Last summer, while we were gone, ants moved in like unwanted guests, and were as hard to get rid of. Our rule is: no poisons in our house and yard.
In short-term thinking it’s more difficult, but we found a way and it may work for you.
It was possible to subdue the little buggers if we wiped the counters down with a sponge full of eucalyptus oil before going to bed.
But, it didn’t cure the problem and only worked until the vapors wore off. Then, like the unwanted guests, they were back.
The difference is, ants don’t sit around with their feet on the furniture and watch TV. My wife went to Washington State to visit but, before leaving ,I received instructions to get some boric acid.
We’d bought some expensive environmentally benign bait that contained boric acid and even though it didn’t work, the idea was sound.
Most insects have no way to pass gas, hard shelled insects in particular like ants and cockroaches. When they ingest boric acid it causes gas, they can’t pass it and explode.
It wasn’t as loud as an unwanted guest snoring and it didn’t wake us up at night, but it did the trick. Ants take everything they find back to the nest, and happens to the queen?
Boom! Without a queen pumping out babies, the nest soon becomes a ghost town of little exploded ant bodies. It took about three weeks as the ant supply dwindled from lots, to a few, to an occasional scout or passerby.
Basically, I don’t have anything against ants, they help clean the yard and are second only to bees as pollinators.
They just have to understand: I won’t mess around in their hill and they won’t take liberties in our house! Especially fire ants, they hunt you down and leave you with a week’s worth of itching as a reminder they were there.
We find olive oil or chicken grease in enough boric acid to make a paste works best. We even put some oil/fat into the commercial product. The ants walked around it to get to the home made mixture.
I guess the theory for the commercial product is: make something the ants don’t like and they’ll go to someone else’s house for dinner.
That may work in an apartment house but our neighbors live an hours walk away for the average ant, which is too far for them to commute.
Boric acid is locally available and the only size we could find will last about 20 years.
According to research on neem oil, from the Neem tree, it’s used in third world countries not only for ants, cockroaches, etc., but also as a repellent for flies, mosquitoes and other airborne insects.
Neem contains the compound salannin which biting insects hate. Tests in India showed it to be more effective than “DEET”, the main ingredient in most commercial repellents.
My information says concentrations as low as one-tenth of one part per million works as well as the best chemical mixture.
Neem doesn’t kill insects directly, it comes in the back door similar to boric acid. The extracts contain compounds similar in shape and structure to insect hormones.
Insects absorb the compounds, which block their endocrine systems and obstruct their reproductive cycles.
Last summer I spent a lot of time in the bush in Canada, fishing and hiking. Sometimes the mosquitoes were so thick you could grab handfuls of them out of the air.
I bought some repellent with extra DEET. There were warnings on the label but I was “itching” to get something that worked.
I washed it off as soon as I could and made sure I didn’t contaminate any food, like the label said. But, I didn’t think about my watch face, which turned into a cloudy, pockmarked mess too blurry to read.
I went back to swatting while we searched for a better way. If it melts the plastic face of a watch, it can’t be good for your body.
We found a mix of eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary worked as effectively as DEET. If neem leaf or seed had been available.
I would’ve tried crushing it and soaking the pulp in water or alcohol for 24 hours to see if it worked as well as research indicates.
Used topically, neem oil is said to have no side effects to humans or warm-blooded animals and no harmful residues to contaminate the environment.
Insects don’t develop a resistance to it, and I found nothing to indicate you’d have to buy a new watch every time you used it.