sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

February 22, 2011

My Little War on Ants

Filed under: environmentalism, everyday — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 3:54 am

Die in organic poison gas…

Jello Biafra

With two little kids there is always something.  After a week of rain that something is ants.  They’ve gotten quite obnoxious lately, like, they have an annoying habit of amassing right on top of an ultrasound repellent.

Ultrasonic repeller: unbelievably, it worked for a couple of years.

Before this repeller I used Windex, which was politically incorrect of me because of the ammonia.  But a gallon of Windex typically contains just 4 oz of ammonia, and the agent evaporates quickly.  Windex is perfectly safe when used properly.  Then one day when I had to annihilate a whole bunch of ants right away, I ran out of ammo.  So I went to the nearby grocery store, which happened to be a natural grocery kind of place — hey, it’s the Bay Area.  Of course they didn’t have the evil Windex, so I bought a substance called Bugs’r’Done, which, according to the clerk, is what they use at the store, and which is totally harmless because it kills ants with an orange sent.  Bugs’r’Done claims that their substance is “food grade,” and can be used around children and pets.  But per bottle label, the spray should be used in a well-aired areas, and picnic tables should be sprayed lightly.

Come hell or high water, I took the spray home and tried it out.  And wow!  Not only it killed the ants better then the verboten Windex, it also repelled them long enough for me to enjoy a few moments of peace.  Unfortunately, it left an awful chemical smell, which made me think that it can cause some other kind of collateral damage.  Per bottle label, active ingredient d-limonene constitutes about 4% of the mixture, the rest is “other ingredients”.  These “other ingredients” are some mystery minerals and natural poisons.

Isn’t a natural grocery clerk an agent of the enemy anyways?  Why should I trust him?  So I decided to gather some intelligence myself, and looked at the contents of the spray.  I found no information about the 96% of Bug’r’Done.  D-limonene is made out of oranges, as promised.  I used Bugs’r’Done for several weeks until my mom brought thee aforementioned ultrasound repeller.  Then me and DH went on a search and destroy mission one last time, and plugged it in.

We eventually removed the repeller to keep it out of hands of my toddler.  Per Kaiser Permanente instructions, we keep powerful weapons out of the hands of children.  Actually, we don’t want them to electrocute themselves.

When the rains started this winter, ants penetrated our house through the porous hardwood floor.  We sprayed them, but they kept coming.  We plugged in the repeller, but this time it was powerless against the invaders.  One morning I woke up to discover a particularly target rich environment in our dining room.  That day on a trip to Home Depo we bought EcoSMART.  I specifically wanted an “organic” weapon because those appear to be deadlier.

The bottle promised that the spray “kills fast”; that it’s “plant based,” “university tested” and “water based”.  They were somewhat more forthcoming about the ingredients.  Active ingredients are the following:

Rosemary Oil — 5%

Cinnamon Oil — 3%

and other — 92%*

Water, Wintergreen Oil, Mineral Oil [huh? — ed.], Oleic Acid, Canola Oil, Nitrogen, Vanillin, Lecithin

EcoSMART claims that their product secretes a  “fresh natural scent [that] signals it’s working”.  At first I thought the substance smells like candles, but I got sick of it fairly quick, and the stench is even harder to air out then Bugs’r’Done.

We got a couple of days worth of break from the rain, and me and DH decided to declare a truce.  I’m not sure if that was smart diplomacy because the ants have been testing out the terms of truce on the window frame and in the living room corner.  If, when the rain resumes, they keep marching on us, we will be forced to admit that all conventional weapons failed, and I need to use the nuclear option, that is call in pest control.



  1. that’s weird how they won’t tell you what makes up the bulk of the stuff.

    but they say it’s organic so it must be okay?

    because if they care about organic/green issues then they are totally trustworthy?

    same tactic as BP’s newish green-friendly logo, I guess.

    weird that people en masse are so gullible, I guess.

    Comment by nooneofanyimport — February 22, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

    • Good point. It’s like it’s a matter of faith. Same goes for the Fair Trade logo. Who knows what it is.

      Comment by edgeofthesandbox — February 22, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

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