“Almost everybody out here will have ants under their slab,” says Grady Jones, an entomologist with Western Exterminator Company who has been in the business for 25 years. “Particularly the Argentine ant, which is our biggest problem. And because they share queens and colonies, they’ll have these vast networks of ants. Your whole neighborhood will be a nest—and that’s not an exaggeration.”
Particularly in the summer, when the whole colony seems to be vacationing in your house. But here’s Jones’ good news: With a few simple do-it-yourself techniques, you can keep out these unwelcomed guests—if not eliminate them entirely.
Most ants appear in kitchens and bathrooms because they’re crawling up pipes that lead from your home’s slab to your sinks. Your first countermeasure is to make sure there’s a tight seal where the pipe meets the wall. Then Jones recommends using a bio-repellant pepper-based gel called PiGNX or De-Tour that you apply with a paintbrush in three particular areas: where those sink pipes emerge from the wall; the hole where hoses run through the side of the dishwasher; and under the weep screeds that surround the foundation of all stucco homes.
“If it’s applied properly, the gel is amazing,” Jones says.
While it will keep ants—which are highly sensitive to pepper scents—at bay, it won’t eliminate them. To do that, you have two choices: Use a sweet bait (Jones suggests Terro, which is liquid-based), but in doing so you’re actually inviting ants into your home; or hire a professional to use a nonrepellant spray, which kills the ants slowly. “You want them to walk right through it, pick it up and survive long enough to get back and spread it amongst the colony. It’s incredibly effective.”
One thing to avoid: Raid and other over-the-counter ant-killers, which can be counterproductive, not to mention harmful if used around food. The go-to product to immediately stop a counter or pantry invasion? Windex.