The Ants Come Marching One by One

Okay, so. I hate ants. Hate. Hate.

My realistic side knows the fact that I have ants in my house right now has more to do with the heat, humidity and rain than my house being messy or full of crumbs (otherwise they’d be in my kitchen, right?). I have been using a spray that is kid and pet safe but it only works for a short period of time… and it freaking smells gross.

I can’t use those Raid Ant bait things because to put them in enough places means they are where my dog could eat them. And he’s eaten one. Fortunately, he’s a big dog and it didn’t make him sick – but they’re apparently toxic, and so.


There’s not a ton. But honestly, it only takes one before I start feeling gross… there’s a handful. I’ve sprayed, but it’s supposed to be 90+ degrees this weekend and I need to show those suckers who is boss.

Creepy-Crawling in Crawford
Heather says

The good news is there is a commercial bait trap out there that is inexpensive, has low toxicity, and zero smell to humans. I’ve used it on occasion over the years as some houses were more prone to ants than others. While it may not be as satisfying as spritzing the little buggers with chemicals, it does work. The product is good old Terro Ant Killer.

Terro Ant BaitThe active ingredient is good old borax. The bait solution also has both a sweet and greasy ingredient to attract your household invaders. Ants prefer a liquid food source as it’s easier for them to consume and transport.

When you spot an ant or a trail of ants, follow them. Ants leave chemical markers to find their way back to the nest. (It’s dual acting and also an invisible trail of breadcrumbs inviting everyone to the party near the water dish or toothpaste fleck or whatever it is they are after in your home)

Place the ant bait as close the the entrance point as possible. While borax has low toxicity you don’t want Fido disturbing the trap. Place your trap and do your best cartoon villain impersonation –it increases the satisfaction of the process. I prefer either a hand-rubbing, “Excellent” a la Mr. Burns or a cackle followed by, “I’ll get you, my pretties!” Your mileage may vary, of course.

Next step, get rid of the ant trail past the bait station. Dampen a paper towel with some white vinegar and wipe down the area that has seen ant activity. IMPORTANT: Do not wipe down the area between the entrance point and your bait station.

While you’re down on the floor wiping away the trail, it’s a good idea to take a good look around (under the oven perhaps) to see if the ants were after anything else that might compete with the bait station as a lure. If the ants are attracted to your pet’s water dish, it may be a good idea to at least temporarily relocate the source. If you have children, they are notorious for hiding food in strange places. Follow the ants wherever they may go and see if you can determine why they came in the first place.

Keep in mind that ant colonies do go through breeding cycles where they are less interested in food. In general, you’ll find a temporary increase in ant activity as they are attracted to the bait and then a decline over the next 3 – 4 days as the nest, the source of the issue, begins to die off. In that breeding cycle, it may take closer to ten, be patient and keep refueling the bait station as the bait dries out.

Additionally, I’ve heard but not tested, that peppermint oil used near the entrance point may deter ants. I would only try this trick after the current invasion has ended.

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  1. Kathiey on August 30, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I used it. It really does work!!!:-)

  2. Phillip on August 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I found that Ortho Home Defense works great – they advertise that it is safe for pets after a few hours + lasts 12 months, basically you go under the edges of your walls + around your house perimeter

  3. Gluten Free Babe on August 19, 2015 at 10:48 am

    This is a great post. The photo is very helpful. Thank you so much!!!

  4. Alicia on August 19, 2015 at 10:12 am

    1 part lavender oil. 2 parts lemon juice. 3 parts dawn original scent dish soap. The ants cannot stand the smell and will not cross the solution. The dish soap helps it stay in place. Spread a thin line (I use a tiny paint brush ) around doors, windows, and leaky walls. This will prevent them from getting in after you’ve gotten them out. Added bonus, mice and spiders don’t like the solution either.

  5. Ebby on August 19, 2015 at 8:09 am

    For some ants, and believe it was black ants, who had set up happily in my very very large entry room, not near the kitchen I made several thin lines of cinnamon across the floor. They absolutely vanished within short time.

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