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Getting Rid of ANTS!!!

So I feel like I'm in a bad sci-fi movie. There are ants everywhere in my kitchen! Counters, cabinets, stove, sink, walls, - everywhere. I have a patio deck off of the kitchen where I have an herb / vegetable garden. They've invaded there as well. I was watering my plants last night, when the dirt around the parsley literally erupted with rivers of tiny black ants! Ugh!

Does anyone have any ideas how to get rid of them? The kitchen is clean, that's not the problem. The only thing I can think of is that we're doing demolition / construction / rehab in the basement and back yard. Maybe we disturbed the little guys? No matter why they're here - THEY'VE GOT TO GO.

For various reasons, I'd like to avoid the exterminator. Any ideas?

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  1. mix borax and some maple syrup.......

    17 Replies
    1. re: srsone

      I never heard of borax and maple syrup. Kinda like catching flies with honey?

      1. re: Whinerdiner

        yes...borax has all kinds of uses..
        and its not a chemical spray

      2. re: srsone

        Or, if you prefer the non-DIY, no-mess version, I have good luck with Terro Liquid Ant Baits, which are a borax + sugar solution in a little plastic capsule. You cut off the tip and place them in the ants' paths of entry/invasion. They go in, snag some of it, and take it back to share - and end up sharing the message, "This is not a safe place!" Just keep an eye on the baits for when they've been emptied out, and need replacing. You can find them at most hardware stores and drugstores, and feel safe using them in your kitchen and around pets.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          ^^^ THESE! My sister told me about them when I moved into my new townhouse, and the little ants came out on the counter and floor in the kitchen and dining room. I put out 3 traps - one tucked away on the counter, one under the sink, and one near the fridge, and in less than 2 days - no more ants. Home Depot and Lowes sell them in 6-packs, I believe.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Amazing timing--I just "Terro'd" my kitchen counter. Terro also comes in a small bottle, with little tear off paper bits to put it on (you can also cut up a slick paper like a toothpaste box--anything that won't absorb the liquid). While I HATE attracting more ants, it's the best long-ish term solution. I also then look like mad to find their entry point--found it by a patio door, an opening I will close up with caulk once they've taken the Terro back to their hives. CAN'T STAND ANTS--sorry to yell at you, I'm yelling at the ants. Disgusting buggers.

          2. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Ditto!! Every spring we have the little *sugar ant* issue. I put out the Terro, which I buy at the local Grange Co-Op, and in a week they are gone until the next spring. Ace Hardware Stores also sell it. I've found the liquid works better than the little bait-filled stakes.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Terro used to sell a small glass bottle containing a thick syrup type liquid. Put a drop on a small piece of card board with the same idea as the capsule. Very effective for carpenter ants.

              1. re: srsone

                Or borax and white sugar - less messy and equally effective.

                1. re: BobB

                  depends on the ants...
                  i have seen some ants pass right by sugar and borax
                  (maybe they can smell the borax??)

                  but so far none i have tried it on have passed up syrup

                  1. re: BobB

                    I've done this when I could get borax. It works great for some varieties of ants. There are a couple of varieties of ants who were not at all attracted by sugar, though, so this didn't work on them. Still, it's an excellent place to start.

                    1. re: LMAshton

                      Some varieties are attracted by fat. So mix a bit of borax up with some peanut butter and put that out.

                      1. re: Leepa

                        If only I could get borax here... :)

                        1. re: LMAshton

                          Where are you? Borax is a common ingredient in pottery glazes so if there is a pottery supply or a potter nearby, then you could probably get some there. Same thing.

                          1. re: Leepa

                            I'm in Malaysia. It's not available in grocery stores, nor is it allowed to be imported. Singapore is the same way. Sri Lanka, it wasn't available in stores, either. I didn't know it was used in pottery glazes. I'll look into that, although given that it cannot legally be imported, I have to wonder if potters are even allowed to use it.

