Big Ugly Black Ants- Help!

Yesterday was bee-yoo-tiful here in Minneapolis, so I threw open all the windows to allow the spring warmth and breezes in.

Last night I went into the kitchen… and found a good dozen big effin’ black ants crawling around my sink (there’s a window right over the sink).

I immediately went outside and sprayed Bug-B-Gone oll over that side of the house, from foundation to window height.

What else can I do to get rid of them?

From the U of M extension service:

Here’s the bad news:

There’s some really good information on the web site I posted. I love the UofM extension service, they have tons of good info.

Using 2 old plastic yogurt cups, punch large holes in the bottom of each (big enough for the ants to get in and out) . In one, put honey or sugar, in the other, put peanut butter or vegatable oil. Close lids and set outside near the window… but apart from each other, so you can see whether they like the sweet or oil better. Now, while waiting for them to find and choose which they prefer, go to a drugstore and get boric acid powder. Some folks use it as an eye wash or something, I believe.
Boric acid powder has a fine, yet sturdy, crystalline structure that holds up well. Go back outside and see which yogurt cup has the most ants. Open cup and make a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of their preferred diet and the boric acid. Put cup back where it was. Let them find it again. The more they eat and swarm, the more boric acid they bring back with them. In about a week or two, the entire nest will be dead from having dried out from the small cuts on their exoskeletons (exo? ecto ? whatever, their outsides) caused by the boric acid crystals.

Well, if you’d prefer to go the all natural non toxic path you could go out and get yourself a cucumber.

( I learned this trick from my 100 yr old grandma who always resided in a substandard house on a farm in the country.)

It would seem that cucumbers grow on the ground and possess a natural ant repellant in their skin. Her directions to me were to skin the cucumber and push the skins into any cracks or gaps around where I saw the ants. (I was living in student digs at the time so repairs were not going to happen.) In my circumstance they were coming in a side door, so I just jammed the skins into all the cracks and gaps and crevices. My Gramma assured me they would dry out without rot or smell and continue to work.

I was skeptical, tried it anyway just because I had the cucumber in the fridge. My friends laughed their asses off when my roommate spread the story around.

But you know what? It worked. Really well. Everything she told me came to pass.

I lived in that apartment for 5 years and never saw another ant though I only did this once.

Give it a try, you might be surprised, I sure was.

Sink drains can hold a lot of gunk you can’t get at to clean out, but the ants can crawl down there and munch to their delight. Whenever I see ants around my sink, I get a couple hot peppers, the hottest I can find, I crush them up and let them sit in the sink drain. Ants don’t like hot peppers.

If they’re sugar ants NBD, but if they’re carpenters, you need to take action. A minor project several years ago that was initially supposed to be a new laundry room floor turned into a much more involved project when I found a carpenter ant infestation. Floor jacking, joist sistering, and a much larger bill to the homeowner ensued.

The boric acid will kill them, but it’s a poison. You’re thinking of diatomecious earth, which makes little cuts in the waxy coatings of insects’ exoskeletons. Your method is a good one for the boric acid, but if you want to use diatomecious earth, sprinkle a line of it across any entry points you find. If you use boric acid, be careful that no pets or children can get into it.

“Bug B Gone” will do nothing at all to help you in this situation. As long as the ant’s nest is undisturbed, the colony can stand the loss of a few soldiers. You need to put out a bait the foragers will take back to the queen. Injudicious spraying of various chemicals will harm many more innocuous or even helpful bugs than ants, and it probably isn’t doing you, your family, or any household pets that get near it any good.

Richard Fagerlund, aka “The Bugman”, has some good advice about ants here. Be sure you’ve identified your ants correctly before trying any species-specific techniques. It’s worth the time and trouble to find out how to manage pests rather than trying to bomb them all into oblivion. We’ll never succeed in getting rid of them entirely, so we may as well learn how to manage them effectively.