Learning you have an ant problem in your home is something many people deal with. They are the most common house pest, and they usually begin invading your home during the spring season. Getting rid of them with natural ant repellent can be quite the task, but it is doable.
When deciding which course of action to take you should be thinking about several things. If you have small children or pets, natural repellents are usually the way to go. There are plenty of ways to keep the ants away without having to harm your kids or animals. These are some of the tricks of the trade for repelling ants without having to risk anything else in your life. First, let’s look at why you should be concerned with ants in the first place.
Why Get Rid Of Ants?
According to the University of Kentucky department of entomology, “Ants are the most frequent and persistent pests encountered around homes and buildings. Besides being a nuisance, ants contaminate food, build unsightly mounds on our property, and cause structural damage by hollowing out wood for nesting. Species such as fire ants inflict painful stings, which can be life-threatening to hypersensitive individuals.”
So as you can see, if you have ants present it is definitely in your best interest to get rid of them. For the longer term, you should be aware of the various ant infestation prevention methods.
How To Get Rid Of Ants Effectively
When you think of killing ants, you may immediately think about spraying the ones you see in your house. The problem is, the ants you see are often a very small portion of the total colony. Even if you eliminate what you see, you’ll likely be fighting ants for weeks to come. Besides the fact that it is largely ineffective in addressing the root of the problem, spraying pesticides in your home can be downright dangerous if you have small kids around. Here is what the EPA has to say about pesticides and small children.
Spraying Ants Isn’t A “Solution”
Ant colonies can be hidden in many places indoors such as wall frames, behind cabinets, beneath floors, etc. Most of these places are inaccessible for you, so you really aren’t going to be able to spray away the source of the problem. If you can’t get to the nest, how can you kill them?
Baits work by putting out an insecticide that ants will consume, but also share with the rest of the colony. Ant baits are typically “safer” because they should be used outdoors. We’ll talk more about this in a moment. While baits are great for the long term, we’ll now turn our attention to natural ant repellent that you can use where ants are currently present.
Natural Ant Repellent Indoors
Vinegar is an ingredient that is fairly common in households. You can use the regular white or apple cider vinegar. Neither one works quicker than the other, whichever is on-hand will work. If you mix equal parts of water and vinegar together in a spray bottle you will have a powerful concoction on your hands. When you see the ants on the counter or anywhere else in your home, spray the mixed solution directly on the affected areas. You will notice the ants will run from it, if it doesn’t kill them first. The anti-fungal and insecticide properties in vinegar come out and the ants will disperse. This is a solution that you can start right away, and likely already have everything you need without going to the store.
Another great natural ant repellent is baby powder. Many recommend this as a top alternative to chemical solutions. It is pretty simple to do, just sprinkle baby powder on the ground near where you usually see the ants or by the paths they take into the house. The powder confuses ants, doesn’t kill them, but works as a barrier to keep them out. You’ll have to combine this with other methods to actually kill the ants, unless you just want them to live on, outside.
Every household usually has black pepper. If you don’t have any readily available, you can purchase a container of it cheaply at the local grocery store. Black pepper repels the ants, and will make them retreat. Keep an eye on where they are going because chances are they are headed back to the nest. You can use the pepper outside as well. Sprinkle it generously around the entryways to the home, window sills, and anywhere else you think may need it. While this won’t kill the ants, it will give you a good idea of where they are coming from and then you will be able to treat the nest. Maybe you can give the ants the ol’ black pepper-vinegar 1-2 knock out punch!
Cinammon and Garlic
Cinnamon sticks can be used as repellents as well. They are very aromatic and will not bother children or animals if placed in areas they can be reached. The sticks are commonly used in window sills, and in the pantry to prevent the ants from entering these spaces. If you can’t readily find cinnamon sticks, garlic cloves can be used the same way. Once you peel and separate the pieces, they are ready to be placed. You need to replace both the cinnamon sticks and garlic cloves often, but they do keep the ants away. These items can be used in any areas, including in drawers or on counters.
Mint is also incredibly useful when trying to prevent and treat an ant problem. The mint will eliminate the sense of smell. Ants follow their nose when it comes to seeking food. The powerful scent of mint will cover any food odor, and deter the ants from your home. There are several ways you can use this to your advantage.
First if you know you are prone to ant infestations, plant mint around your home. Put in close to your doorways and any windows that go below ground level. Mint leaves will also be a good idea to use. You can place these in places like your pantry or on the window sill. Fresh mint is always the best way to go, but dried leaves will work as well. On the topic of plants, according to experts ants are attracted to honeydew. Avoid planting this near your home and think about removing it if already there. This will give ants one less reason to make a path to your house.
Natural Ant Repellent Outdoors
Sometimes you will notice tiny anthills around your yard or in the front of your house. These are where the ants are most likely coming from. In order to deal with the problem directly, it is important that their breeding ground is destroyed. A simple and all-natural way of doing that is to boil water and then dump it down each of the hills. Wash the entire anthill away. The water will scald the ants and kill them on contact. This is not something that should be done for ants inside the home, and most likely will be used as a preventative measure. If you begin to see piles of dirt up your walkway or around your home, beat the ants to the punch and get rid of them quickly by using extremely hot water.
We mentioned ant bait earlier as one way to manage ant infestation for the longer term. Anytime you are using a bait that is intended to attract ants, this should be done outside. That is the key difference between an ant bait and a repellent. Baits are often chemical based and at the end of the day you are hoping to draw ants out of your house so bait them out there. Ideally they should be placed somewhere where ants can easily find them, but your kids and pets cannot.
While many ant baits are available at your local retailers that are chemical based, you don’t necessarily have to use those. If you want to make a natural ant bait at home, here is a step by step guide to make something similar to the Terro product which is a liquid designed to attract ants and give them something that they can take back to the queen and kill the entire colony – which is what you want.
It isn’t always easy to get rid of ants without pesticides, but it can be done. These methods are both kid and pet-friendly. Taking the natural route in extermination and prevention is generally cheaper and safer – so why not try it first? You can pick and choose from any of these easy solutions, or you can pair a few of them together. Most of these items are available at your local grocery store, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not they are safe to use in a home with children or pets. Doing it yourself is not only eco-friendly, but it is cost efficient as well.
If you’ve come up with other natural ant repellents and killers, feel free to share below.