Winters in New Jersey often seem to drag their feet into the early months of summer. Wearing a wool sweater and cranking up the wood stove in late April, adds to the oppressive feeling that spring will never come. Come it does, as all seasons do, and the first signs are the little green buds on the plants and trees, and then the myriad of colors on the hillsides, as if God has removed his palette from storage and has decided to paint again. Each day another layer of green is added and then color. Finally, color after a long winter of insipid monotone grey. Along with the artistic mastery of buds and leaves comes warmth. The sun bathes the mornings and the bone chilling winter is finally banished until September.
After all the seasonal clothing has been stored, noses begin to run and eyes itch from the pollen, the visitors arrive. One or two appear by a door or a window and are ignored. They produce a momentary, nonchalant glance, because there is only one of them. Unlike the movie Highlander where “ There can be only one”, if an ant is spotted inside the four walls of a home there are going to be 1000’s following. Over the next few days they bring friends. They are a social bunch and seem to like to share.
Having children that leave Hansel and Gretel like trails of food and sweetie wrappers around the house is a large part of the problem. My house is an ant feeding smorgasbord. Any food substance known to man can be found in every room, little crumbs, wrappers with residue, cans, half eaten this or that. There must be a little ant sign somewhere outside telling every nest within five miles that there is a 24 hour buffet for the taking. They, like my kids are particularly fond of sugar. The tell tale sign that the invasion has begun is when an empty soda can is left on an end table at night. I know, most people clean up before bed, not at my house. During the night the ant tom toms sound and the party light goes on outside. Like a bunch of frat members they trudge down for an all nighter to the cup of loveliness that was supplied by a person at my house that shall remain nameless. As the numbers mount they cannot be ignored anymore. The human family is alerted to the fact that we now have an ant problem, and every effort is made to become like a normal family and put food waste/dishes and soda cans in the appropriate place after consumption.
After hubby drops his can in the recycling ( oh, I was going to keep that person leaving soda cans anonymous) he informs me that ants are gross, ( as if I didn’t know that) and he is not waiting for one of my healthy non toxic “fruit and nut brigade” recipes for ant bait, to not work again. He is going for the poison. I remember last spring and the huge effort that I made to concoct “ safe” non toxic bait. It was really safe and non toxic as it did not kill one ant. Not only did my human family members scoff at it but the ants did too. “ pah! Yukky ant bait goo. We have your number lady” I could hear them saying as they totally ignored all my little pots of vegetable shortening mixed with powdered sugar and borax. I sighed, rolled my eyes and let him put down granules outside the house and he sprayed something that I decided not to ask about.
For a few days the population of our little friends seemed to subside. I was half glad but partly annoyed that the poison had won and I would get a big “ I told you so ” from you know who. I think they just ran inside the walls on a huge retreat and hid for three days.
After a short reprieve there were hundreds again. The not so empty recycling bin was a large source of interest for them. The fuel for their fire was the empty cans from hubby’s addiction to Pepsi Throwback. This nectar is made of real cane sugar and he like ants is addicted to real sugar. There was none of that nasty high fructose corn syrup that is the main sweetener in most soda. Our ants got the good stuff. I doubted that rinsing out the can would be added to actually moving it from the end table so the ants were having a party with the half teaspoon left in the bottom. It seemed to be a statewide party as hundreds of them were entering the bin and more and more were following. The thought of trying to stomp, briefly crossed my mind but I would end up doing some kind of polka dance and might be spotted and then thought to be insane. No, we needed an atomic bomb of ant killer! Visions of hubby spraying clouds of toxic fumes in the house came to mind and panic set in. My lungs hurt at the thought. I got to work.
Sugar, sugar, they love sugar and we need borax to poison them.
Maybe my potion would work better if it looked like and tasted like sugar?
Margaritas I thought but , I was not going to waste some good tequila on them but when we made drinks from scratch we used a homemade simple syrup.
Sugar dissolved in water makes a syrupy lovely liquid.
