Kid-Friendly Insect Repellents

We’ve lived in our house for three years, and now that A1 is old enough to eat table food, we’ve had our first ,second, and third ant infestation. Don’t get me wrong, I am a practice entomologist who has studied insects since the age of seven. I even got the Bug Bottle and the Bug Book—thanks, Reading Rainbow! (There—now I’ve dated myself.) I love saturniid moths, mole crickets, beetles, and a few other very helpful, fascinating insects. Ants are interesting. They are extremely social, considering that most insect brains aren’t nearly as complex. Unfortunately, they are a pain in the ass when they enter your home repeatedly.

Ever the technologist, I Googled “kid friendly ways to kill ants” and came up with some positive results. I’d like to share those with you.

1. Cinnamon. Yes, the sticks you put in your cider, and the powder you mix with sugar/butter on your toast. This actually works. During the first infestation, the little bastards colony moved to our pantry. The one that contained my baked goods. This included extra walnuts for my banana bread that were reduced to bits. Thanks, arthropod assholes. I sprinkled some cinnamon around the doors and in the cabinet (after we removed a ton of food). They have never returned to that location.
2. One part vinegar, one part water. The old school cleaning solution wins again: ants abhor the smell of vinegar. Put this mixture in a spray bottle. Spray your baseboards, doorways, window sills, outside perimeter, and any area with anthills. In fact, you can also spray straight vinegar onto them—it will kill the entire colony.
3. Lemon juice. How does this work? Ants make chemical trails to tell the rest of the colony where to find food. Lemon juice throws the workers off my erasing ant trails. It’s a citric pied piper. You can spray it (like the vinegar) or squeeze a wedge into a crack where they are coming in. Nothing to see here, guys!
4. Set out a few cucumber slices. According to thiswebsite, bitter ones work best.
5. Cayenne pepper. Apparently they aren’t a fan of this, either.
6. Chalk. They will not cross the line, and the fossilized sea creatures used to make it serve as a natural repellent.
7. Use a night light. The light patterns will change their foraging patterns, making it easier to put out bait (like the methods suggested above).

That’s all I’ve got for now? Other than borax and diatomaceous earth, do you have any ideas? Cheers!


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