Dear Home Ec 101:
I have ants milling around my cats’ water bowl. We can’t figure out where they are coming from, but a few more appear each day. They seem to be mostly interested in the water dish, since we tend to keep the rest of the food put away except for meal time. I’m looking for a safe way (we have two cats and an adventurous dog) to get rid of the ants before they migrate throughout the house. Any ideas? Spraying them on the spot with a “safe” soybean oil formula isn’t working.
Creeped by the Crawlies
Ants are pretty cool creatures in theory. . . Once they enter a home, that whole cool idea goes right out the window. Of course fire ants are awful no matter where they are. Ants communicate by leaving an invisible chemical trail. These trails are left to lead the rest of the colony to food and water sources. What’s happening here is the ants have left their version of a breadcrumb trail to your cat’s water dish and teams will soon be sent out on recon to see what else is nearby.
There is a commercial boric acid bait, while it is not very fast acting, I’ve used it many times in the past with good results. It’s sold under the brand name Terro, it’s cheap and is easily found at almost any store that you’d find pesticides or items of that nature. As pet owners, we usually hid the bait behind the refrigerator where no pet could get it.
You could make your own ant bait with borax and sugar, but Terro also has an attractant for ants that prefer grease. Sometimes it’s just easier to let someone else perfect the mixture.
Once the bait has attracted the ants, wipe out their old chemical trail around your pets’ water dish by mopping the area with dilute white vinegar, rinse, dry, and you’re good to go.
Send your household questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.