A trail of ants marching across the kitchen counter to help themselves to your sugar bowl is not a welcome sight. Ants can wreak havoc on your pantry and disturb your peace. While the sugar ants that commonly invade kitchens aren't harmful to people, outside in your yard and garden fire ants pose a threat to plants, pets and people. Fire ant stings are painful and can kill if the person bitten suffers an allergic reaction. Fire ants kill birds, small mammals and beneficial insects and can destroy garden produce. Pesticides can be effective in killing ants, but they also harm everything else living in the yard, from robins to toads. Alternative methods require more effort and patience, but can be effective.
In the Yard
Bring 3 gallons of water to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the ant mound. The National Parks Service reports that this method of control destroys 60 percent of the mounds treated.
Destroy the mound by digging or by dragging a plow blade across it. The method is only effective right before a frost. Without the protection of the mound, freezing temperatures will kill ants and prevent them from rebuilding as quickly.
Broadcast an ant bait with the active ingredient fenoxycarb. Fenoxycarb is not a pesticide, but an insect growth regulator. It poses no harm to pets or other species.
In the Home
Spray ants and ant trails with soapy water or window cleaner and wipe up. This kills the ants and eliminates their scent trails.
Locate the points where ants are entering the house by following trails of ants. Seal any openings with silicone caulk.
Mix 1 cup white sugar with ½ cup borax. Place 1 tbsp. of this mixture in jar lids and set around the kitchen, out of reach of children or pets. The sugar will attract the ants and the borax will kill them after they've returned to the nest and ingested it.