Beware of dangerous ant poisons

It always pays to read the label or know the contents of anything before you buy it – and particularly if you purchase it online.

The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency has warned purchasers of a product called Fast Ant Bait that it contains a chemical compound called Mirex, which has been banned in the USA for decades.

Mirex is a chlorinated hydrocarbon and a persistent organic pollutant that builds up in the environment. It’s known to be carcinogenic to mice. The EPA was alerted after a woman became ill after using the product.

Aside from checking the contents of insecticides and such, the EPA advises that consumers should look for an EPA registration number on products. 

Instead of using harsh chemicals, there are more environmentally friendly ways of dealing with ants. As humble as they seem (and as pesky as they can be), ants play a very important role in the environment; so if you can deter them rather than kill them, all the better.

Something I didn’t mention in my article on the subject and I really should add it is that prevention is always better than cure.

If I left a steak out in my front yard unattended, I wouldn’t be cursing the neighbor’s dog that came in and ate it – it’s just too tempting for the dog. The same sort of issue can sometimes apply with ant infestations.

My shed is surrounded by ants of varying sizes, from tiny ones, to ants the size of Tenterfield terriers that can crush a steel pipe in their mandibles. OK, the latter is an exaggeration, but they are large and it does hurt when they bite. 

I never had any problems with ants inside my shed and it’s been a lasting truce – until recently. I found a bunch of them inside and the reason was my own sloppiness. I found crumbs from a hastily consumed snack of mine that they were feasting on. I tidied up, poured some hot water over the path the ants were taking to destroy the scent trail and the truce has been restored. 

The problem is it only takes a tiny amount of food scraps to attract ants and this can be very hard to control if you have a family. The little bit of ketchup on the tip of a bottle, cookie crumbs, even a tiny spill of a sweet drink can spell invasion if a single scout ant is around and he goes back to tell his buddies – and once they are in, they’ll continue exploring. 

Still, it’s something worth keeping in mind; but if you find you are in a fierce battle with the critters, try these green tips for getting rid of ants first before pulling out the environmentally harsh chemical weaponry.