Ahh, there is nothing quite like the pitter-patter of little feet.

Ants are hard to deter. After a recent rainstorm, the local ant colony discovered something in our pantry. Love and I could not figure out what the trail of ants was feeding off of, and we realized there was some sticky glue-like substance on one of our cans of tomato sauce. And this is what the HUGE trail of ants was feeding off of. So, I did what any red-blooded American consumer would do, and tromped off to the store to buy as many toxic pesticides and ant killers as possible. So here's a quick breakdown of what I discovered.

Raid ant-killer is potent. And the ants didn't come back because the spray destroys their scent trail as well. Of course, it's a fscking aerosol, which I realized about after about a minute of constant spraying. And, of course, something that instantly annihilates ants is probably not very good, even residually, for my wife and baby son. Ooops! So I sent them off to go play in the park and scrubbed and vacuumed everywhere I'd sprayed, hoping to get as much of it out as possible. If you're immune to toxins, or don't mind a little green in your flesh-tone, this stuff is probably the most gratifying as you immediately see the ants curling up and dead. No dying, just straight to dead.

We got some ant-motels, put them in the food area. I dunno if they worked very well, they're designed to just attract the ants and not let them out. Threw them out a while ago. They probably worked. Considering my lack of curiosity at the time, it's now hard to say.

After annihilating the ant colony with the Raid, I checked the other side of the same wall, and low and behold, another trail of ants was leading under the sink. This time I used Grant's Ant Control System, which is basically a little container of poison the ants are attracted to. They scoop up the poison, and take it back to the colony, presumably. I put out a couple of these in the ant stream, and they sure attracted the ants! In fact, the ant stream got heavier. But by that evening, they were gone. Of course, we had to make sure to keep my year-old son out of that room for the day, and that's not an easy task. We had a couple of hair-raising moments, where we decided it just wasn't worthwhile... But those ants died as well.

So, I'd temporarily fixed my problem, but the ants were coming back periodically, and I was sick to death of worrying myself sick about the potential sickness and death of my child. So we started just wiping up the ants whenever we saw them, and sterilizing everywhere the ants had walked. This took out the scent trail, and the ants stopped coming that way. It took persistence, but the ants have finally stopped coming in, and I'd definitely have to recommend this method over the poisons. But if your ant problem is outdoors and this isn't practical, the Grant's is probably your best bang for your buck.

-- Update
Yes, you should definitely track the ants back to their source and clean up the entire scent trail. Stopping up the hole they are entering through with a bit of Elmer's also prevents confused scouts from trying to figure out where their scent trail went.

I remember in my childhood that my mother used to block the places where ants wanted to come in from with cinnamon. It burns their little feelers (aka antennae.) It also makes a mess and is not cost-effective.

I find that the best way to avoid ant colonization of your home is to clean up. If you find what they're eating and remove it, they will decide your house is uninteresting. You may have scouts, but those scouts can be killed individually.

Incidentally, don't wipe out the scent trail unless you wipe it and all its travellers out completely from entrance to food. Otherwise you will have confused, orphaned ants walking around your house for days.

My kitchen was recently invaded by ants. There was no trail, they weren't going near any of the food--they just sort of ran about aimlessly on the counter and floor. At first, my solution was incredibly basic--stomp the little bastards. That didn't really work too well in keeping them away. So we cleaned up a bit, making sure there was no food or anything they might be getting to. They kept coming.

So what were we to do? It was a bit of a dilemma. I called in my apartment complex's exterminator, and he swung by the next day and put out some bait or something. It killed all of maybe two ants, and, three days later, they just kept coming.

So, we stomped 'em for a few more days, and were utterly stumped as to what to do. They weren't actually going anywhere or eating anything, just crawling around in mindless, wobbly little circles. They were pretty harmless, but it was still a definite annoyance. What the hell were we supposed to do about it?

Now, I was poking through one of our cabinets (all of which were surprisingly ant-free... hm...) to get a paper towel when I noticed a couple chemical cleaners. Huh, maybe those could do something? Wait! Wait! I'd just seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding! And guess what: I had Windex. Windex is freaking great, by the way, you have to love it.

So, I tried a little experiment. I sprayed the Windex on a few of the ants who were kind of clumped together. they writhed for a bit, and then they died. No ants went near that area for a while, either. I went on a Windex-spraying frenzy, after that, and soon pretty much all the ants (except the ones hiding behind the microwve) were dead. There weren't any more coming out from their little entry spot by the washing machine, and those few stragglers that were left were killed easily.

So there you have it: if your house is ever infested with thiny black ants, spray them with Windex. They don't seem to like it much.

I was on vacation with my family in South Carolina a couple of years ago, and we started to notice ants crawling around the house. We asked the exterminator what to do about them.

His answer was a perfectly Southern one: grits!

Specifically, what you do is surround the house with instant grits. In case you've never seen instant grits before, they're dry and powdery. When you add hot water, they puff out, sort of like oatmeal, and turn into a tasty treat (or a disgusting excuse for a meal, if you're from north of the Mason-Dixon line).

How do the grits kill the ants? Well, the ants see the grits (or do whatever ants do to detect food), and promptly eat them. Then the grits expand from the moisture within the ants' bodies, causing the little dudes to explode.

"Cool!" my brother-in-law said. I just shook my head and willed myself back to Miami, Florida.

Do you know that ants will not cross a white chalk line?

The chalk sticks to their tiny feet, and they avoid it at all cost. (The exception is: If you circle an ant with a piece of chalk, it will eventually cross the line and get out, but only with great difficulty...try it.) If you run out of bug spray, or can't afford it, just draw a white chalk line around your Big Mac, whatever, and you can leave it and return and not have to pick the little buggers off it when you go back to eating. You can draw circles around your bed posts on the floor if the little buggers are getting into your bed. You may get some comments from guests in your house: "What are those circles around your bed posts? Are you nuts?" You may have to redraw the circles, they get swept away in everyday cleaning.

Another trick, useful if you have kids, and pets, and want to avoid using chemicals of any kind is use the ants craving for sweets to your advantage. Take a cruet, or similar shaped jar, add a few tablespoons of sugar. Add some warm water and disolve by mixing or shaking. Just set the cruet near where the ants are giving you the most trouble. The ants natural sweet tooth will draw them to it, they will go into the cruet to have a drink, and end up drowning in it. Other ants of the same colony will follow, and meet the same fate either by trying to rescue their fellow ants, or by their own greed for the mix.

Good luck!

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