By: Julie Snyder
Where do Ants come from and why do they get in your house?
Ants almost always enter homes only to search for food and water. All ants live in colonies made up of egg-laying females, males, and workers (sterile females). The ants that you find scurrying around your house are workers. These workers find food and leave a trail by covering the substrate with a chemical scent as they return to their nest. This chemical scent is called a pheromone and it can last for long periods of time, helping other ants find food at the end of the scent.
Some ants can actually construct nests inside of your home, while others live outside and will make their way inside to forage for food. Homemade ant killer is a great solution to rid your household of this infestation.
Homemade Ant Killer
The advantage in using baits is that foraging ants will bring the insecticide back to their nest and feed it to the queen and other members of the colony. This often causes the entire colony to be demolished. There are always store bought bates, however these can be costly, and it can be overwhelming to try decide which one to use. Which is why, homemade ant killer can be the better option. Listed below are a few different solutions you could use.
1. This homemade ant killer uses water, sugar and boric acid to attract and poison ants. Most of these ingredients can be found at home, and the bait is simple to concoct. First, mix a ¼ cup of water, ½ cup of sugar, and 1 tbsp. boric acid into a microwavable jar. Then, microwave the contents until they are warm. Shake the mixture until the sugar and the boric acid have dissolved. Then soak cotton balls in the mixture and place them on pieces of wax paper. Be sure to place the wax paper in areas where the scouts have been detected. It may take several days for the colony to be infected, but you will know the ants have been poisoned when no more visit the trap. The job of the sugar in this solution is to attract the ants to the bait. So if you find that another ingredient is more effective, you could use it. For example, some types of ants are more attracted to salty and oily substances, so you could use peanut butter as a substitute for the sugar.
Here is a video with a similar recipe for a DIY ant killer:
2. This homemade natural ant killer comes from ecosites.org and is very simple. You need three things for this concoction: Dr. Bronner’s dish soap, water, and at least an 8 oz. spray bottle. Just add 1 oz. of Doctor Bronner’s dish soap and 7 oz. of water to the 8 oz. spray bottle (note: If you are going to use a larger spray bottle, just make sure you adjust the recipe so it is 1 part soap to 7 parts water). Then, shake the solution gently to mix well. This solution is animal friendly and healthier than other poisonous solutions. You can use it to kill ants that are invading places in your backyard such as your bird feeders, grills, or light fixtures. It can also be used inside to kill ants that are crawling around places like your kitchen counter.
3. There are quite a few household ingredients that can be used to repel ants. Any fruit that has citrus is a great natural ant repellent, but lemons are probably the best. Mix one cup of lemon juice with four cups of warm water in a bucket. Then, spread the mixture onto you countertops, cupboard insides and other surfaces using a clean cloth. This should keep them away because ants are known for being repelled by the lemon scent.
Vinegar repellents are also a very effective way to fight off ants. Since vinegar is very acidic they usually try to avoid it. Combine water and vinegar in a 50-50 ratio, along with 1 tbsp. of peppermint oil. Then spray this solution onto ant trails.
Cinnamon and baby powder are also very effective ant repellents. Dusting cinnamon along windowsills, doorways and other surfaces will not only make your house smell good, but also repel ants. Ants also hate the smell of baby powder. Thus sprinkling some in ant-infested areas should get rid of them.
Why is it important to get rid of Ants?
Having knowledge about the kinds of ants inside your home can help you dispose of these pests. Ants are the most common and determined bugs around homes and buildings. Apart from being annoying, ants contaminate food, build mounds on our property, and can cause structural damage. It may come as a surprise to household owners that although most ants look alike, it is quite probable that dozens of different species exist around our homes. Each have unique characteristics and are capable of causing different types of destruction. A few examples of common type of household ants include, the carpenter ant, fire ant, acrobat ants, and odorous house ants.
Carpenter ants cause structural damage to wood by creating tunnels and nesting inside the wood structures. This causes the wood to deteriorate, thus weakening the stability of your home. Not only can this become unsafe, but it can also cost thousands of dollars to repair the places the ants have destroyed. These ants are long and either black or red. Although using a homemade ant killer may be useful in eliminating these ants, the best way to destroy carpenter ants is to find their nest and destroy it.
Species of ants such as acrobat ants and fire ants are capable of inflicting pain when they are disturbed. When bothered, fire ants can deliver stings that could possibly be life threatening to hypersensitive individuals. And much like the carpenter ant, acrobat ants also enjoy nesting in moist decaying wood. These ants can bite and give off a repulsive odor when pestered.
Although store bought products may be more costly than homemade ant killers, they still are very effective and can sometimes be a more logical choice. The type ant killer you buy really depends on the type of ant you are dealing with. For example, Ambro Ant Block, Spinosad bate products, and Extinguish Plus are a few store bought solutions that are specifically designed for killing fire ants. A few more effective ant baits found in your local grocery and hardware stores are Terro Ant Killer and Combat Ant Killing Gel.
Here is an infographic from Terro which points out some of the key differences:
There are many steps you can take in order to prevent ants from making their way into your home. Numbered below are several ways to prevent an ant infestation.
- Check for points of entry. Search your house for cracks or crevices and then seal them. If you do not seal these entry points, ants will probably find a way into your house later
- Clean any liquid or food spills immediately. Ants are always on the hunt for food and even something as small as drop of honey can attract them. Any ants that find a food source communicate to the nest and it does not take long for a stockpile of ants to appear on the food source.
- Always cover food that you leave in your kitchen. Putting them in air-tight containers and making sure they are tightly sealed.
- After feeding a pet, clear away its food.
- Clean food debris left on kitchen appliances. As stated before, even the smallest bit of food can lure ants.
- Caulk (put a waterproof sealant) around windows, door thresholds, and openings where pipes and wire enter buildings.
- Spray liquid insecticides around the outside perimeter of you home.
- Sprinkle coffee grounds around the outside of your house because the smell repels them.
Following these steps will greatly decrease your chances of having an ant problem in your home. The most effective and important prevention method is to keep your house clean. If you have a dirty home, ants will multiply, so make sure to clean daily. The cleaner you keep your house, the less ants will have to eat, and the more they will look elsewhere for sources of food. The surfaces of your home such as counters, should be wiped down regularly with a mild bleach solution. And make sure you keep up with your cleaning routine; sweep, vacuum, and mop regularly.
Ants are a major nuisance to homeowners and can be very challenging to control. Different strategies should be used to free homes of these pests depending on where the nest is located and what type of ant is being dealt with. Ants can be controlled with combination of good sanitation, removing pheromone trails, blocking key points of entry, and terminating active nests.