14 April 2011

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants

As much as I love spring and the boost of colors, bird songs and aromas it brings to our forest each year, there is one aspect of it which freaked me out some weeks ago. This year spring came with a bonus for the nature lovers - we got some really hardworking unexpected guests - small, delicate and black. Yes, you guessed right, our house was the top dining venue for hundreds of ants for a good 5 day period.

Our neighbors were sure we were literally stumbling over big chunks of food scattered on the carpet, which were attracting the ants. Now, I must admit there is the occasional breadcrumb under the table, but we do not, I repeat, we do not eat in the bathroom, or at the front door, or under the sink. None of us. For sure. Never.

Anyway, we were invaded. At a certain point I started considering adding "pets" to my Etsy descriptions. It was going to be something along the lines of: "Produced in a smoke-free and extremely ant friendly home." Truth be told, everything was alright as long as they kept to their paths and we to ours. The food from the cupboards was well packed and hanging joyfully around the house and we managed to keep a friendly relationship with our guests while frantically looking for an ecological way to part with them.

But the moment came when the ants started to get proactive. I mean, they wanted to get to know us better, maybe even hug a little... Obviously, the time for action had come. I want to make it clear that  we did not want to use any chemicals on our ants for two reasons:

1. Chemicals have long term effects on the natural balance.
2. Chemicals are expensive.

Naturally, we love ants. Not only because they are an important part of the environment and they keep the ecological balance by feeding on pests, dead insects and decomposing tissue from dead animals. We also love them because of the image they have earned of hard workers and team players. But good as they are, our friendship could not continue. Not in our house that is.

A room with a view - I still wonder why the ants would come to our house if they have settled in this old stump overlooking the sea.

So, my husband and I remembered something our grandmothers used to do and we put it to action. We sprinkled salt along their paths and put some basil bouquets (we are romantic) in the holes they were coming out of. Lovely and friendly. And cheap. Although the ants did not miraculously disappear and at first it looked like nothing was changing, after two days we were left to ourselves and have been ever since. Thank you, grandma!

I have also heard that the strong smell of vinegar repels the ants and that they hate cucumbers, but I am not sure if that really works. What experiences do you have with ants?