Please leave.
Yes, folks, it's that awesome time of year again, at least where I live.  The time when the ants get tired of being wet and/or cold and decide to have a party in your house.  Please note that my ant invasions both this year and last year coincided with the arrival of my in-laws for an extended stay in December. As if I didn't already feel like an ultra-lame housekeeper/ hostess.  I am, in fact, aware that ants are looking for food (my mother-in-law likes to remind me of this), but I will never ever ever be able to keep all crumbs off the floor with small children.  Even keeping food and crumbs within the kitchen and out of the rest of the house is completely beyond my reach. 

I've tried various things over the years.  Three years ago we actually paid for a pest service.  I had an infant at the time and was paranoid about black widows.  They assured us that the indoor stuff they used was completely safe.  It smelled like root beer.  At least I was smart enough not to use any of the household insecticide sprays (you should not be using these!).  Now that I've wizened up a bit, I never just take someone's word for it when they tell me something is "completely safe," so if I ever used a pest service again it would have to be a green service that discloses all ingredients, and that would probably cost a lot.  Last year I used the cheap-y traps I bought at Target along with this spray that I bought at Whole Foods.  And that seemed to be good enough.  Note that although the Orange Guard spray is supposedly safe even around pets, kids, and food, I never did use it around my kids or in the kitchen, since my and others' definitions of safe can vary widely. 

Orange Guard 103 Water Based Indoor/Outdoor Home Pest Control - 32 oz Spray
Orange Guard Spray

This year, after vacuuming up hundreds of ants, laying down lots of ineffective traps, and spraying the orange spray all over my 2 bathrooms, family room and linen closet, I decided I needed a better solution.  The ants just kept coming and coming.  I live in an old house with approximately 700,000 different points of entry for small pests, so even after vacuuming up 300 ants and spraying the opening in the wall where they had entered, more ants soon found their way in through another opening.  The smell of the orange oil was strong and started to get to me in the bathroom especially, plus it was sticky and gooey in large quantities and not that fun to clean up. 

Terro 300 Pre-Filled Liquid Ant Killer II Baits, 6-Pack
They actually work!

But I was smart enough to whine to my friends about my problem, and I got some great help and advice.  My friend L gave me some of her leftover Terro liquid bait traps which had been given to her by our friend R during L's last ant invasion.  The active ingredient is boric acid.  I don't know what the other ingredients are, but the trap keeps the liquid contained and I didn't let my kids near them.  I know, plastic waste.  Oh well.  Better than spraying pesticides all over your house.  But here's the trick -- you have to let the ants be.  You have to let them swarm and go crazy over the bait and resist the urge to vacuum them up.  You have to give them a chance to carry the poison back to all their little friends.  Sad, I know.  I don't think I'm ever going to show my kids the Ants movie

My friend G told me how to make your own ant baits using water, sugar and boric acid (she bought hers at Walgreen's).  The great benefit of this method is that you know exactly what chemicals you are bringing into your house (note that you need to keep boric acid away from people and pets as it does have a low toxicity for humans and animals).  She told me her ant problem is normally resolved within one day.  This has been my experience with the Terro bait traps too.  Liquid bait + boric acic really seems to do the trick!  For more homemade methods for controlling ants, click HERE.

For more safe pest control options, check out Beyond Pesticides.

How do you deal with household pests?

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