Dear Home Ec 101,
We bought our older house six years ago, and knew then that the backyard had a bit of an ant problem. Fast forward to this year, when I’ve decided that I can’t stand it anymore!
What is a good, non-toxic way to get rid of a majority of ant hills? So far, we’ve tried the boiling water bit (no good, it just lets them have a bit of a swim), that expanding foam Raid puts out (good, but in one spot, we’d need about ten cans. Seriously, the ground is spongy from all the ant tunnels.), and pounding the crap out of the hills. Borax around the foundation keeps them out of the house and I’ve heard that it works on the hills, but how would I keep our dogs and cats out of the borax?
Great Ant Alberta
Dead ant, dead ant, dead ant. . .
I contacted the author of the question to ensure she was not dealing with fire ants which are an invasive species that cause a lot of problems in the Southeastern US. If you are dealing with any sort of pest infestation one of the first key steps is identifying the problem. In the US your county’s extension office is there to help with the problem. Since our question comes from Canada, I would love to hear from some of our Canadian readers what resources are available to the general public.
Consider trying diatomaceous earth around the mounds. You must use food or horticultural grade DE and not the grade sold for use with swimming pools. The pool grade DE is not safe for mammals to inhale, so please check carefully when making your purchase. In dry weather apply the DE around the mound, certain species of ants must be baited to the DE and it will depend on their general preference whether the bait should be greasy or sweet.
Additionally you can make your own spray that works on many species of ants. It’s a simple solution made with water, rubbing alcohol, and dish soap. Simply mix together the ingredients in a 40:40:20 ratio. This also helps eliminate their chemical trails.
Finally when getting rid of insects be sure you are conscious of your actions and try not to take out too many of the beneficial varieties. With pest control the standby a little is good so more must be better is rarely a good idea.
Submit your household questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.