Zen and the Art of Ant Riddence

The ants go marching one by one….was a favorite childhood song of mine. However, you are not going to hear me sing or see me watch the Pixar movie, Antz, because that song means one thing these days. The ants are invading my house—and this means WAR!


First it started with our front door. The “buggers” discovered we moved our blind and deaf Bassett’s food bowl toward the front of the house to make it easier on her to find it. I attacked with a venegeance, laid traps of homemade ant bait, vacuumed and mopped up scent trails. I finally had to move the dog’s bowl back to the kitchen. After a few weeks of diligence, they finally got the message and retreated.

I had a suspicion that their colonies were too big to assume that this was over, just a small battle victory. I did my best to not give them a reason to want to come back, or so I thought. I kept counters clean (no overnight dishes in the sink-what a pain) and the cabinets orderly with everything packaged well or in airtight containers. But they still managed to discover a nice trail from behind the microwave above our stove. And from outside-in they marched…one by one.

I began again with my usual ant bait of one part Borax to one part grape jelly, as I’ve read that Borax (you can find recipes all over the internet and Our Homemade Happiness has other great tips too) when ingested will swell up and kill the ants. As bait, the hope is the ants will return to the colony and share the food with the rest, especially the queen. This girl can only dream….

WARNING:  This photo is not Instagram worthy!!!

Two….five…ten…and thirty minutes later

They seemed to not take the ant bait this time around, so I tried a honey mixture instead. I smeared it with a q-tip along the ant trails and near the entrance way.

Within minutes they began lining up and feeding. The hardest part just standing there and watching them eat, without interfering, and silently encourage more to come marching in to take the bait. It was nerve-wracking to watch!


Once you commit to a call of action, you have to give it time to work else it becomes a folly. 

This war on on the ants is really about my needing to practice patience.

My own Zen Koan—the Ant and the Anxious Homemaker.

I let them feed, then wiped down the surfaces with warm-sudsy water, let it dry and sprayed with vinegar—which I hear ants hate and helps eliminate their scent trails. If necessary, I will repeat the process again and again till it appears they got the message or I’ve learned the new koan I apparently still needed to learn—whichever comes first.

What lessons do you find yourself learning  while keeping your home or garden? Share in the comments below.

Ciao for now,



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