Ants’ survival largely depends on suitable climatic conditions. They begin to arrive during late spring when the weather starts to get warm. As the ants come in large numbers, they create panic around the homes. There are various ant-killers available in the market, and the reason they can kill ants is that they consist of toxic chemicals. The poisons effectively kill ants but hold some severe side effects too. You will witness the impact of these chemicals on your pets slowly. Thus, no matter how effective these pesticides are, they can never beat the home remedies to get rid of ants.
What are the Best Ways to Kill Ants?
You might love to use these chemicals whenever you encounter ants across your home or neighborhood. But, believe us, these chemicals can be problematic and harmful to your locality. There are several species of ants. You must know some natural home remedies before the ants spoil your food items and dominate your entire home. If you don’t identify the species of the particular ant that invaded your home, then you need not worry. Various home remedies can be effectively used to kill all kind of ants. These are some non-toxic remedies that will keep away the ants and display good consequences.
Know Your Ants
There are many varieties of ants in the world. The most common species of ants are house invaders that include acrobat, carpenter, pharaoh, pavement and odorous. The house-invading ants can get into food kept in the kitchen and damage them brutally. They also damage property and cause stinging bites on the human body. These ants can even harm the flowers and plants in the garden (1,2).
The list of ants is as follows:
- Black Carpenter Ant (Camponotus Pennsylvanicus)
Black Carpenter Ant is a known species of carpenter ant. They are most active during nights and known for foraging 100 yards to search for food. The black carpenter does not sting, but they can give a sharp bite. These ants produce formic acid, that is injected for creating irritation. They live on dead insects, juice of ripe fruits, jelly, meats, sugar, and honey; thus do not feed on wood (3).
- Field Ants (Formica Spp.)
The Field Ants are the part of genus Formica that originated from the European redwood. They measure 4mm to 8mm in length. These species typically live in wooded areas where they build their homes with no shortage of material. Field ants are black and red in color, or in a combination of both colors. They feed on Honeydew, household sweets, insects, and nectar (4).
- Larger Yellow Ants (Acanthomyops Interjectus)
These species are also known as the citronella ants, as they emit citrus or lemony like smell when crushed or disturbed. Yellow ants are yellow to reddish brown in color, as the name suggests. They are noticed in colonies while moving indoors during winters. These ants build nests around rocks, concrete slabs, stumps, and crawlspaces. They may also be found in piles of soil that accumulate near the entrance of the nest and feed on roots and honeydew-excreting insects (5).
- Pavement Ants (Tetramorium Caespitum)
As the name suggests, pavement ants are found in structures and usually push soil into conical mounds along concrete slabs, rocks, driveways, and sidewalks. Their nests can also be found in mulch, wall, logs, and floor voids. They are dark brown colored, measuring ⅙ inch in length. These ants feed on a variety of food materials including oils and grease, honeydew, and sweets. The pavement ants are found indoors after their underground home gets destroyed due to rains (6).
- False Honey Ants (Prenolepis Imparis)
They are dark colored ants found indoors, and are small in size, measuring around small to ⅛-inch in length. Honey ants make nests around concrete slabs, walls, and flooring. They feed on sweet liquids, honey, honeydew, plant juices, and several beverages. These ants prefer lower temperatures in comparison to other ants. They can be seen during the winters, and you won’t see them in summers (7).
- Odorous House Ants (Tapinoma Sessile)
The odorous house ants are ⅛ inch brownish-black colored ants. They are usually confused with the pavement ants. These ants release odor like a rotten coconut. They have become common household invaders in recent times. Their nest can be found under rocks, debris, wall voids, and on the floor. They move indoors during rains and feed on honeydew, meat, fruit juices, sweets, and dairy products (8).
- Cornfield Ants (Lasius Alienus)
These ants are light to dark brown in color and up to 1/10” in length. They feed on floral nectar, dead insects, honeydew, and seeds. Cornfield ants come indoors for meats and sweets (9).
- Pharaoh Ants (Monomorium Pharaonis)
Pharaoh ants are light yellowish in color wearing dark-colored thorax. They usually measure 1/12 inch. These ants build nests on walls, ceilings, and voids in floors. They are harmful as they carry bacteria from the moist acres of their habitat. Pharaoh ants feed on dead insects, sweets, fatty foods, soap, and toothpaste. They build large colonies that contain more than one lakh ants and feed on fatty foods, dead insects, soap, and toothpaste (10).
