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Kitchen ant infestation

Put out sticky traps and bait, but the ants simply detour around them. Any suggestions? (We have a dog, so can't use anything toxic.)

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  1. If you find them swarming the counter or in the cabinets, Windex will kill them. It will not prevent them from coming back though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: baseballfan

      I use windex too. It does discourage them, although it does not guarantee they won't come back, but I find it useful and can't stand the smell of insect sprays.

      1. re: baseballfan

        This (windex) is what our pest control guy suggested. He said to make sure to get the whole line/path that they follow because they are following the smell themselves, and will stop doing so if it is covered up/cleaned up by the windex (or any other cleaner with a strong smell).

        If you have gutters outside the kitchen make sure you've had those cleaned out. Ants love building nests in them when there are lots of leaves and then they inevitably find a way into the house. Good luck.

      2. Bait is the only thing that works, because you need them to take the poison back to the colony. We've found that nothing works as well as Terro brand liquid ant bait. If we can identify where the trail is outside the house we put the bait there. If we can't, we cut holes a cardboard box, so we can fit it like hut over the ant trail with "doors" for the trails themselves, and put the bait in there. We have cats so we also also weigh the box down with something so the cats can't get to the bait.

        12 Replies
        1. re: PegS

          Was just about to suggest the same product - it worked amazingly well - and this was after years of regular exterminating by a professional

          I really like your suggestion of putting a box over with with a weight on top - I have a dog and worry about him getting into this stuff.

          1. re: PegS

            I recommend Terro, too. The ants have crazy Terro parties, take the stuff back to the nest, and come back to clean up the ones that died on the way home.
            It is so fascinating watching the ring of them crowding around the little puddle of Terro.
            By the way, I have cats, and they don't go near the bits of cardboard with the drops of goop on them.

            1. re: jmcarthur8

              Yup... I loved watching the ants... I could even see the ones who had filled up on the bait - the ones going back to the nest were more translucent than the ones going towards the bait -
              Made washing dishes way more entertaining!

            2. re: PegS

              I also recommend Terro ant baits (which is a boric acid solution), but indoors, I use the little plastic capsules where you snip off a tiny piece to give the ants access. No exposed goop. It does take a few days for the cycle to work.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Another Terro fan, but I must admit that seeing the swarms of ants on the bait is disgusting. Better that, I guess, than spraying hazardous poisons around food products. IF you can find the access point from outside, use more Terro there. Sometimes, though, it seems the ants materialize out of thin air!

                1. re: pine time

                  We have also used Terro for little sugar ants, but if the ants want protein, not sugar, Terro doesn't work because it is corn syrup based.

                  1. re: Isolda

                    That's right, Isolda, it's the little Argentines that like the sweet stuff. If you have carpenter ants, you're just SOL.

                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                      Maybe "SOL" would be a good name for an exterminating company. Tried everything? Nothing worked? When you're SOL, we're there for you!

                      1. re: Isolda

                        LOL--I'll have to check for that on Angie's List!

                      2. re: Isolda

                        Oddly enough, it was the Argentine ants that steadfastly ignored the Terro, both back in Tennessee and here in SoCal. They LOVE my hummingbird feeder (or did until I set an oil trap in the line), but Terro they just walked around.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Also in SoCal, and we solved the ants in the hum feeder by putting a little water cup above the feeder (you can buy commercial ones, but we made ours). No more ants. Plus, lots of Tanglefoot on the citrus, but that's another story.

                2. We used a bait with boric acid which worked wonders! I don't think it's toxic, but I'm not for sure.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    We use boric acid but you need the ants to bring it back to their nests. We find where they're coming in the house, put the boric acid there, cover w/ plastic wrap so the ants don't go elsewhere in the house. It has low toxicity but still needs care:


                    I use 409 to kill ants and leave the spray to dry for a little before wiping. It seems to help, too.

                  2. We use borax.

                    Borax kills ants, fleas, roaches and all sorts of other crawling vermin.

                    As for the toxicity of borax, it can be toxic if you put it directly onto your pet over a period of time.

                    1. Thanks, all, many strategies to try tomorrow.

                      1. Cheap hot sauce and bay leaves.

                        1. Grits [uncooked].

                          Yeast, in something like molasses.

                          And vinegar, even as low as 1:1 with water, will erase ant trails.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                            Using vinegar: one warning. If placed on stone kitchen counters, such as granite or marble, vinegar will corrode the stone.
                            Can't be repaired, as I found out the hard way.

