If pests were food, ants would be a buffet. But these little critters are far more than that, they have quite a complex relationship with humans. I for one should know because I used to build fake mud cities for ants as a child. In some parts of the world, ants are a food source, pets, and also an area of active research for science and engineering. Common ant species that tend to find their way into human habits and deem themselves pests are: the Argentine ant, pavement ant, yellow crazy ant, banded sugar ant, pharaoh ant, red ant, carpenter ant, odorous house ant, red imported fire ant, and European fire ant. Ants are usually clustered in colonies and are highly adaptive, this makes it really hard to get rid of whole colonies and often times any solution against them is temporary. In this post, the bleach as an ant-killer and repellent is investigated.
Bleach does indeed kill ants on contacts. It has in fact been reported as one of the most universal ant-killing solutions there are. i.e. it works on all types of ants. To make use of bleach, wipe down surfaces where ants commonly congregate or march through in your house. Make sure to use the bleach in undiluted form or in high concentrations. When you do decide to dilute, dilute with water. The common household bleach, composed mainly of Sodium hypochlorite (3-6% concentration in water) should do the trick. Another quicker way to get rid of ants is to kill the ants by making use of a spray bottle with concentrated bleach and spraying directly on them away from your face of course. Bleach is toxic to ants, but it can also harm humans. Make sure to wear protective gloves and when you use the spray. Take note of any crosswinds from open windows etc… Since bleach also stains, make sure your clothing is protected as well and all this mixing is not done near food.
Why bleach kill ants?
Bleach is toxic to ants, not only does the smell of bleach disrupt their navigational mechanism which directs them to their food source usually in your home, but bleach has also been observed to wither the ants – killing them instantly on contact. This could be due to the fact that since the ants are really small, chlorine vapour easily makes it into their organs, instantly causing damaging effects. The bleach is also known to burn their skin – may be due to a thermal reaction with their skin’s (or exoskeleton’s) chemical composition. This working hypothesis seems to apply to all the ant species mentioned above.
How to get rid of ants?
The short answer is that you probably can’t. Ant behaviour, in particular, the Argentinian ant is largely governed by weather patterns. Think of a time you dropped something, maybe food and ants swarmed to get their share. Think of another time you dropped food and it dried on the floor before you even noticed you dropped it and no ants were in sight? Yes, ants do respond to the presence of food, but also weather conditions. It is what keeps them away from your home, but also what drives them into your home. And a perfectly rational move would be to demolish their colonies around your house – which is a reasonable approach and is often done by baiting ants with chemically poisonous food that they’ll take back to the colony and kill as many other ants as possible with this food source they’ll share. But these colonies can be really huge, some with multiple queens – so getting rid of them is not exactly trivial. Given that they’re also really highly adaptive. As a side note, they are an area of research for a phenomenon called “emergence” – which is how simple objects given simple rules somehow give rise to intelligent systems like ant colonies. For some species like the Argentian ant, killing the queen will not establish the colony because these ants, as mentioned, have multiple queens and are free to go to any other nearby colony.
The best you can do to prevent ant invasions in your home is to:
- Seal all their entry points.
- Always clean up food debris around the house.
- Make sure your garbage cans are covered.
- Make sure your dishes are washed and they don’t stay overnight in the sink.
You can also use natural barriers to seal off entry points with stuff like cinnamon and black pepper. Not only is this a natural way that doesn’t involve potentially harmful chemicals, but it is also really affordable. On top of these ingredients, several other essential oils like citrus, eucalyptus, and peppermint oil have been proven to be effective against ants. The working theory of their effectiveness is based on the fact that these oils come from plants that have evolved to ward off ants in nature, and naturally the scent they produce effectively does exactly this. You can place these in containers that allow the scent to be released and in places where you expect to find ants, or generally where you’d prefer they not march around like cabinets. For safety, make sure you keep these ingredients out of reach of pets and children.
Warding off ants may not always be what one wants to do in the first place. Maybe they’re already marching in high numbers, “barbarians at the gate” the saying goes. For this, one may need a more lethal solution and up next, we look at a few that will not only keep ants away but will be effective agents at the art of killing ant.
What kills ants instantly?
Boiling water and dish soap. Nothing like a nice bubble bath to drown out and swab these little soldiers. In particular, soap that is good at fighting grease would be ideal in this situation. You can pour this hot solution of boiling water and soap on the ants or even those pesky bothersome ant hills or holes you keep finding in the yard. Maybe as a means of recycling, you could perhaps use the warm grey water from your bath to do the job of at least partially eliminating the ant infestation in your yard while watering the plants that will accept this water. It’s a symbiotic win-win.
Baking soda! Yes, to entice the ants to ingest this, mix the baking soda with some sugar and let them feast on a stomach bomb. This will disturb their insides and before you know it, they would be dead – K.0, WASTED. This may be used in and around your house, in particular, where you’d expect ants to enter, you don’t really want to keep baiting them directly into your home now do you? You may also use the solution directly on their homes – their holes or anthills. Of course, this may not be extremely effective but it’s a plan.
If all else fails, that probably means you have a serious infestation and pest control would be your best bet. They are usually trained to deal with such and will (hopefully) do their best to ensure the ants remain at bay and don’t march into your territory.