- Grease or Thief Ants (Solenopsis Molesta)
They are 1/20” in length and smooth, yellow to light brown in color. These ants feed on larvae of other insects, seeds, honeydew, and dead insects. They come indoors for fats and proteins, meat, peanut butter, cheese, etc. and eat grease whenever they find it, that’s why they are also known as grease ant. Grease ants can live indoors, under the floors and cracks. They make a home in large tunnels (11).
How To Manage Ants?
The first reaction when you see the line of ants coming inside your home is to find something to destroy their path and spray some pesticide over them to kill the colony. But, this method kills only a few ants and prevents some symptoms in return. Spraying pesticides offer short-term relief from the problem but to find the cure, you need to reach the roots of the ant colony.
1. Prevent their Entrance
The very first step of managing ants is to prevent them from entering homes and structures. Most often ants can be found making periodic movement along structures, and when they successfully find entry to the structures, they find it easy to make the nest for themselves. You need to prevent them from building nests and try to look into the possible entry points. The foods kept inside the homes must be put in airtight containers.
2. Use Ant Baits
You can also control the ants by using ant baits, which are the pesticides that are available in solid, liquid and gel form. They contain some growth regulators that prevent immature ants from growing into adults. Most of the ant baits consist of toxicants. You must apply baits in the direction of arrival of ants. Avoid sparing on the ants as it defeats the purpose of baits and the problem won’t be resolved. Ants collect the baits and carry it to their nest. They feed the bait to every other ant as well as the queen. Soon the workers won’t be able to feed the colony as not many will survive long to feed others. It is the best control for the ants with large colonies such as pharaoh ants (12).
3. Use Conventional Methods
Ant baits don’t work on every ant species. It is essential to know the species of the ant before using this process. For instance- Citronella ants do not respond well to baits because they generally feed on honeydew ejected by mealybugs and aphids (13). Ants that accept baits need different baits at a different time of the season as the requirement of nutrition changes with the season. Also, avoid using pesticide spray in areas where bait has been used. It will contaminate the baits and rebel the ants.
Other ant management plans can include the use of conventional pesticides like dust, liquids, and granules. Liquid insecticides are more preferred to control ants outdoors (14).
Natural Ways to Keep Ants Away from Home
1. Sticky Traps
Stop letting ants come into your home quickly. Trace their path and block their entry. You must look around the kitchen windows and put sticky screens on the kitchen windows for better results. These screens will not only prevent ants from entering the house, but also keep other pests such as cockroaches, flies, and termites at bay too (15).
2. Store Food in Airtight Containers
In order to prevent ants from tracing the smell of food, you must store your loose food items in airtight plastic containers. Also, close the lid tightly after use (17).
3. Silicone Sealant
You can use silicone sealant to seal any hole or crack instantly. These cracks and holes if left unattended soon become home to ants. You can use the silicone sealant across windows and doors (18).
4. Cream of Tartar
One of the safer alternatives to harmful pesticides is cream of tartar, which is easily available in a departmental store in your neighborhood. Simply sprinkle some cream of tartar where ants enter your home, and they will definitely not cross it ( 19, 20).
How to Get Rid of Ants from Home, Kitchen, and Garden Area
There’s no pleasure in knowing effective natural remedies that can help you get rid of ants. Watching these tiny creatures moving into your home and kitchen area must be uneasy and might look like an endless scenario. But, things can change by using some effective remedies that can easily control them and put a yardstick on entering your home. Be ready to implement these home remedies that will control the ants and hit them back to their origin. The home remedies will solve the problem without any side effects.
Borax works like baking soda, but it is required to be mixed with detergent, water, and sugar. The paste is made out of these ingredients. You need to fill the borax mixture in a plastic container and close the lid tightly with holes on the container lid. Place the homemade trap near the ants. Borax is poisonous for other pets as well so be sure to keep it in some safe place away from small pets. Pets get attracted to it because of its peanut butter aroma (21).
