Ants are quick to venture indoors in the search for food when their own resources are scarce. Depending on where you live and the type of home you own, you may have experienced one or several ant invasions over the summer.
Baits, traps and pesticides are common methods used to control these invasions and can be effective when used properly. However, both of these methods involve the use of chemicals that some homeowners may not want to use. Baits can be harmful for small children or pets when left unattended and the overuse of pesticide can have negative effects for everyone in the home.
So what should you do if you’re unable to use conventional methods of ant prevention but you still need to get rid of an ant problem? Luckily, there are a few natural methods to get rid of ants that are just as effective.
- Remove sources of attraction. First and foremost, this is the number one thing any homeowner can do to prevent an invasion of ants. If there’s nothing of interest, chances are greatly reduced that they’ll come into your territory. Sources of attraction include any food that’s left sitting out, so make sure to keep your kitchen tidy and wipe down counters to get rid of crumbs or residue. Keep all pet food sealed in an air tight container and get rid of any leftover food in their bowl.
- Vinegar. Mix three parts white distilled vinegar with one part water into a spray bottle. Next, locate the entrance points where you notice the ants have made their way into your home. Spray liberally around the entrance points and reapply daily until you no longer see any evidence of ants.
- Food grade diatomaceous earth (FGDE). Even though it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, food grade diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that’s harmless to mammals – but very harmful to ants. It’s easily found most home improvement stores or even on Amazon FGDE is commonly used by farmers to kill off insects in grain storage, so chances are you’ve actually ingested some over the years. Simply sprinkle some around any entrance point or ant hills you’ve located to get the job done. Also, be sure to purchase the food grade quality of diatomaceous earth, as the non-food grade is harmful to breathe.
- Cornmeal. Cornmeal is a very effective, natural way to destroy a colony of ants. Much like food grade diatomaceous earth, cornmeal is harmless to humans but fatal for ants. Spread cornmeal liberally around where you see any type of ant hill or evidence of an ant colony. The ants will eat the cornmeal or take it back to their colony to eat later. However, instead of getting a free meal, this will kill of the ants due to their inability to digest the cornmeal. It does take longer to work than a pesticide, but it’s safe to use in a house with small children or animals.
- Essential oils. The smell of certain types of essential oils can stop an ant dead in its tracks. Some of these oils include eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, peppermint and citrus. Mix a spray bottle with equal parts water and one of these essential oils. Spray down any entrance points and repeat the process a few more times after the mixture has dried to create a solid barrier.
- Herbs and spices. Sticking with the same concept as essential oils, there are several herbs and spices that ants will avoid due to their strong scent. Powdered cinnamon, clove, garlic, cayenne pepper, black pepper, mint or bay leaves all have the ability to repel ants as they work their way into your home. Sprinkle some around any entrance points to keep ants away.
- Borax and sugar. Make sure to use a small amount of Borax when making this ant bait. In a bowl, mix together two cups of sugar, one cup of water and two tablespoons of Borax. The sugar will attract the ant while the Borax will slowly kill it as it wanders back to the colony. Place the mixture in small saucers around the house or near any entry points.
- Boiling water and soap. Fill a medium pot with water with enough room left at the top that it can be carried for a distance. Bring the water to a boil and stir in about a cup of liquid dish soap that is environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Once you’ve located a series of anthills that indicate where the nest is, pour the water down one of the hills. The mixture should flush out most of the colony, but repeat as necessary if you notice any more ants.
Have you tried these steps without any success in stopping an ant invasion? Call the experts at Pearson for a free estimate and ask about our Pest Control Maintenance Program.