Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ants Begone! Diatomaceous Earth...

We have ants! As my kids sit here and watch Born Free, I realize that I want all of us in Nature to live in harmony and to truly be free. But, that unfortunately doesn't really apply to uninvited guests like big, black, fast, scuttling ants in my kitchen. Sorry, but it doesn't.

They arrived a few days ago and seem to have settled in, establishing all sorts of scented paths so their buddies can find their way and also move in and have a party in my cupboards and across my floor.


(Pictured above, an ant in Mexico--beautiful and not in my kitchen...)

My husband and I stomp on them when we're in the kitchen, which is not really an organized form of pest control, but it is effective for the ones under our heels. My son hates this.

He earnestly questions whether we think that the ants know that they're in our house and if they mean to bother us. It's all about intent for him. And, I do see the justice in that. It's not their fault and I wish them no harm, in principle. If they could just go away, I would be fine with that. But, since my son is right--they don't know that they're in our house, they won't feel the territorial pressure and go away from our turf. If I could mark our territory to make them back off I would. But the only scents I have are old perfume that I no longer wear, and lovely essential oils-- lavender, tangerine, clove, tea tree, eucalyptus-- that I use medicinally. That won't work.

I have, however, found something that seems to be working. I have liberally sprinkled Diatomaceous Earth all around our kitchen baseboards. Diatomaceous Earth is a powder comprised of ground up fossilized sea creatures. It feels like flour to the touch, but is quite abrasive and when pests walk through it or have it sprinkled on them, it cuts their skin or exoskeleton. After that, they succumb to extreme dehydration and die.

Sounds awful doesn't it?

Besides being effective, which is apparent today in my relatively ant--free kitchen, it is completely safe and non toxic. You don't want to breathe it in as you sprinkle it, as it can irritate, but other than that it is harmless unless you are measured in millimeters and then it is biological warfare.


17 comments:

Cerwydwyn said...

Please keep us updated as to whether or not this solves your ant problem. We live in rural NC and have an annual ant issue. I have tried: DE, mint, sprays made with everything from white vinegar and essentials oils to teas made from rosemary, mint, lavender, etc, ad nauseum. Nothing seems to work. We, inevitable, spray poison under our house and keep the windows open for the next several days. DE seemed to help but did not knock the population down to a bearable level (I think I can stand a couple of them hanging around? Maybe not.) Anyway, I'm interested!

Laura said...

Cerwydwyn that sounds tiring!

Everything I've read recently about ant removal, has also spoken about going outside and creating a barrier at the foundation of your house--a protective ring--that the ants have to walk through in order to get inside. Also, you can go and see any nearby anthills and sprinkle the DE directly on the mounds, not just wait to fight them in your home.

Bring the war to them...

I'll keep you updated.

KC said...

We have an ant problem too, but that's not why I'm commenting. You must be so proud of how sensitive and fair-minded your son is!

Laura said...

Yes, KC I think my son is great. He is very sensitive which translates to a keen eye that spots injustice at 100 yards away and also hurt feelings on the playground.

We're trying to temper some of that--you can easily be held hostage by your feelings--which may be true or not--and that level of sensitivity can get in the way. Unless you're an ant and then you have a patron.

It's sensitive, impassioned people who have always done remarkable things. But, it's also the ones that plug away and get there on time.

Trying to find a balance in things around here...

Sue said...

Where does one find Diatomaceous Earth? Are these big ants or little ants you're using it on (or against?)? The big ants I tend to grab and throw out the door, but those little guys are relentless. We had a terrible problem with them last year. The only thing that seemed to work was the weather turning below zero. I'd love to get some of that Diatomaceous Earth in case they find their way back here.

Laura said...

Hey Sue--we actually got a box of the Concern brand at the Brew and Grow place in Roselle that you recommended. I'm sure you can get it somewhere that's closer.

It's working well against the big ants.

Wendy said...

I have dealt with ants- all kinds successfully in the last 2 yrs...first in a little log cabin in rural new brunswick where we stayed for a year. I was pregnant with 2 small kids- i needed a sure fire way to fix it toxic free ;-) In the past mearly glugging white vinegar all the way around the exterior of our little rental in the bahamas worked like a charm. it wasn't enough here. there were at least 3 if not 5 different kinds of ants - it was a great homeschooling topic. However i lost my sense of humour when they were falling off the celing logs onto my bed!!! these ants were different in that they didn't march in a line they just scooted wherever- up the log walls, ceilings etc. They did especially like the bathroom. Anyhow I used salt all the way around the inside and outside walls. I think I used borax outside as well. Then I set 'bait' traps using lids from jars. In it I put maybe 1/2 tsp of borax with some sugar and a bit of water. You might google online but the ratio is supposed to be important. You don't want them to explode at the site, you want it to be a weak enough solution for them to carry it back. I think mine might have been a bit strong, but within 3 or 4 days, I had NONE and it stayed that way!!!! Then we moved home to Ontario and despite doing the vinegar all the way around the house in the spring, the little ants still showed up. I put out a lid with the borax and sugar water in it behind the entertainment unit where they were oming in and within 1/2 hour it was FULL of them- bizarre!!! It was so creepy in fact that I added more borax- I couldn't take a chance that THAT many of them would survive- sure they wouldn't make it back to the nest but I was willing to take that chance. I left it with all the dead ants in it behind the unit and that was it. Within a couple days I had none. I also didn't get the bigger kitchen ants this year either which I normally get at the same time each year. While 'mule team borax' (in your grocery store laundry section) might not be completely non toxic for kids and pets... if placed in an out of the way place, it shouldn't have to be there for long. Wow this ended up being a long post....LOL anyhow I just know how frustrating it is to have ants. I'm all about catching spiders and bugs in our house and releasing them outside- even live trap mice, but ants I draw the line at!!! ;-)