6. Soap and Water
A simple mixture of soap and water can keep the ants away from your home. It is a kind of quick fix and helps in eliminating ants. Just take a spray bottle and add the mixture into it. The soap coat the ant’s bodies and suffocate them and removes the scent trail which simultaneously makes impossible for the colony to track the food (22).
7. Lemon Brew
The mixture of lemon peels and mint leaves boiled into the water, also work as a good ant repellent for your garden. Just pour the mixture into your evening watering, and see quick results (23).
Vinegar is one of the best tools to be used in repelling ants against home invasion. It works just like chalks that destroy the ants’ path and trails. All you need to do is spray a mixture of water and vinegar over a group of ants. Immediately after the spay, the line of ants breaks, and the insects start wandering here and there. You will notice that they fail to form a lineup again which means that they have lost their scent trail. It is a great non-toxic solution that can be used on a regular basis for getting rid of ants. Since the vinegar scent is very strong, you may add some essential oils to cover it (24).
Ants can tolerate the smell of vinegar. Pouring water mixed with vinegar into the anthill, doorways or window sills will kill most of them and prevent from entering your home (25).
9. Garlic or Garlic Oil
Garlic is one of the best natural foods that can be used to get rid of ants. Just peel a clove of one or two fresh garlic and keep it around ants. You will witness that the ants start to bounce off and go away. After some time, the garlic clove dries up and becomes ineffective. Replace the dried up garlic clove with fresh garlic in case the ants return. You can also use Garlic oil, as it has the same effect (27).
For controlling the ants in your garden, you can make a garlic brew and pour it into the soil or around the ant hills. Method to make the brew is very simple. Add half a cup of crushed and peeled cloves of garlic into 3-4 liters of water, and leave overnight. The next day you can use it on your garden area to get rid of ants (28).
10. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil works as a good natural ant repellant as it interferes into the ants’ communications through pheromone markings. You can mix the peppermint oil with water and essential oils, and put it into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture through the window sills and door frames (29).
Aspartame is a neurotoxin and a widely used artificial sweetener which helps in malfunctioning all the senses of ants that are used for locating food and identifying other mates of the colony. The ants who consume aspartame starve to death. You can sprinkle one packet consisting of aspartame at the entrance of the ant mound. The ants will think of it as sugar cubes and will take aspartame into their mound. They will soon disappear within two days. This home remedy works best on killing fire ants (30).
12. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth, also termed as DE, is the fossilized remains of the aquatic microorganism called as phytoplankton. It is harmless to larger animals but brings death to insect pests such as ants. This natural remedy kills ants because it sticks to their exoskeleton. DE makes tiny microscopic holes in the exoskeleton of ants which leads to dehydration and death. It is harmless to humans and pets, so you can easily sprinkle it anywhere where you see the tract of ants (31, 32).
13. Cucumber Peel
This is one of the age-old home remedies to get rid of ants. Wherever you see the activity of ants, just peel off a fresh cucumber and place it across the ants. Put fresh cucumber peels every day and repeat the process until all ants are gone (33).
14. Red Chilli Powder
You can sprinkle some red chili powder across the area where the ants are coming, or you can make a paste by mixing water and red chili powder. The paste will prevent ants from entering your home (34, 35).
15. Cayenne Pepper
16. Camphor Oil
Mix camphor oil with denatured alcohol in 1:9 ratio. Pour the mixture at the ant mound to kill the entire colony (38).
17. Citrus Oil
According to a study done in 1997, it is proved that D-limonene which is an active ingredient in citrus oil can easily repell ants for 3 days. This method works better on fire ants and Argentinian ants, however (40).
18. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an effective way to kill ants, specially Argentian ants, and red fire ants. A scientific study conducted on these ants showed tea tree oil has a toxic effect on them (41).
19. Homemade Ant Bait
These traps can be used in homes to get rid of sugar ants instantly (42). You can make a simple ant bait using only two ingredients – honey and borax powder. Put one tablespoon borax powder and some honey in a small bowl to make a paste. Keep it inside a plastic box with holes in it, so that the ants have the passage to get into it, also making it safe from the reach of children. And, bingo! In no time ants will cluster to the bait and will be trapped and killed (43). You can watch the video below –
Other Popular Methods to Kill Ants that are not Tested
Apart from the above remedies which are backed by science, there are some other natural ways too that people swear by. Here are some of those famous remedies that have worked well for many irrespective of a missing testimony from researchers and scientists.
