuts over are:
  1. The sticky goop they use to fasten CD ROM cases to magazines
  2. This really cheap whip cream spray which I think was an edible oil product.
I've tried sprinkling diatomaceous earth all over before but that had no noticeable effect. I've tried prefabricated traps for both grease loving and sugar loving ants and they ignore them. Short of all out war involving a few gallons of gasoline and utterly no chance of getting my rental deposit back, does anybody have any advice or tried and true solutions?
posted by substrate to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
rental deposit

Magic words. Your landlord is responsible for insect problems. Let him deal with it.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:11 PM on May 11, 2004

In Iron County (Hurley), I bought Jones Ant Killer. It was sugar syrup with arsenic there. Other places I see they use boric acid. The ants found it and started a party. Drinks were on the house and the bar grew crowded, a steady stream of guests--Then they stopped coming forever.

Fascinating that central Wisconsin has a different problem, and what is in this glue, I wonders, yes, I wonders? I would have thought silicone, for no better reason than it looks similar (duh).

Mix some Jones into some of that whipcream spray, but do make sure no pet is getting into it!
posted by Goofyy at 1:26 PM on May 11, 2004

Best answer: Dissolve 1 tsp boric acid to 6 Tbsp sugar in 2c water. Dissolve completely. Soak cotton balls in the solution. Place in old yogurt/margarine tub w/small holes punched in it (keeps the balls from drying out too fast). Replace weekly.

After a month or so, you'll have an extremely reduced problem. Cut the mix down to 1/2 tsp boric acid, continue using.

This weak solution ensures the acid makes it back to the nest and the queen. If you use a stronger (ie. commercial) solution, it'll kill some of the workers, but won't make it to the queen.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:37 PM on May 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

tiny little creatures with a reddish tinge to them.
In Texas usually found in the bathrooms; called sugar ants. Mine love proteins: soap bars(contains animal fat), grease from cooked animal fat, yogurt, the caulking around the bathtub but not sugar. I used the little bait traps. The secret is placing them around the perimeter of the room, like in each corner. Have also heard to take the covers off your a/c outlets and light switches and place bait on the back of them to stop this too. I'm going to try the whole condo when I find a mixture that will adhere to the face plates.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:50 PM on May 11, 2004

The above will not work for a larger ant that I have trouble with which is red headed with a black end. Any advice?
posted by thomcatspike at 1:51 PM on May 11, 2004

I buy Terro in a little tube and put drops of it out on pieces of cardboard; it's basically what five fresh fish recommends.

I find it works really well, and yes I have the same ants, and you should come to our next meetup in Madison (or Waupaca, where they also happen).
posted by rocketman at 2:12 PM on May 11, 2004

I just asked my father a similar question as ants have migrated to our garden after we went through the trouble of making the soil useful. He suggested diazinine (sp?) crystals. Of course, he also said he refused to use the stuff when my sister and I were growing up for fear of . . . well, he didn't say, but one imagines for fear of us winding up more lunkheaded.

It's illegal to sell the stuff in NH, but Home Depot carried triazynine (will this one-upsmanship never end?) which stated right on the bag it was a replacement for the more deadly di- variety.
posted by yerfatma at 2:20 PM on May 11, 2004

If you smoke, have a nonsmoker prepare the traps. Handling the traps will contaminate them with nicotine, and the ants won't go for them.
posted by stefanie at 2:27 PM on May 11, 2004

I feel your pain. A lifelong habit of storing sugar and candy in the refrigerator has not dampened my problems with ants, since the ones in my life now are protein ants who love cat food. The Borax solution has worked for a season, but they've consistently reappeared and since they troop inside through my air ducting system, using stronger chemicals or trying to fumigate is not an option. I have been driven insane enough to forget my Buddhist principles and gone stomping and Raiding like crazy, and only felt mildly guilty afterwards. On the advice of neighbors, I now mop the floors and sop the counters with straight Lysol, and lo, it might be working. I haven't had an ant inside in months even though they stream outside on the patios. And the pine smell is nice. Though maybe they're of the same opinion about the new healthy catfood as the cats, who knows.
posted by dness2 at 2:41 PM on May 11, 2004

Oh, and planting mint around ant-y plants helps keep them out of the garden. They don't like it, for some reason.
posted by dness2 at 2:44 PM on May 11, 2004

Previous thread, including my advice about combatting ants.
posted by Danelope at 3:16 PM on May 11, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks all, I will try some of the advice. I'll try to make the next Madison meetup too (I was flying out of Minneapolis the day of the Minneapolis meetup unfortunately)
posted by substrate at 3:16 PM on May 11, 2004

" I have been driven insane enough to forget my Buddhist principles and gone stomping and Raiding like crazy, and only felt mildly guilty afterwards."

Don't feel guilty: it was their karma to be stomped. You were merely the mechanism for karmic justice. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 7:47 PM on May 11, 2004

Whatever else you do - make sure to find and plug the hole they are coming in through. This can be hard, as it can be a tiny little hole near plumbing, a window, or even an electrical outlet. But find the line of marching ants and trace them to the source. If you plug up the hole - it will help a LOT in the future.
I've got rid of sugar ants with the stuff they sell here in Texas for fire ants - I think Amdro is the brand name. It comes in crystals they carry back to the hive. Of course, I put this outside, along a windowsill, where they were entering, not in the house.
Probably not the best choice for the environment - but heck - I had ants in my house! I figure if people can spread the stuff all over their lawns just to kill outdoor ants, a small amount outside the window the sugar ants were coming in through isn't that bad.
posted by sixdifferentways at 8:25 PM on May 11, 2004

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