Anthacker: What Is The Best Approach For Dealing With Insect Invasions?

Anthacker: What Is The Best Approach For Dealing With Insect Invasions?

The hotter summer weather is welcome by many, but what isn’t all that welcome are the creatures that creep and crawl towards our living spaces. Here’s how I simply cleared a recent ant incursion into my living spaces.

Ants get everywhere, whether you’re enjoying a BBQ, making lunch in your work kitchen or just relaxing with a cooling beverage at the end of a busy day. Just before heading away on a recent road trip, I noticed a thin line of small black ants in one of my kitchen cupboards. On the plus side, they weren’t spiders (I’m notably arachnophobic) or termites (they don’t play well with ants). Still, I didn’t particularly want to open my kitchen up to a bunch of freeloading insects. It’s a common problem, as with the recent run of extremely hot weather, insects will seek out water and food sources at greater distances, setting up nests as they go.

So I did what many folk would do, and picked up a commercial ant killing product; the type you leave, attract a bunch of ants and, in theory, return to an ant-free existence within a couple of days.

Upon my return… well, the pictures tell the story.

Anthacker: What Is The Best Approach For Dealing With Insect Invasions?A commercial ant-killing product. You can see how well it’s working.

So, what to do? Ant extermination is a subject that Lifehacker has covered in the past in some detail; you could try spices or petroleum jelly, for example. I had a few friends suggest a mix of borax, sugar and water as a trap, but I have to admit I wasn’t that keen on that, largely because I’ve got kids and (relatively stupid) cats, and I’d worry about what might happen with a standing solution.

A little online research suggested that one of my favourite cleaning solutions might do the trick, using vinegar to destroy the ant scent trail and clean up the mess. Firstly, though, I vacuumed up the ants; while I was initially concerned with the prospect of ants emerging from the cleaner the next time the carpets needed doing, the bagless vacuum I used proved quickly effective at killing even a large number of ants. Getting the image of thick grey ant paste out of my mind may take slightly longer, however.

Vinegar is my preferred cleaning solution because unlike harsher chemical cleaners it doesn’t muck up my breathing, evaporates quickly and makes the house smell like a chip shop in the meantime. So far, so good. There’s still a few ants around — because this is an inevitability — but I haven’t had to cede control of the house and provide journalistic support for their workforce in the sugar caves just yet.

Which ant removal recipes do you prefer?


  • Take away the food and/or water source and they’ll leave of their own accord (unless they’ve set up residence in your walls).
    I put all my sweet, sticky things (Sauces/Jams/Cordials) in the fridge and make sure to wipe up any water pools in the sink and after a couple of days they decide there’s nothing to gain and move on to other sites.

    For the few times where it looks like they’re setting up a nest in my walls, I’ve used Ant-rid combined with the above. The ants flock to it for a day or two at most and then they’re gone.
    Controlling Kids/Pets from accessing the poison shouldn’t be too hard. Put it high on a shelf in a closed cupboard, transport some ants to the poison and let them carry the “good news” that they’ve found this bountiful source of tasty poison back to their buddies. They don’t die in the house, so no worries there either.

  • I have continuous ant problems through summer. They love cat food, especially the canned stuff. I tried putting the food in a container surrounded by water, upgraded to two containers then added chilli flakes to one of the containers and finally success! Yes they seem to be able to swim quite easily though still water, but don’t like chilli. What a relief! I have tried talcum powder, vinegar and various herbs with little to no benefit. But I do agree that Vinegar makes a good cleaning product. I also agree with the comment, remove the food source and they will go. I try and keep my kitchen spotless, but from time to time leave a dirty plate and within a couple of hours it’s covered in ants again. Once I have washed the plate they start to go. They always leave a few stragglers to keep an eye out in case you slip up again. I also reguarly take the rubbish out before the bag is full. I tried Ant Rid in a few spots that I don’t think the cat will get to and that seems to work temporarily, but then they come back from somewhere else. I’ve been told that people use to clean their teeth with Borax so i’m not sure how poisonious it is. Not that I would try that!

  • I used the borax with sugar solution, it killed probably 90% of the ants coming into my property (and home) from next door…but it didn’t get them all. I have since seen a growth in numbers but not to pre-war conditions (I declared a war after they got into my kitchen sink for water), however I have also noted other species of ants (previously uncommon to my yard) now coexisting with the black ants that I committed crimes against the Geneva Convention to be rid of…not sure if this is a good thing yet, but I now know an effective method for an almost genocidal campaign against the ant menace if things get out of hand.

    On the idea of it being poisonous, it is…but, it has a very high LD50. An adult would need to eat hundreds of grams of the stuff to die, though less for a small child or pet. The few grams that will be in the solution won’t be able to harm even a small rodent (unless they drink the whole litre of liquid in one sitting). As for application, I used cotton balls to soak it up, topping them up once or twice each day for a few days with a syringe and/or replacing them as needed.

    If you’re still not convinced, a mechanical insecticide is a good, environmentally friendly, non-toxic way of dealing with them. Most notably, diatomaceous earth…it was a little passive for my invasion level concern, but it is worth a read anyways.

  • I have little ants that are attracted to electrical currents and water so they tend to hang out around the kitchen sink and the kettle. I’ve tried ant-rid & vinegar neither of which have worked but sprinkling talc around the kettle and where they come in through the tiles has kept their numbers down too. They also don’t like chalk, I’ve found a similar shade of chalk to the paint in my bathroom & toilet & drawn almost invisible exclusion lines around where they would normally come in.

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