Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Attack of the Killer Ants

At first there was just one. One lonely ant making its way across my kitchen floor. It was so small that I thought it was a crumb, until the crumb started to move.

No big deal, I thought. It's summer after all, and we are constantly going in and out through the back door. The little guy probably followed us inside, and couldn't find his way back out again. I killed it and moved on with my day.

That was last Thursday.

Friday before I left for work I spotted two more ants hanging out by my Costco closet. You know, the place where we keep the stacks of a thousand paper plates, a million red cups, and boxes filled with more plastic knives, forks and spoons than even the Duggar family could use in a lifetime. I was rushing around with no time to deal with insects, so I left them where they were, and headed out the door.

Friday afternoon when I got home from work they were gone. I was extra vigilant with my dinner clean-up, and even mopped the floor just in case, but I figured that was that.

But that wasn't that at all.

Sunday morning I came into the kitchen for water and breakfast after my long run. I was exhausted from the seven miles behind me, which was probably why I wasn't paying attention and had to attempt last minute evasive maneuvers to avoid a giant pile of those teeny-tiny ants smack in the center of my kitchen floor.

It seems I unknowingly dropped a pretzel when I was getting my Saturday night snack, and hundreds of ants I didn't even know I had emerged from their hiding places to attack.

Friends, it was not a pretty sight.

Water, shower and breakfast forgotten, I grabbed my iPad, sought higher ground, and frantically started Googling things like "ants in kitchen" and "kill all the ants."

The internet told me that where you see a few ants in your house, there are probably hundreds hiding away in some tiny crevice, and that the only surefire way to get rid of them is to kill the queen. Turns out, every ant colony has a queen, and she runs the show.

The other bad news was that conventional killers don't work on ants. If you go spraying Raid around everywhere, not only will you probably poison yourself and your family, but you will also only kill a few of the ants, and the rest will break away and find refuge elsewhere inside your house. Lovely.

Most people didn't even have any luck with exterminators. Basically, they ended up paying upwards of $200 for two or three ant-free weeks, but they problem always came back.

The only surefire method to get rid of the ants, according to the good people of the internet, was to get this product called Terro Ant Baits. Apparently Terro is somewhat of a miracle worker. Everyone said that they had tried hundreds of different products, and Terro was the only one that ever worked. 

Sign me up.

Terro works like this: The bait is a mixture of the chemical Borax, and some other things to form a clear syrupy liquid, which sits in a little pouch. To use it, you cut the bottom off the pouch and put it where you think the ants are coming from. Within an hour, ants start coming, quite literally, out of the woodwork to get at the bait. They eat it, and then carry it back to the nest where they share it with their friends and, ultimately, with the queen. Within 24-72 hours, depending on how big your infestation is, all the ants magically disappear. The catch is that you just have to let them do their thing, which means that for at least 12 hours, you have streams of ants walking back and forth between the bait and the nest. It's pretty gross.

But it works.

I set up the bait, and 10 minutes later, thousands of ants came out of a tiny crack near my basement door and bellied up to the bait like college frat boys at a kegger. For hours they trooped in a single-file line towards the bait, and back again. It was completely disgusting, but also sort of mesmerizing to watch. For a minute, I kind of got why ant farms were a thing when I was little. 

When my alarm went off the next morning, the first thing I did was go downstairs to see what was happening. And what was happening was absolutely nothing. There wasn't a single ant, dead or alive, to be found. They had all magically disappeared. I left the bait there just in case, but two days later it seems like all it took was 12 hours and one box full of Terro to solve my problem. It's miraculous.

I may be pretty crappy at home-maintenance, and I may still be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the plumbing issues that have plagued us since we moved into our house, but in a mere twelve hours - and all on my own - I busted up an entire insect infestation, and took my house back from the creepy-crawlies.

And that's not too bad.


  1. Yikes! Pests are the worst!! So glad you found something to work. I'll have to remember that if we get ants (it's been that kind of summer, so I'm surprised we haven't!).

  2. Noting for self!!! That's crazy and the last thing you want to see after a 7miler. Eeeesh. Glad they're gone and go, you!

  3. If you ignore an ant, don't be surprised if it multiplies. Ants come in colonies, if you see one, then you can suspect that there's one nearby. Lucky for you, the solution you found works. But I am kind of wondering too about what happened to the ants that's supposed to be lured in by the bait? Jeffrey @