Earth Friendly Kitchen Pest Remedies

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah

The ants go marching one by one, the little one stops to suck his thumb

And they all go marching down…into the ground…

To get out of the rain!!

The ants go marching two by two…

Remember singing this with friends? Does it ever go through your mind as you’re frantically cleaning up the ants that have invaded your pantry? I find myself humming it as I go through the list of how to prevent their invasion. Makes it fun! Sort of.

Ant invasion is all too common this time of year. There they are, boldly crossing your counters, infesting the sugar bowl, munching away on those leftover raisins and chocolate chips from your last cookie baking fest. Aaaackkk!

Having lived in semi-tropical climate where ants and other varmints – like cockroaches, including the dreadful Palmetto Bug variety, live and breed outside – and, having valiantly fought (and won) the war against pantry pest moths, I can attest to the efficacy of these environmentally friendly varmint prevention remedies.

The first remedy is stupendously effective. The hallowed remedy is called “caulk.”

Caulk is just such good, good, stuff. A thorough caulking job prevented a single roach, of any variety, from invading our kitchen in a semi-tropical area. Also, caulk deterred most ants (discussion of sneaky ants below).

Caulked cabinets will keep pests away for years to come. Your future self will thank your today self.

Caulk is impressively effective with crawling insects. A friend of mine refers to ants as “gateway bugs.” Too true. If ants can invade, so can other, equally if not worse, varmints.

To be outside-the-park superb, caulking every single spot where an ant might find its way to the glory hole, i.e. your sugar bowl (whatever), is required. Outside of cabinets, inside of cabinets, edges of sinks…

Sorry about that, folks. On the other hand, caulk lasts for years and years, so you won’t have problems for years and years. Sadly, I admit that there are terribly sneaky ants that will use your electric outlets as a conduit. You can’t caulk an outlet. You can, however, stuff Borax into the outlet. Maybe they’ll eat it and die. If you mix it with jelly, ants can’t resist, so they definitely will eat it. It’s a mess but it kills those doggone ants.

Caulk your kitchen cabinets at the joins. Also, caulk the outside of your cabinets, where they could enter, as well as outside your home. Running a line of caulk along the bottom of your siding and edges in the garage, will go a long, long way to keeping crawling varmints out of your home.

Remember to caulk your sinks, except if they’re the below-counter type (that has been glued together). Also remember to caulk around your kitchen window, inside, and, if possible, outside. Just don’t caulk the seep holes. Seep holes are needed for drainage of moisture, which is a certainty in our warm and humid climate.

Sometimes there’s a great, big, hole that needs to be sealed to keep those varmints out. Spray foam to the rescue. This rescue is even great at keeping large varmints, like mice, from invading your space. Basements and crawl spaces often are the source of varmints, so closing off any likely entrance will move your varmint expulsion plan on warp speed. Like caulk, spray foam lasts for years.

Having caulked or foamed that which needed improvement, make sure to wash every living last inch of the area the ants have invaded. Ants leave trails so other ants can follow. Block entry and remove trails…ants will hate you. So will other varmints.

Then, there’s the flying variety. Roaches can fly when they’re young. Add this to the list of “why do I hate you, stupid roach.” Pantry moths. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Pantry moths are evil varmints that literally can hatch out of the very flour you just bought at the store. Do I hear screams of horror?

Lots and lots of pantry moth traps exist to kill these varmints, otherwise known as “Indian meal Moths.” Buy them. They work. No matter how carefully you caulk or otherwise seal off your kitchen cabinets, the eggs of these varmints can arrive loaded for bear and cause serious harm in your kitchen. They love flour and other dried grain products (like cat and dog food).

Traps work great. So do homely remedies like simply removing infested flours, etc., vacuuming the entire area, and sealing all dried carbohydrate type material. Metal containers and even zip-lock bags work well.

So. It’s home pest horror time. Get started cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning…set those pantry pest moth traps…and buy some caulk (and use it!). It is a great time to review the outside of your home for areas where the varmints might invade…and to seal them off so they can’t.

May happiness be yours in your pest-free kitchen!

Use painter’s tape around large openings in your sink cabinet to keep varmints like ants at bay.

Maureen Rice is a naturalist/gardener living in Talbot County. She is the author of “Not! Your Granny’s Garden.” Email to receive the blog straight to your inbox.

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