Spring is here, which can mean lovely things: beautiful flowers, nice weather and longer days. But it can also mean something not-so-lovely: ants. Especially when you live in a home that was built nearly two centuries ago, owned by a landlord whose idea of weatherproofing is letting you know that "I heard there's a storm coming." Therefore, it's possible to sit in my living room and feel gentle balmy breezes, even when the windows are closed.
And with a warmer-than-average winter, I've already started dealing with the beginnings of an ant invasion. Luckily, I had already written a handy guide about effective ways to get rid of ants using items found around the house. The problem? The most effective way was more of a coping mechanism than one that both killed the ants and kept them from coming back.
This time around, I decided to test a few common home 'remedies' that promised to do just that. (Why go the natural route? Because I have two very nosy pets.) In addition, I also had a (pet-less) volunteer in another part of the state test a few more, shall we say, stronger methods. Meaning: the top-rated ant traps.
Methodology: We both tested these methods over the course of 3 weeks. Since each of us have spotted ants in four separate areas of our homes, we had four convenient spots for testing. We measured the 'ant factor' (on a scale of 1-10) before and after the 3 weeks. The lower the ant factor, the more effective the method.
So, how did we fare? Flip through the slideshow to find out!
Apple Cider Vinegar
<b>Ant factor before:</b> 4 <b>Ant factor after</b>: 4 The recommendation was to spritz this anywhere ants were spotted. So I did. And all this did was make the room smell like a salad bar. Flickr by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/aroberts/4033801731/" target="_hplink">aroberts</a>
Dish Soap Solution
The winning method from last year killed ants, but would it keep them from coming back? <b>Ant factor before:</b> 6 <b>Ant factor after:</b> 3 Spritzing the ants with this mixture (2 Tbs soap diluted in a pint of water) definitely killed them, but this requires vigilance. Which requires time, and I do not have any of that. The ant population was reduced by half, though. Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/65465880@N08/5954466883/" target="_hplink">AlmilaS</a>
<b>Ant factor before:</b> 5 <b>Ant factor after:</b> 3 The bait recipe involved mixing 1 cup water with 2 cups sugar and 2 Tbs boric acid. You then place a few spoonfuls of the mixture inside a lidded jar (poking holes in the lid), with a little of the bait smeared on the lid. It promised to work the same way as diatomaceous earth, drying out ants and repelling future pests. The problem: The trap didn't attract that many ants...and I also had far too much bait from that recipe. Note: While Borax and boric acid are not chemically identical, one can be substituted for the other to accomplish the same thing. Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/205603222/" target="_hplink">bensutherland</a>
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
<b>Ant factor before:</b> 7 <b>Ant factor after:</b> 0 Hard to spell and not pretty to look at -- but seriously effective. Spread this around the corners of rooms or cabinets, and wait. For lack of a better term, this stuff dries out ants and creates a repellant barrier. Win and win. Photo from <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Diatomaceous-Earth-Food-Grade-10/dp/B00025H2PY" target="_hplink">Amazon</a>
Raid Ant Bait (red box)
<b>Ant factor before:</b> 8 <b>Ant factor after:</b> 4 Though though the ant population was reduced by half, the volunteer didn't see any marked results until the last week of the trial period. These traps seem to be better made for 'patient people with mild ant issues.' Raid Ant Bait, $5 for 8, <a href="http://www.soap.com/p/raid-ant-bait-red-box-value-pack-50969?site=CI&utm_source=cse&utm_medium=cpc_S&utm_term=ASJ-022&utm_campaign=google&utm_content=household-products&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=ASJ-022" target="_hplink">from Soap.com</a>.
Combat Ant Gel
<b>Ant factor before:</b> 7 <b>Ant factor after:</b> 4 'Not sure I did this right,' the volunteer warned me. Though it promised a non-messy application, the gel managed to drip and make a mess. Combat Ant Gel, $4.50, <a href="http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=200282&catid=184462&aid=337953&aparam=combat_ant_killing_gel_&CAWELAID=236025614" target="_hplink">from Drugstore.com</a>.
Combat Quick Kill Ant Traps
<b>Ant factor before:</b> 6 <b>Ant factor after:</b> "0 to 1" These traps did have 'a minor odor' but started working overnight. They work best when positioned along windowsills and baseboards. Need we say more? Combat Quick Kill Ant Traps, $2 for 6, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Combat-Quick-Kill-Ant-stations/dp/B004M4W7N8" target="_hplink">from Amazon</a>.
Terro Ant Killer Dust
<b>Ant factor before:</b> 8 <b>Ant factor after:</b> 2 This product works like diatomaceous earth, 'drying out' ants and repelling future ones. Though it took about three days to see any improvement, the results were 'worth it.' However, the volunteer preferred the ant traps over the dust, as it is a little on the messier side. Terro Ant Killer Dust, $6 for 16 ounces, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Terro-600-1-Pound-Killer-Dust/dp/B001B1KH1Y/ref=pd_bxgy_lg_text_b" target="_hplink">from Amazon</a>.