                            1. re: LMAshton

                              It depends on the type of ant you're dealing with, where they're located & whether you have have pets, kids or are completely against the use of poisons. Unlike the 60s & 70s dumping poison everywhere is frowned upon. Borax used to be used frequently but it too has become disliked by some. Sugar & proteins are what the scouts are looking to bring back to the nest. If possible eliminate all food products, waste, trash etc. (good luck with that 1)= no food, no ants. Get a spray bottle, add a bit of dish soap to water add some mint oil or citrus oil or ground rind, it'll kill them & destroy their chemical trail. They hate vinegar, add a little soap to that as well, (it's effective on nasty plant eating bugs too)Different foods can also kill ants, corn meal, oat meal, porridge-dry They'll eat it, it expands, their digestion system can't deal with it. If you use the poisons do not wipe down your counter tops or where ever the baits are. You want the scouts to bring back the poison to the nest. Others will follow the chemical trail & the death toll will grow exponentially. If you have visible hills in your yard pots of boiling water are like nukes

                              1. re: fritzmerde

                                None of the above have worked for our infestation...

                2. Part of the problem is the heat most of the country has been experiencing. They're looking for water. We've got ants at work and the office at which I attended a board meeting last night was really struggling with them as well.

                  Ant stakes to tend to work outside and around the house in my location, Southern California. Inside, I've had remarkably good luck with ground cinnamon , particularly around pet food dishes. It's messy and not a particularly long term solution.

                  If an infestation is really bad, as politically incorrect as it is, I usually resort to RAID.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    The heat explanation makes sense. Thanks. At least if I use cinnamon the house will smell nice. Ironically, the ants have steered clear of the pet food dishes on the floor.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      I'm a big fan of the Raid that comes in a little squeeze bottle that is syrupy. You put it our and it attracts them. We've never had a full-blown infestation when we put it out at the first sign of them. It must be working, because there are none in the house but the yards teeming.

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        We used cinnamon this year too, it did work but yes, very messy.

                      2. I hate to use the stuff, but Raid is far and away the best solution. Many years ago I lived in CA with a very earthy-crunchy roommate. We had a continual low-grade ant infestation which she insisted on countering with borax and bay leaves. This did not work in the least and the ants just got worse and worse. Finally when I came home one day and found a parade of ants leading straight to the freezer, right underneath the gasket, and into the freezer compartment--ending up with a heap of frozen ants--I took drastic action. One furious application of Raid later, we never saw another ant. No more home remedies for me. Just open the windows, go wild with the poison once, cough your way through the smell for a few hours, and then clean up the kitchen thoroughly.

                        I have also applied Raid outside where I see ant nests. In my last house they used to live right in the foundation sometimes. Every couple of years they would end up coming through the window and heading straight for the kitchen cabinets. I just let loose with the Raid and that would be it for another 2-3 years.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: travelmad478

                          Hate the smell too, but a big fan of RAID, it works.

                          Because I have a multi-cat household when I resort to using it I generally spray it lightly on the line of ants and then immediately go over the sprayed area with a paper towel. Not only does this pick up the dead ants, it removes any excess spray and leaves enough of a residue to be effective and it cuts down on that offensive odor

                          1. re: travelmad478

                            Lucky!! Raid kills ants on contact it seems... but I'm pretty sure our house is on top of four nests. Its super gnarly.

                            1. re: FritaK

                              You need to kill not only the ants you see coming in the house, but also all of the ones living in the yard. Granular insecticide and a spreader will help if you have a lawn.

                              1. re: babette feasts

                                We barely have a lawn anymore (drought/SoCal)... and I have no idea how many nests are in the backyard alone. There are a lot of ants under my veggie garden too. We have pets, so that's when it gets into sketchy territory. So far the "safe" way hasn't worked.

