Remedies for Getting Rid of Ants Naturally, Effectively, And Safely

Edited by
Inga Cryton
Reading Time: 44 minutes.
Updated: .

You’re in the midst of an ant invasion and need to get rid of them. Ants are beneficial in many ways, so you’d rather not kill them unless it’s absolutely necessary. If possible, you’d just like to repel the ants so that they go somewhere else to live. The last thing you want is to use poisons and chemicals. You want to know how to get rid of ants naturally. You aren’t alone. Many other people have tried a variety of natural ways to get rid of ants. We’ve collected the most effective methods in this article for you.

Repelling Ants Naturally

Although it might not seem like it when they’re crawling on or around you, ants are beneficial insects. Repelling them is better than killing them in most instances.

Ants secrete a pheromone as they travel. The pheromone leaves a scent that marks their trail. The trails lead to and from the nest and food sources and are essential to the ants’ survival.

Annoy Your Ants

An easy way to repel ants is to destroy their trails. You can do that most effectively by blocking the trail with something they dislike or by applying something that masks the scent. You may have to experiment as not everything works for every kind of ant.

Persistently disturbing their nest often makes ants seek another place to live. You can rake the top off the ant hill daily or flood the ant nest with a garden hose until the ants move on.

Using Natural Repellents and Deterrents

Chalk and lemonAnts dislike strong-smelling products. One of the best ways to deter ants is to spray lemon juice or lemon water on their trails. The smell is unpleasant to them, and it destroys the natural scent of their trails. Use lemon essential oil to make an even stronger repellent. Add a few drops of the oil to water, shake well, and spray on the ant trail.

Another simple ant repellent is chalk. You don’t have to do much more than draw a chalk line across the trail; however, many people take the further step of sprinkling powdered chalk wherever they’ve seen ants.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is another strong-smelling product that effectively repels ants. Some people swear by white vinegar and others think apple cider vinegar is the better choice. There’s a lot of flexibility in how you can use either.

Ant Repellent

Ant Repellent

You can pour full-strength vinegar on ant trails. The smell completely overpowers the ant pheromone scent to erase trails. Because vinegar is so strong, many people mix it half and half with water before spraying it on the trails.

You can also spray the vinegar mix around the ant hill. The ants will abandon the nest and set up housekeeping somewhere else. You will need to spray again in a couple of days as the smell dissipates quickly. If you spray vinegar directly on the ants, it kills them.

How Do I Make a Natural Ant Bait?

Ant bait attracts the little beasts and entices them into eating something harmful. Most people want the bait to be carried back to the nest so that it eradicates the whole colony. Most home remedies for natural ant bait combine something that ants like to eat with something that’s deadly. Ants won’t eat a poison if it’s not disguised.

You have lots of choices to use in your ant bait, including:

  • Baking soda,
  • Borax,
  • Boric acid,
  • Talcum powder.

Although sugar, molasses, and syrup are all sweets that most ants love, some ants prefer protein foods. If sweetening your bait doesn’t work, switch to peanut butter or similar ingredient.

Ignore What Happens Around Your Bait

The trick with effective use of ant bait is to leave it in place for several days and ignore the ants clustering around it. At first, you’ll see a lot of live ants busily feeding. Don’t kill them. They are taking your bait back to the nest.

Avoid using artificial sugar because ants won’t consume it.

Then you’ll start seeing dead ants around your bait. Leave those in place also. Ants carry their dead back to the nest and consume them. The toxic ingredients remain in the dead bodies and poison the remaining ants, including the queen. Your ant invasion will then come to an end.

Top Four Natural Remedies for Ants

Many natural remedies repel or deter ants. These include:

  • Salt,
  • Citrus,
  • Diatomaceous earth,
  • Soap Spray.

Salt is regarded as the safest and most effective by many people.

Salt Has Two Roles

Pure saltAnts are often drawn to salt, but it’s not always toxic to them. As a living organism, ants need tiny amounts of salt to keep their bodies functioning properly. If they don’t get enough from their normal diet, they’ll search for it in your yard.

Pouring large amounts of salt on their trails or around their nest blocks the movements of ants. They don’t like it and will move away from it. Salt is a pet safe ant killer, as the strong taste keeps them from eating enough of it to be harmful.

The Others

  • Citrus – almost any kind of citrus peel masks the scent on ant trails. Lemon peel makes an especially effective repellent. Place lemon, or other citrus peels, in a pan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover and let the mixture steep for about ten hours. Strain out the peels and put the liquid in a spray bottle. Spray the liquid wherever you see ants.
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE)Using Diatomaceous Earth for ants removalbe sure to purchase food-grade DE, not the kind for use in swimming pools. DE appears powdery, but it’s actually tiny particles that are extremely sharp. Sprinkle the powder wherever you see ants. The particles destroy the ants from the inside out.
  • Soap spray – some people believe soaps like Dr. Bonner’s are the best, but others have had success with their normal dishwashing detergent. Whichever you choose, mix about a fourth cup of the soap with a quart of water to make a spray. Spray the solution wherever you see an ant trail.

Natural Ways to Kill Ants

Although it’s best to repel or deter ants whenever possible, sometimes it’s necessary to kill them. Because of their painful bites, most people prefer to kill fire ants.

