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I had to in the spring of 2021 clear it out a Nutella container made of plastic that I could discard. I have a hard time getting Nutella, peanut butter, or honey remains out of plastic or glass jars. And I don’t want to flush those leftovers down the toilet because lard, lard, lard, lard, lard, are harmful to the septic and plumbing systems. Then I read a suggestion for making homemade ant poison, which gave me an idea for letting nature clean food residue out of my recyclables.
The suggestion was to combine Borax and peanut butter in a plastic container with many holes cut in it to allow the ants to enter. A protein-source poison is what it’s termed. Honey can be used to make an ant poison known as a sugar-source poison. Of course, I didn’t intend to poison anything; I only wanted to observe whether the ants could clear food containers of residue.
The Nutella Jar in My Backyard Woods was the first test
I decided to put the theory to the test by leaving the Nutella jar outdoors for the ants to locate and empty out for me. I didn’t need to punch any holes for my needs; I could just remove the jar’s lid. I also didn’t want to bring the ants inside, so I placed the jar in the backyard, away from the house, in the woods.
The container had attracted a swarm of ants in less than 24 hours, and I anticipated to discover a clean jar in a few days.
However, I hadn’t taken into account the different small creatures that inhabit our property, including dogs, cats, and foxes, to mention a few. Nutella contains chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, and I saw a dog and a fox near the container immediately before it vanished. I’m guessing it was taken by a fox to a safe area. (I’m hoping it wasn’t a dog.) I figured it wasn’t a dog because I hadn’t heard of a neighbor’s dog getting sick. But, I don’t want a fox or other animal to get sick or steal the jar.
The second test takes place a little closer to the house
Therefore, for the following experiment, I hid the jar beneath some shrubs a few feet from the house. I thought it was close enough that a fox would be hesitant to approach, but far enough out that the ants would not be enticed inside the home.
And it was successful. I think that was a good position since the jar stayed there for the week or so it took the ants to clear it out. A better location could be by our mailbox, where a colony of ants has taken up residence inside the box.
The Food Residue is cleaned up by the ants
We just finished emptying a butter container. I dusted some bread crumbs into it and placed it behind the shrubs in the same spot. Before I put it outside, it looked like this:
The ants have nearly completely cleaned out the tub after two days:
During the spring and summer, I’ve been doing this with any food container I felt the ants could clean for us. I anticipate a difficult winter; I may need to keep these sorts of recyclables until spring to allow nature to clean them.
Honey Jar Suggestion
While I could wipe out a honey jar in the same way, I had a better idea. When I’m sick, I prefer to drink hot tea with honey throat irritation, I’m aware that honey is a water-soluble substance. So, why throw out the honey that’s still in the jar? Why not add some hot water to the honey and transform it into honey-water? I just keep the honey water in the fridge until I need it throughout the winter.
Phil Karras is a retired physicist who spent his undergraduate and graduate school years fixing devices. He maintains a and is the author of numerous electronics and ham radio articles A blog about TV antennas and electronics as well as a ham radio website.