                                1. re: FritaK

                                  Yeah, in Sri Lanka, killing all the ants in the yard as well would never happen. It's just not possible. We've had ant nests inside our concrete walls, below our ceramic tiles in the concrete floor, living in our wooden window frames, and that's just the inside. Ant nests in the house alone would probably number close to a hundred. Even if you managed to get rid of all the ants on your property, the next day, new ant nests would be created by invading ants from next door. It's all jungle there. There's just no way to escape ants.

                                  1. re: LMAshton

                                    Once I tried what I read worked in the tropics: put a lot of the food into a water "moat"--jar of sugar, for example, sitting on a saucer with water around it. Worked, but sheesh, that's desperate!

                                    1. re: pine time

                                      Yeah, we do that. Or keep everything in the fridge, freezer, or in air tight containers. We have to do that with everything.

                                      But even with that, in at least some tropical countries, you will *still* have hundreds if not thousands of ants in your house and even more in your yard. That's just the nature of living in the tropics.

                                      1. re: LMAshton

                                        Well, I guess at least they "poop" in the garden and that's good for the ecosystem.

                                        Either way, I got the Terro Bait and they are going for it like crazy. Let's see if the stuff gets carried back to the nest!

                          2. I've had good luck with baits, but only one specific kind: Terro liquid pre-filled baits. I get them at Lowe's. These worked way better than anything else I've ever tried, but of course you need to be able to put them in places that are out of reach of your pets. The active ingredient in these is in fact borax if I remember right, and the liquid is syrupy so probably has something sweet, but the simplicity of using the pre-filled baits was more appealing.

                            Now in my case I was pretty certain of where they were coming in from outside, through the garage. I placed several of these distributed between near the garage door, near the door into the house from the garage, and in the laundry room which is right next to that door in from the garage. After that I have seen very few ants in the house this year, whereas in the spring before doing that I kept seeing them. Even though I would occasionally see ants upstairs before, well away from the garage, these baits (none of which are upstairs) seems to have stopped them all, so they must not have an inside colony and must not have been coming in from anywhere else.

                            That said, it also coincided with some removal of old partly-rotting wood features and scraps from outside, so that may have removed a colony wholesale which would have helped. But, interestingly I found some ants in the garage the other day, and checked my baits which were running dry. I put out some fresh ones and haven't seen any already last couple days.

                            It's weird that the ants haven't gone after the pet food; in past years (before getting a different kind of food bowl holder, and before I found the right baits) I used to find them sometimes in my cat's bowl.

                            1. Generally, I'm not an "earthy-crunchy" ( I love that) kinda girl. Normally, I'd take the path of least resistance and just spray the suckers. However, we have big birds who are big time sensitive to chemicals. Heck, I can't even use Febreeze because it could kill them.

                              You guys are giving me some great ideas. Thanks.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Whinerdiner

                                im not so earthy crunchy either...
                                just cheap...

                                i have used borax as a laundry booster for years and since discovered its many other uses...

                                buying a 6$ assortment of spray bottles and making my own cheap versions of cleaners is a lot more cost effective than buying a 5 spray of only one kind cleaner...

                                like glass cleaner...a little ammonia in some water...cleans glass just as well as the blue stuff..

                                1. re: srsone

                                  Cheap works for me. I'm jumping on the borax bandwagon!

                                2. re: Whinerdiner

                                  not related to ants, but if you have big birds as pets, avoid non-stick pans.

                                3. the problem with baits and liquids is it's not a fast solution from my experience. it takes a while and it can be quite off putting for some when they swarm the bait in hordes. although, they may actually work in the end cause they haven't been back since. i can't really be too sure that's the solution..

                                  so if speed is an issue, you may have to go with sprays. it's a fast solution although not always a long term solution.

                                  i've read the following garden-ing solutions have been to find the ant hills/nests and pour boiling water into them. this is only highly effective if it kills the queen though. another solution has been if you find more than one colony, take shoveful from one and throw it into the others to have them fight it out. ant colonies have different pheromones so they can tell who the intruders are.

