Though I like animals in general and pet animals in particular, Ants are an exception. They are hailed for their hard work-of collecting and storing food in anticipation of difficult times. But I don't like ants, because instead of “collecting” their food from a nearby supermarket, they STEAL it from my kitchen. They attack my food materials and render it useless, by infecting entire packet while all they can eat-their entire army put together is probably 1% of what the packet contains.
Most of you must have had bad experience of dealing with ants-it may not be a menace with modern homes but ants are a common problem in village homes and even city homes which are a bit old-this post is a quick collection of some preventive measures and Ant removal techniques, when they attack your food items (Mind you-labeling sugar jar as ‘salt’ isn’t one of them). Suggestions and ideas in this regard are welcome.
If you thought ants attack only those food items which are sweet, then you’re mistaken. They feast on wide range of food products- Raw Noodles, rice grains and so on.
DDT based Lakshman Rekha was a popular product (which I do not use) to keep ants away, but I guess ants have developed immunity against it.
Innovative Preventive measures against invasion of ants and other related thoughts:
- Just in time procurement: Whatever Japanese industrialists invented, can be implemented right inside our homes. Just in time is a manufacturing methodology which suggests purchasing raw materials just when needed, thereby eliminating need to maintain high inventory. Though buying your food item in small quantities just when required denies an advantage of wholesale prices and makes you do frequent visits to store, it ensures that ants do not get a chance to claim ownership on your goods.
- Keeping infested items under hot sun is the easiest way to get rid of ants. Due to heat they escape to a shady area within minutes. If the infested food items are expensive or very large in quantity to discard, it may make sense to shoo the ants away, clean properly where feasible and use it. But the thought that these ants might have camped there for days, adding their body waste and other impurities, makes it difficult to convince ourselves that we can re use it.
- Change location: Ants take several hours to locate a food item and another few hours to march their army towards the same. Couple of times a day, move the food item from one place to another. By relocating their target, you’ll buy several hours of time.
- Ants make their way through plastic bags and even supposed to be air tight containers-so extra tight containers are essential. All steel containers are the best-plastic containers are highly vulnerable as we may not close it tightly or the gap between lid and the container might be enough for an ant to squeeze in.
- Haven’t seen ants attacking food items kept inside refrigerator-so that can be one safe place to keep it, but again, space inside the refrigerator will be limited.
- Giving them a bait or trying to compromise with them will not work-if you keep a small qty reserved for ants, they consume the one on offer and attack the main consignment as well-so double loss. So no revenue sharing or seat sharing agreement with ants- its either them or you.
- Water is an effective barrier-they can’t swim and cross. But difficult to make use of this idea.
- Just like we have mobile signal jammers-which prevent mobile devices from receiving signal, wish some scientists invest an ant jammer-which ensures that ants fail to detect a possible food item by smell or other parameters. (Don’t think they search visually) We already have devices which attract mosquitoes and electrocute them.
- I’m not aware of any counter animal that can be used against ants (For example, if rats and rodents pose a menace we can have a pet cat which will reduce this problem). So ants need to dealt manually.
- What are the best ways to make an ant get lost? Any idea?
- Are institutes like CFTRI (Central Food Technology and Research Institute) doing something about this issue? Can be an interesting assignment if they wish to take up the challenge.
- I've only seen them carrying solid food. Won't they need some liquid food too? How do they transport and store water and other liquids?
- Since ants store food for future, I am sure they would have enough stock to survive the recession phase. If somebody can study their storage habit (for how many days they're storing in advance) we may get some idea when ants anticipate recession to end? Also if I had an opportunity I would recommend ants to change their strategy-instead of stealing and storing, they should focus on being self sustainable, by learning how to grow/produce their own food.
These were some of my random thoughts on ants. Feel free to comment and add your thoughts regarding this.