How to Get Rid of Ants

There are reasons why ants are considered pests. With so many different species of ants, most homeowners face an unwanted ant infestation at one time or another. Ants make their way into your food, burrow into wood and seem almost impossible to control. I’ve had ants in my workshop sometimes (not surprising considering that the garage door is open often), and I’ve had good results getting rid of them without poisons. My favourite solution to the ant problem is at the top of the list below, but this article covers the entire subject in some detail.

  • Reading time: 12 1/2 minutes

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to get rid of ants, this article will go over the things you need to know about this pest, how to get rid of them, and what you can do to keep them from coming back.

Why Are Ants Attracted To My Home?

Ants are hardy insects. They can live practically anywhere and eat almost anything. Ants like the Pharaoh Ant can also carry bacteria and pose serious health risks to humans. Species like Ghost Ants can be notorious for contaminating food sources.

Finding out how to get rid of ants means you have to find out what attracts ants to your home in the first place. Here are a few common reasons why ants will make your house their home:

#1. Food: People food is essentially ant food – ants will eat anything you eat. Crumbs and food scraps left on a table, especially sweets, will attract ants. Once one ant finds this food source, it’ll create a scent trail for other ants in the colony to follow. In no time, you’ll be dealing with an infestation.

#2. Moisture: Just like people, ants need both food and water to survive. Ants not only drink water, but they carry it back to the colony to store it. When they find standing water in your home, puddles from broken pipes, or bathroom condensation, they’ll leave a scent trail so the rest of the colony can take advantage of this handy water source.

#3. Shelter: Since ants are such tiny insects, they can make their way into the smallest crack or crevice and find a place in your house to build their home. Open spaces along siding, cracks in caulking or weather stripping, or even areas around windows are perfect access points for ants to get inside your home. Also, inspect indoor potted plants. They may be making an ant nest there!

How to Remove Ants Naturally

If you want to get rid of ants using natural repellents, there are some home remedies you can whip up yourself. Here are some of the top natural repellent recipes available.

Sweetened Borax

This is what I’ve had most success with over the years. Borax is safe when used with simple precautions and great for killing certain types of worker ants and the queen within approximately three weeks of exposure to it. Making the solution is easy! Mix ½ teaspoon of borax, 1 cup of warm water, and eight teaspoons of sugar. Stir the borax in the liquid until fully dissolved. Saturate cotton balls and place these cotton balls anywhere you notice ants. I’ve also had good results putting the liquid into bottle caps that function as small dishes. Last year I dissolved borax into maple syrup and it worked exceptionally well. I think the scent of the maple syrup was the main reason by.

Borax is very affordable, and it is very effective at killing ants. Keep the solution out of reach of children and pets (or any adult that might be silly enough to eat it).

Diatomaceous Earth (Silicon Dioxide)

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is made from crushing fossilized remains of ancient aquatic creatures called diatoms, and turning them into a type of non-poisonous silica dust. It gets rid of ants by pulling out the oils from their skeletons and drying them out completely.

Simply sprinkle the powder near any ant holes or other areas where you see scout ants coming and going. Over time this Diatomaceous Earth powder will stop ants from coming near any of the areas you treated.

Diatomaceous Earth is a natural and effective insect repellent that is safe to use around pets and people. Since it is a powder, it can look rather messy, and your faithful furry friend may track the powder throughout the house. Messiness aside, you’ll have to reapply it often for several reasons, such as wind and rain, and because it loses its effectiveness over time.

Detergents

Common household detergents, including soap, glass cleaner, and liquid detergents, are a great way to repel ants from entering your home. Ants mostly use a scented pheromone trail to find their way toward food and water and leave scents for other ants to follow.

Household detergents are the ultimate insect repellent because they help remove the trails and deter ants from following. Simply mix your soap or detergent with some water and scrub surfaces where ants have been. Store-bought glass cleaner also works the same way. Just spray the area and wipe it clean.

Detergents are easy to use because they’re both safe and non-toxic. For best results, you’ll need to apply them manually, and you’ll have to spray them over and over again.

Cayenne Pepper

Ants rely on scent to navigate inside your home. Simply sprinkle pepper in areas where you see ants. The harsh scent of the pepper will repel them, and if you use it in high-traffic areas including around baseboards and behind appliances, it will be a surefire way to get rid of ants.