                                  for the most part, it wouldn't hurt to follow their trail to see if you can block any entrances.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: catbert

                                    The baits take a few days to work, so around June, at the first sign of heat, I buy a multipack and hide them around the house (hide, because of curious cats). The first time I had an ant attack, I woke up millions of them, everywhere, and never want to go through that again. It's worth the $5 or $10 once a year. I leave them there until the next spring, when I replace them.

                                  2. It is definitely the demolition. We've had the same problem almost every time we (or a neighbor) has done demo. You've disturbed a nest, and if you're on the west coast, you live on top of the world's largest ant colony.

                                    Sometimes, the problem subsides when the construction is done. This happened to us once in our Salem, MA house. We had them for about 6 weeks, and then they went away. The other times (in other areas), we had to get help, because you really need to know whether you are dealing with sugar ants or pharoah ants, or some other type of ant. They all require different measures. Some ants require protein at some point in their life cyles and sugar at others, so you use a bait that has poison in both. Others need only sugar, so you just poison that. Spraying doesn't work with some ants, such as pharoah ants, while it does work with sugar ants. Try the remedies people suggest here (borax kills most pests, but you still need to put it in a medium they'll actually want to eat, and you will only keep them at bay), but if you're not happy, call a pro. If they seem clueless, or just want to spray chemicals without identifying the type of ant, call someone else.

                                    1. I clean up the existing ants in the house with something benign like Windex. It kills them and doesn't hurt anybody else or leave a bad residue. Then I follow that trail back to where they are coming in--almost always from an identifiable spot like a window or crack in the wall etc and that's where I spray with poison made specifically to stop them. If it's a window I will spray around it from the outside etc. So far, it works for me. PS It also helps to know what they like. Most I've dealt with likely oily protein like tuna cat food but years ago I had ants come up a story and a half to swarm a spoon with jam left on it on the counter.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        I'm just going to go on record as not being able to find a trail, ever. Even if I wait up until late at night (when they're supposed to be more active) it just doesn't work. I typically find single or a few ants multiple times a day when I have a problem, and they've always been all different places. My guessing at placing stuff in and near the garage entrance was only a guess.

                                        Everything I read says you have to find the trail, but it ain't always that obvious. ;-)

                                        1. re: CrazyOne

                                          as far as i understand ants...the trail is scent based...the scout ants forage and find food/water..then leave a scent trail behind that other ants follow
                                          so if u clean around the area where they are/were u will probably get rid of the trail...

                                          but then im not a myrmecologist either...
                                          and i have never played one on TV...
                                          or stayed at a holiday inn last night...

                                          1. re: CrazyOne

                                            Agreed, there have been many times I simply cannot find a trail, which frustrates the bejebbers out of me. Even when I find the trail and seal the opening, the little *(#(#@ things will find another miniscule crack. Can you tell I have a slight obsession with these creatures?

                                        2. then dont watch THEM!!! either.....
                                          one of the best scifi movies about ants...

                                          1. Chinese Miracle Ant Chalk!! It is!! It works and you only have to draw a small line somewhere. The ants are gone. It is hard to find because it is banned. It could be dangerous if kids eat it thinking it's ordinary chalk. It contains the same poison as raid but in smaller quantities, so keep it away from kids and pets. No mess. No smell. You can only find it in Chinese neighborhoods.

                                            1. So far, I haven't been able to find the trail. I don't know what kind they are ( they just seem really tiny) and I'm not sure what they like, since food hasn't touched my countertops in days.

                                              Since I do plan to be in Chinatown tonight (sleepover for child, date night for hubby and me) I'll try to find some contraband Ant Chalk. Maybe a movie marathon after dinner with "THEM" in a double feature. We'll skip the popcorn, maybe some chocolate covered ants?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Whinerdiner

                                                If you can't use sprays, and if the Borax doesn't work, I've always had good luck with the D-Con bait traps. I set three or four in corners behind appliances and in a closet and the ants disappear in a couple of days.

