Friday, June 15, 2012

Ants in my dining room

When we were house-hunting earlier this spring, the house we are in now was not our first choice.  Although it was a good size and and had a nice yard, it also had wall-to-wall carpeting.  Nearly every square foot in this house, aside from the kitchen and baths, is carpeted in brown high-pile shag.  (Apparently before we moved in, the entire house, INCLUDING THE BATHROOMS, was carpeted.  SO GROSS.  They replaced the carpet and tiled the bathrooms right before we viewed the house.)

Its not a terrible carpet.  Its not what I would have picked, but its inoffensive, fairly neutral, and is brand new.  However, carpeting is bad for Peter's allergies.  A lack of good housing options meant we picked this place anyway.

Also, I have three children under the age of six, and they are not particularly tidy eaters, and I spend ALL MY TIME vacuuming, sometimes multiple times a day.  Who puts wall to wall carpeting in dining room, for pete's sake??

In an effort to contain the food mess, I have a strict rule of "we eat at the table." I say "we eat at the table" one million times a day. (Other things I say one million times a day: the floor is not your garbage can, please stop sitting on your brother's head, if I smell your hands will they smell like soap?) The "we eat at the table" rule means that the majority of the food mess ends up on the floor under the table, and thus I vacuum at least once a day, usually more in the dining room.

Every evening I pull out all the chairs on one side of the table, put them on top of the table, pick up all the curtains, and vacuum on that side.

Put the chairs back down, put the chairs on the other side up, repeat.  Move the sofa table out and vacuum behind.. Move the sofa. Vacuum the playroom.  Move into the living room, put up all the ottomans, move the wing chairs, keep going, vacuum the foyer, vacuum the hallway, vacuum the lower stairs.  (The upstairs gets vacuumed about every three days.) Every square foot of the first floor where my children might have sprinkled cracker crumbs gets vacuumed every single day.

I'm really sick of vacuuming.

And now? Despite my daily vacuuming marathons?

We have ants.

Not in our kitchen.  In our dining room.  In all that carpet.  Every day I kill 10+ ants on my dining table, in my carpet, climbing up the table legs, climbing up MY LEGS, on my dress ICK ICK ICK. (Did I mention that I generally sit at the dining room table to read blogs and write my own blog posts?)

I don't know where they are coming in, or why they find the dining room carpet more appetizing than my kitchen.  (I'm sure that area is next.)  Prior to having kids I would have Raided the hell out of the dining room and all the sliding doors, but now that I have small children who run around barefoot both indoors and out, I am reluctant to chemical bomb their play area.  Instead I kill the ants one at a time with my thumb.

Ideas on safely/no chemical killing the ants and/or stopping them from entering in the first place?  I clear the table and wipe down the table after every meal, and I vacuum AT LEAST once a day, if not more.  I do my best not to make the place attractive to ants, and yet they show up every single day. I tried a "green"/nontoxic ant spray made of peppermint oil that was eye-searingly pepperminty, but it did not make a difference.  Halp, plz. 


  1. 2 things to try: sprinkle cinnamon where they enter/ exit. I have the huge bottle from Costco, so I have no qualms dong this. It's only about 50% effective, and won't deter them right away. OR try sprinkling cornmeal in their area. This one takes a week or so to work (they eat it & can't digest it - they have to carry it back to their home to share with the nest). I have ants in the Spring/ Summer and they make me want to barf.

  2. Hi. I live in FL, and the folk remedy for killing fire ant nests ( which are roughly the size of Kilimanjaro, mind ) is pretty simple and safe: Grits. You sprinkle dry grits near/on your ants, who then cart them away and feed them to their queen. At some point, she'll have some water and then the grits will expand and kill her. Dead queen = dead ant colony.

    Maybe worth a shot?

  3. Try peppermint oil - around where you think they might be coming in, maybe legs of the table as well.

  4. White vinegar is what we use.

  5. I fight the ant war every spring in my play room, because of kids crumbs I assume. I vacuum and clean everything then I put baby powder around the perimeter of the room. It stops them every time and this year have had NO ants, last year I sprinkled the powder under the carpet at the baseboards and it worked. The powder blocks their phermones which is how they "see". Cinnamon works too, I put cinnamon at the cracks outside near the laundry room entry and have seen only one ant this year. If you see them on the table you can spray them with clorox green works cleaner and it kills them instantly also chemical free. Good luck!

  6. There are many brands of ant bait (inside a plastic dispenser or metal can) in the hardware store. They are very effective.
    You place them on the perimeter of the room, ants enter them and take out the poisoned bait.
    It's safer than spray when kids are in a house.

  7. thanks everyone--I have sprinkled cinnamon and baby powder everwhere. I've tried peppermint oil without success. I'll get some white vinegar and grits and ant traps and try them too :-)

  8. for bugs entering home: use granular boric acid from the pharmacy sprinkled at the base of entries ... or if they are established, use a spoon and sprinkle at the base of every baseboard, push in with fingers. lots of work but it does the job. ann r

  9. I'm very late to comment on this, but try Terro liquid ant baits if you can get them. You put them outside around the perimeter of the room that they are coming in, and they will be gone in 36 hours. The traps are self-contained but be sure to warn the children not to play with them. I think boric acid is the key ingredient and it's less work than sprinkling boric acid on every baseboard. Good luck!


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