Hate Ants? One of the first ways to keep ants away from the house and off your plants is: No food and eliminate points of entry.
If you’ve been having problems with ants in your home and around your yard and garden, you will surely want to deal with them, but you don‘t want to make matters worse by using dangerous pesticides.
Is it possible to discourage or eradicate ants without the use of potentially carcinogenic and otherwise harmful substances?
In this article, we will explore this question and offer advice for making your own homemade ant repellent spray and ant killing products. Read on to learn more about non-toxic insect repellent and pest control.
How Many Different Kinds Of Ants Are There?
There are over 12,000 different species of ants worldwide. Although we usually consider them to be pests, it is important to understand that they do perform an important function in the environment.
They are part of the natural cleanup crew of the world, helping to recycle and dispose of all manner of detritus from fallen fruit to decaying wood to animal carcasses.
Here are five common types of ants you may encounter.
This type of ants can often be found in ant hills near the home and in the yard and garden. The term, “sugar ant” really refers to several common types of ants that share similar habits and a similar attraction to sweet foods. They usually stay outdoors but sometimes conduct hunting expeditions into the home in search of (typically sweet) food sources.
They don’t do a lot of damage, but they can be a real problem as they turn up in large numbers in food preparation areas, in pet food and so on. Keeping your home clean and foods properly stored is a good way to avoid attracting these ants. [source]
Carpenter ants typically stay outdoors building their nests and looking for food in rotting logs and other natural wood sources. If they find that the timbers of your home are beginning to decay they waste no time in helping the process along.
Carpenter ants are very large, robust and determined, so it pays to keep your home in good repair to prevent ever having a problem with them.
The Argentine ants come from Brazil and Argentina; however, they have immigrated to the US (probably as stowaways in freight ship cargo). Today, they can be found throughout the south, all along the west coast and in Missouri, Maryland and Illinois. These ants are omnivorous, but they prefer sweet foods.
They like to make their nests in damp environments. Be sure the soil in your yard has good drainage to prevent having these ants set up extensive networks of tunnels. [source]
Odorous House Ant
So-called odorous house ant gives off a distinctive coconut smell. These ants perform an important function in that that consume the carcasses of dead insects. They also like also like sweet foods, so they can sometimes be found indoors.
For the most part, you will find them hiding in piles of leaves, stacked wood and other sheltering areas. Don’t let large drifts of leaves build up around your foundation, and store your firewood away from your house to prevent having these welcome outdoor ants venture in.
Fire ants are actively aggressive and deliver a very painful sting. These tiny red ants are astonishingly adaptable and live in a wide variety of areas and environmental conditions. They are opportunists that take advantage of flood conditions to spread as they are capable of banding together and floating on floodwaters en masse.
They typically build large mounds that are easy to spot and recognize. If you suspect you have a fire ant problem, don’t try to deal with it on your own. Call in a professional. When riled, these ants may swarm and attack delivering hundreds of stings. This can be fatal to humans and even to large animals. [source]
Why Not Use Pesticides?
Commercial ant repellents and ant killers contain dangerous chemicals as their active ingredients. Even though these chemicals usually make up only a small percentage of the formula; and even though they are properly applied in a sparing manner, the fact is continued use of these products causes a buildup of toxins in and around your home.
In the long term, this buildup can be detrimental to air, soil and water in your immediate environment and in the environment at large.
Children and pets are especially at risk for complications and illnesses caused by contact with pesticides because they tend to be close to the ground. They are more likely to come in casual contact with or even to ingest these poisonous substances.
Additionally, because children are still developing, exposure to these poisons can be extremely detrimental and can interfere with proper growth and development.
What You Need To Know About Insecticide Poisoning
Commercial ant repellents and ant killers are a type of insecticide designed to discourage and/or kill ants; however, these chemicals can also be very detrimental to people and pets. If swallowed, inhaled or absorbed into the system through the skin or eyes there may be immediate or cumulative ill effects. [source]
A number of different chemicals are used in commercial pesticides. Here are three of the most common types:
Complications caused by this chemical are primarily experienced through inhalation. Pyrethrins are one of the milder types of pesticidal chemicals. In fact, this chemical can be found in nature in certain flowers. It is also artificially produced in the laboratory.
The main problem with pyrethrins is that they can cause potentially dangerous trouble breathing when inhaled. In individuals who are very sensitive to this substance, lack of responsiveness, unconsciousness or coma could result.
Carbamates & Organophosphates
These chemicals can be absorbed into the skin quickly. Dangerous exposure to organophosphates and/or carbamates can cause:
- Reduced appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Inflamed airways
- Skin irritation
- Lowered heart rate
- Decreased blood circulation
- Watery eyes
- Increased urination
- Abdominal cramps
- and/or Diarrhea
Failure to use proper protection and/or failure to wash these chemicals away promptly after exposure can result in paralysis and even coma.
