Did you know there are over 12,000 species of ants worldwide? While some are harmless, others can be both an irritating presence and a significant economic and health threat. Discover how to get rid of ants naturally, effectively tackling these pesky invaders without causing harm to your environment or family.
The problem with ants is that they always come in numbers. While one ant might not bother you much, be sure that many more will follow if left unattended. Do not wait until the problem gets out of your hands, deal with them as early as possible to avoid the need to use toxic chemicals.
How to get rid of ants naturally? There are many natural methods that you can use to get rid of ants such as:
- Applying boiling water to ant hills
- Using vinegar or peppermint oil to spray the entry points of ants
- Spreading Diatomaceous earth around mounds and ant trails
- Placing borax ant baits around your home and garden
- Essential oils
It is absolutely possible to get rid of ants using only natural methods. The only key is to start dealing with the problem as early as possible before the colony has grown and become more difficult to handle.
So don’t expect ants to just go away. These tiny little creatures will not hesitate to take advantage once they find what they are looking for. In the following sections, we have provided our in-depth guide on natural methods for ant control. If you are having an early infestation of ants, this will certainly be of interest to you. Let’s begin!
Natural Way to Get Rid of Ants | Natural Ant Control
Ants venture into houses and gardens in search of food, water, and new places to make their nests. And if they find favorable conditions, they will leave a pheromone trail so that the other ants can follow. This can turn into quite a problem as ants colonies grow quickly. If you do not want your home to be invaded, you have to take timely measures in order to prevent a bigger infestation.
There are different ways to approach ant infestation and a variety of natural methods and solutions. Your end goal with every method should be to kill the ant queen.
This is important because if the queen is left alive, she will continue producing the eggs. Actually, a queen can lay hundreds, even thousands of eggs per day, depending on the species. These tiny eggs will soon turn out to be workers ready to invade your home again.
Most of the ant species are pretty harmless but some of them need to be approached with more caution as they could pose a threat to you or your home.
By using natural ways to get rid of ants, you can ensure that no toxic chemicals will enter your environment. There are simple yet tested and effective solutions that will help you kill and repel ants in a safe manner.
What Kills Ants Naturally?
There are several natural solutions that are known to be effective in pest control. The best and most efficient ones include boric acid, borax, and Diatomaceous earth.
Boric acid has been used for years as an insecticide. There are different forms of boric acid (liquid, tablet, or powder). Boric acid is toxic to pests (ants included). When digested, it poisons their stomachs, affects their metabolism, and abrades their exoskeletons. Even though considered safe to use in the home, keep boric acid out of reach of children and pets.
Borax on the other hand is a natural mineral collected from evaporated deposits or mined from the ground. It works very similarly to boric acid and this is easy to understand because they are both the same compound but with different formulations.
Borax slowly interferes with the ant’s digestive system, ultimately killing them, but not before they get back to the colony and share the poison with the other ants. You can substitute boric acid with borax if you see that ants are not that attracted to boric acid, try borax, and vice versa as some ant species can react differently.
Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder made from fossilized algae. This is a completely natural product that is extremely effective for ant control. The tiny particles of DE have very sharp edges which cause cuts to the insect’s body after contact. This damage leads to water evaporation, dehydration, and eventually, death.
Diatomaceous earth is safe to use both inside and outside of your house, though it is not suitable for humid environments as it gets ineffective when it comes into the contact with water. Always use food grade Diatomaceous Earth for pest control, and not the one that is used in swimming pools.
Natural Ant Traps
You can prepare natural ant traps that are completely non-toxic and safe for you and the environment.
Method 1: Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar Natural Ant Traps
Step 1: Combine equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. As the particles are similar in size, ants can not distinguish the two. The sugar will attract them, and the baking soda will kill them as it makes a reaction with the acid in their digestive system.
Step 2: Put the mixture in jar lids and place them in strategic locations where the ants tend to gather a lot. Wait for the ants to feed on the mixture and die.