If I then added borax and dissolved it, then it might trick them and they would be so thrilled with the potion they would carry some back to the nest and feed it to the queen. Killing the queen ( the ant one, not the one from my homeland) is the key to getting rid of them all. You need to kill her.
I decided not to try making margaritas at the same time ( it was too early anyway, although I was sure it was 5 o’clock somewhere”).
I headed to the laundry room to find the borax. My love of making homemade stuff had finally paid off as borax is one of the ingredients in the laundry detergent recipe I was using ( until I found out that it clogs up the inside of washing machines. There will be another article about that.)
I measured out a cup of sugar and ½ a cup of water and turned on the heat and stood there stirring and dreaming about drinks by the pool.
The sugar dissolved really quickly and I added just a tablespoon of borax this time. Just a lacing of poison that would be overwhelmed by an overwhelming amount of sugar.
While it cooled I looked for an appropriate method of getting it to them. The ants could probably smell it a mile away but, I wanted to see what was happening when I put it out and I came upon some baby saucers from a children’s tea set.
Little portions were placed along the walls where they were lining up to get to the recycling bin and I went off to try and conquer the laundry pile which had unfortunately come into focus when going to the basement for the borax. After excavating the pile and folding and sorting I returned up the stairs to the kitchen.
I was convinced I could hear slurping as I approached the saucers. They looked like feeding troughs. Every area around the edge was taken up by an ant as they neatly stood next to each other with their heads buried in the syrup.
The line was not going to the recycling can anymore, it was going to the saucers.
I was almost giddy with excitement. I had finally made death juice for the ants and they were loving it.
When hubby came home that night I was like a boisterous puppy, dragging him to the saucers to show him my handiwork of brilliance.
The next day it was quiet. The trail had gone. The only evidence left was a few dead bodies along the trail. There was no man left behind to get the one left behind, and all that could be seen was a lone stray little fellow limping towards the exit sign like a survivor in a zombie apocalypse movie. I almost felt sorry for him as my foot came down. Sorry bud, no one left to get you.
I had conquered! I was queen of the ant killing.
The sloths went back to dropping and leaving their wrappers and cans and I did not care.
I was actually excited about the battle that would begin again a year later.
The recipe for this little concoction is very simple but before you make it, remember that you only want the ants to eat it.
Do not decide to make a batch of frosty drinks at the same time. ALCOHOL CAN SEVERELY IMPAIR YOUR JUDGEMENT. If you did not know this read “ The Darwin Awards”.
KEEP YOUR BAIT AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND PETS ( ones young enough not to know that you do not eat sugar syrup on the floor).
If you make extra then label the jar very clearly and put away in a closet that does not contain anything edible.
When you heat the water and syrup, put it on a low heat to dissolve the sugar. If the heat is too high to start the sugar can crystallize,
1 CUP OF SUGAR
( cheap white stuff. Ants do not appreciate organic brown, semi healthy stuff)
1 CUP OF WATER
Tap water is fine. They do not appreciate bottled water either.
1-2 TABLESPOONS OF BORAX.
This is the poison part. these are ants not elephants. You only need a little
Place water and sugar in a pan and dissolve using a low heat. Stir occasionally.
While hot add 1-2 tablespoons of borax and stir until that has dissolved.
Let liquid cool.
Place a tablespoon of mix in a dish/plate and place in an area where you have seen ant activity. Label plate/dish so that no one throws it away. After cooling store remaining liquid in a very carefully marked container.
If you have anyone in your house that might eat or drink this other than ants then keep it out of reach. The ants will find it.
If you make extra, label the jar so no one makes a margarita with your lovely simple syrup and place on a high shelf.
After you see the ant population subside, you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the outside of your home and on the edge of window sills and around the edge of the carpet in every room. This will kill ants, insects, ticks and fleas by dehydrating their exoskeleton. But the food grade version of diatomaceous earth here.
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The large glass spray bottle is great to leave near the exit to outdoors
Disclosure, when you order through my links, you’ll get the same discounts and deals I got and I’ll get the credit for referring you.*