Gray Matter


How to Keep Ants Out of the Food on the Table

RT Cunningham | August 27, 2020 (UTC) | Pests

antsAnts are a serious problem in the tropics. It’s even more serious where it stays humidly hot most of the year. The Philippines is like that, where tiny ants will get into everything and on everything. It’s nearly impossible to keep them out of my house.

They don’t get into my food, however, because of some techniques I’ve developed over the years. One technique works so well, my oldest sister-in-law (who used to frequently cook breakfast for me) uses it.

The Food Left Out

Once the scout ants find unprotected food left out, it seems like the entire colony arrives in short order to finish it off if they can. It doesn’t matter if it’s in dishes on the floor or on a table with a single pedestal. It doesn’t matter if it’s indoors or outdoors. They’re very good at finding food wherever it may be.

I can’t tell you how many types of ants exist in the Philippines, but I’ve seen a dozen types of all sizes. The most annoying are the tiny ones I can barely see. These are the ones that get into the sugar container in the brief time it’s open. They’re the ones that crawl on my skin and go unnoticed until I feel them moving.

Keeping the Ants at Bay

My sister-in-law sometimes made breakfast for me before I was even awake. I don’t know why she did that, but she did. She took a single dinner plate, set a small bowl on it and then put my plate of food on top of the bowl. She then put water in the bottom plate. The food was covered with an upside-down plate or a paper towel to protect it from flying insects.

Ants won’t go into the water, therefore they can’t get into the food. Water seems to stop other insects as well. This isn’t something she did every day. Most of the time, I was awake long before she arrived - she lives in another house in my compound.

Only in the Philippines

Dealing with ants is just another fact of life in the Philippines, something I really don’t have to worry about in the United States. Ants in the Philippines will penetrate thin plastic containers and wrappers to get to what’s inside. I have thrown away full cereal boxes and ramen containers.

These days, I try to store everything in plastic containers designed for food storage, with locking lids. The ants can’t seem to get into them unless I leave them open for more than a few minutes.

Photo Attribution: ImageParty from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in February 2016.

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