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How to Get Rid of Ants When You Have Pets and Kids

The Only Way I Was Able to Get Rid of Ants in My House Without Using Toxic Chemicals

There's a recipe for disaster brewing in my home at all times: my apartment is located on the first floor, just below ground level, and my two kittens eat like little piggies, flinging their food halfway across the room before chasing after it and — only sometimes — actually eating it. Throw in the fact that all the insects that were happily out of sight and out of mind all Winter tend to come out of the woodwork (quite literally) once the weather warms up, and I'll give you one guess what my issue is.

Ants. My problem is ants.

As someone who is extremely grossed out by even the smallest insects inside the four walls of my home, I don't deal with this ant problem well, despite it not being that dire. And while my cats attacked and killed the only two spider crickets in the apartment last Summer, they really don't mind the tiny ants that crawl around near their food, waiting for just one nugget of chicken-flavored dry cat food to appear on the floor.

As you can see in the photo above — exhibit A, if you will — the little suckers don't have to wait very long for my adorable babies to make a mess of their eating area.

Getting tired of walking past my cats' food bowls and seeing little crawlers lurking (exhibit B, as shown in the photo above), I did a ton of Google searching to try to figure out what the hell to use to get rid of the ants without making the cats sick. I tried spraying a vinegar-water solution around the area, but the ants didn't give a f*ck and the cats licked it off the floor, even though the internet told me the smell would deter them both (LIES!).

Then I tried to sprinkle flour on the ground, but the ants came back and unsurprisingly — because it's not a very realistic permanent solution — my apartment was covered in tiny little flour footprints for days.

Desperate to say "sayonara, suckers" to the ants, I started asking anyone I came in contact with if they had a solution. After a few awkward "um, no, sorry"s that I got from the guys who work in my local pizza place (yes, seriously), I had an epiphany to ask my friend who has two dogs and owns a home in a wooded area if she gets ants, and if so, how she takes care of business without upsetting her pets.

"LOL do I have ants? You're cute," she fired back (Homeowner probs, amirite?).

She recommended pure citronella oil, which is nontoxic to dogs and cats (and kids!), and has a smell that makes ants retreat. I Amazon Prime'd a bottle of Now Citronella Oil ($4) and within two days started saging citronella-ing the area generously.

The smell was . . . not great, if I'm honest. But the cats definitely stayed away from the area for a couple of hours (I moved their food across the room while the oil marinated, then put it back later), so I wasn't worried about them licking it or inhaling too much of the deep scent. And with the citronella masking the delicious chicken smell of the girls' food bits, the ants stayed away and went back to wherever they came from (hell, probably).

Now, this definitely isn't a permanent solution — I've noticed that the ants appear again every six to seven days or so — but it's for sure a workable solution for anyone with pets or kids, or who just doesn't want to introduce unnecessary chemicals into their home.

But hell, if my nose getting bombed by the odor once a week means not having to see ants crawling around the apartment when my darling girls wake me up at 5 a.m. to eat breakfast, I'll take it.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Alessia Santoro
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