How Do We Solve An Ant Problem?

During our current Covid-19 pandemic the need to socially distance, has led people to take up a renewed interest in gardening here in Ireland. It has now been firmly proven; from health studies undertaken, that spending an hour or two, just three times a week, in our gardens will lead to better well-being and lower our stress levels.

This renewed interest in gardening has also shown up what are seen as ‘problems’ that previously had possibly gone unnoticed. Same brings us to the constantly asked question on social media, “How do we rid ourselves of unwanted ant populations?”.

First, we should remember that ants have been on our planet since the middle of the Cretaceous Period, same that lasted from about 145 to 66 million years ago. Their presence today means they have survived the mass extinction that eliminated our dinosaurs.

There are, at the very least, 14,000 different known species of ants that cover the terrestrial surface of our earth.

Down through the years humans have gathered an immense amount of knowledge about our ant populations, latter who remain the rivals of humans, as the dominant life form on our planet earth.

The Benefits of Ant Populations

Researchers down the years have discovered that ant insects greatly serve several key functions, which assists Mother Nature to prosper.

Ants aerate the soil digging widespread tunnels through the ground. These tunnels help moisture and air to work their way through the soil, thus assisting the roots of other plant life.

Ants help with pollination, as they travel about in their search for food, thus picking up pollens and thus inadvertently, pollinating plants.

Ants also fertilize plants, dragging decaying foliage to build their nests, thus adding nutrients to the soil.

But perhaps their biggest contribution to the environment is their ability to help control other insects. Since ants prefer to eat food, some like to prey on other insects. Their appetite has been known to help decrease the number of insects that wreak havoc on lawns and gardens. Being highly territorial, ants will fight off other insects and even animals who get too close to their established nests.

Ant Hill

By British-Canadian poet and writer Robert W. Service (Bard of the Yukon)

Black ants have made a musty mound
My purple pine tree under,
And I am often to be found,
Regarding it with wonder.
Yet as I watch, somehow it’s odd,
Above their busy striving
I feel like an ironic god
Surveying human striving.
Then one day came my serving maid,
And just in time I caught her,
For on each lusty arm she weighed
A pail of boiling water.
She said with glee: “When this I spill,
Of life they’ll soon be lacking.”

Said I: “If even one you kill,
You bitch! I’ll send you packing.”

Just think – ten thousand eager lives
In that toil-worn upcasting,
Their homes, their babies and their wives
Destroyed in one fell blasting!
Imagine that swift-scalding hell! . . .
And though, mayhap, it seems a
Fantastic, far-fetched parallel –
Remember . . . Hiroshima.

Ants often invade private homes, through plaster cracks or other means, in their efforts to locate food, relying as they do on their perceptive sense of smell. Therefore to prevent ants infiltrating areas which contains food scraps, e.g. your kitchen, try wafting strong-smelling substances, like peppermint, eucalyptus or tea tree oils, all which are natural insect repellents. Ants are also repelled by cinnamon, black pepper and garlic, so storing the latter close to their points of entry, using perhaps small containers, will act as an invasion deterrent.

A common ant bait recipe is a combination of Borax (sodium borate widely used as a household cleaner) and sugar or peanut butter.

To set up the above mentioned bait, mix the stated ingredients together (one teaspoon of peanut butter or sugar to two teaspoons of borax) and place the mixture into a container which has a lid. Then punch several holes in the lid, and place the container, once again, near a visible ant trail, keeping in mind that it will take three to four days for the borax to work.

Do remember always to keep chemicals out of the reach of small children.


1 comment to How Do We Solve An Ant Problem?

  • Katie

    George. This time of the year, brings lots of black ants on the outside of our house. Especially on window seals and paths. All the spraying in the world does not get rid of them. But now we have found out that the best thing to use is Lemon Juice. First I bought a bag of lemons in the super market and squeezed the juice from the lemons and then cut the skin in half. Placed the skins around the window seals outside.
    Then sprayed the lemon juice all around the concrete paths etc. Works every time. I now found a nice bottle of pure lemon juice in Aldi, quite cheep. So I don’t have to buy the bags of lemons any more. I sometimes pour some lemon juice on a clean dish cloth and rub around on the inside of things. Like window seals and knobs on doors. Works wonders.

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