A few days later, they came back, on the other side of the kitchen, sending out scouts to look for more Caramilks (you’re out of luck, bastards, it was my last one) on the counters. This time, because part of their trail went along the floor, I used a bait trap and they were gone in two days.
We called Bug Guy. I don’t even know what his name is, because he’s Bug Guy to me, a sort of insecticidal superhero who will come and rescue me from creepy crawly things. He came yesterday to have a look at the firewood we got recently, because it was swarming with what we feared were carpenter ants, and we weren’t sure if we should put any of it in the shed or near the house. We were lucky: they were only citronella ants, nothing to worry about, thank goodness. He tossed town some bait for them and then tossed more all around the house to kill all manner of critters before they can get inside, so we should have a less buggy winter.
What’s great about Bug Guy is he teaches us while he’s here, so we don’t have to call him as often. You’d think it’s a bad business strategy but I suspect he gets tons of referrals from happy clients and it all works out for him. For example, he taught Dave how to differentiate citronella ants from carpenter ants, so next time we think we may have carpenters, we can use that test to decide whether we need Bug Guy’s help. And for the kitchen ants (odorous house ants), he didn’t spray inside the house. He could have, and the ants would be dead, but the colonies would still be alive in the walls somewhere and they’d bust out again eventually. Bug spray is apparently one of the worst things you can use when there are ants inside the house, because you’ll separate ants from their colony and they might go make a new colony and then you’ll have two. There were no ants around when he came through the kitchen, but he told us to use liquid ant bait next time we saw them and put it across their tracks so they can bring it back to the reproductive ants hanging out at home (barefoot and pregnant, one assumes – do ants have kitchens?) and kill everyone.
So, irony being what it is, the ants came back out to play several hours after Bug Guy left. I followed his instructions and dripped liquid bait where I saw them congregating, and hopefully it’s going to work. I’m grossed out by the idea of using this stuff in my kitchen, because I’ve used it before and it attracts more ants at first. So what was a dozen or so ants exploring the countertop is now a hundred or more hanging out at the bait droplets and chowing down. I realize that it’s a more effective way to kill them, but it’s really gross and depressing to have a mob of ants on the counter behind the coffee pot, even if you can delight in their imminent demise. The take -home lesson:
How to get rid of house ants:
1. Buy Terro liquid bait. They sell it at Home Depot, Lowes, and online, and I saw it at Target during the summer but they didn’t have any this week. Terro makes all sorts of other products, including traps, but the bottle of liquid bait is the cheapest and easiest way.
2. Follow the ant track back to its source, or as close as possible. Where are they going into the wall? The bait will attract more ants, so it’s best to place it close to where they’re starting from so you aren’t overwhelmed by the increased number of ants roaming your kitchen.
3. Put some bait across their track and the ants will stop and eat it. Check back periodically, and add more bait if they’ve eaten it all. Within a day or two, you should see the number of ants drop significantly, and then they’ll be gone.
The bait comes with little perforated cards and the instructions say to put a drop of bait in the middle of the card and place the card on the floor where you see ants. Bug Guy says to ignore that and just make a thin line of bait along the ants’ trail so they can line up at it like a trough – more ants get to eat, more ants bring poison back home. If the ants are on the wall, like mine were, you can just squeeze the bottle at the wall and let a few drops drip down.
I baited them yesterday, but I didn’t put enough out, so when I came out this morning they had scouts all over the counters and cabinets, looking for more. I added more bait to the original spot, close to where I saw them going into the wall, and I squashed or vacuumed up all the strays. I’m hoping that they’re gone by tomorrow.