How To Get Rid of Ants in The House

It's ant season in the Bay Area. The first secret to infestation control is to maintain your sanity. Repeat after me: "Ants are my friends."

By Carol Parker

It's "ant season" again in the Bay Area and armies of them are marching, one by one, two by two and three by three throughout my house.

If you have lived through a rainy spell in these parts you likely know the feeling of dread waking up to a kitchen counter full of them.  What starts as a few scout ants can quickly morph into marauding waves of them coming through every imaginable crack and crevice of your home.

We have a dog this year so setting out ant stakes inside the house is not possible. Applying them outside will have to do and is generally (sort of) effective after several days. 

But, is there a quick, effective non-toxic way to keep them at bay once the rain disturbs their environs and they seek shelter and food indoors?

Some of my neighbors swear by "ant chalk" but I later learned it was dangerous and illegal.

Everything from mint leaves, cayenne pepper, baby powder, corn meal, cinnamon, bay leaves, vodka and dish soap with water are discussed as possibilities in some do-it-yourself ant abatement articles.

Ants used to really get under my skin, as well as make it crawl. At the first sign of an invasion I would go into attack mode - furiously attempting to wipe them away and endlessly nagging my family to pick up their dirty dishes (sometimes when they weren't even finished eating).

But, a few years ago my husband convinced me that by letting the ants raise my blood pressure I was giving them more power than they deserved. In effect, he said, I was letting them "win" the ant wars.

He suggested whenever I see ants casing the inside of the house I should just repeat to myself, "Ants are your friends" over and over until my negative feelings towards them pass. 

It does work to calm me down, to a certain extent, and I now even find myself taking a more "zen-like" approach to all other manner of benign insects that occasionally troop through the house. Live and let live. Mi casa es tu casa. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. 

The first rain of the season is winding down now and the ants will get resettled eventually (until the next round of rain drops in).  Meanwhile, my home's current ant invasion seems to wax and wane.  One hour they are rambling about my desk, coming in through a cable tv cord outlet nearby. Another minute later they are making tracks from under my front door, waltzing into the kitchen and enjoying a snack in the garbage.  Another crew has made its temporary home in a bathroom merrily scampering about the toiletries on the sink. Currently they seem obsessed with a bottle of liquid soap. Go figure.

Misery loves company and I'm eager to hear everyone's ant stories in the comments section below. What was your worst invasion? How did you get rid of them? Have you made peace with ants or are you still bugged by them?


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