For most people, spring is a welcome sign. Days get longer, the temperature starts to rise, and the trees bloom.
But sometimes the spring bloom brings unwanted pests into our living areas. One such pest is the ant.
Made up of colonies ranging from thousands to millions, ants vary in color, from black to red to green, and even metallic. In North America, the most common household ants are the carpenter ant, odorous house ant, and pavement ant.
In order to effectively get rid of ants, you first have to know how an ant colony works. Ant colonies are made up of a queen, surrounded by fertile males called drones. The drones and the queen mate to create the eggs that turn into worker ants, soldier ants, drones or queens. The worker ants are female and begin their lives caring for the queen and the young. They then graduate to digging, nest work, or defending the nest and foraging. Mixed in with these worker ants are soldier ants that protect the colony and other worker ants during foraging. The ants work together as one unit, all trying to support the colony.
Now that you understand how an ant colony works, we can determine the most effective ways to get rid of ants. Here are seven all-natural ways to get rid of ants:
1. Boric acid (borax) — The best way to get rid of ants is at the source. If you destroy the queen or queens, the ant colony will relocate to another colony. One way this can be done is through the use of boric acid. Mix boric acid with sugar and put it next to or on the ants for them to consume. The worker ants will eat some of this and transport it back to the colony to share it with the rest of the colony. If you have pets, keep them out of the area until the mixture is consumed.
2. Diatomaceous earth – This incredible all-natural powder can work wonders in getting rid of not only ants but other crawling bugs in your home. It causes them to dehydrate and die. Sprinkle it wherever you see ants — on cupboards, cabinets, window sills, in between crevices, behind baseboards, around plumbing or wiring holes in walls and very lightly on carpets and rugs (leave 3 days and then vacuum).
3. Peppermint oil — Peppermint oil is great to use if your goal is not to kill ants, but to deter them from entering an area. The way peppermint oil works is it breaks up the scent trail that ants leave behind, thus discouraging the ants from coming back. To apply peppermint oil, put five drops on a cotton ball or swab, and gently rub on areas the ants have infested. Repeat the process for a few days until they are gone.
4. Tea tree oil — Great for deterring small pests like ants, tea tree oil can be used similarly to peppermint oil. Apply to a cotton ball or swab and rub baseboards where ants are seen. Don’t apply tea tree oil to kitchen surfaces.
5. Clove oil — Clove oil can be very effective against ants. Because it has a warming, spicy nature, it is known to not only deter ants, but also to kill them. Many natural commercial insect repellants use clove oil in their products. To apply, mix 35 drops with four ounces of water or vinegar and spray where needed.
6. Lemon juice — Another deterrent and readily available solution is lemon juice. Used to mask their chemical trail, ants hate citrus. Lemon contains d-limonene, which is toxic to ants. A simple method is to squeeze a lemon on a paper towel and wipe down the insides of window and door frames. Repeat for a few days until ants are gone.
7. Cayenne pepper – This is great for deterring pests and if put directly onto ants, it essentially burns them alive. If put into a line across their entrance point, they will not cross it. If you can find the colony, you can pour a mixture of cayenne pepper and hot water into the ant’s entrance to the colony. This will make the colony unlivable.
8. Garlic oil — Another deterrent is garlic, either in oil or clove form. It is effective in masking an ant’s scent trail, and also great for using on plants, as it deters pests from eating your fruit trees or berry bushes.
No matter how you decide to handle your ant problem, you can rest assured that the all-natural solutions above will help you get rid of them.
Cara Cooperman has always had a passion for nature and all it has to offer. She has parlayed her personal passion into a career as an herbalist. She is an author of the Natural Health Journals, which addresses natural alternatives to improve reader’s lives.
How do you get rid of ants in your home? Share your advice in the section below: