Dear Heloise: Little sugar ants have invaded my kitchen sink area. I keep that whole area very clean. How can I stop them?

—Delores Van Ryan, via e-mail

Ants are "sugar-loving" insects, and worker ants are constantly in search of food. Here are some preventive measures you can take.

Ants are looking for food, especially sugary food. Don't leave food out overnight and clean all work surfaces. Clean the floor to remove food traces. Store other food in the pantry or set it out in sealed containers.

If you can, put the trash that's in the garage or utility room closer to the outside door. That way, if ants do send an expeditionary force to raid it, they will not travel through the whole house. (You should spray insecticide inside all your trash cans regularly, to discourage insect pests of all types.)

If ants have already become a problem, you will need to attack them from all sides: Begin by sprinkling boric acid or borax powder along all ant trails and entrances you see them using. Do not do this if you have small children or pets.

There are good ant "baits" on the market that will help to eliminate whole ant colonies by allowing the worker ants to carry the poisonous bait back to the nests. This is important, because if you kill only the ants you find in your kitchen, more will be back the next day!

Also, spray the base of the outside of your house with an insecticide every couple of months, as well as the bases of household appliances. A good insecticide to use for ants is one that contains pyrethrins. As usual with insecticides, keep them stored safely away from children and pets.

Because of the large number of ants that a nest may contain, it can take several weeks before you see results. Persistence is the key!


Dear Heloise: Prior to packing for a trip, put the suitcase contents on a bed and take a picture. Also take a picture of the suitcase exterior and scan the front page of your passport, tickets and itinerary onto your computer. E-mail all of these items to yourself. If something gets lost, you can access your e-mail while on vacation.

—Kay E. Rogers, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Dear Heloise: Living in Southern California, our water is a precious resource. We are again in a drought situation. For many of us who don't have an automatic sprinkler system, a small digital cooking timer works great when watering the lawn. Set the sprinkler in a spot on the lawn, set the timer and carry it in your pocket. You now can do other things without the worry of wasting water. When the timer goes off, change the location of your sprinkler.

I also try to water the lawn in the last hour or so of daylight. I can see where to place the sprinkler, and the sun doesn't evaporate the water.

—Larry Stock, Garden Grove, Calif.

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, fax: 210-HELOISE, E-mail: [email protected]

© King Features Syndicate Inc.