If the heat of late summer is bringing ants into your home and the surrounding area, don't panic. You may not need toxic pest controls to send those suckers back to where they came from!
Here are 10 ways to get rid of ants using things you already have around the house.
SOAP AND WATER. If you have ants or other bugs around the house, pour a 50-50 mixture of Blue Dawn dish soap and water into an empty spray bottle and keep it handy. When you see the insects, spray them with the mixture. Provided you really saturate those little critters, the soap will actually break down their exoskeletons, and they will die almost immediately. That's cheap and easy cleanup, too.
MOP AND VACUUM. To get rid of sugar ants, start by mopping the floor at least once a day. Mopping and vacuuming will rid your home of the food and crumbs that attract them and help remove their pheromone trails. In the kitchen, clean dishes completely, and empty the trash bin regularly.
BLACK PEPPER. Sprinkle black pepper around the entry point to keep sugar ants from coming inside.
VINEGAR AND WATER. A 50-50 ratio of water to white vinegar can also deter them. Spray this mixture on countertops, windowsills and high-traffic areas.
WD-40. Spray any areas where ants are feeding or accessing your house with WD-40. It will kill them and deter them from further access as long as spray residue remains. Not sure where they're coming in? Spray WD-40 along the outside perimeter of the house. They will not cross it because they hate the smell. Repeat as necessary.
CHALK. Keep ants at bay by drawing a line around home entry points using ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. They will be repelled by the calcium carbonate in the chalk, which is actually made up of ground-up and compressed shells of marine animals.
BOILING WATER. If fire ants plague your yard or patio and you're tired of getting stung by the tiny attackers, a flowerpot can help you. Place the pot upside down over the anthill. Pour boiling water through the drain hole and you'll be burning down their house.
CITRUS. You don't need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First, squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then, squeeze some into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance. They will get the message that they aren't welcome.
COFFEE. Sprinkle your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house. Ants are repelled by the scent, and as a bonus, coffee grounds are good for your soil and plants.
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. Make sure you use food-grade diatomaceous earth, or DE, NOT swimming pool DE, which has been chemically altered. Sprinkle the DE outside around the perimeter of your home. You can also safely sprinkle it inside where you see the ants. Do not wet the DE, or it will not work. Once the ants walk in the fine powder, the DE will attack their exoskeletons and they will die.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.