Pepper is relatively affordable and can be found at any grocery store. Even though it’s fairly safe to use, you should handle a pepper like cayenne cautiously since it can irritate your skin and eyes. Spraying pepper inside your home can also create a mess, and you’ll have to reapply the pepper often since the scent diminishes over time.

Essential Oils

If you’re wondering how to get rid of ants naturally, essential oils are the way to go! Peppermint essential oil has been used for a long time to keep ants out of a home. Other essential oil formulas that also work are cinnamon leaf, lemon, neem, thyme oil, eucalyptus, lemongrass oil, and tea tree oil.

Peppermint oil and tea tree oil are the most common essential oil scents used to make ants leave your home for good. For best results, mix a few drops of peppermint oil, tea tree oil, or any other essential oil you use with 2 cups of water and spray the mixture at cracks, baseboards, doors, windows, or any other area you see ants.

Essential oils are relatively affordable, and you can buy them at any health food or grocery store. Making the spray is simple to do, and they are safe and easy to use. Even though they are relatively safe around children, they may irritate your pets.

White Vinegar

If you want to know how to get rid of ants and keep an ant infestation from happening without spending much money, use white vinegar. Mix up a solution of 1-1 vinegar and water, spray onto a cloth and wipe up the ants with the solution-soaked cloth.

This method kills ants instantly but also repels any further infestation of ants because it leaves a powerful scent that ants do not like. White vinegar is easy to use, super affordable, and an effective ant repellent treatment.

Be careful spraying white vinegar because it might not be safe on all surfaces and may leave the area smelling like vinegar.

Baking Soda and Borax

Getting rid of ants is easy with baking soda and Borax, killing the ants soon after ingesting. For a concentrated solution, mix equal parts of baking soda and Borax, add a little bit of confectioner’s sugar to lure them in, and place the container where the ants will find it. Baking soda and Borax is a very effective way to get rid of ants indoors. The solution is easy to mix and use. Ensure you keep it away from pets.

Chalk

Chalk contains calcium carbonate, and creating a thick line around cracks and baseboards can confuse the ant’s natural ability to pick up a scent. Draw a thick line of chalk around areas that may be heavily affected, such as a barbeque or outdoor patio furniture.

Chalk can be found in many stores and is affordable and straightforward to use. The only drawback to using chalk is that it doesn’t last long. One good rain and your chalk ant repellent will be gone. Although not a long-term solution, it will help if you need a quick fix to stop those pesky pests.

Oranges and Lemons

Citrus fruits like oranges or lemons contain an extract in their rinds known as d-limonene, and this extract is highly toxic to ants. Once you’ve enjoyed your orange, keep the peel and turn it into an all-natural ant repellant. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place your discarded citrus peels into a gallon jar to fill it halfway.
  2. Fill the the jar with water.
  3. Seal the jar tightly.
  4. Place the jar in a dark place for approximately 3-5 days until the clear water becomes colored.
  5. Strain the liquid.
  6. Add a teaspoon of molasses and a small squirt of dish soap.
  7. Mix all of the liquids well.
  8. Pour the liquid carefully into a spray bottle and spray directly onto ants.
  9. The citrus will kill ants on contact.

You can use lemon juice or orange oil extract as a substitute for citrus peels. However, orange oil extract and lemon juice are much more expensive than discarded lemon or orange peels.

Reusing discarded rinds will save you money, making it an affordable and easy-to-use ant repellant. However, citrus can be sticky, so expect a bit of sticky residue on areas where you spray. Making this spray will also take a bit of time.

Salt

Using salt to get rid of ants has been a practice for many years. However, you must use it correctly for the best results. Simply mix a cup of Epsom salt into a spray bottle of water. Make sure the solution is properly mixed and spray it directly onto any ants when you see them. The salt will dehydrate the ants and eventually kill them.

You can safely handle Epsom salts, which are non-toxic for kids, pets, or other animals. Since salt doesn’t last, you will have to apply the salt over and over again. If you want to get rid of ants, you’ll have to spray directly onto the ants.

Cornstarch

Most people have cornstarch in their kitchen. It is an effective ant killer and can be used in a few ways. You can pour the cornstarch over an entire ant colony, then immediately pour water on top to kill them. Or you can pour cornstarch onto them and then vacuum the ants and the cornstarch together. Whichever method you choose, ensure you dispose of the ants and cornstarch immediately.

