Sunday, August 2, 2009

Non-toxic ant control for pet sitters

It's summertime! And living isn't easy with a houseful of ants. As soon as my clients leave for vacation, the ants move in. I add an ant control kit to my tool bag in the car, because I know I'l need it. But what can I use that won't hurt the cats and dogs?

If the house only has cats, I don't worry as much. Kitties are less likely to eat an ant bait station. Whenever possible though, I use other methods:

• Wipe around the window and doorway where the ants are coming in with vinegar and let air-dry
• Spray live ants with Windex, 409, Simple Green or just soapy water. It stops them dead and doesn't leave an insecticide smell.
• Place bay leaves near the pet dishes and on windowsills
• Dump coffee grounds around the foundation of the house (may not make clients happy!)
• Place pet food bowls in an outer bowl of soapy water. Ants can't cross it. This has worked really well for me.
• Clean up every drop of spilled food, and throw away anything with food residue on it outside, not in an indoor wastebasket.

One of my clients gave me this recipe, which might work outside or in the garage while the animals are inside:
9 parts Karo syrup
1 part boric acid (borax, roach killer-not safe for dogs))

Put in a styrofoam cup with holes in it. Lay it on its side. In August she sometimes adds a little dab of peanut butter, but this will attract a dog, so be careful.

These tips come from
  • Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants' point of entry. Many ants have a natural aversion to cucumber. Bitter cucumbers work best.
  • Leave a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants seem most active. Dry, crushed mint leaves or cloves also work as ant deterrents.
  • Trace the ant column back to their point of entry. Set any of the following items at the entry area in a small line, which ants will not cross: cayenne pepper, citrus oil (can be soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds.
  • Mix a half teaspoon each of honey, borax, and aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet, etc.), in small bottles. Place bottles on their sides, with lids off, in areas of most ant activity. Ants will carry the bait back to their colonies. Important: use indoors only; must be kept away from pets and children. (This is similar to the recipe above)
  • Leave a small, low wattage night light on for a few nights in the area of most ant activity. The change in light can disrupt and discourage their foraging patterns.
  • Ants on the deck? Slip a few cut up cloves of garlic between the cracks.

  • Here's a link to a site that gives non-toxic ant control tips, and also important info on what bait stations NOT to use:

    I hope this helps you get through the ant season with safe pets and happy customers.

    © Copyright 2009 Terry Albert. All rights reserved.

    1 comment:

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