The Killing Fields: Outsmart ants!

Sunde White illustrates and essay about how to eradicate ants


I first noticed them on my barbecue.  I turned on the flame and the ants came running out to the safety of the cool stainless steel frame but many burned up in the fiery Armageddon that I had created.  I immediately turned off the flame and waited for them to disperse and went on with my cooking after they were gone.

“Darn it, now I’m going to have deal with ants every time I barbecue.”  I mumbled to myself.

But the next time I went to grill, they were gone.  They had left that last day and never returned.  Instead, they migrated into my bathroom and then eventually traveled into my kitchen.  I don’t like killing or using poisons so first I tried all the natural techniques suggested to me:  Spotless house (of course), chili pepper flakes, rubbing alcohol, but nothing stopped their marching armies.  I finally put out poison squares which would slow them down but never totally eradicate them.

Then I read, “Tales From The Ant World” by Edward O. Wilson and learned about ant behavior.  It’s been a year of me combating them and I have finally created a protocol inspired by the barbecue experience that has been working one hundred percent for me to make ants leave and not come back. This is what I do:

Step 1.  This is obvious but keep all surfaces clean.  Especially make sure there is no grease anywhere, even like a little streak of butter because they like to lick up grease and take it back to the colony.  Don’t leave any empty cans of coke around either because that is like crack to them.

Step 2. Look out for Scout Ants.  Scout Ants are lady ants that go out looking for food, eat what they find and then create an odor trail for the other ants to follow back to the food source.   Kill them then scrub in the general direction they came from to destroy their trail.

Step 3. You can’t catch every Scout Ant or have the kitchen spotless every time.  So what do you do if the invasion has begun and no amount of cleaning or poison squares are making a difference?  Like with the barbecue ants,  you need to show them a hellscape and leave a couple of survivors to run back and warn the colony.  Your house will be declared off limits, which is exactly what you want.

So as soon as you see the ants gathering, you take a wet sponge and drown them.  Pour water over them wherever they are, the counter, sink, floor etc. and they will die immediately.  But do not clean up their bodies.  Leave them there as a giant killing field for the other ants to witness after they follow the odor trail there.  It only takes a couple of mass drownings for the ants to spread the word colony wide that your kitchen is a murderous war zone and they will never return.


Over the holidays I had a beach vacation with family.  Britt’s sister and neices were staying in the apartment above us and we were in the ground floor apartment.  The ants were bad down there.

“Do you guys have ants up there?” I asked Robin.

“Nope.  Not that I’ve noticed.” She said.

I put my ant control protocol into action immediately.  It took a few tries because the problem was bad but by the third morning there were no more ants.  Robin came down with coffee on that third morning.

“Do you guys still have those ants?” she asked.  “Because there’s a ton of them upstairs in the kitchen.”

“Not anymore!”  I was very proud of myself.