20. Baking Soda
Baking Soda is a natural ingredient that can solve many life problems naturally, including getting rid of ants. It disrupts the bodies of ants by natural chemistry. You can create your bait by simply mixing baking soda with powdered sugar. Pour the mixture in a plastic container or metal lids and place it near the ant community. It will attract the ants and they will take it to their nest to consume it. This is going to be their last supper for sure as they won’t be alive to take the next. Voila!
21. Cinnamon Spray
The best way to keep the ants away from your home is to keep it neat and clean. Ants leave scent trails that make it easy for other ants to follow. Cleaning your home will clear all the small smell attractants that bring in the ants. These tiny creatures hate cinnamon, and you must clean the house by spraying water and cinnamon. Find out the reasons for camping of ants in your home and get rid of it immediately (43).
22. Wheat Cream
The wheat cream expands in the stomach of ants. When the ants consume the wheat cream, they are unable to digest it and die ultimately.
23. Lemon Juice
Mix few tablespoons of lemon juice in a spray bottle filled with water. You should apply the spray over the ants. The lemons disrupt the ant’s scent trail and scatter their colony lineup. Assuming most of us don’t like the smell of vinegar, so the use of lemon is ideally good. It gives a short-term relief but as soon as the lemon scent wears off, the ants start their search again, and everything resumes. But, it works as a good natural repellant for ants, however temporarily.
24. Black Pepper
Black Pepper is a popular remedy to keep the ants away. Whenever you see ants, simply sprinkle some black pepper at the spot and do the same across the ant holes. This doesn’t kill ants but successfully keeps them away for a while.
24. Rubbing Alcohol
Mix a 1.5 teaspoonful of dish soap and 1 tsp of rubbing alcohol. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and shake it. Spray it over the ants and their entrance point.
25. Baby Powder
Baby powder can kill ants. It sounds funny, but some people claim it worked for them (44).
Keeping the grain outside in the garden can make the ants consume them. The cereal grains will expand in the ant’s stomach and lead to their death.
27. Hot Water
Pouring boiling water into the hillside hole can eliminate the ants up to a large extent (45).
Ants are resistant to copper, and they do not cross copper. So, you can get an ant-free zone if you keep copper around the region.
29. Detergent with Lemon
The lemon detergent can be very helpful in extracting the ant route followed to your home from your garden. If you are not willing to kill the ants, then you can keep a honey jar in the remote area and the ants will stay away from your home.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Car
The ant control methods required in the car involves several sanitation measures. Let’s take a look at a few that will surely help you to keep the pesky ants away from your car.
30. Vacuum, Cleaning and Sanitization
Vacuuming your car on a regular basis will help you to get rid of ants early. You must keep the interior of the vehicle neat and clean so that it shall not attract more ants. Vacuuming across the seat gaps and crevices removes any source of food or crumbs etc.
One can also apply some sticky traps with an adhesive that are capable of capturing any bugs. You may unknowingly carry some ants with you through backpacks or plastic sacks. Therefore, it is necessary to check them before entering the car.
- Keep the waste in the trash bin
- Always keep the kitchen sink and floor clean
- Make sure that you keep raw food items in the refrigerator or airtight containers
- Clean the floor mats regularly to remove leftover remains
- Use sturdy trash bags to store a large quantity of waste
- Block any accidental opening towards your home
- Avoid keeping any food item in open
- Don’t keep windows open for long durations
- Store your bait away from repellent chemicals
- It is not wise to rely on a single bet – gel baits are more reliable than others
- Rip apart wooden objects that are infested by carpenter ants
- Eat at the dining table only. Avoid eating at other places in the home. This prevents the spreading of food on the floor and also makes the cleaning process more comfortable.
Ants are capable of biting and stealing your food without coming to your notice. It seems hard to get rid of the ants at once because once you start the use of natural ant repellents, you will undoubtedly witness a drop in the activity of ants around your home.
Leftover or open food item attract ants usually. You must be aware of this fact and keep all your food items in a safer place. These natural remedies will help you to solve the ant-related problems and provide you with peace at home. Just be patient and follow these simple natural ways to get rid of ants with ease.