Cornstarch, surprisingly, is an effective and fast ant killer. It is also safe and non-toxic to use. Since cornstarch is a powder, be prepared for a bit of mess after using it. This means you’ll have to do more cleanup with cornstarch than you would with other methods.

How To Get Rid Of Ants Using Conventional Methods

If you want to know how to get rid of ants more conventionally, here are some of the more common methods you can use.

Ant Baits

Ant baits are one of the most effective conventional ways to trap ants. Placing these small pods along ant trails draws the ants inside because of the scent of the bait. The ants then carry the poison back to pass it on to the entire colony. When the rest of the ants eat the poison, it kills them.

Ant baits are a highly effective and affordable way to take care of an ant infestation. However, ant baits can be dangerous for kids and pets, and you’ll have to check and replace the baits often as the scent wears off.

Ant Traps

Ant traps are similar to baits, except they trap ants inside and keep them inside. Ant traps contain poison that will kill ants nearly instantly. Ant traps are affordable and work well, but you’ll have to check them regularly and throw them out when full of ants.

Ant Spray

You can use ant spray for both indoor and outdoor ant infestations. It can kill entire ant colonies instantly. This is great if you want to take care of problematic ant populations from entering your home or garden. Ant spray is an effective and fast-acting treatment. Spray with caution because ant sprays contain toxins and are not safe for use around kids or pets.

How To Get Rid Of Ants Outside Your Home

We’ve looked at ways you can take care of ants from entering your home, but you might want to know how to get rid of ants outside or in your garden. Here are some of the best ways you can kill ants without killing your plants and also prevent them from taking over your garden:

Boiling Water

Pouring boiling water is a quick way to kill ants immediately and effectively. If you notice ants forming a trail around your foundation, pour boiling water on the area where they are coming out. This will kill the ants instantly. You’ll have to repeat this treatment often and ensure you don’t accidentally pour boiling water on your plants or their roots.

Barrier Sprays

Keeping ants from entering your home is easy with outdoor barrier sprays. Apply the sprays along your home’s foundation to instantly kill the ants, and the long-lasting formulas prevent ants from coming back.

You can purchase these sprays at your local home and garden center. Most of these sprays are toxic and not safe for pets or children and may even kill other pests that are beneficial to your garden. So use them carefully.

Ant Granules

Ant granules work a lot like bait stations. Simply place the granules around your home in places where ants will find them and consume them. The granules are poison, and it will kill them instantly once they eat it. Granules are an effective and affordable way to care for your ant problem. Keep this away from children and your pets, and make sure you reapply the granules often.

Common Ant Pest Species

Many different ant species can create a problem for your home and garden. Some people contact a pest control service immediately if they see ant nests pop up near home, but you’re best to know something about the ants in question beforehand. Here is a quick list of some of the more popular ants and how to identify them.

Fire Ants

Fire ants have a reddish-brown to the reddish-black body, and they are mostly known as biting red ants because of their painful bite and the sting.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants get their name from the damage they do to wood in and around your home. However, they do not eat the wood. Instead, they burrow inside of wood to make their homes. They are usually black in color.

Argentine ant

Argentine ants, also called sugar ants, are plain, small, and dark-colored ants. They are an aggressive ant species living off sweet food spills, including syrups, soft drinks, and ripe fruit juices. To prevent an invasion of this species, keep food tightly sealed in plastic bags and containers.

Conclusion

Having ants invade your home is no picnic. They can create all sorts of problems, from contaminating foods to destroying the wood in your home. Those small ants can become a big problem quickly.

Hiring a professional pest control company will ensure that the ants are taken care of. However, if you feel like tackling the invading ants by yourself, know which ant you’re dealing with and what are the most effective ways to get rid of them. It’s worth a try.

The best defense is prevention. Clean up piles of wood, put away food scraps and remove standing water, and in no time, your ant problems will be over, and you’ll have your home back again.

I hope this article helps you get rid of ants in your home. Please consider helping me cover the cost of producing and publishing content like this. Click the “buy me a coffee” button and it’ll take you to a safe, fast and simple way to help out. Thank you!

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