Hooray, hooray ’tis the season for sugar ants in Brooklyn. Luckily, any sugar I have for baking is stored in air tight containers so the little pests can’t invade my stash. No sugary snacks hiding out in the cupboard, either. But trust me, and this is from experience, if you forgot a candy cane somewhere after a holiday party, the ants will find it for you and and dig in, and the resulting tiny-ants-everywhere can get pretty frustrating. What to do?
Kill them. The ants were first noticed late last week, marching in squiggly lines along the grain of my wood floors. I tried to find their source, and also their destination, but to no avail. I also tried bargaining with a few of them, but they ignored me. I realize some might say those ants could very well be the reincarnated energy of one of my relatives or friends or any other human for that matter, but I doubt it. But if I am wrong, consider me the harbinger of their next, better life. I had saved some Raid traps from last year and put them out. And I prayed.
When I got back into town after a few days away, the little guys were still present. Not in an infestation sort of way, mind you. Just being present in an otherwise insect-free apartment is unsettling. Their numbers pale in comparison to last spring as sugar ants typically nest in the foundation of old buildings and pop in through the cracks, beginning on the first floor and then making their way to the top. No one is safe, even very clean people like me.
It looks as though the ants are coming in through the electrical outlet. I braved the parking lot of Lowe’s on 9th Street in Brooklyn to fetch some more traps. I recall last spring that the ant presence, with tiny and perfectly formed thorax , left me feeling like I was on a bad acid trip. Little ants. Here and there. Everywhere. I was glad this spring was different, but what can I do as an alternative to plastic traps (so wasteful).
I mentioned the ants to a neighbor and she told me about her own trick: boric acid. We both commented on boric acid’s effectiveness in treating yeast infections; a natural remedy her doctor recommended that I have researched but have not yet had the opportunity to, shall we say, self-experiment with. She gave me what she had left. I began my research. You can find boric acid next to the band aids at your local pharmacy. Or call your local hardware store. (Buy local.)
Here is the recipe I used to get rid of sugar ants:
1 and 1/2 cups of water, hot
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons boric acid
Mix the sugar and boric acid well. Add the water slowly so it isn’t lumpy. I took my small whisk and it was diluted in no time at all. Take cotton balls and soak them in the mixture, then place them in the lid of a jar. I used a saucer turned upside down and made sure to leave a “trail” of the death juice so they could find it ASAP. Although it is just a tad more toxic than table salt to humans (and caffeine is 14 times more toxic) it is best to keep children and pets away from this organic remedy. The great thing is you can put the sweet filled lids up on a shelf and rest assured, the ants will eventually find it and your pets and kids won’t be able to reach it.
My neighbor pointed out that right there on the jar it says “poison”. She also noted that her vagina, after inserting emptied gel capsules of boric acid to stop the infection, had survived unscathed and fresh as a daisy. I’m not sure what she has written on the label, but I believe it says “goods”, (unintelligible) and “job”.
I carefully mix the ant death recipe and dip cotton balls into it. I place them on the floor. I prepare for the ants to take notice and congregate. The concept is that the ratio of boric acid must be small enough to allow for the ants to eat the mixture and report back to the queen, feeding her the poison, too. After some time, the boric acid affects their metabolism and is abrasive to their exoskeleton. Basically it solidifies in the ant and it dies (and hopefully after delivering the food to the queen).
Here they are, sort of pretty, before I put the cotton balls on a plate. I wanted to see how long it took them, and they got there in five minutes. Some even started eating the lump of boric acid. See?
Goodbye, ants. They should be gone in less than 24 hours. Thank you, science! And neighbors!