                                              2. Happy to report another Terro success....we're down by 99% of the nasty ants, so by tomorrow, will seal the tiny crack. Sadly, I know they'll just find another entry point, so we claim that we're just herding them from one spot to another.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  Would this work for outside? We have many anthills, but fortunately they haven't come inside. But we can't sit in the backyard or else they crawl all over us. We tried sticks in the ground (for ants) we tried a few other things, to no avail. Is this product available in Canada?

                                                  1. re: Godslamb

                                                    Don't know about it's availability in Canada, but it definitely works outside. If it's windy, however, we tape down the little paper bits to keep 'em in place. Cleared out a huge invasion of ants in just 1 day off our patio.

                                                    1. re: Godslamb

                                                      If you know where ant colonies are outside you can use some granular insect barrier/killer type stuff right on the area. I sometimes will find an obvious ant colony spot in the yard while mowing. Containers of the granules usually have directions for this, typically pour onto the anthill and then water a bit immediately. I've had some success with this. Don't know what products are available in Canada. Here a common one is Ortho Home Defense, designed to be poured around the outside of the house but can also be used this way for ants. Terro also makes a granular product. And several years ago I had one made by Bayer that was quite effective and also worked on a digger wasp nest (hole in the ground). For the wasps you have to do this at night though. Ants are usually more active at night so I think you can do it during the day.

                                                      1. re: Godslamb

                                                        They make special outdoor ones that are more substantial and can be staked to the ground (stakes included). Google "Terro outdoor liquid ant baits." Amazon sells them.

                                                    2. terro is the best. Living in California the ants always come into the house in the winter. Have tried cinnamon, cayenne powder, cleaning their path with dish detergent, water & vinegar, ant baits (those little brownish plastic boxes) etc. I finally resorted to Terro about 6 months ago after several years of seasonal visits from the little beasts. At first it seems to do the opposite because the ants flock to the liquid, but after several days to a week never saw another...that was 4-6 months ago. I have little children and kept them away from the ants that we saw staggering around after they ate the Terro - the shop that sold it to me said it was safe for kids, but I just didn't want them messing with it.

                                                        1. Another vote for Terro. I've used it for years, and love to watch the little ant parties around the pool of Terro. Best part is, after the party, the remaining ants pick up their little buddies that didn't survive and take them home with them.
                                                          That's a good houseguest, if you ask me.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                            LOL!!! I didn't have the pleasure of seeing the ants clean up after themselves, especially hauling away their drunk buddies. I just know they disappeared.

                                                            Love the visual. ;-)

                                                            1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                              Nasty, but funny! The one good thing about ants is that they're cannibalistic, or whatever the term is for non-human critters that eat their own kind.

                                                            2. Update:

                                                              I never did find the Ant Chalk. I bought the Borax and maple syrup, but had visions of the cats getting into it, so I decided to try something else first. I skipped the bait traps, as I tried them before the original post without much success. I decided to go with the cinnamon. It worked! It was like ant Kryptonite. Ha! they went running. It was great to see them go. It's been a few days now and so far so good.

                                                              Thanks again for all the great ideas.

                                                              1. Pour an amount of juice in a certain area and ants will go out of their place.


                                                                1. If you truly have an infestation (as I do) you may have a nest in the house and you really will need an exterminator - I know it can get expensive (assuming thats one of your reasons to avoid) - but I have found that it's completely worth it to get a year long contract, which should cover quarterly service with as many calls as you need as the ants come back - this summer I've had him in almost every other week - they're still here, but a little more manageable than they would be other wise - and other years, when it hasn't been so bad, they've been totally eradicated.

                                                                  You won't be able to predict where the ants go - they go after something different as they need it - water, sugar, meat, dog food - in my house it changes every day.

                                                                  I tried borax, chili, cinnamon, traps, spray and nothing works....

