by Doris Donnerman
(last updated July 26, 2008)
With over twelve thousand species worldwide, ants are the largest classification of insect, next to the beetle. Performing many beneficial ecological roles, ants are a welcome insect in many gardens. Ants feed on other pests such as fleas, termites, and caterpillars, as well as decomposing tissue from dead animals. They also are beneficial to gardeners and landscapers because they aerate the soil and help the decay process in compost piles.
Yet, with all of the benefits ants are to humans, we do not want them in our homes. Second only to the cockroach, ants are one of the most proliferate household pests. Not only pests in homes, they also invade hospitals, restaurants, offices, warehouses, and other buildings where they can find water and food. There are many insecticides, pesticides, and home remedies for keeping ants away from your home. An all-natural remedy for keeping ants away is the use of the Hedgeapple, also known as a horse apple, hedge ball, monkey orange, brain fruit, monkey ball, mock orange, and bodark.
The Hedgeapple grows on a hedge tree, or Osage orange tree, and is an ornamental plant of the mulberry family. Contrary to popular myth, hedgeapples are not poisonous. They grow to an average circumference of eight inches and, hence, are hazardous to livestock that try to eat them, since they get caught in their windpipe and suffocate them. The natural osage orange oil component of hedgeapples is what repels ants. Follow these guidelines to use hedgeapples in your home as a natural ant repellant:
Hedgeapples will last for several months in an air conditioned home. Do not discard the hedgeapple until most of the greenish hue has disappeared. Your hedgeapples may develop spots before the green disappears, but it will still be viable until it changes color completely. Some people slice hedgeapples and use them as flower arrangements, since the inside of the fruit has a beautiful center, much like a kiwi.
As stated previously, hedgeapples are not poisonous, but take care with them around children since they can obstruct airways if ingested.
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