Ants seem quite innocuous to most people. In the majority of temperate climates, ants do very little harm, although red ants bite people all over the world.
However, there are more dangerous ants in warmer countries and some of these ants may even become the cause of hospitalizations and even a couple of fatalities. Red ant bites itch and even hurt, but picture a baby falling onto a red ant nest.
What if that baby fell onto a fire ant nest or a red carpenter ant nest? Carpenter ants can grow to an inch (25 mm) long and a bite may draw blood. There are venomous ants in South America and exploding ants in Southeast Asia, although they will not kill humans. Soldier ants are pretty scary too. In fact, the number of dangerous ants in the warmer countries can be disturbing.
Indeed, just a fortnight ago, my male dog was plastered in large red marks all over his stomach and under carriage. He was clearly in a great deal of pain while he walked and was off his food. It has been very hot here in Thailand this summer because the monsoon was behind schedule, so he most likely dug a shallow hole in the earth to stay cool.
He was probably attacked by ants while he was asleep, but could not shake them off. He was in a very bad state for three days. I felt really sorry for him.
Some ants are vegetarians but others will gladly eat meat, if it is available. Most ants will eat dead insects and small, dead animals. Some will also assault healthy animals, including humans, if they feel attacked.
One trouble is that insects can be immune to chemical controls and sometimes this resistance is limited to a small area, so it is better not to use chemicals if you can do anything about it. Chemicals can also present a hazard to children, which makes storing them and using them even more risky.
Boric acid is a derivative of boron which is a natural product. Boric acid is very effective at destroying insects that take food back to their colonies, so this includes ants and termites.
It can be mixed with sugar and water to make it more attractive to ants or may be scattered about the garden with no danger. It is harmless to children and pets alike.
Cayenne pepper is another repellent-cum-killer. Grow your own cayenne peppers, blend them and add to boiling water, then spray on ants and ant runs once it has cooled. It will not kill a colony, but it will deter foraging ants.
Corn meal is a method of ant and cockroach extermination. Spread it around and when the insects consume it, it will swell up with their digestive juices and cause them to explode. Not very pleasant, but satisfying all the same.
There are other biological remedies for destroying or deterring insects as well. Some are favourites of one country or local people. Why don’t you enquire around the older folks where you live and find out what their parents used to make use of to control ants and other insects the natural way?