They Aren’t Builders
Carpenter ants are generally thought of as destructive wood eaters. However, they do not actually eat wood. Their diet is about the same as other ants. They chew through wood to make nests and tunnels. Their preferred homes are in damp or decaying wood, although they will infect any wooden structure.
You know you have carpenter ants when you see little piles of wood debris near your home. You may also hear rustling if you have a major invasion in your home. Because of the damage they do, most people take immediate steps to kill carpenter ants.

It’s futile to squash individual ants as you see them. You have to destroy the nest to get rid of ants in your yard.

One simple recipe calls for heating one cup of sugar with one tablespoon of Borax in a half cup of water. Place the cooled mixture in a shallow dish where you’ve spotted ants. The workers will carry it back to the nest. While these are natural ingredients, the mixture is toxic and must be kept away from children and pets.

Three Organic Ant Killers

  • Used coffee grounds are fatal to ants. If you sprinkle the grounds on the ant trails, you will repel the ants. If you cover the nest with used coffee grounds, the ants will usually eat them and die.
  • Boric acid Boric acidis a proven ant killer. You may find the powder easier to use than the liquid. Carefully sprinkle the powder over ant trails and encircle the nest with it. Ants will pick it up on their feet and ingest it. It interferes with their digestive process and kills them quickly.

    Borax and Boric acid are not the same product.
  • Borax is often used as a laundry booster or cleaning agent. It’s a powder that is highly toxic to many insects, including ants. Use the bait recipe described above, or simply sprinkle the dry powder around the nest so it can be carried to the queen.

Non-Toxic Ways

Many people swear that products such as grits or cream of wheat will kill ants. The idea is that the uncooked grains will expand inside the ants’ bodies and kill them. It’s controversial, as many others maintain grains that blow up ants are old wives’ tales that have no merit.

Cayenne pepperYou have nothing to lose by trying. If you do, mix the dry cereal with equal amounts of sugar. If you don’t notice a decrease in the ant population within a few days, try something else.

Cayenne pepper powder sprinkled around an ant hill obscures their trails and traps them inside. To kill ants, cut up raw cayenne or other hot peppers and add to boiling water. Steep for 24 hours, then remove the peppers. Pour the solution directly on the ant hill. It will kill any ants inside and make the tunnels unhabitable for any survivors.

Using Cinnamon

CinnamonPowdered or whole cinnamon effectively repels ants. Scatter it wherever you see ants. They won’t go near cinnamon because of the smell.

You need to use cinnamon essential oil, rather than powder, if you want to kill ants. Mix about 1/2 teaspoon of the pure oil with a cup of water. Keep the solution in a spray bottle and shake well before each use. Spray wherever you see an ant infestation. Continue spraying the area once a day until the ants are gone.

Purchasing the Best Natural Ant Killers

You can purchase a variety of products to kill ants. Although they are described as natural, they usually contain toxic ingredients.

The three types are:

Depending on the kind of ant infestation you have, you may have to try more than one product.

  1. Bait Stations
    Bait stations contain poisons mixed with an attractant such as sugar or syrup. The ants discover the bait and carry it back to the nest. Most baits are slow-acting. Eventually, the whole colony, including the queen, dies.
    Advion, Combat, and Terro are bait stations that most people find effective and easy to use. They must be placed out of the reach of children and pets. They’re available wherever gardening products are sold as well as online.
    Terro ant killer, Combat and Advion
  2. Traps
    Raid ant baitsTraps usually catch one pest at a time, which is a futile effort when it comes to ants. Products sold as ant traps are generally bait stations designed to look like a trap. They contain the same kinds of poisons and attractants as other bait stations.
    The advantage of ant traps is that they are difficult for children and pets to open. They still aren’t completely safe, but they are safer than bait stations. Raid and Terro both manufacture effective ant traps.
  3. Insecticides
    Insecticides contain a variety of poisons. Some contain natural ingredients, such as essential oils, but none are safe for pets or children.
    Insecticides are most effective in large areas. You can spray them wherever you see ants as well as soaking the nest. Most are fast acting, which means that the worker ants can die before they carry the poison to the queen, so you’ll probably need several applications. Brand names that are easy to obtain include Sevin, Spectracide, and Ortho.
    Brands: Ortho, Sevin, Spectracide

Using Essentials Oils

Pure essential oils are effective ant killers. Their strong smell repels ants as well as obliterating their trails. Without a trail, foraging ants can’t find food sources or their nests.

Essential oils that have been successful for most people include:

  • Cinnamon,
  • Citrus,
  • Clove,
  • Eucalyptus,
  • Peppermint,
  • Tea Tree.

Synthetic oils are not effective.

You can try each oil by itself or blend several in a combination that kills your particular ants. Peppermint oil seems to work the best for most people, probably because any kind of mint repels ants. Avoid clove oil if you are pregnant.

Mix the oil or oils of your choice in water, using about 10 – 15 drops in 1/4 cup of water and pour into a spray bottle. Because oil and water separate, you will need to shake the bottle well before each use. Spray daily wherever you see ant trails until the ants are gone.

When you care about the environment, you usually want to repel ants rather than kill them. Blocking their trails and disturbing their nests will often make ants find another place to live. It’s also important that no food, including pet food, is left outside to attract ants. When you can’t successfully repel ants, or if they are creating health issues, then killing them may be necessary. In all but the most stubborn infestations, you can get rid of ants naturally.

You can find further details of Ants Control here.

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