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I occasionally have ants in my kitchen. I can't figure out where they get in and am careful to keep the floors clean and not leave food laying around. I can't use the traps because my dog WILL find them and try to eat them. I don't want to use the sprays because they are scary and someday we will have a baby crawling around on that floor! Are there any green ways to take care of the ant problem?
We've not yet suffered a plague of ants at home yet, but we did suffer through a serious infestation at a former workplace, where we tried a sequence of non-poisonous remedies, only to resort to a green pest control service. We're thinking that you can probably find something that will at least make ants feel less welcome in your home.
Here are the principles of green ant control:
• Eliminate the ants. This can take many forms, including vacuuming up the ants or spraying them with window cleaner or soapy water until they drown and then wiping them up. (The sugar water + borax solution is out for you because of the dogs.) One site we found advocated freezing the ants with the spray from a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher; if you take this route, be careful not to freeze exposed skin.
• Eliminate the ant trail. Follow the ants back to where they're coming into your house, and eradicate the trail they've left. Depending on the surface, use one or more of the following: a strong detergent, vinegar and water solution, or cloth saturated with rubbing alcohol.
• Deter more ants from returning. This is where the advice varies the most. You can apply peppermint or cinnamon oil, provided you don't have cats; ants apparently don't like the scent. Vinegar may also work. And a dab of caulk to seal up the crack where they're getting in may be the best solution of all.
NB: There are many different kinds of ants with different preferences; different deterrent methods seem to work for different kinds of ants. (One place you may not have thought to clean is under the lid of your stove; some ants love grease.)
AT readers in more buggy climes, what's your green solution for ant control?
Image via Steve Jurvetson; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License