Boise & Garden City

How do you get rid of those darn ants? Statesman readers share their tips

Jim DeWitt said he and his wife didn’t notice they had an ant problem until they opened up this ethernet switch after their Internet failed.
Jim DeWitt said he and his wife didn’t notice they had an ant problem until they opened up this ethernet switch after their Internet failed. Frozen Feather Images

Remember when you were a kid, and playing with ants was fun?

There’s nothing fun about finding hundreds of ants marching into your house through cracks and crevices that you didn’t even know existed.

A Statesman reader contacted us about an alarming number of small black ants that appeared in her kitchen. Several members of the Statesman staff have also noticed ants this year, so we surveyed readers on Facebook about what they’re seeing. The post got 125 comments.

So, is the ant problem worse this year than in other years? The response was mixed. Some said they haven’t had issues while others reported infestations.

“They are the worst ever this year,” said one reader. “I have never had ants in this house of 40-plus years.”

“So bad this year,” another said. “Entire house. Sit on our couch and you’ll be coated within 10 minutes.”

When Boisean Jim DeWitt’s Internet service quit last winter, he had no idea ants were the culprit.

“I have a mental checklist of things to do. One of them is reseating cables,” he told the Statesman. “When I unplugged the first ethernet cable from the switch, a couple of ants came out. That led to the discovery of quite a large nest.”

The DeWitts threw the infested switch out and mounted the new switch on the side of the desk, keeping it off the floor.

“Oddly, we saw no signs of ants before the switch failed,” DeWitt said.

Wiley Sanders, an associate certified entomologist with Gemtek, A Western Exterminator Company, said ants look for moisture, food and a home.

“Because of a very wet winter, Boise is not lacking in the moisture department right now, and that’s driving a big increase in ant issues,” Sanders said. At this time of year, the species that Gemtek typically sees trying to enter homes: carpenter ants, odorous house ants and pavement ants.

Dane McCullough, manager at the Zamzows on Fairview Avenue, said ants are a perennial problem and that this year doesn’t seem unusual.

The store sells a variety of products: sprays and baits (liquid and granular). They recommend Zamzows Home Pest Control, a spray pesticide that kills ants, spiders and other insects. Most products are under $20, and some are under $10.

Here are some suggestions from Statesman readers for eradicating ants:

1. Baking soda and powdered sugar.

2. Peppermint oil.

3. Sugar and borax.

4. Coffee grounds.

5. Vinegar.

Did you have an ant problem? How did you solve it? Email reporter Katy Moeller (kmoeller@idahostatesman.com) with your tip.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

Prevention tips

  • Keep shrubs, plants, trees and other vegetation trimmed away from the foundation and siding of your home. Ants can often use vegetation as a roadway to access your home.
  • Make sure drainage of water around your home is adequate for items such as air conditioning units, pools and hose connections/sprinkler systems.
  • Repair any leaks right away, both outside and inside.
  • Clean up food and beverage spills immediately.
  • Store pet food and human food in sealed containers (cereals, baking products, pastas, dry pet foods, etc.).
  • Seal any gaps and cracks on the outside of your home. Pay special attention to window and door frames, where pipes enter your home (such as around your air conditioning unit), laundry vents, etc.
  • Remove debris or objects from your yard – downed trees, old equipment, kids’ toys and tools are just a few examples. These items provide shade from the sun and a good source of heat, and many can collect moisture, making them the perfect harborage for ants. The closer ants are to your home, the more likely they are to invade.
  • Consider calling an expert for help. Many over-the-counter pesticides, if applied incorrectly, can actually cause a problem to spread.
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