Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Ants - OK in the garden, but not my walls!

Posted by: Helen Yarmoska under Critters and pests Updated: June 11, 2014 - 8:34 AM

Insects are as much a part of the garden as plants and soil.  In fact, when taking courses to become a Master Gardener, there are a few required on insect identification and pest management.  So I was not surprised when my friend, Pizz, asked me about how to get rid of ants that have started invading her house.

The pests were in the walls of her 1950s era house.  There were chewing noises, not scratching like mice or bats.  She did see some large ants entering the house on the outside, but only a few found on the inside.  She had hired a pest management company who came and sprayed, but she was concerned when it rained the next day.

Ants are OK in the garden.  They sometimes act as pollinators and quite often clean up debris left by other leaf eating insects.  Many people are seeing ants right now around peony buds.  (NO, the flowers do not need the ants to open, the ants just like the sweet nectar around the buds.)  But inside the house… ants are NOT nice.

Ants are colony insects much like honey bees.  They have a queen and without the queen, there is no nest.  So the trick in ant-elimination is to get rid of the queen.  Instant kill sprays really don’t do much besides give the sprayer satisfaction.  Sprays can also be indiscriminate.  They may kill beneficial insects such as bees and wasps.  

Good old fashioned Borax is what I recommended.  She could purchase a feed-kill product and place several drops on cardboard the outside of her house and feed them for several days.   That should get to the queen eventually.   Or perhaps buy a box of the stuff and sprinkle around her foundation.
Do you have any other recommendations for Pizz?

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