                          2. You can set up a termite colony and have them battle each others.


                            Or you can always use white vinegar to discourage the ants. Yes, it smells very acidic, but it is not toxic to your dog for sure.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Not so funny experience: we called a pesticide company 'cause of the ants, and found out that ants and termites often co-exist. Yup, found termites when they opened up the dry-wall. Yuck, and ca-ching.

                              1. re: pine time

                                <ants and termites often co-exist>

                                I am surprised. I thought they always fight.

                                Oh well, I guess an Ant Eater is always another option to get rid of ants.


                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  I meant co-exist not as they're buddies, but having one may well mean you have the other. Make sense?

                            2. The best option is to figure out what's attracting the ants. It's likely one of three things: grease, sugar, or water.

                              Once you know what they want, use an appropriate bait.

                              If you can locate the colony, put baits near it.

                              1. Put out some Terro. Waiting to see what happens.

                                1. Borax. They don't like it. B'ton Hardware has it. It is that time of year. Liffy won't bother it and won't harm her.

                                  1. The ants have moved on to the utensil drawer in the peninsula. I've now deployed (hope this is acceptable usage) 6 Terro baits. We'll see...

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      I've tried them and they work but the borax is more of a deterrent. Luckily I have just seen a few. I'm sure there will be more soon. I also try to find their hills and dose them with borax.

                                      1. re: Candy

                                        I suspect this colony is under the deck where I can't get to it.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          You need to get someone to get rid of the colony under the deck. Otherwise all the solutions will be temporary.

                                        2. re: Candy

                                          Isn't terro just borax/boric acid? Neither are really deterrents as much as they're supposed to dehydrate the colony which is why they need to leave w/ it.

                                        3. re: pikawicca

                                          I've never had the terro baits fail on me. They do swarm them - which is super gross, but then they leave and do not come back. I lived in a really old house in the woods and I would drive way out of my way to get the Terro - better than anything else that I tried.

                                          1. re: Michelle

                                            That's the one my husband swears by! I laughed, but with your independent confirmation...maybe there's something to it.

                                          2. pull out your oven and look what's behind it. Clean carefully with bleach everything behind oven and the sides of it and also the cabinets between oven. Do with fridge also if necessary. look for holes where the ants are coming in behind stuff.

                                            1. If they are pharaoh ants, they may want protein, not sugar, so find a bait that has a protein side and a sweet side. They'll go for the one they want (they switch off depending on the season) and die, die, die. It takes about a week, so be patient. You'll know the bait is working when you see ants in the bait.

                                              If they are the medium sized black ants, you really need an exterminator. Nothing we tried got rid of them except for the pros. Their spray did not stink or poison our cats, and most of the treatment was under the house and outside.

                                              If you live in California, and have the little tiny black ants, good luck. The entire state is on top of the world's largest ant colony. My in-laws had some luck having the foundation of their house dried out, but that was the only thing that worked and I don't think it was cheap.

                                              1. Ivory liquid dish soap and water. Kills on contact. Ivory liquid is one of the only NATURAL not-detergent biodegradable dish soaps. Ivory is more harmless than Windex, 409, etc inside a home in your kitchen (check ingredients). Ivory is EZ and cheap. I put it in a spray bottle and shake before apply. Put a layer down where ever you see ants when you see them. Do preventative spraying about twice a week as needed (the soap residue lasts about 4 days) - then use Ivory water as need. If see on the counter or around the sink be sure to spray under also. I usually apply Ivory for a couple weeks after I see the last ant. Have sprayed on swarms of ants and quickly kills them on contact and takes their 'paths' away other ants follow. With this Ivory tip you will never be 'helpless' to ants again! Stumbled into it, and know Ivory works first hand.

                                                Murphy's oil soap is the other natural dish soap (there may only be the two). But I do not know if Murphy's kills ants or not, because I've had such huge success with Ivory it is what I use - never needed to try anything else.

                                                In Florida used Amdro on fire ant mounds in the yard (a big problem in Orlando, had young kids around they would bite in mass - they say can kill a cow). Found Amdro was cheapest to buy at Costco. Good product that works great. Would sprinkle in a circle around each ant hill. Could quickly see that ants would take the Amdro yellow sugar crystals deep into the mound. Would kill them all within about a week. Worked great. Not sure how natural Amdro is. Did find killing the whole ant mound from the inside is the ultimate. But Amdro may not work so well with a dog in an indoor kitchen. My guess is Amdro is not so natural. To know for sure you could ask Amdro, their website is: http://www.amdro.com/. Try Ivory first and hope you have success like I do - no need for anything else here in Oregon.

