Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Great Ant War of 2016

I keep a decently clean kitchen.  I regularly sweep, mop, and scrub the counters and sink.  Once in a while I'll leave a half-rinsed pan in the sink, but I always wash everything before going to bed.  The only things that are left out are whatever is in my fruit basket and a serving of cat kibble.

Ants got in and found the kibble.  When I cleaned up that and poured salt in the crack they were coming through, they found another way in.  And another, and another, and another.  I left the bottle of shower bleach on the counter all week, zapping every stray that dared to invade.  I must have gone through a cup of salt.

Then I finally thought to ask others what they do.  One woman on the cryptograms site forwarded a link to a child- and pet-safe site of ant fighting remedies.  I was shocked and dismayed to find out that Aspartame is a pesticide.  Fortunately, I keep artificial sweeteners for guests and opened a packet all over the counter, tossed a handful of cornmeal over it, and figured I'd clean up everything after shopping for a more permanent solution.

I knew borax was an old-fashioned way to clean, before more gentle detergents came along.  I've even been to the 20-mule team site in Death Valley.  Cousin Smurf uses it to freshen her laundry because she's allergic to perfumes and dyes.  Apparently, it's also a pesticide that works on the smallest of household intruders: ants, fleas, some roaches, silverfish, spiders, and pretty much anything that weighs less than a dime.

I didn't do the sugar caps outside because of the cats and all kinds of critters in the neighborhood.  I bought sealed outdoor-grade ant traps to attack the colonies.  But I did scrub the whole kitchen and reline the spice cabinet (had to throw out a couple of containers because the contents were moving), allowing some borax residue to remain in the cracks.  A spider crawled across the wet floor and promptly died, so I must have done it right.

It's too early to know if the choice of cleaning product made as much of a difference as loosing the wrath of ant baits did. (The commercial Terro baits are borax-based.)  The sprinklers also ran the day they stopped coming in, so maybe they were just looking for water and I only run the sprinklers once a week.  I still haven't put the cat food back on the floor.  They're eating on the dining room table.  I know, posh cats.

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