Ants2

‘’The ants go marching one by one, Hurrah! Hurrah!” Oh, if getting rid of ants was as easy as a little one stopping to suck its thumb or tie its shoe. However, if you finally get rid of one ant bed, it just pops up somewhere else. We’ve tried just about everything, and nothing really works.

The old home remedy of mixing Borax with sugar and water have helped some, if they are getting in the house. I have even heard of mixing grits with borax, to no avail. Our biggest problem is the mounds in the pasture. Borax can be toxic to cows and chickens (and all animals, for that matter), so there is no way we’ll put borax where the cows can get to it. And as curious as they are, they will.

We are in the same boat with poisons. I am not real fond of using them at any time, but since I really don’t relish the idea of being covered in itchy, burning red ant bites while I’m trying to work in the garden, I’m willing to use it in the greenhouse where I can hopefully kill the mound before it builds in the garden, and I can also keep it secure from wandering pets. Randy has even poured gasoline on them and set them afire, but I think our Southern Red Ants are fireproof.

This all may sound cruel, but ants are destructive critters. Some of their mounds can reach 3 feet high and four feet in diameter, if left to build. If left to their own devices, we can have as many as fifty to a hundred mounds across the front pasture alone. When that happens, they can start biting the cows as they step in the beds and cause problems. If they get on a newborn calf, then they can kill it. So ants aren’t on our list of acceptable guests.

We are then left with the only two other possible remedies. The first is to use boiling hot water and pour it carefully on the nest. It isn’t a fool-proof remedy by any means, but it does help curb the population growth. The second is coffee grounds (thanks, Kim, for sharing this tip). Now, how that one works, I have no idea, but it is well worth trying it, I think. What basically happens when you get rid of one nest, is the survivors move and build another one. It’s a constant battle, but one we have to fight.

With all these mounds, it is inevitable that I will get bitten. And I’m never lucky enough to get just one bite – usually it’s several. But how do you treat them? There are several ways:

1) First and foremost – if you begin to feel dizzy, see abnormal swelling and spreading or if it becomes difficult to breathe, you may be having a serious reaction and going into anaphylactic shock. In this case, you will need immediate treatment. Go directly to the ER.

If it’s just the mild irritations, here are a few things you can do:

2) Always wash the area first with warm soapy water to remove any dirt from the area. You can then apply: witch hazel; a paste of baking soda and water; apple cider vinegar; a paste of baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

2) Some fruits, vegetables and herbs are a natural healer – try rubbing an apple, onion, garlic or lemon balm on the bites.

3) Tea has tannin in it, and helps combat the poison from the ant. Steep it in ice water for about 5 minutes, squeeze out excess water, then apply to the bites – keeping it there for around 10 minutes or so.

If you have a home remedy that works on the stings, let us know. There are a lot out there, and these are only a few of the ways I’ve found. However, if you have a way to get rid of ants altogether, please share, as the red ants are trying to storm the castle as we speak!