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Guide and tip

Getting rid of ants in your house... without pesticides

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Summer is a wonderful time of year. Cherry trees, magnolias and lilacs are in full bloom, family farmers are beginning to deliver the season’s first baskets of organic produce, children love playing outdoors all day long. So what is there to complain about? One word: ants!

We’re not talking here about the ants in your backyard, which is where they belong, since they help aerate the soil, making it less acidic while feasting on the larvae of insect pests.

No, we’re talking about household ants that march along your kitchen floor and head for your cupboards.

You can rid your home of those pesky ants without using pesticides, which are potentially harmful to our health. 🐜

But first of all, why you?

Although it can be discouraging to realize that your home is being invaded by ants, rest assured that if you’re seeing ants only in the spring or summer, chances are that their nest is outside your home. Household ants in the winter time are something you’ll have to take more seriously. But during the summer, these home invaders are just a fact of life. So don’t beat yourself up about it! And besides, there are a lot of options to get rid of them.

The importance of choosing safe, non-toxic treatments

Certain widely available products for home use designed to kill insects (including certain Raid insecticides) contain ingredients that pose health risks, such as pyrethrin or its synthetic analogues, piperonyl butoxide (PBO) and pyrethroids.These substances are suspected of causing cancer, and some could have effects on our hormonal, respiratory, reproductive and nervous systems (mounting cases of asthma, declining sperm counts).A study by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health on 230 children in New York City showed that children with higher exposure to PBO scored 3.9 points lower on the Mental Development Index.

What you can do

1. Identify the entry point

Follow the ant trail to locate their entry point. If you see any cracks, seal them. To do so you can use a caulking product or, for the inside, some diatomaceous earth powder. Diatomaceous earth is composed of fossilized exoskeletons whose particles resemble crystals or pieces of very sharp broken glass. Once injured by the powder, the insect becomes dehydrated and dies. Note: Don’t use diatomaceous earth outside because it will destroy many useful organisms. What’s more, it’s ineffective when wet.

2. Use your vacuum cleaner

A fast and easy way to get rid of ants in droves is to suck them up! But make sure to empty your vacuum cleaner right afterwards, ideally far from your home.

3. Wipe away all traces

Wipe any ant-infested areas with water and vinegar or with soap and water. Ants are attracted by food, so make sure you keep your counters and floors as clean as a whistle until the problem has been solved.

4. Call for reinforcements

Spread some fern, tomato, lavender, marjoram or elderberry leaves, or lemon slices, in and around areas where you’ve seen ants. Some people like to spread corn starch or baking soda on ant trails.

5. Have a dog or cat?

Be careful where you put their food bowl. If you have to leave it on the floor, place it in a plate filled with water. The ants won’t brave the water to reach the food.

6. Think prevention

Make sure your home’s wood framing is protected from humidity, and replace any wet or rotting wood. Keep plants around your home that emit a strong odour, like mint, tansy or absinth.

You can do this! And once you’ve chased those little devils out, make sure to come back and share your preferred techniques with us.

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