This is the main ingredient in mothballs and may be found in some ant repellents, as well. Excessive exposure to paradichlorobenzenes usually results from accidental ingestion and can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
How To Deal With Pesticide Poisoning
Call 911 to get instructions and immediate help. For excessive exposure due to inhalation, move the person into the open air right away. In cases of skin or eye exposure, flush the exposed area with clean, running water for a minimum of fifteen minutes. If the poison has been ingested, do not administer water or milk or induce vomiting unless a health professional instructs you to do so.
If you suspect you may have an ongoing problem with toxicity, call the National Poison Help hotline toll-free, 24/7. They can answer any questions you may have about poisons, poisoning prevention and related topics. Their phone number is: 1-800-222-1222
Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you don’t want to have to deal with accidental poisoning, the best thing you can do is keep poisons out of your house and yard. Luckily, when it comes to dealing with ants and other household and garden pests, there are many effective, non-toxic alternatives.
What Can You Do?
Luckily, when you are dealing with ants, pesticides are a last resort. The first thing you should keep in mind is that ants are coming into your home or frequenting your yard and garden for a reason. That reason is invariably food. Before you use any deterrent, figure out what their food source is and either remove it or secure it. This may take care of your problem.
A second step you can take is to destroy the ant trail. Ants lay down and follow a trail of pheromones from the nest to the food source. Wiping this scent trail out through the use of boiling water and/or vinegar will prevent more ants from coming. Of course, they may find a different route, but if you are vigilant you will be able to stop them in their tracks.
Natural Ways To Deal With Ants
You may be surprised to know that many of the items you need to repel or kill ants can probably be found in your laundry room, kitchen cabinets or on the side of your sink. Some of the most common and successful items used to battle ants are:
- Boric Acid (Borax)
- Grits (Corn Meal)
- Cream of Tartar
- Cayenne Pepper
- Essential Oils
- Boiling Water
- Baking Soda
- Lemon Juice
- Bone Meal
- Dish Soap
Used in combination or on their own, these simple substances have varying degrees of success in discouraging and/or eradicating ant infestation. Here are a few ideas you can use. Feel free to use these in combination and adjust or tweak as needed to suit your particular situation.
- Setting out cucumber peels in the kitchen
- Leaving tea bags of mint tea out
- Using cayenne pepper, citrus oil, lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds.
- Cloves of garlic between the cracks on a deck.
Watch this video about Natural Ant Repellent
12 Ways To Discourage, Repel Or Kill Ants
Draw A Chalk Outline
Get some sidewalk chalk and actually draw chalk boundaries to prevent ant access. They do not like to walk across chalk lines because the dust sticks to their feet.
Build A Barrier
Pour out a line of baking soda, cream of tartar or bone meal across doorways and other areas where you do not want ants to walk. This works in much the same way as chalk. You can also pour a barrier of cinnamon or ground cloves, which will repel them in addition to blocking them.
Leave A Sour Scent
Use fresh lemons to sour their points of ingress and exit. Squeeze lemon juice into nooks and crannies, cracks and crevices that provide ants with a means of entering your home. It is important to note that reconstituted lemon juice does not work for this purpose.
Kill Them On Sight
Fill a spray bottle with pure vinegar to spray ants when you see them. Some people prefer to use apple cider vinegar, but this is really unnecessary for cleaning and pest combating purposes. Cheap white vinegar will work just fine. Be sure to spray them liberally. Drenching them with this mild acid will incapacitate and drown them on the spot.
Erase Their Trail
After drenching with vinegar, clean up the dead ants with very hot (boiling) water to completely erase their trail and confound any ants that may attempt to follow it. Be careful when cleaning with boiling water. Wear rubber gloves and use a sponge applicator with a handle so that you do not have to come in contact with the scalding water.
Clean Them Up
Some people report having success killing ants with soapy water. Dawn dish soap is well-known for its insect-killing abilities but most brands work equally well. To quickly kill off a large number of ants, try mixing one part dish soap with two parts water in a spray bottle. Drench the ants; wait for them to die and then wash them away with hot water.
Boil Them Alive!
To deal with ant hills in the yard and garden, simply pour boiling water over them. Do this in the cool of the evening when they are likely to be home. For greater effect, a generous dose of cayenne pepper can be added to the water as it boils. Be careful not to expose yourself to the steam as the cayenne can irritate your nasal passages and eyes. If you don’t have cayenne pepper or don’t want to use it, you could add some dish soap, vinegar or salt to the water. Repeat this treatment as needed, daily until the ants are gone.
Watch this video about – Killing Carpenter Ants Without Chemicals
Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around the ant hill and in any area where you have seen ants.
