Get Ready for the Sugar Ants

Well, it’s that time of year again. The sugar ants are coming! The question about whether killing them is acceptable or not comes up very often in Dharma classes. The short answer is ‘No’, of course, since they are sentient beings. The insect that you crushed driving your car going to work this morning could have been your mother in a previous life. In our area, sugar ants generally hang out with us from April to early fall giving us many opportunties to practice patience. Following a true “no kill” policy can be very time consuming once the ants are indoors.

So here are a couple of quick tips to get your home prepared before they arrive based on the number one rule: Prevention First.

    Say a lot of prayers — the ants are a manifestation of our own karma. If we didn’t have the karma to attract ants, the ants wouldn’t be with us. I have strange bug karma, quite often I seem to be accompanied by an entourage of flies, bees, ants or other bugs.

    Buy a tube of sealing compound and seal everywhere — cracks around the windows, the window molding, underneath cupboards, around the door.

    Make sure there’s at least a couple of feet between the side of your house and any plants (bushes etc.) because ants can easily crawl up them.

    Obviously,don’t open your storm windows and don’t open the windows if that’s going to let them into your home.

    Be careful bringing plants into the house, they might contain ants’ nests.

    If you have pets that need to have access to food during the day, try to float the food bowls in large trays of water. Ants can swim short distances, so the “moat” should be as wide as possible. If you have bird cages, put trays of water under each wheel, don’t leave bowls of fruit and veggies out during the day.

    Clean everywhere — the crumbs inside the toaster, under the counter, mop the floor to eliminate the scent of food.

    Get in the habit of washing the dishes immediately.

    Put away containers of sugar, candy, rice, etc. Ants are amazing, they can chew through zip lock bags and cardboard boxes, and they can even crawl into plastic food storage containers. Discard all that old food lurking in the corners of the cupboard. To be on the safe side, store food in the fridge or freezer. Anything sweet — chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, cooking supplies, honey has to be in the fridge. I’ve even found ants in my salt shaker!

    If you have an in-sink garbage disposal unit, find a plug so you can cover it when the sink is not in use. Use baking soda to deodorize it.

    Take the trash out immediately, never leave it in the kitchen.

    Other remedies — rumored to work, but I haven’t had too much luck: cayenne pepper, cumin.

    Spray the inside of the windows with insecticide — my feeling is that the spray smells bad and scares the ants away rather than killing them. I hope that’s true.

    If you do end up with ants in your home despite your best prevention efforts, you should say many, many purification prayers and also prayers for the ants. In addition, you have basically two choices: 1) put up with them until the fall — and that means sweeping them off the counter and table every time you want to cook or eat, cleaning them out of the sink before you turn on the water, sweeping the floor, etc., 2) this is controversial — put down some ant traps on the premise that killing a few early on in the season and preventing them from establishing colonies indoors is better than accidentally killing more later. Once they build nests, they are very difficult to deal with and you will probably end up killing more of them even unintentionally.

Then say prayers that you will become fully Enlightened immediately so that you can truly help rescue all sentient beings from samsara.

How do you cope with ants? Please share your ideas.


7 thoughts on “Get Ready for the Sugar Ants

  1. i lived somewhere for a while where ants got into the house no matter what. I soon learned to put everything into airtight containers (or the fridge) and to keep the kitchen scrupulously clean. On the bright side (after all, all things are empty, are they not?), if they get in, and you can stand it, they’ll do a fine job of cleaning up all those spills and crumbs for you. When they run out of food, they leave.

    • caroline — thanks for your comment, i was thinking that in a way, the ants really are like our mothers — always reminding us to CLEAN UP! My house is much cleaner during ant season. LOL!

  2. The March of the Dharma Ants. Living in Florida, there are ants all of the time and LOTS of them. There was not one class given by Geshe La while we studied Lamrim for 6 years, that an ant question did not come up.
    Some say bay leaves work..Geshe la said he found that leaving a trail of “sugar” away from one’s house works. I haave tried Bay leaves,the Italian remedy, which sometimes work…there are just too many ants!! In India they would burn chili peppers in the house to have all unwanted “guest” leave. Even we would have to leave for one day…the southern indian remedy…this one really works!!! The ants come marching one by one Hoorah, Hooray..lalalalla..LOL
    So the ant saga continues..LOL~

  3. I looked on the internet for ways to repel ants found out that cinnamon was an ant repellent. I tried it and it worked.

    The ants come in the kitchen window and there are lots of areas where they hide. I made a paste with cinnamon and water and filled in the cracks and crevices where they like to crawl. They went away. I saw ants walking on the cinnamon and turning around and leaving.

    To get them out of the house I have found that if I let them crawl onto a piece of sturdy paper, like card stock, I can carry the paper outside and let them go. Doing this with lots of ants helps with your patience too.

  4. I dont know about ants,but there is a cockroach trap in my country that is very safe for them. The trap can let them in ,but cannot escape.All one have to do is to put some bananas or any food into the trap and set them near their favourite spot.

    When there are enough cockroaches,just set them free by lifting the top cover.I usually set them at drains and parks.

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