Monday, June 6, 2011


I wrote yesterday about poor Sebastian and his ant lollipop. We've gone through several cycles of ant problems here. Thankfully right now we are not in ant-crisis mode. But we live with ants. I think that part of it is that everything is so open here. There are no screens on the windows, no air conditioning, no heating, so we rely a lot on outside temperature and "natural" ventilation. So we get the pleasure of living with the little critters who were here waaayyy before us. I think that the other problem is that our neighbors have probably all had the exterminator come and visit. We opted to not pay nor expose our children to all sorts of toxic things. And as a result, we have ants. If we leave anything in the sink without rinsing, the ants find it. For some reason, they especially like to come out of the electrical outlet by the sink. Why is there an out let by the sink? There are some question here that we just don't ask.

If you leave any kind of candy "out," the ants will attack. This means if you leave a Bis bar on the fridge, the ants will get it. It's not shrink wrapped, sealed and in a plastic bag, so it's fair game to them. We have all our crackers, bread, cookies, pasta, sugar, oats in ziploc bags. My husband makes fun of me, but we live out of ziploc bags. We bought cereal and kept in the box for a few days, and the ants got it. I put the candy for Sebastian's birthday piñata in the refrigerator so the ants wouldn't get it. I even have ants that crawl on my laptop. Someone likes to snack in the bedroom/my workspace, and as a result, ants.

So, besides ziploc bags, what's a person to do? The hubby likes to wipe things down in bleach, but I'm notorious for making holes and spots in clothing, so this option isn't the best. My mom suggested vinegar, and I've found that it helps. Things that disrupt their ability to smell, and clean up their scent trails are good, and vinegar is a decent, non-toxic option. Our empregada swears by cloves, and I have to say that it helps! You put cloves around the areas that the ants frequent. They don't like the smell, so eventually the go away. Unfortunately they just go somewhere else, but they do avoid the areas with the cloves.

Anyone else have non-toxic suggestions for dealing with ants?


  1. Dear Shelley,

    We live in New England and homes here are just like the homes in Brazil, no A/C and screens don't keep the ants out any way.
    We have an ongoing battle with the ants and we also use vinegar and keep sugar in the fridge and most sweet things inside Ziploc bags as well or it's fair game for them as well.
    I had a invasion of ants inside my medicine cabinet this year and couldn't figure out where the heck they were coming from or why they choose the medicine cabinet, no sweets and no food in there.
    After much investigation we realized we had bought some lozenges on my last trip to London and for some reason the Lozenges in the UK come inside a box but are not wrapped in plastic like the ones in the US or Brazil. So, big surprise, lozenges are filled with sugar and the ants went crazy for them.
    We had to get rid of the British Lozenges and the ants disapeared from the medicine cabinet.
    You are right, you fight them in one corner they move somewhere else.
    We actually gave in, bought some traps with poison inside, they eat the poison and then contaminate their entire colony. I also sprayed Ant Killer all around the house so we don't have a new infestation.
    It looks like this year we had it worse than others, perhaps because it was a very snowy year, so when the snow starts to melt in early snow it floods a lot of underground ant colonies and they invade houses in search or dry space and food!!
    It seems like we will never win this battle, just a lot of patience and fight them every day you see them, keep your food safe and vinegar works wonders.
    Great to know about the cloves, I am buying some tomorrow!!!
    Thanks for the tips.


  2. Oops, sorry, the snow starts to melt in early

  3. I'm constantly battling ants! Thankfully they seem mellow right now. But you are right, you have to live with them. At least the kids eat less candy this way ;)

  4. I have had several ant wars here, know what you are going through. But I read a lot of stuff online and have put bay leaves in most of the corners or in the molding, citrus peel helps too and seals all cracks and holes and can safely say I havent seen one in a while? (hope thats not just bc its colder now...) Good Luck!

  5. I've been following your blog since I found out that we would be moving to Belo Horizonte in a few months. After suffering though 100-degree heat here in Wisconsin today, I'm a little scared that you said there was no AC. I can handle an ant infestation, but I think I'll die without AC. Is it really uncommon???

    On a side note, your post brought back horrible memories of when I lived in Ho Chi Minh City. My friend from the US had mailed me a surprise package. Since the post office won't deliver packages to your house, I had to go pick it up. It ended up sitting there for a couple of days in horrible heat. When I opened the box, hundreds of ants were crawling all over melted Reece's Peanut Butter eggs, Cadbury eggs, Kit Kats and Peeps. I could have cared less that there were now tons of ants crawling all over my kitchen table. I was just devastated that I wasn't going to get my Easter candy fix :)

  6. Thanks Jana for the suggestions! And hello Melissa--glad you are making the move here! Honestly, we really don't need A/C that much. We moved here from Arizona, where we spent 6 months of the year in over 100 degree weather, and A/C was a necessity. But in my opinion, Belo Horizonte is pretty mild year round. It's a little chilly here, but I go stand in the sun and presto--I'm hot! In the summer, there were some warm days, but we have a pool at our apartment building, and you can always escape to the mall or movie theaters. And it usually always cools down at night. We do have some friends with A/C (expensive instruments that require lower temperatures, or living in an apartment that gets sun all the time). You just have to remember that electricity is more expensive, and A/C sucks up energy and money. That's why we don't use our hot water in the house--we saw that the previous tenants had used it, (from the unpaid electricity bill they tried to leave us with) so we opt not to use it.

    How sad about the candy! Be sure to bring your favorite with you when you come, to get you through the hard days :-) They do have boxes of imported candy at Lojas Americas for R$7...

  7. Dear Shelley,

    Thank you so much for the cloves idea!
    We bought a bunch of cloves and spread around where we saw ants, THEY ARE ALL GONE!!!!
    Let's see if they stay away ;)


  8. Thanks for the assurance on not really needing AC! My sister lives in Phoenix and although she complains about the heat from time to time, she always says she’ll take it over Wisconsin weather any day since you don’t have to shovel the sunshine :)

  9. Shelly, I was excited to find a blog in BH. Melissa, Have you arrived in BH yet? I am also from WI and my husband and I have been in Brazil for a while but just arrived in BH this month!