How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Home Including Safe, Natural Methods
When Ants Invade Your House: Safe Ways to Kill Ants
Ants have their place, but it's not in my house. When they invade, I am a little like Donald Duck going after Chip and Dale.
If its summer and there's a drought, they come in seeking water. If it's winter and rainy, ants come indoors for food and shelter. There is no time of year that is safe from an ant invasion.
Chemical sprays are only minimally effective. Sure, they kill the ants on the surface, but there are thousands more underground waiting to hatch. That doesn't even address the issue when the ants are coming over from the neighbor's property. You'd be surprised how far they can travel to get some of that coffee you left on the counter overnight.
I wouldn't mind so much if it was only one ant. No, it's usually hundreds at a time. They get into your pantry and ruin your perfectly good food. One year, they came out of the heater vent and attacked the Christmas candy. It was gross!
We will never be rid of ants entirely. But, there are ways to minimize their invasions. Many items in your pantry are very effective.
Natural Ant Killing Solutions: Common Items Found in Your Pantry
There are several items you can use that you might have in your pantry. These are handy in keeping ants off you counters and out of your cupboards/closets.
Baking Soda—The small granules make it hard for them to breath. Sprinkle it where they are coming in and they won't cross it. It works well as a barrier at door thresholds and up against walls.
Cinnamon—They hate the smell. You can either sprinkle it or use it as a paste. To use as a paste, just mix with a small amount of water and stir. Then, spread it with a butter knife or popsicle stick. Cinnamon can stain, so test on a small part of the surface before applying to a wide area.
Tip: An easy way to remove cinnamon that has been sitting for several days is to wet it with water, then let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Wipe off with a paper towel or rag.
Black Pepper—This works the same as cinnamon. They will avoid the strong odor. Use it in places that might get damp such as around sinks and faucets.
Natural Products That Kill Ants
I don't really like to use chemical bug killer especially around my dog. It just doesn't seem like a smart thing to do. Plus you have that nasty smell to deal with indoors.
I'd much rather use a natural spray. EcoSmart is one brand that makes environmentally, pet safe products. They are made from a combination of plant sources, usually herbal. They kill on contact just like their chemical counterparts. I've used the EcoSmart Organic Home Pest Control. It is effective and leaves behind the smell reminiscent of rosemary.
Another product worth having on hand is diatomaceous earth. It comes in powder form. You can use it inside as you would baking soda. Sprinkle it in the back of cupboards, under the sink, etc. It works by clogging their breathing passages. This product is safe around humans and pets as long as you buy the type that is food grade (it is clearly marked on the label).
If you decide to use one of these products, be sure to read labels. Even when something is natural it can come with warnings. Some products are safe around people, but not pets. Some are made for outdoor use only. Some might be okay for most but a hazard for someone with asthma or COPD. Always be aware of the ingredients in products and choose wisely.,
Have You Tried These Solutions?
Safe Way to Keep Ants Out of Hard to Reach Places
The items above work great on flat surfaces, but what if the ants are coming out from underneath a cupboard? You can't really sprinkle baking soda upside down. This is where vinegar comes in handy.
The first method is to wipe down the wall and cupboard edge with vinegar. The odor will last roughly 4-6 hours. So, do this right before bedtime.
The second method involves using a plastic bag that keeps the vinegar right at the entry point.a repellent. It's really easy to make. You only need vinegar (not apple cider vinegar which attracts ants), a paper towel, a plastic bag, and masking tape. Here's how you do it:
- Take a paper towel and soak it in vinegar.
- Stick the wet paper towel in a small plastic bag. Make sure the paper towel is poking out of the bag a little. Leave the bag open.
- Masking tape the bag to the edge of the cupboard or other hard to get to place as close to where the ants are coming in as you can get. The strong odor will keep the ants from coming out.
Be sure to refresh the vinegar every 48 hours. If the smell wears off, they'll be back.
Make a Vinegar Repellent Bag: Step by StepClick thumbnail to view full-size
Block Their Access: Fill Those Holes
You've done what you can to keep them from coming out of the walls. Now you need to stop them from entering in the first place.
First, do a survey around the outside of the house. Follow the ant lines and see where they are entering. Look for small holes and cracks along the foundation and steps. Check vents to see if they might be getting in through them.
If you find holes, fill them with putty or caulk. When you close the entry holes, they will move on.
Use Ant Traps Outside to Thin the Colony
Next, get some ant traps. I've bought several brands over the years. I've had some success with Hot Shot and Terro, though Terro works the best. Ants can't get enough of it. Terro uses Borax to kill ants, so it is a bit safer than some of the other similar products on the market. Use caution with these products. While one may be less dangerous to handle than another, it would not be good for a child or pet to ingest.
One of the things I like about the Terro ant bait stations is that they are made of clear plastic. You can see if the ants are actually going inside. Most of the other brands are dark plastic. You never know if the ants are using them or not.
After you snip off the top edge, place them right on top of the ant lines near the entry point. You should see ants inspecting them within 2-3 hours and start seeing ants inside within 5 hours.
You can use these inside as well. However, it may be a bit gross. You'll suddenly have hundreds and hundreds of ants swarming around the thing. Many will die in or around the container. That sounds like a messy clean up job to me.
Know What's in Those Ant Stakes and Bait Stations
Ingredient that Kills Ants
Peanut Butter, Sugar, and Vegetable Oil
Hydramethylnon, other ingredients considered trade secrets
Your Can Get Rid of Ants
I've discussed the different methods I have used to control ants and to limit invasions. In this video, 4 natural methods are discussed. One method shows how to kill ants right at the anthill.
You may find that some methods but not others are effective. I've found that ants in one area might be susceptible to some products but not others. Probably a form of evolution going on. Don't give up! You just have to find the one that works on your ants.
And, keep in mind that you will never be fully rid of the critters. I'm not sure we'd want that anyway. They do provide important functions within the ecosystem. Just think of all the dead insects you'd see if there weren't any ants.
So, work on keeping them out of the house...then, we'll all be a little less like Donald Duck with those pesky chipmunks!
© 2014 Melody Lassalle