Friday, July 12, 2013

The Ants Go Marching.....

The concept of actually luring ants into my kitchen rather than blasting them to kingdom-come with bug spray runs counter to my sensibilities.  But that's exactly what I ended up doing.

I had a cupcake the other day and threw the paper liner into the kitchen trash just as I always do.  The next morning, as I was preparing a pot of coffee, I noticed some ants running along the counter near the coffee pot.  The ant trail continued to the backsplash then headed up the wall, turned the corner, continued diagonally up to the ceiling, ran along the ceiling, and back down the opposite wall and straight into the trash can, where the ants had found that cupcake liner.  Well, good grief!

It's been a couple of years since I've had an invasion by these little Pharoah ants.  They're tiny, light-colored, move quickly, and will find the tiniest cookie crumb or sticky sweet drip on the counter.  They can make the most obsessive-compulsive housekeeper go insane.  Not that I'm obsessively clean, but I'm not a slob either.   I've lived in the South for almost half of my life...long enough to know that you don't ever leave any foodstuffs just lying around uncovered on kitchen counters.

I pulled out my trusty can of Raid bug spray and sprayed the heck out of that ant trail.  Yuck!  Once the thousands of ants glued to my walls with Raid had dried, I vacuumed up the carcasses, knowing that using bug spray only treats the symptoms, it doesn't solve the problem. 

So it was off to the store to buy ant bait.   Raid now has a gel bait so I bought that instead of a liquid bait.  Seemed to me like it would be more versatile and easier to use than the usual liquid bait products.  And it was.  It can be applied to vertical surfaces, even upside down and it won't drip.

Strips of masking tape with drops of the bait gel now lined the upper edges of my cabinets below the countertop overhang.  Most of the ant activity seems to be along this stretch, beneath the counter that runs under the window where the sink and dishwasher are located, so this is where I concentrated the bait.

Within minutes the ants found the bait.  Within half an hour each dot of bait was covered with hundreds of ants!  the Yuck Factor was huge!!  But once I got over the initial feelings of repulsion, I was actually fascinated.  I watched as they streamed out from the crevices along either side of the dishwasher, headed for the bait, poked their way among hundreds of other ants until they found an open spot in the "feeding trough," ate their fill, and then disappeared back into the crevices.

I'd always suspected that they gained access through an expansion joint in the exterior brick.  This joint runs a little to the left of the window and is directly behind where the dishwasher is.  After a couple hours of baiting inside, I walked outside and around the side of the house where that expansion joint is.  And sure enough.  There were serious ant trails going in and out of that joint.  Purposeful trails, not random ant wanderings like there usually are.  I put numerous dots of bait along the brick next to that expansion joint and ants started doing U-turns and heading for the bait. 

I felt like I was really onto something here.  The ants were chowing down on the bait inside the kitchen and they were chowing down on the bait outside near the access point to the inside.

Soon I was able to go about my business, no longer grossed out by the fact that I was actually luring ants INTO my house, not chasing them away.    After about 4 hours, activity at the bait had dropped off considerably.  By suppertime, the bait sites were abandoned.  Even putting out fresh bait didn't lure any more ants.  Refreshing the bait the next day didn't lure any more ants, either.

Invasion successfully repelled... for now. 

So now I'll be extra-vigilant for a while, cleaning up every mote, every crumb, every tiny little spot.  Until I forget.  Or I get tired of the hyper-vigilance.  I'll be ant-free for a year or two.  Then the invasion will happen again, all because of a cupcake liner.  Or an overlooked drop of honey.  Or a bit of jam.

1 comment:

  1. Ants in the house have to be one of the worst kind of invaders. Thanks for the gel info. We'd always used Terro but it is the liquid that runs. Glad you managed to get rid of them.

    I guess there is no way to fill that particular expansion joint to keep them out next time. Mind defeat the purpose of an expansion joint. Unless you could use a flexible silicone caulk maybe.