                                                TIP: My two outdoor mouse-eater barn cats on the farm here never eat all the food I give them. When ants attack the cat food feeding areas I spray a 3' circle or so with Ivory dish soap and water to kill what can see. Then I put a saucer with ivory mixed in water under the cat food bowl. Creates a mote that kills all the ants who try to eat the cat food keeping them out of the food dish (on the saucer). When ants can't get to a food source they give up and go away.

                                                1. Thanks to everyone who recommended Terro: after 24 hours not an ant in sight.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      Wow, that was fast! When we first used Terro, every ant in a 1/4 mile vicinity came to try it out. Had lots more than the initial swarm, but then they all died off.

                                                    2. Many years ago spring brought hordes of ants indoors in my old house. I got Combat outdoor bait stations and they were gone fast, never saw another one.

                                                      There's a diy pest control web site if your Home Depot doesn't have them.

                                                      1. We spend about 40 bucks on bait every spring/summer... We can't use anything fuming because we have parrots! We buy the kind that you jab into the ground outdoors, indoor traps of all sorts, then windex any strays we find. We also glue up any holes with wood glue every year. But the buggers still come back every year...

                                                        1. this seems fitting...
                                                          someone fed ants colored sugar water and these are the photos....http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/23RlDX/...

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: harryharry

                                                            Awesome. Of all possible insects I can find in my kitchen, ants probably are the least I worry about.

                                                          2. I use borax for ants and roaches.

                                                            For the little sugar ants I mix boric acid with a simple syrup and a touch of food color. I attach bottle caps to the exterior window sills with that removable sticky putty. Put the syrup in the caps and the ants are gone in a few days. The food color lets you easily monitor the level of the syrup.

                                                            For roaches (I'm in the South so they are always outdoors) I mix borax with bacon fat. I shove this into empty beer or wine bottles and place them in my storage room, crawl space, behind potted deck plants, etc. The long neck of the bottle keeps squirrels, birds, etc. from getting the poison. Looking at the bottles months later is not for the faint at heart. But it works and it is quite inexpensive.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                              Great ideas--thanks. Naive question: where do you buy borax?

                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                Hardware stores or drug stores are the best bet. Some grocery stores such as an IGA might carry it. Tractor Supply is a good source too.

                                                                Usually comes in a large cylindrical squeeze bottle with a tapered nozzle. It's one of those invisible items that you never notice unless you are searching for it!

                                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                                  I get it in the grocery store. Mine comes in a cereal-sized box and it's right next to the laundry detergents (it also works great to get bad smells out of your laundry, or your front-loading washer).

                                                                  I'm curious about the squeeze bottle. Mine comes as a white powder--is yours a liquid?

                                                                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                    I'm loosing my mind...I use Boric Acid! Fuzzy brain today. So glad you mentioned laundry detergent or I never would have caught my error.

                                                                    It does come in a squeeze bottle so you can apply the stuff in hard to reach spots such as the cutouts for pipes.

                                                                    1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                      I'm old, so I remember the "20 Mule Team Borax" ads for the laundry uses. However, never bought a box in my life!

                                                              2. borax in sugar water works over time. Try to find out where they are coming in.

                                                                1. For those who want to use borax/boric acid/Terro, you don't want it strong enough to kill all the ants. You want the ants to bring it back to the colony where it will dry them all out. Killing them gets rid of them temporarily but you want to get the whole colony or it will be a recurring problem.


                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    Chowser, our house sits on a huge Argentine ant colony, so we can never get the whole clan. Terro keeps them at bay, though, along with Amdro granules around the foundation.

                                                                  2. Food grade Diatomacious earth?

                                                                    1. Borax mixed with sugar. The borax is what kills the ants at the nest. The sugar's what makes them want to take it back to the nest. This has worked on all but one type of ant we had.

                                                                      In Sri Lanka, we have a constant ant infestation, at least a half dozen types usually with another half dozen types occasionally. It's a tropical country - not much you can do about them coming in. But discouraging them from staying and ruining your life? A whole other ball game. :D

                                                                      Also, we took other measures. All sugar/sugary items/anything else ants liked were either in airtight containers or moated, including the cake tray which held sweets and the ant free shelf. The ant free shelf we moated by putting the legs in small bowls which were sprinkled with ant killer. The ants never crossed that barrier. Ants will sometimes try to cross water, so the water needs to be at least as wide as, say, five lengths of your longest ant. If you live in a tropical country with mosquito-borne diseases, add salt to the water in the moat to prevent mosquitoes from hatching in it.