Bug of the Month: Ants

A great flood of insecticides has been unnecessarily directed at ants, which are fairly easy to discourage without using toxic pesticides.

Ants find food by licking things. To make your house, especially your kitchen, less hospitable, clean ferociously, store food in sealed containers, don't leave dirty dishes or garbage around and rinse sticky containers. Wipe counters with vinegar.

The cheapest, easiest, most effective method is to put liquid dish soap and water into a spray bottle and zap the intruders. Besides killing them immediately, it destroys the scent trail they leave that guides other ants to food. 

Try to trace the column of ants back to their entry point and stop them there. Powdered cleanser, cayenne or black pepper, or citrus oil make good ant barriers. Make a solid line, since ants will find openings. Use calk or glue to seal the entry point permanently.

You can also find low-toxic baits such as Terro or Drax, which are available in most hardware stores. Their active ingredient is boric acid. This may take a week or so to work.

For more information contact Beyond Pesticides Ohio at 216-291-3424 or visit www.beyondpesticidesohio.org.

Barry Zucker is executive director of Beyond Pesticides Ohio, a nonprofit organization that promotes the safer, more cost-effective pest control practices of Integrated Pest Management.

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 4:15 PM, 02.06.2009