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Cinnamom. Tried it on Linepithema humile (argentine ant) and some tiny guys called Brachygaster. A stick of cinnamom laid across the ant-path caused indeed alarm and despondency. In half an hour, no ant was left. However, after some hours of direct sunlight and once the heath had disminished again, the ants gradually came back and just skirted the stick. Just to see, I tried ground cinnamom, ground cumin, and paprika. Sorry; what we call paprika here in Argentina: finely ground mildly hot red pepper. The ants stopped, appeared disconcerted, but sooner (cumin) or later (cinnamom) some adventurous one would risk scuttling on the powder. After some time they took up their route, so this appears to be a case of interrupted odour-track. They did show some agitation when exposed to fresh cinnamom, which suggests that they dislike it, but they did not run for their lives or try to attack. Human beings faced with a stink bomb might have looked like that from a distance. I should say that a stick of cinnamom is a good way of stopping ants if you notice them coming in during a party or something like that. Strewing about sweet-smelling spices may pass off as charmingly unconventional, but running around with a can of bug spray might cause comment. Best regards, Adriana Adriana OLIVA Laboratorio de Entomologia forense Museo argentino de Ciencias naturales Av. A. Gallardo 470 (C1405DJR) Buenos Aires ARGENTINA

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Last modified on Sunday, 3 January 2016