Ants are annoying pests that can ruin a dinner or party, indoors or out. One of the best ways to get rid of them is to be vigilant about finding the source. You also want to clean up any spilled food that can send the wrong signals. If that fails, and the scents of bug sprays are too overwhelming, there are a few natural ways to repel and kill ants.
Those grounds from your daily dose of java make great barricades against ant — they can't stand the smell and refuse to cross it. While you can mix it in some water and spray it around your house, that's a bit messy and high-maintenance. A better option may be to sprinkled the grounds around and on top of the anthills in your yard. This will prevent the ants from emerging, and they will eventually abandon the hill.
Another way to remove the ants' scent trail is to combine glass cleaner and dish soap. Simply mix a 1:1 ratio of the substances and spray where ants congregate. Afterwards, wipe down the area, leaving a residue that should keep ants away for a time. If glass cleaner is not natural enough, use the dish soap alone or combine it with some black or cayenne pepper.
Vinegar is a cheap, universal household item that's great for getting rid of ants. In addition to repelling them, it also masks the communication scent trail that ants leave behind. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray it around hot spots. To add a bit more punch to the mixture, boil water and vinegar with citrus peel. Let the concoction sit overnight and use it to spray high-traffic spots.
Cinnamon is a well-known repellent often recommended by professionals. Ants don't like the smell, so they steer clear. However, when you combine it with cornstarch, it can eliminate the colony. First, use the cinnamon as a blockade to entry. Place a small mound of cornstarch in the vicinity, where the insects can easily access it. Ants will stay out of your space and, instead, carry the cornstarch to the nest. As they are unable to digest it, it eventually kills them.
Apart from being great for digestion, peppermint essential oil is a natural ant repellent, making it good for indoor areas. Peppermint oil disturbs this scent trail and deters their return. Combine 3 tablespoons of the oil along with a quart of distilled water and high proof alcohol, which helps to spread the oil. It’s a good idea to test it on a small area first, to see if it will discolor the surface.
Despite the name, borax is not boric acid. Both come from the element Boron, but borax is the mineral form — sodium tetraborate — while boric acid is more refined. While you can buy borax baits, it’s better to get the powder and mix it yourself in a 1:4-teaspoon ratio with some sugar. Add a touch of water to ensure the two substances mix together and the ants carry both back to the queen.
Lemon eucalyptus oil comes from the Australian gum eucalyptus tree. This extract contains p-Menthane-3,8-diol or PMD, which is effective against many insects, including mosquitoes and ants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is a generally safe bio-pesticide and can be used as a spray and in lotions. Simply mix a cup of rubbing alcohol and a teaspoon of the oil in a bottle and spray on a line of ants to kill them.
Neem oil comes from the seeds of the neem tree, and it's a natural neurotoxin for aphids, ants, and other insects. Combine a tablespoon each of neem oil and liquid soap with 10 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray on plants. This mixture gets rid of aphids and the ants that feed on their feces. Neem oil is available at many health food stores and online.
Diatoms are unicellular microalgae found in all bodies of water. When they die, they leave behind silica skeletons that make up diatomaceous earth. These microscopic particles form a white powder that pierces ants’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate and die. It’s safe, so you can sprinkle it around or combine it with water to make a spray. The powder is very fine, so it is a good idea to wear a mask when spreading it.
While boric acid can be an effective way to rid your home of ants, it requires precision and patience. Mixing it with food works if the food is moist enough and is attractive to ants. Additionally, concentration is key. If you use too much, the workers may pick up on the scent and refuse to pass it to the queen, in which case the method will fail to kill the colony. Use too little and it won't be potent enough to kill them. When you do find the right concentration, it may take a couple of months take effect. Note: When dealing with any boron compound, use gloves and mask.