Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eliminating Ants: A Mindfulness Exercise to Test My Patience and Determination

We can all identify with Veruca Salt (Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory) when she screams "I Want it Now!" That's why we reach for Raid without a second thought instead of trying less toxic alternatives. Yesterday's run in with sugar ants has me thinking about patience and determination.
The Now: Trying to eliminate and deter ants naturally. Suggestions?
The ants are both patient and determined. Even when their way is blocked and the path uncertain, they continue pushing forward and trying new things to achieve their goal. I respected their ingenuity. And wondered at my inability to anticipate their next move.
While I could appreciate the ants' determination, I still wanted them gone. I'm not the most patient. With a mobile baby, non-toxic remedies trump fast acting solutions. So, I've approached this an exercise in patience.
To deal with the initial onslaught, I used a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water. This reduced the number of ants but appeared to have no effect as a deterrent. The ants just kept coming (and picked up their fallen brethren - do ants have a no ant left behind policy?).
Are you patient?
Are you determined enough to keep going even when your goal is uncertain?

Dissuading Ants with Cinnamon

For deterring the ants, cinnamon worked well. Initially I just added cinnamon to the corner where they were coming into the flat. The ants simply found another way in -- they went further across the moulding and then down to the floor, skirting the cinnamon altogether.
Before lunch, I circled the compost bin with cinnamon. As the bin is not attached to a wall, they'd be unable to avoid the cinnamon. This tactic definitely disoriented the ants. As to how effective it would be in reducing their numbers, only time would tell.
Wondering if the cinnamon is working (fewer ants) or if ants call it a day after 5pm
Unlike Raid, which is fast acting (and would coat the spot where the ants continue to arrive from), cinnamon works differently. Ants discover their way blocked, tell their friends, and slowly word gets back to the colony that there's no easy eats at this address.

Blocking the Point of Entry with Red Chili Powder Paste

In the evening, there were fewer ants than there were earlier in the day. I suspected that ants call it a day and would be back at work bright and early. I was right; in the morning the numbers were on the rise and further afield. A few scouts had discovered the counters. Another Sprite's food. And more than a few, the recycling bin. The garbage was as of this writing uncharted territory.
I haven't yet found a way to block their point of entry. Their current entryway is through a crack in the moulding, making it difficult to surround with dry cinnamon. Today, I'm going to try mixing red chili powder with a little water and pasting the area. Maybe that will solve this problem.
I'm also going to purchase some more cinnamon, move all the bins -- recycling, compost, and garbage -- out of the kitchen into the utility room, and circle them twice with eighth- to quarter-inch thick rings of cinnamon. I'll also be getting more white vinegar as well as a spray bottle to regularly wipe down surfaces and for using when I mop the kitchen and dining room floors.
How do you deal with ants?
Got any natural solutions? Please share in the comments.
Ciao Bella!
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.