The Ants Come Marching One by One

The Ants Come Marching One by One

by Kathy Green

They're back--like clockwork--my summer infestation has begun--the ants have arrived. The only variable is the size of the ants each year: sometimes they are quite small and other times, like this year,  they are huge! And they are everywhere--yuck!

So once and for all I am going to learn how to handle and maybe even eliminate this annual event.

Trying to discourage ants from invading the home can be frustrating. And a very important consideration for me is to find an ant eradication method that is safe for children and pets--not an easy task.


  1. Proper food storage and waste management will reduce the food that often attracts ants indoors. Cover the sugar and put the honey jar in a plastic baggie. Cut off water sources such as drips or dishes left soaking overnight. Clean all kitchen surfaces, vacuum daily, and rinse recyclable containers before storage. 
  2. Cut away overhanging plants. Ants, especially large carpenter ants, may be making entry through the roof. If trees overhang your house, ants living near or in the tree will drop down on the roof and enter house from the top. Identify overhanging trees and trim branches or get rid of trees. 
  3. Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants' point of entry. Many ants don't like cucumber. Bitter cucumbers work best.
  4. Trace the ant column back to their point of entry. Set any of the following items at the entry area in a small line, which ants will not cross: cayenne pepper, citrus oil (can be soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds.
  5. Keep a small spray bottle handy, and spray the ants with a bit of soapy water.
  6. Leave a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants seem most active. Dry, crushed mint leaves or cloves also work as ant deterrents.
  7. For long-term nontoxic control of ants, sprinkle diatomaceous earth where ants congregate. Diatomaceous earth is the microscopic skeletal remains of diatoms which is a naturally abrasive material. This is a deadly dust with microscopic razor sharp edges. These sharp edges cut through the insect's protective covering drying it out and killing them. 

An effective but more dangerous solution:must be kept away from children and pets. Use indoors only.

  • Mix one litre of water, one teaspoon of Borax and a cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them in a small yogurt container with holes punched in the lids to allow ants access. Place container in a location where ants are present. Ants will carry the bait back to their colonies where it will eventually kill the colony. 

I am a good housekeeper--not fastidious--but good. The sight of black ants makes my skin crawl and my house feel dirty. Tomorrow, armed with my new information I will wage war on these creepy crawlers.