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Ant Hills: A Simple Solution

Copyright October 1, 2008 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.

Some General Information About Ants

A Typical Ant Hill There are over 10,000 different kinds of ants and they live almost everywhere on the surface of the earth.

The average life expectancy of an ant varies from 45 to 60 days.

Ants live in colonies. The small amount of dirt you see above ground is the entrance to an underground network of ant tunnels and chambers. These chambers are used as resting places, as nurseries, and for food storage.

Some ants, such as the red ant, have a sting but black ants and wood ants do not.

It is not possible to completely eliminate all of the ants in an area. Even a professionally trained and equipped pest control expert cannot eliminate all the ants in an area. However, it is possible to minimize the total number of ants and it is also possible to restrict their future population growth opportunities.

Ants will usually avoid an area that contains dead ants because this indicates the presence of some type of disease or predator. Ants will also abandon a nest if a significant number of the ants in their colony are destroyed. However, if the colony only suffers minor damage then the ants will simply repair the damaged areas.

Gardening supply stores sell a variety of commercial ant poisons and chemicals that will help you control your ant problems. If you wish you may invest your money in those chemicals and use them as directed on the package. Over the past 30 years I have used a variety of these different chemicals and I have personally discovered that the results I achieved with those professional quality ant control chemicals were not any better than the simple method that is explained below.

A Simple Solution to the Ant Problem

As already mentioned above, it is not possible to completely eliminate all the ants in an area, even if you use a powerful commercial quality ant poison. However, it is possible to control your ant infestation problem using the following simple method.

Pour one gallon of boiling hot water directly onto an average size ant hill. Or pour two gallons of boiling water onto a large ant hill. The boiling water will instantly kill the ants.

Due to the large number of dead ants, the surviving ants will not try to rebuild in that same exact area. Instead they will invest their time and energy building a new home somewhere close by. Since the surviving ants will be investing a reasonable portion of their time in this new building activity they will have less time available:
(1) to gather food, and
(2) to care for their young.
Therefore the surviving ants will not be significantly multiplying while they are trying to relocate and rebuild their colony. In other words, you will be controlling your ant problem.

There are three methods for pouring the boiling water onto the ant hill:
You may experiment with the above three methods to determine which technique is most effective against the type of ants that inhabit your area.

It is also possible to mix one cup of ordinary household laundry bleach into one gallon of boiling water before you pour it onto the ant hill. The chlorine bleach will interfere with the ants' ability to smell which will cause the following serious problems for the tiny creatures:
  1. The ants will have to abandon the immediate area because the chlorine odor will interfere with their ability to follow scent trails and to identify which ants are part of their own colony.
  2. If the bleach solution makes contact with the ants' stored food supplies then it will contaminate that food and the ants will have to abandon it.
  3. If the bleach solution (or odor) makes contact with the ant larvae and eggs then the adult ants will have to abandon them and start over.


In summary:
  1. If you have bleach you should definitely add some bleach to your boiling water before you pour the boiling water onto the ant hill.
  2. If you don't have bleach, you can still use plain boiling water and achieve very good results. I have personally used plain boiling water on numerous occasions and I have had excellent results every time. (Note: This is the method I always use in my garden area because I do not want the chlorine bleach residue in my garden soil.)
Remember that regardless of what method you use, it is not possible to completely eliminate all the ants. For example, some of the ants will be away from the nest when you pour the boiling water (or commercial ant poison) onto the nest. Therefore be emotionally prepared to repeat the above procedure after the surviving ants reestablish their colony and a new ant hill appears somewhere else in the nearby area. The emergence of the new ant hill will take somewhere between two to eight weeks depending on how many of the original ants survive.

Remember that your primary objective is to control the ant population to the minimum possible level. The above suggestions will enable you to successfully accomplish this objective.

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