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Recycle A to Z

alternatives to pesticides - bugs/pests - ants


Actual sizes: Small (less than 1/16 inch), Medium (1/16 to 3/8 inch-long), or Large (greater than 3/8 inch-long).

There are many species of ants found in homes and gardens in the Northwest. Ants do not directly harm plants, but if they are a nuisance, have your particular type identified by someone at a nursery or WSU Cooperative Extension Office.

Physical Control
Block points of entry - find the point of entry and seal it using a silicone seal. Use petroleum jelly for a short-term fix until you have time to do a better job. Some have found that sprinkling red chili pepper at the entry point helps discourage ants.
Keep areas clean and free of food scraps and standing water - Keep food in ant proof containers
Use sticky barriers to stop ants – Place a band of tape, paper or cotton coated with a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot near the outside of any entry point; wrap a band of tape, paper or cotton coated with a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot around the main stem of outdoor plants to trap ants.

Biological Control
Birds, bee flies, humpback flies and thick-headed flies are natural predators outdoors.

Least-Toxic Chemical Control
Bonemeal or Powdered Charcoal or Lemon.
Set up barriers where ants are entering. They will generally not cross lines of bonemeal or powdered charcoal. If you can find a hole where ants are entering the house, squeeze the juice of a lemon in the hole or crack. Then slice up the lemon and put the peeling all around the entrance.
Boric Acid. Boric acid can be used in cracks, but only in areas not accessible to crawling children or pets. Prepare 1 percent boric acid solution by mixing one teaspoon boric acid, six tablespoons granulated sugar and two cups warm water. Store the solution in a clear container. Use on cotton balls placed in the bottom of a plastic cup or tub with holes cut for ants to enter. Recharge each week. After three to four weeks, use ½ percent solution for continuous control. You can also use insecticidal soap to drench an ant colony outdoors or in a crawl space. More than one treatment may be necessary.
Diatomaceous earth and silica gel. Diatomaceous earth and silica gel are dusts that kill insects by drying them out. They are dangerous to breathe, so if they must be blown into wall spaces, a professional should do the job.
Flour and Borax. Mix 1 cup flour and 2 cups borax in a quart jar. Punch holes in the jar lid. Sprinkle the contents around the house foundation. Keep borax out of the reach of children and pets. If children and pets are present try making an ant trap with jar, borax, sugar & water – punch holes in the lid and the ants crawl in and die. However this does not get rid of the queen ant and they don’t take anything back to the home base.
Green Sage. Place a small quantity of green sage on your cupboard shelves.
Plants. Growing pennyroyal, spearmint, and southernwood, around the border of your home will deter ants and the aphids they carry.
Pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from certain species of the chrysanthemum; it can be combined with silica gel to give a faster effect. One form comes in a non-aerosol squeeze dispenser that allows for application in cracks and crevices to minimize human and pet contact.
Sugar. Place small sponges soaked in sugar sweetened water wherever ants have been seen. Collect the sponges periodically and plunge them into hot water.
Vinegar. Wash counter tops, cabinets and floor with equal parts vinegar and water to deter ant infestations.



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