                                                                  The best for a immediate solution is Fantastik - less toxic than Raid or other brands and pretty much as effective.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: harryharry

                                                                    Forgot to add - my contract is about $80/quarter

                                                                  2. if the ants are on the cabnets use a musturd or catsup bottle got mine from dollar general. put baby powder in the bottle cut the hole just a little bit bigger and put around the backs of the cabnets it really works and not hard to clean

                                                                    1. I am a small contractor in P.E.I. . Ants like any living thing need water to survive an ant problem in a Canadian winter means you have a moisture problem if your place was built in the nineties or earlier chances are the vapor barrier is not sealed (and some present day contractors are lax about sealing it) . Get a reputable contractor to seal it and the ants should die or move on . Blown in cellulose insulation has borax in it as a mold and fire retardant it also kills ants. P.S. if your contractor doesn't suggest this because of the winter ants he doesn't know what to do to solve it

                                                                      1. I am cool with snakes and the like but can't stand bugs. Years ago I bought a 1/2 gallon of Talstar P concentrate from "Do Your Own Pest Control". Every spring (NJ) I follow the mixing directions to a T and spray the foundation. Safe for pets after it dries. NO BUGS!

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                          Oh for the days of chlordane!

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            Talstar P and others are still available and work well but:

                                                                            Chlordane was the king and oh boy the residual value.

                                                                            I think the fortunes of war turned for the roaches in NYC when they banned it :-)

                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                              We rented a house in the mid 90s and my husband found a jar of chlordane in the shed. He hoarded it until our next house, when we had some kind of infestation in the roof. When he showed the exterminator, he acted like he died and went to heaven! You can bet he guaranteed that job for life!

                                                                        2. I found that Terro liquid ant bait works pretty well. Much better for me than Raid.

                                                                          1. do not buy any other brand but terro ant products. buy some of those 6 pack terro ant baits. 2 days you will see ZERO ants!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: knownbyjesus

                                                                              it better - the rain has sent the ants in - hopefully the terro will eradicate them - I hate the buggers

                                                                            2. Last resort: Go 'Algernon' on them ants.

                                                                              1. I've been one of those who said get the Terro Liquid Ant Baits, and I'll give yet another recommendation.

                                                                                My CFO had ants in his office last week - the small kind I had 3 years ago when I moved into my townhouse. Maybe 10-15 wandering around on a rock windowsill behind his desk (we're in an old mill, so I'm sure there are thousands of ways these little buggers can get in here!)

                                                                                I brought in two Terro Liquid Ant Baits from home. We clipped open one, and within 2-3 minutes, all of those 10-15 ants were hovering around the opening. A half hour later, he IM'ed me and said "ants are out of control!!" I went to look - there were HUNDREDS of ants trying to get into the liquid inside the bait trap. (This is what they warn you on the Terro website, but also say they'll go away in a little while.) So we cut open another one, and more showed up for the party.

                                                                                The next morning? They were virtually all gone. And after the holiday weekend, there's only about 4 of them total, and they're drunkenly stumbling around, not sure what they're doing.

                                                                                THESE THINGS WORK, PEOPLE. :-)

                                                                                1. 1. Identify your ants
                                                                                  2. Go to DoMyOwnPestControl.com or DoYourOwnPestControl.com
                                                                                  3. Select the correct poison sugar bait and protein bait for your ants. They sell exactly what the exterminators use.
                                                                                  4. On occasion a small amount will come back next year so save your baits in a safe place and repeat.
                                                                                  You will then be ant FREE!! This MaxForce is also available on Amazon.
                                                                                  Items from big box stores do not kill the Queen which is essential.

                                                                                  1. OK here's my update: for years, I got swarms of winged or not bugs every spring, sprayed them with ant spray, put down traps and they'd disappear. Finally had to call an exterminator and guess what...they were termites and eating up the back steps which is the area of the house where they always showed up. He treated it, grudgingly because I couldn't afford a full house fumigation. But he acted like an expert and sure of himself, so I went with the $500 vs $1500 fee, no guarantee.

                                                                                    To my surprise, for the first time, this spring there wasn't a bug to be seen in May/June. I was all stocked up with ant traps due to past history but guess that was money down the drain. Live and learn.