This is the time of year when those pesky little insects invade our homes and businesses in an orderly, single-file line that somehow turns into a full blown attack. When that happens, we want to get rid of them fast, but we should focus on preventing the ants from getting inside in the first place. However, when that little army does invade, there are safe alternatives to pesticides that would be better to use around our family and pets, and would also be better for our surroundings.
"Right now is the time of year when ants and other insects tend to invade our home and other business.” said Communication Specialist Heather Sumagaysay. “Although pesticedes are the first thing we do to treat this problem the city would like to encourage everyone to use natural methods like boiling water, vinegar and liquid dish soap to control ants so we can keep the Santa Clara pollution free.”
There has been a problem with excessive amounts of pesticides being washed into the Santa Clara River. The river helps replenish the local groundwater, which supplies approximately half of our drinking water. We need to make changes to the way we approach the ant problem, so that we can keep the river pollutant free.
Ways to prevent an ant problem:
- Don’t leave uneaten pet food out for extended periods of time and always store pet food in an airtight container.
- Avoid leaving foods or even dirty dishes out on the counters or in the sink. Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Keep landscaping neat and clear of weeds and debris to prevent ant nesting.
- Place a wall of baby powder around the perimeter of your home to deter the ants from entering.
- Plant mint plants around the foundation because some ants are repelled by mint.
- Place ant bait stations in and around your home. These can be purchased at home and garden stores and are extremely effective when used properly.
- Fill any holes or cracks, that ants might be coming through, with caulk or stucco cement.
Natural ways to eliminate ants:
- Find the ants nest and pour 2-3 gallons of boiling water onto it.
- Spray ants found in the home with vinegar and clean surrounding area with vinegar. This will not only kill the existing ants but also erase the trail for other ants in the colony to follow.
- Put one teaspoon of liquid dish soap into a spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way with water. Spray any ants you see with this soapy water and it will take care of the ants and prevent the other ants from following their trail.
Last resort, if you must apply chemicals:
- Carefully read and follow the directions.
- Only apply minimal amounts, and only when necessary.
- Avoid applying chemicals when there is rain predicted in the next couple of days.
- Whether you purchase and apply a pesticide yourself or use a professional pest control company, make sure your sprinkler system is turned off for at least two days following treatment to avoid runoff of polluted water into the storm drain.
You waste money by applying chemicals before it rains or before running your sprinklers because the chemicals wash away without doing their job in the first place. In addition, it causes unnecessary pollution to our water supply because the water that runs off your property goes into the gutter and ends up in the Santa Clara River.
The bottom line…try using natural methods to control the ants in and around your home or business. However, if you must use chemicals, use them sparingly and don’t let it be washed away.
For more details, visit How to Manage Pests .
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