Ants are interesting creatures to watch, as long as they stay in those little plastic ant farms. The problem is that they get inside your house and create quite a mess in their hunt for food. In the summer, the slightest bit of food left on a table top or counter can attract them in droves.
Getting rid of them is easy, but if you have children and pets around you’ll want to use natural products that will be safe but effective at killing them. Here are a few household items that you can use to make your own ant killer and repellent.
- baking soda
- essential oils
- dish detergent
- 20-mule team borax
- citric acid
- boiling water
- cornmeal, grits, cream of wheat
Ants are a nuisance, but are not impossible to control once you know what kind of ants you have. There are different types of ants, the most common ones are carpenter ants, fire ants, and sugar ants. They have different habits and some tend to be aggressive, so you’ll need to exercise caution when dealing with them.
The first thing you’ll want to do before mixing any concoctions, is to determine what type of ants you are dealing with. Some ants can be gotten rid of simply by spraying citrus or strong-smelling mixtures near entryways as a deterrent, and others can only be eliminated by destroying the whole colony.
Identify the Ant Types
Carpenter ants are generally black in color but may also be red, with segmented bodies and pronounced antennae. They are somewhat large and therefore, easy to see and identify. These ants make their homes inside of walls and create havoc much like termites. These guys are harder to get rid of.
Fire ants can be large or small red ants that make their home outdoors in ant hills. They gather food during the day and can be aggressive when their nest is disturbed. They bite and sting when they come in contact with people by walking near their home or stepping on it. The bites are quite painful and may require a visit to the doctor in the case of small children or if many bites were sustained.
Sugar ants ( also called odorous ants) are small, tiny black ants that you may see in your kitchen making a trail to some little crumbs or something sweet left on a counter. They are attracted to the tiniest bits of food left behind and leave a chemical trail (pheromones) for other to follow like a road map. These ants generally do not bite, but can really be a nuisance when they get in pet food bowls and sugar trails.
The ingredients listed above can be used to make applications to kill them and then keep other from coming in. In the case of fire ants, you’ll need to get rid of the whole colony and the ant hill to get rid of these guys. It will also depend on whether you have a mild case, meaning just a few ants here and there, or a full-blown ant invasion. Try the simplest things first and if that doesn’t solve the problem, try a more complex strategy.
Ants and other insects, including spiders, dislike strong-smelling substances. Vinegar, citrus (lemons, limes, grapefruit) peppermint, cinnamon, cloves, garlic are just a few things you can use in preparations to keep them away.
Mix equal parts of vinegar or lemon juice and water and spray on patios, near the entrance of the house, porches and around baseboards. If you see an ant trail, spray the ants and then wipe the trail down to remove the chemical trail so others won’t follow it.
Another mix is to fill a spray bottle half way with water, add a little vinegar and a few drops of Dawn dish soap to make it soapy and spray at will.
The powdered mixes include borax, powdered sugar and baby powder to deter them and kill them. Baby powder sprinkled on counters and in corners works as well as mixing powdered sugar and baking soda and placing on a small dish. They’ll be attracted to the sugar but the baking soda will make them swell up and explode.
If you get ants in your carpets you can sprinkle them with cinnamon or cloves and vacuum them right up. Be sure to empty your vacuum cleaner right away to avoid them crawling back out. The cinnamon will have them going around in circles because it interrupts their thinking processes.
Another non-liquid mix you can try is cornmeal or grits. Sprinkle a little mound of it and leave it where they can find it. They will eat it and take it back to their nests.
These are the easiest way to deal with ants of most types. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it method. You simple mix the substances and place it on or in something disposable and throw it away when it has done it’s job. These are similar to the glue traps used to kill roaches.
For sticky traps you will need honey, molasses or corn syrup and borax powdered detergent. Sprinkle some borax in a glass baby food jar and add honey or syrup and mix well. Put 3-4 holes in the lid and cap it tightly. This will keep pets and little ones from tasting it, but kill the ants that crawl inside the jar.
A similar method is to use small cards, 3 x 5 index cards will work just fine. Mix the honey and borax together and place a small amount on the card. Spread it on with a knife and set in areas where they will find it. When the card is full just throw it away.
Tips to Keep Ants Out of the House
Once you have killed all visible ants, to keep them from coming back use the citrus sprays just like you would for roaches, in every crack and corner. Spray on baseboards, door frames, window ledges, under cabinets and sinks and anywhere else you can think of. Your house will smell super-clean and you’ll have no ants. Spray outside as well to keep them from coming inside.
How to Deal with Ants Outside
When you have a visible ant hill anywhere on your property you need to dispose of it to get rid of the ants, otherwise they will just keep coming back. Especially if you have fire ants. Scout the edges of your yard and locate every one of them and you’ll need to boil some water and pour it straight down inside the hill. Be careful though, they will start running for cover so be prepared. You can also fill up the mound with cornmeal or grits first, and then use the boiling water if that doesn’t kill them all. When all the ants are dead, destroy the mound so they don’t return to that spot if there are any lingering around that escaped.
Once the ant hills are gone, spray your repellent sprays around the outside entrances; doorways, patios, window sills, and etc. These combined methods should get rid of the ants and keep them from coming back.