Thursday, October 18, 2012

All Life is Sacred... Unless It's That of an Ant

The Sounders say no to ants under the sink.
For the last several days, the hubs and I have been waging war against ants.  And unfortunately, this is the second battle we've faced since moving in to our house. 

Even before we officially moved in, I had a feeling ants would be a problem since they were crawling up the outside of the house.  Within days of moving in, we were fighting them.  They were coming in through under the molding around the front door to get to the cat food in the dining room, through a power outlet into the kitchen to get at anything on the counter, through a mystery access area from our closet to get to a hairball extruded by Gus in our bedroom, and through a crack in between our bathtub and vanity to get to water in our bathroom. 

Seriously.  Think orcs and uruk hai swarming the fellowship in Lord of the Rings.  There's a never-ending supply of them, and they just keep coming, no matter what you do.  The only thing to defeat them is something more sinister and evil than they are, or to just run away.

Since we can't run away, the only thing we've been able to do is kill the ones we see, try to close off entryways, and keep minimizing their food source by being extra clean and meticulous about putting things away in sealed containers.

We haven't had to resort to the real sinister stuff thus far.  (By sinister stuff, I mean the hardcore chemicals.)  First we put down a nice layer of diatomaceous earth all around the outside of our house.  We definitely saw fewer ants after this.  And dude, this stuff is CRAZY.  While putting it down, we saw it in action.  Any ant that fell into a pile would writhe in agony for about 15 seconds and would go still.  It was AWESOME.  How it works is that the tiny dead diatoms (one-celled organisms made of silica) instantly absorb the lipids on the outer layers of the ants' exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate.  I like to think of it as like the ants falling into a pile of super sharp samurai swords.  (At least that is the effect it has on them.)  Diatomaceous earth is considered a mechanical insecticide, and since it is not a chemical and is a naturally occurring substance, I feel completely at ease with using it around the house.  This also took care of the ants coming in from the front door.

As far as the ants coming from inside the house, we started off with Terro ant killer, which is basically a sugar/Borax mixture.  (Borax is also a naturally occurring chemical known to nerds as sodium (tetra)borate.)  This is a clear liquid that you drop onto a piece of thick paper.  The ants take it back to the colony and it is supposed to kill the colony from the inside out.  The bottle says that it could take up to two weeks to take effect, but we used it religiously under our sink for three weeks and the ants just kept coming.

Our semi-effective arsenal.
We then got tired of this and tried an ant spray.  Shawn found a spray that was soybean oil-based that said it was safe to use in the house around kids and pets so I was ok with this.  This stuff also kills ants instantly but it only works if the ants are doused in it.  It leaves an oily residue that the ants don't like so it also works to close off certain entry-areas.  This worked to take care of the ants in the bathroom.  We sprayed the ants under the sink and where they were coming from so I assumed that we had beat them.

Terro is delicious.  But does it kill them?
Until 3 days ago.  (Sigh.)  This time, they were coming in from the crack between the molding and the brick that lines the outside of our fireplace.  And the worst part of it was that they found the food in Skipper's cage.  They were ALL OVER.  It was so sad.  His food dish was full of them.  We tried spraying the crack where they were coming in but it only worked for a few hours, and unfortunately we couldn't spray the carpet or lay down diatomaceous earth.  For now, we've killed all the ants that were around and put down a bit of Terro.  They are still coming in, but at least the bait station has deterred them from getting into his cage.  They are also back under the sink.  I think the cold weather we had for a while made them go away, but since it's been a little warmer they're coming back again.  I'm hoping when it gets cold again they'll go away once again.

I hated ants before, but now my hatred toward them has reached an all-time high.  I kill them like it's nothing.  I squish them, decapitate them, stomp on them, collect their dead bodies on my fingers, and on paper towels, suck them up with the vacuum cleaner, wash them down the drain, and watch them try to run away from certain death and laugh as they die under the pressure of my finger.  This is not the normal me.  I love all life.  Look, I'm a person who can't even kill a spider.  I always take them outside.  But ants are a different story.  They are a different kind of evil, and when you come into my house and disturb my peace you are messing with a different kind of Hana.

But now I don't know what to do.  Now that the rains have started, diatomaceous earth has lost it's power and I really don't feel like throwing away a bunch of Skipper's food every time the ants find it.  The Terro stuff doesn't really seem to work and the spray has minimal usage.  So now we are finally contemplating bringing in the big guns.  Maybe an exterminator?  Maybe buy a big bottle of the mean stuff at Home Depot?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I'm angry and frustrated and feel like killing millions of tiny... little... black... ants.


  1. Chalk lines disrupt their scent trails. We've also had pretty good luck with (not at all natural, but oh so satisfying) Costco foaming window cleaner or plain blue window cleaner.

  2. My Mom finds their hole outside, boils a kettle of water and then pours the water down the hole. The trick to this is laughing maniacally while you do it.


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