How to get rid of ants

Ants are a right nuisance. They aren’t of any use as garden insects, they grow in number very quickly, they bite, they invade your home and pollute your food, and they’re not exactly pretty either. The weather’s warming up, and they’ll soon be swarming into your garden and your home. They’re a major issue here, so I’ve tried just about every trick in the book. Here are the ones that have worked best for me:

Soapy water

You can use detergent, soap, expired shampoo – really anything that works up a lather. However, if you’re dealing with ants in the garden, use dishwashing liquid, as it’s food grade. Mix some in a spray bottle with water. Now track the ants and spray them gently (a hard jet of water will splash them away, which isn’t as effective and wastes soap). You can use this mix to kill ants on the soil, as well as on plants. I always spray the plants with fresh water afterwards, but the few times when I’ve forgotten, they seemed okay. This works excellently.

Diatomaceous earth

If you want to stay organic, or don’t want to risk soapy spots all over your house, this is a great alternative. Diatomaceous Earth is completely organic, and won’t harm your soil or plants. However, it’ll only work when dry, so don’t sprinkle it before (or immediately after) watering your plants. Sprinkle liberally on the ants’ trail, and they’ll die off over the course of a few hours or days. This isn’t as fail-proof as soapy water, however.

Block access

If you’ve got ants living in a crack or crevice inside your home, you can kill them simply by blocking off access to their nest. Plug up the crack using some putty or white cement. For better results, you can spray soapy water, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth into the nest before sealing it off, so they can’t eat into the plug from the inside. Some ants will be outside scouring for food, but they can be dealt with easily by putting a piece of double-sided tape over the plug.

Burn them

If you’re dealing with a huge nest of ants in your garden, the most effective way to eliminate them would be to burn them. Start with the outer edge of the nest, and pour kerosene (or other flammable liquid) on the nest, thoroughly soaking it. It’s important to start at the outer edges and work quickly, so the ants don’t escape. Light the nest, and add some kindling so it burns for a while. It sounds horrible (and is therefore low on my list), but it’ll work.

Ant traps

If you have a small number of ants, this may work for you. Put some double-sided cellotape in their path, and put a few grains of sugar on it. They’ll climb onto the cellotape looking for the sugar, and get stuck. Peel off the tape and dispose of it when full.

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