Method 2: Boric Acid and Corn Syrup Natural Ant Traps
Step 1: Mix one teaspoon of boric acid with a 1/4 cup of corn syrup.
Step 2: Spread the mixture on waxed paper and place it near ant trails, their points of entry, or places where they gather.
Step 3: Wait for the ants to feed on the mixture. They will take bits back to the colony and poison the rest of the colony as well.
Method 3: Borax, Honey, and Sugar Natural Ant Traps
Step 1: Mix one teaspoon of borax with equal parts of honey and sugar.
Step 2: Put the mixture in jar lids, bottle caps, or other types of shallow containers, you could also dip some bread in the mixture.
Step 3: Place the containers or pieces of bread around the house and garden where you often see the ants. The ants will feed on the poisonous mix and share it with the rest of the colony.
Just remember, in case you have pets or children, do not use boric acid or borax-laced ant traps near them. If this is the case, make sure to place ant baits in safe and hard-to-reach places.
Related: Do Dead Ants Attract More Ants? | The Play-Dead Phenomenon!
Natural Ant Spray
It is easy to prepare a natural ant spray that will kill ants. The best thing is that you probably already have all the needed ingredients in your kitchen cabinets.
Method 1: Soap and Water Natural Ant Spray
One of the most effective methods uses dish soap or Castile soap as a base ingredient.
Step 1: Mix equal parts of warm water and soap in a spray bottle.
Step 2: Spray the ants and wait for a bit as the soapy mixture coats their bodies and suffocates them. This spray also masks the pheromone trail they leave behind so the other ants won’t be able to follow.
Method 2: Vinegar and Water Natural Ant Spray
Vinegar is another very effective ingredient you could use to prepare a natural ant spray.
Step 1: Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to spray and kill the ants.
Step 2: Vinegar is also a very effective way to keep the surfaces clean and will remove the scent of the pheromone trails and repel ants from coming in again.
Method 3: Lemon Juice and Water Natural Ant Spray
You can also use lemon juice instead of vinegar as it will also destroy the pheromone scent trails.
Step 1: Mix one part of lemon juice with 3 parts of water.
Step 2: Spray it on ants and their trails, as well as around the entrances and the perimeter of your home.
Natural Ant Repellent
The best way to prepare a natural ant repellent is to use essential oils such as peppermint oil, orange oil, and tea tree oil. These oils are safe and effective (plus, they smell great!) You can use only one of them or make a mixture for a stronger effect.
Step 1: Fill a spray bottle with 15 drops of peppermint oil, 15 drops of tea tree oil, 7 drops of orange oil, and 1/4 cup water.
Step 2: Mix well and spray on places where ants are prevalent.
Do not use this mixture on kitchen counters and surfaces where you prepare food. For food-preparation areas, use only a solution of 15 drops of peppermint oil and 1/4 cup of water. Keep essential oils out of reach of pets, especially cats.
Ultimate Guide: How to Get Rid of Ants | Safe and Effective Methods
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally | Instructions
So far we have given you enough information to convince you that it is absolutely possible to get rid of ants naturally. But depending on where the ant infestation is located, some methods are more effective than others.
Read on to find out more instructions on how to repel and kill ants efficiently whether they are outside in your garden or yard or inside your home.
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally Outside
Ants are such a typical sight outside of your house and most of the time we barely pay attention to them. That is until anthills appear and ruin your garden, or when these pesky creatures start to make their way to your potted plants and eventually find their way to your kitchen. Before all of this happens, take the appropriate measure to get rid of the ants and avoid a bigger infestation.
Step 1: Ant Repellents
One of the best ways to get rid of the ants outside is to plant herbs and plants that are natural ant repellents. Some of these plants include mint, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Ants dislike the strong smell of these plants and will keep them away.
Step 2: Essential Oils
With the peppermint essential oil soak the cotton balls and place them strategically outside of your house on places where the ants usually gather. You can also dilute the essential oil with water and spray it outside to destroy their trails. Always choose an all-natural and pure peppermint essential oil.
