How to Get Rid of Ants

My mom had been staying with us for a few days and I was really happy to have an adjoining apartment where she could stay. Right next door to us, but separate so she felt she had her own space. I really think she got to relax instead of feeling like she was encroaching on us.

That is, I think she was relaxed until the ants started encroaching on her space. The apartment has been a frequent lodging for ants all winter long and on into the spring. Not too many of them and all they really seem to want to do is leave a pile of rubble and be on their way. I vacuum up the rubble and it has been a peaceful coexistence.

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All Ants are Not the Same

But if you have ever had ants in your house, I bet you are aware that there are a lot of different kinds. Actually there are an estimated 20,000 different species! So while I don't much mind the rubble bearers, the ones that come to visit after a good rain and a few warm days are disgusting. Maybe in an outdoor setting, I could see their beauty, but when they are swarming all over the floor and windows of my home (and my mom's bed!), I run for the vacuum.

Some are huge and some are small. Some of these dudes even have wings! Granted they don't so much fly as hop and drop from one place to the next, but their sheer numbers and erratic behavior (are they relocating, mating, drinking heavily?) call for more drastic measures than my usual laissez-faire attitude towards a few insects.

Getting to Work

So after I got my mom on the plane back home and reassured myself they weren't carpenter ants, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on getting rid of those darn things. And as I sit here pecking away, I feel cautiously hopeful that I have solved the problem.

Now don't worry, I didn't lose my mind and start spraying a bunch of bug (and people) killer all over the place. Frankly, I don't think that does much good anyway! With something like a quadrillion of the little buggers around, how are you ever going to win that war? There's just more waiting in the wings.

No, instead of getting busy with the insecticide, I got busy with the crack filler. Our house is about 25 years old and still in great shape, but one thing that has bothered me since we moved in two years ago, is the lousy job the tile layers did on filling the seam where floor meets wall. In fact, it looks like in a lot of places they never did. This leaps out at my eye and instantly makes a home seem messy and old. It also makes a haven for dust, crumbs and tiny spiders and other bugs.

wall and floor tiles before grouting

Before Grout: Bug and Dust Heaven

wall and floor tiles after grouting

After Grout: Clean and Tidy

So it has been on my list to grout these spaces. (Yeah, you know, the list.) The ants motivated me to move that DIY chore up from the list and out into the world of action. I started in the bathroom, where they were the worst, and filled in every nook and cranny. I used tile grout for some of it, but I also used a silicone crack filler for larger spaces. I even pulled the counter apart a bit so I could get to that space where floor meets wall.

bathroom counter pulled out for grouting

The Bathroom Counter and Crack Filling Tools

Filling in the Cracks

Of course, there are a lot of nooks and crannies in a house, especially older ones. But my theory is that if you can make a seamless box of a room, then the rest of the cracks and spaces don't matter so much. They are not an entry point for insects. Since the walls are in great shape as well as the tile floor, I had a limited area I needed to concentrate on.

Once I got the bathroom sealed off, I wasn't too surprised to go into the adjacent kitchen and find my friends had just changed camps. So today I filled in the kitchen. Boy that was fun. Lying on the floor with my arm extended underneath the counter and filling in the famous crack. Took several hours, but I think I had success.

I'm off to check right now. Be back in a jiffy . . .

. . . Darn, there are still just a few getting through the one area that I can't see under the counter, although I can feel a large crack. Hard to tell if it is filled by touch alone. That's ok, I found a can of expanding mousse in the grocery store and I'm going to spray it into that area. Since I can't see it anyway, I don't care much how it looks.

Onward

I feel confident that that will take care of the problem. Well that is, until the ants turn the corner and start working on the living room. That's OK though, it is very easy to grout the living room - no built in furniture! So we'll just keep going around the house, the ants and I, until I have all those cracks filled in. Fine by me, I wanted to do it anyway. I suppose I should be thankful for the little buggers!

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