Do Grits Kill Fire Ants?

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If you grew up in the south you may have heard that grits can be used to get rid of fire ants. The remedy states that the ants eat the grits, and the grits swell up inside their stomachs and cause them to explode. While this might sound plausible it's not true.This home remedy probably originated from ant bait products, which often use corn grits as the carrier for the chemical bait. But no, grits alone will not kill fire ants.

How Ants Digest Food

This myth can be easily debunked by the fact that adult ants can't eat solid food, including grits. The way ants actually digest food is much more involved. Ants bring food back to the colony, where they feed it to their larvae. The fire ant larvae then chew and process the solids. The larvae regurgitate the partially digested food for their adult caretakers. The adult ants then consume the liquefied nutrients. So there's no chance that the stomach will explode.

But don't take my word for it. Researchers proved that grits are ineffective for controlling or eliminating fire ant colonies in several studies, including the following:

Some people insist they've tried the grits remedy and the ants disappeared. It must have worked, right? Wrong. Fire ants (like many other ants) don't like being disturbed. When you introduce a strange, new thing to their immediate environment, they often respond by moving elsewhere. It's quite possible that the colony relocated upon discovering a pile of grits on top of their home. There's no scientific evidence that grits on their own do anything to kill the fire ants.

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Fire Ants

Fire ants are an aggressive insect with a painful sting. Finding an ant hill of these pests in your yard is never a pleasant surprise. Many home owners opt to use insecticides specifically made to target fire ants to get rid of them. However, some homeowners, especially those with pets or young children, prefer less toxic remedies. 

Spray Lemon Water

Juice one lemon into a spray bottle of water, then spray the mixture anywhere you see ants. It's important to walk around your home and property finding all their hiding places. Remember to reapply it anytime you see ants. 

Spray Diluted White Vinegar

As with the lemon juice, a mixture that's 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar sprayed around your property should drive the ants away. Vinegar is also a great green multi-purpose cleaner. It's a great way to clean your kitchen and fortify it against ants at the same time.

Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper 

If you want to take a spicery root to your pest control problems try sprinkling cayenne pepper around the entrance to the ant's colony. If you have small children or animals this might not be the best strategy.