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Step 3: Diatomaceous Earth
Apply Diatomaceous earth close to any ant trails you see, near the trunks of the trees, and other places where ants tend to gather. Remember to use a mask while applying to avoid breathing in the fine DE powder.
- Earthborn Elements Diatomaceous Earth in a resealable bucket
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How to Get Rid of Ants in the House Naturally
As we already mentioned, ants venture into the house mainly because they are searching for food. Anything from open boxes and containers in the cupboards, dirty plates in the dishwasher, food leftovers in the trash can, or uneaten pet food in your dog or cat’s bowl can attract them. And once they find the food source, they will keep on coming back in search for more.
Here is exactly how to get rid of ants in the house naturally and how to prevent them from coming in again.
Step 1: A Clean House
Keep your kitchen clean at all times. Do not keep food out in the open on the kitchen counters or in the cupboards. Store everything in tightly sealed containers. Take out the trash regularly and clean your pet’s food bowl once it has finished eating.
Step 2: Vinegar Spray
Wipe surfaces often using a solution of 50:50 vinegar and water. This will help not only to disinfect but also remove the pheromone scent trail ants leave for the others to follow. Apply the spray not only on the surface of the counters and tables but also around the windows, doors, and other places that ants might use as an entrance to your home.
We recommend that you use a natural and safe 20% industrial-strength white vinegar.
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Step 3: Essential Oils
Soak the cotton balls in lemon eucalyptus oil (an essential oil that contains citronella, which is a natural ant-repellent). Place the balls where you have seen ants and change them weekly. Choose a 100% pure & natural undiluted lemon eucalyptus oil for maximum effect.
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Step 4: Ant Baits
Place ant baits near the entrances of your home. The ants will take the poison (including dead ants) back to their colony. After the ant queen consumes the bait, their colony will die. Use pet-safe ant baits that are suitable for indoor use.
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How to Get Rid of Ant Hills Naturally
An ant hill is far from just a pile of dirt and needles. These structures are much more complicated than they look and getting rid of them will ensure that you have eliminated the whole ant colony.
What you see on the surface is just the top of the construction, below in the ground, there is a very sophisticated structure with interconnected tunnels, galleries, and chambers that maintain the needed climate and provide the optimal conditions for the colony to thrive.
Getting rid of the ant hill is sometimes the only solution to your ant problem. The following is a simple step-by-step guide for getting rid of the ant hills:
Step 1: Locating the Ant Hill
Follow the ant trails to locate the anthill. Depending on the species, the ant hill might look different. Also, the location of the nest will depend on the ant species, for example, inside your house, in the garden near the trunk of a tree, or somewhere else in the open. You might not be able to see the whole ant hill.
This is the case with pavement ants, which nest in the cracks of the pavement. But once you have found the entrance to the nest, you can start applying the following step.
Step 2: Hot or Boiling Water
Boil a large pot of water and pour it right into the entrance of the nest while the water is still piping hot. It is best if you do it early in the morning while the ants are closer to the surface. The hot water will kill the ants and cause the nest to collapse. If the nest is bigger, prepare several pots of boiling water and pour as many gallons (liters) as needed.
Step 3: Observation and Follow Up
Keep an eye on the anthill in the following days and repeat the process if you still see ants coming from the ant hill.
It is recommended to wear high boots and long trousers tucked in the boots, to avoid any angry ants trying to escape, biting, and crawling onto you (especially if you are dealing with fire ants).
In addition to boiling water, you can use cinnamon (an effective natural ant repellent). Sprinkle the cinnamon generously around the anthill and inside the entrance to prevent them from coming out. As you will need a lot of cinnamon, we recommend buying a bigger bag of cinnamon to ensure you have enough to cover the entire ant hill.
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Remember that most of the time ants do not build only one nest but a whole network of them. Inspect the surrounding area for satellite nests that need to be taken care of as well (they can be pretty far from each other)
How to Get Rid of Ants in Grass Naturally
To get rid of the ants in grass naturally, first deal with any ant hills in the proximity by using the methods described above, then do the following:
Step 1: Mow the Grass
First of all, mow the grass. This will make applying natural insecticide and dealing with the ant problem much easier.
