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 September 3, 2012  Posted by  At Home, Home Improvement

Several years ago, a tree on our property became infested with ants. When the insects found their way into the house, we called an exterminator who offered to eradicate the ants for $800. Then we called our Cooperative Extension agent, who recommended a sugar and baking soda solution that cost less than $10 to apply and permanently eliminated the ant problem without the use of pesticides. I’ve been a Cooperative Extension evangelist ever since.

The Cooperative Extension Service is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides practical, research-based information via a network of state and regional offices. Offices are affiliated with institutions of higher education and staffed by experts, but their low-and no-cost services are available to all residents. These services include publication of print and online resources on subjects like nutrition and food preparation, lawn and garden care, home economics, parenting and financial literacy. In addition, the Extension Service offers classes and workshops and provides free consumer advice by phone.

To learn how your Extension Office can help you save money while living better, use the interactive map on the Cooperative Extension Service website and locate the Extension office nearest you. Bookmark your local office’s homepage and any online guides you may want to consult. (Note: The national Extension Service website provides consumer information as well.) Be sure to bookmark your office’s tip hotline or staff directory page for access to phone numbers when you need expert advice. Finally, browse classes and workshops and register for those that interest you. A scan of my local Extension website turned up classes on flower gardening, parenting through divorce, healthy cooking on a budget and money management.

To get you started, here are some links to Extension Service web resources that will help you live better no matter what state you call home:

About those ants: While we used sugar and baking soda, as described in the comment section below, the Extension Service in our native state of Nebraska officially recommends sugar and boric acid. Read all about it in the Nebraska Extension article “Controlling Pests with Home Remedies.”

Kim Kankiewicz

Kim Kankiewicz writes fundraising and marketing communications for nonprofit organizations and ghostwrites executive articles and speeches. Her byline has appeared in Brain, Child magazine, The Saint Paul Almanac, MinnPost and Denver’s Westword weekly. Kim is a seasoned re-user, upcycler, and secondhand shopper. Her favorite discount purchase was the wedding dress she found for $25 at Savers, which she wore when she married her equally frugal husband.

  3 Responses to “How I got rid of ants and saved $790”

  1. The extension office in my city is a great resource, but Kim! How did you solve your ant problem with the sugar and baking soda? What’s the specific recipe and how and where did you apply it? We’ve got a major case of ants in our yard right now, making their way into the house.

    I love my city’s extension office as well, but just in case they don’t know about this sugar and baking soda fix?

  2. Oh please tell me how you got rid of the ants! I could use this as I have little black ants all over my yard and they are killing it!

  3. Here’s what worked for us:

    Dissolve equal parts baking soda and sugar in a bucket of water. We used a big scoop of each–about a cup–in an ice cream bucket. Paint the solution onto the base of the tree trunk with an unused paint brush. We reapplied the solution several times over the course of about 10 days.That’s it. This only works with ants that are attracted to sugar.

    I see that the Nebraska Extension Service, which is where we received the advice, officially recommends boric acid instead of baking soda. I’m adding a link to their site at the end of my article so you can read their suggestions.

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