DECATUR Ants have been driving me crazy since early this spring and I've found a weapon that has helped me win the battle.
The ants first made their appearance in my kitchen back in March or April when the weather began to warm up. At first, I thought it was an insult to my housekeeping.
"If I was faithful to keep my counters spotlessly clean, the ants would go away," I thought.
I was wrong. No matter how well I cleaned, the ants always seemed to find something.
I also learned I was not alone in my struggle with the little creatures. A local TV news channel advertised all evening long a story about ants marching into northwest Arkansas. I watched the news with baited breath, eager to learn about the ants and what to do about them.
The TV news reporter did visit several houses, documenting the parade of ants marching across the kitchen counters. The reporter talked to several troubled residents and spoke to anexpert who said wet weather and other conditions had made 2009 an especially bad year for ants - or maybe a good year for ants and a bad year for people who don't like ants. Anyway, I waited on the edge of my sofa to hear what to do about my ant problem and after all that hype, the reporter said, "If your ant problem is too severe, call an exterminator."
I already knew how to call an exterminator, but I didn't want to spend the money on a professional. I wanted to solve the ant problem myself at minimal cost.
So, I kept battling the ants. I found that spraying them with Lysol Kitchen Cleaner keeps them from coming back for about an hour, but they returned as soon as I wiped off the allpurpose cleaner with bleach.
My husband bought ant bait from the Dollar Store. We set the ant bait in the middle of one of the ant trails, but it soon became apparent that the ants weren't interested in it. Not only that, but the package inserts had dire warnings about placing the bait houses on food preparation surfaces or where pets and children could come in contact with them.
It was about that time I declared war on the ants. They had no respect for my house.
None of them had watched "The Ant Bully" to learn ants are forbidden to go inside the human's nest. And the ants even invaded our bathroom after the toothpaste.
Then I found a recipe for ant bait on the Internet. The recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of boric acid such as 20 MuleTeam Borax laundry booster. It said to bring the water to a boil and then stir in the sugar and the borax until it dissolved - I ran short on sugar so I used 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of pancake syrup since the point was to find something the ants liked.
Getting the right amount of Borax is important. If the boric acid is too strong, the ants will die before they get back to their colony to share the bait with their friends. If the boric acid is too weak, the ants will take it back to their friends, making them sick but not dead, and they'll be back to plague you again.
I also found that two cups of syrupy liquid is a lot of ant poison. I poured my ant poison into a variety of jar lids and small dishes. I learned that if there is too much syrup, the ants just drown in it instead of carrying it back to their friends and family.
I would suggest putting most of the home-made ant poison in a jar in the refrigerator for later use and only put out three or four smears on a lid or small dish - a little goes a long way.
Put the poison near already established ant trails. It's safe to use on countertops and around food preparation areas but could be harmful if eaten by a child or a pet. The ants will swarm the poison for three or four days before they begin to disappear.
Don't leave the poison out too long or you will attract ants from neighboring colonies.
It's been several weeks and although I had one resurgence of ants, for the most part my kitchen and bathroom are ant free!
Opinion, Pages 5 on 08/05/2009