Step 2: Natural Insecticides
Sprinkle Diatomaceous earth on the lawn, near the trunks of the trees, and anywhere you see ants. It is best if you apply it early in the morning or late in the afternoon when ants are the most active. Remember that for it to be effective, Diatomaceous earth must be reapplied after rain or in humid weather.
In addition, you can use citrus oil to spray the grass, garden plants, and trees. It will not harm the plants but help to get rid of the ants. Prepare a natural insecticide by mixing orange essential oil 3/4 of a cup, 1 tbsp of dish soap, 1 tbsp molasses, and 1 gallon of water.
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You can also apply EcoLogic Lawn & Yard Insect Killer Concentrate. This product is completely natural and safe to use around pets and children. It is made with naturally derived lemongrass oil.
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While ants in your garden can sometimes be useful as they aerate the soil and eat other insects, too much of them can take over sections of the lawn and cause damage to the roots of grass and plants. Control them by using the above-mentioned ways. In some cases, there is no need for toxic chemicals that are harmful to your kids or pets.
Natural Pesticides for Ants | Natural Products to Keep Ants Away
As we already mentioned, the most effective natural pesticides for ants include boric acid, borax, and Diatomaceous earth. You can find them in most hardware and garden stores. The following are some of the products based on them that we recommend:
Safer Brand Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth – 4lb
- Animal feed additive or use as an inert carrier or anti-caking...
- Composed of ground freshwater diatomaceous earth
- Natural – no chemicals added
- Compliant for organic use
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Made in the USA from crushed fossilized algae, the Safer Brand Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is completely natural and suitable for organic use around the home and garden. The package of 4 lb is big enough for everyday use, you can sprinkle the powder wherever you see ants and their trails.
Absorbent Industries Diatomaceous Earth 1lb Bag with Powder Sprayer Insecticide Duster
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This convenient powder duster and a 1lb bag of Diatomaceous earth will make it much easier to combat your ant problem. The metal powder duster will help you reach and sprinkle the powder into cracks, crevices, wall voids, and so on. Safe to use around your house and garden.
Ecoxall Chemicals Fine Powder Boric Acid 1lb
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This is a 99.9+% pure industrial-grade strength boric acid. With a fine powder texture which makes it easier to mix and use in ant baits and traps. Ecoxall Chemicals Fine Powder Boric Acid comes in a convenient bag that does not allow leakage or spillage.
TERRO T300B Liquid Ant Bait Ant Killer, 12 Bait Stations
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Easy to use pre-filled ant baits with Borax that will kill most of the household ants. This patented design prevents the baits from drying out. Place the bait near ant trails and entrances.
Orange Guard 101 Home Pest Control Gallon
- Rtu gal orange guard
- Water-based formula
- Kills on contact
- May be used around food, humans, and pets
- All ingredients generally recognized as safe by the FDA
Safe and natural, the Orange Guard 101 Home Pest Control kills most common household pests (including ants) on contact. Also this product repels them from coming back. It can be used around pets and children.
Now you know everything about how to naturally get rid of ants. All these methods use only safe non-toxic ingredients to repel and kill ants – no matter if they are located inside or outside of your home.
Remember, if one of the listed methods does not work as expected, try another one or a combination of several of them. This is because every ant species reacts differently, and what is effective against one species may not work for another.
In case you are having a serious ant infestation, it would be best to call a professional pest control service. Click on the following link if you are interested, and you will get free quotes from the best ant exterminators in your area. Best of luck!
List of Sources
McCollum P., Get Rid of Ants in Your Vegetable Garden, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
Ants, University of Minnesota
Gator J., Controlling Ants in the Home and Landscape, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and University of Florida
Cathcart F., Ants don’t have to be a bother inside. Get rid of ants naturally, Metro News