Incidentally I just learned about DE this year for mites and fleas...and I dumped a bunch outside on the massive earwig pile, we sprayed the house inside and out for mites, the chicken coop etc. but I will definately use it for ants if they come back again to see if it works. hth Wendy in Canada

James Brown said...

What a fantabulous post this has been. . I am grateful to you and expect more number of posts like these. Thank you very much.

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Sherry Bourn said...

You can find it where pest control products are sold. It's pretty cheap and you get quite a bit

Sherry Bourn said...

You can find it where pest control products are sold. It's pretty cheap and you get quite a bit

HouseSpouse said...

I was given quotes of $300 and up from exterminators to eliminate our ant 'problem'. Ha! Infestation is more like it. Not. I did some research, then single-handedly eradicated our odorous house ants tour of duty. These guts apparently were nestig in our walls, which every exterminator who came here told me is common. Close to food, water, and protects them from the elements. Hey. I get that - that's the same reason we bought this house! I just bought another 4 lb. bag at our local Lowe's for $8.97. This one will be on hand when the 1st one is gone, which will be soon...wiping out every slug that slithers it's way into my garden or flower pots. Think it's Garden Safe brand. I live in the Northwest & this stuff is the best stuff EVER for getting rid if pests. It is the ONLY effective treatment for slugs I have ever used.

NOTE: Be SURE you only buy Garden and/or food safe D. Earth. There is one with a chemical additive made for pools. It is more expensive and would most likely not even be displayed anywhere near each other at home/garden centers but be careful just the same.

HAPPY HUNTING!

HouseSpouse said...

I was given quotes of $300 and up from exterminators to eliminate our ant 'problem'. Ha! Infestation is more like it. Not. I did some research, then single-handedly eradicated our odorous house ants tour of duty. These guts apparently were nestig in our walls, which every exterminator who came here told me is common. Close to food, water, and protects them from the elements. Hey. I get that - that's the same reason we bought this house! I just bought another 4 lb. bag at our local Lowe's for $8.97. This one will be on hand when the 1st one is gone, which will be soon...wiping out every slug that slithers it's way into my garden or flower pots. Think it's Garden Safe brand. I live in the Northwest & this stuff is the best stuff EVER for getting rid if pests. It is the ONLY effective treatment for slugs I have ever used.

NOTE: Be SURE you only buy Garden and/or food safe D. Earth. There is one with a chemical additive made for pools. It is more expensive and would most likely not even be displayed anywhere near each other at home/garden centers but be careful just the same.

HAPPY HUNTING!

Tigrisgazal said...

Hi housespouse you mentioned ants the walls so how did you get rid of them? Did you use DE and if so how. I think we have the same issue with odorous ants. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your comments! This is all so helpful. First time dealing with ants that will not go away and I need safe effective method to get rid of them! I think they are in walls too. I have put powder all around the parameter of my house outdoors and they still appear. They have to be coming from inside. My neighbor just told me she has them bad too. What a nightmare this is!! I am trying to find DE now...

Ali said...

We have moved into a 40 year old property in Spain. The ant situation in the large pots on ou terrace and all over the huge garden can only be described as HORIFFIC !!! Truly a nightmare. Could nog find borax here so brought 6 pks from the UK. Mixed it exactly as told by the expert's and they went nowhere near it !!!! Mine don't like honey or sugar(that's what they say to mix it with) but adore meat. The vinegar alternative also doesn't work and they most certainly do cross over chalk. So most of what i have been reading about exterminating ants in the past does not work for ours. We cannot wak outside without being constantly bitten,or even enjoy sitting out. In the house the it isn't so bad thank goodness,ut we have the odd ones in the kitchen and rare6 but even in bed. Fresh coffee dregs also DONT work . If the bloody things didn't bite i would happily leave them alone,as i find them quite interesting to watch. But now i loath them vehemently !!! Not tried diatomaceous earth yet as i have just found out the translation in Spanish,but as i am not fluent in the language i may well have a problem explaing that i need the safe type and not the highly toxic type. Here's hoping to find it and if it works I'l need a lorry(truck)full for 5 thousand metres. Any other suggestions? No i will not move house. Lol

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Louis Martin said...

Pest Control Ants
Great blog.

Thank you .

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