When they walk across it, the silica in the fine particles will damage their exoskeletons and abrade the oily protective layer that covers them. This will eventually result in the desiccation and death of individual ants that come in contact with this all-natural substance.
Watch This Video: How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally (3 Ways To Kills Ants)
Another way of desiccating them is to feed them dry grits or corn meal. They will carry this perceived food source back to the ant colony to be stored and eaten. When they consume this very dry cereal product, it absorbs moisture internally and dries them up.
Use boric acid (aka: 20 Mule Team Borax) and sugar to make ant bait. Mix a small amount of borax (e.g. 1 teaspoonful) half-and-half with sugar and add water to make a paste or thick liquid. Set this solution out in shallow containers, such as the plastic lids from yogurt containers. Ants will come to it, eat it and carry it back to the nest.
Eventually, this treatment will kill the entire colony. Use this solution with care. Boric acid is a poison. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets. [source]
Borax and DIY Ant Trap (with educational, health, and safety facts using all natural Borax).
Make Them Explode!
Another type of poison can be made using yeast, molasses and sugar. Combine two parts molasses, one part sugar and one part yeast to make your bait. The ants will be attracted to the molasses and sugar, but when they consume it the yeast will cause gas to build up internally, and this will kill the ants. This recipe is not toxic to kids and pets, but it still would not be a good idea for humans or animals to consume it.
How to Make Homemade Ant Killer-recipe-natural household ingredients- stop-control-bait and poison
Remove Food Sources
Ants come to food, so you must be sure to put away leftovers, keep containers of food tightly sealed and protect pet food. If you leave dry food out for your animals, try putting the food dish into a larger, shallow dish of water so that ants cannot access it.
Lure Them Away
If you don’t want to harm the ants at all, you can redirect them with a trail of sugar to get them to go to a different location. In many Asian cultures, people keep ants out of the house by making an “offering” of rice and scraps daily in a remote location. If you choose this method, you must be committed to keeping up with it on a daily basis.
Make Your Own Homemade Natural Ant Repellent Spray
Once you have disrupted, discouraged and/or eradicated ants with the methods listed above, you will want to keep them away. This is a pretty simple matter. There are many different combinations of natural ingredients that you can use to create a natural bug spray that will discourage ants, other insects and spiders. The key to all of these combinations is essential oil. [source]
Ants and many other creepy crawlies do not like the smell of oil of lavender. Other essential oils that repel them include:
- Peppermint Essential Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Orange Oil
- Lemon Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Neem Oil
Some people have reported success with tea tree oil, frankincense and other very strongly scented essential oils. Experiment to find out what works best for you and what smells best to you.
To concoct your own homemade ant repellent spray, you will need a carrier. Water, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol will do. Making this simple mixture is extraordinarily easy. Here’s what you’ll need to make the solution:
- 16 ounces of water, white vinegar or isopropyl alcohol
- The essential oils of your choosing
- A 16 ounce spray bottle
Pour the carrier into the spray bottle and add the essential oils at a rate of about a dozen drops per ounce, total. This means that if you decide you want a combination of two or more types of essential oil, you should not include a dozen drops of each per ounce. Instead, combine them to make a total of a dozen drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier.
To use your spray, be sure to shake it up and spray it liberally in areas where ants have been seen. Examples include countertops, doorways, windowsills and so on. You’ll need to do this on a regular, ongoing basis to keep ants at bay.
This video focuses on spider repellent, but the recipe will work just as well for ants and a bug repellent for other insects.
How to Make Spider Repellent | At Home With P. Allen Smith
How Do You Choose A Carrier?
Availability and purpose should guide you in choosing a carrier. If you only have water at the moment, that’s what you should use. If you choose water, you may want to add a tablespoonful of dish soap to act as a surfactant to help the spray distribute evenly over surfaces. This will also add killing power.
White vinegar or isopropyl alcohol will both kill ants on contact, so you can kill ants when you see them and leave a scent that will deter any newcomers. As an added bonus, using vinegar or isopropyl alcohol gives your spray some cleaning and shining abilities, so you can use it as a countertop spray that will both shine surfaces and repel ants.
If you want the power of vinegar but don’t like the smell, you can dilute it with water. Understand that this will also diminish its effectiveness.
Persistence Is A Necessary Natural Ant Control Ingredient
When you use all-natural pest solutions you must understand that they will not kill all of the pests at once, and if you are not diligent they will not keep pests away. Use a holistic approach by combining multiple all-natural solutions, and be sure to apply your solutions on a regular and consistent basis.
When you realize that ants or other insects are a problem, begin by determining why they are attracted to a given area and eliminate that attraction. Don’t leave food out, and keep your living areas and your yard clean and free of clutter. Good housekeeping will go far toward preventing ant infestation in the home.