If you want to learn how to get rid of ants naturally, then basic detective skills can come in handy. There are certain remedies that are more effective for specific ant species than others. Hence, you need to determine the kind of ants invading your living space.
But, there are a number of solutions that can be applied to remove all ants in general. In this piece, we will discuss both types of solutions.
The reason why some ant removal solutions work well on certain types of ants is that each species has its own habits and preferences. These solutions target species based on their preferences and behavior.
In North America alone, there are around 1,000 species of ants. Luckily, most areas have one of the 10 most common ant species. Knowing what kind of ants you have in your home can help you understand their eating habits as well as nesting behavior.
For instance, odorous ants are drawn to sugar, while certain ant species are lured by grease and meat. You can use this knowledge to set up baits and traps.
One of the most destructive ant species is the carpenter ant. Their name is contrary to their nature. While carpenters make wooden items, these ants ruin them. Piles of sawdust next to damaged wood and winged ants are some signs of a carpenter ant infestation.
For carpenter ants and other tenacious ant species, you will have to call in an exterminator to eliminate them completely. You can still take some steps to keep these ants under control and prevent them from increasing in number.
Here are the steps that you can take to get rid of the ants at your place:
This is the most important step of the removal process, which is why you should not skip it. The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert or do research to identify the offending ant species.
You can take the easy route by taking a closeup photo of the ants and emailing the image to a university extension service. These are offices that provide information on pest-related issues, such as pest control.
The extension can inform you about the kind of ant species that is infiltrating your home. The service may also offer useful suggestions about the different ways you can keep these insects under control. You will get a fact sheet containing ant species information and useful advice like the most common places where ants set up their nest.
If you don’t dispose of food and leftovers carefully, you may see an ant invasion. The reason why ants come to know that there is food lying around your house is that they have an acute sense of smell. Ants put their extraordinary sense of smell to good use while foraging and scouting for food.
If the food source is within your home, then you risk drawing ants to your residence. Quite often, it takes just one ant to find a tiny speck of food in your house. When that happens, it won’t take time for the good news to spread far and wide in the ant community. Very soon, an army of exuberant ants will rampage your property to pick up the food and search for some more.
But how do the other ants find out the location of the food source after it is discovered? The answer is: pheromones. Ants leave behind a pheromone trail while they are scouting for food. The ant that discovered food simply follows this trail back to the colony. Other ants follow this trail to retrieve more food. Before you know it, there is a swarm of ants attacking the food source. You can blame ant pheromones for this – besides the food.
Although you do not have to give up sugary treats altogether, you need to be more careful consuming them to ensure you do not attract ants to your home. You can take sensible measures to make it harder for ants to discover sweet food.
Certain ant species like odorous ants get attracted to sugar in the same way as moths are drawn to a flame. Simple mistakes can make it easy for ants to zero in on the sugary food source. For instance, you may have closed the lid tight on your maple syrup jar but you forgot to wipe off the bottle that is stained with the liquid. Small mistakes like these can become an open invitation for these tiny uninvited guests.
As much as possible, pack all the sugary items in airtight containers to prevent determined ants from discovering them.
It’s not just the kitchen that acts as an ant magnet. Your bathroom can also attract ants on account of its high moisture. Ants rely not only on food but water as well. Like all other insects, ants need a water source to survive.
During hot and dry weather or a drought, you may notice the ants making their way to your washroom. The reason for this is that there is a dearth of water sources outside and the ants have discovered your bathroom after scouting for water.
To prevent your bathroom from becoming an inviting oasis for the water-stricken ants, you should be careful about letting water accumulate in your bathroom. Wipe away any puddles that you see on the floor and turn on the ventilation so that any remaining water can evaporate and leave via the ventilator fan.
Fix all plumbing leaks so that stagnant water does not gather in your bathroom. Watch out for rotting wood ledges – damp rotting wood attracts ants. You can also make use of a portable dehumidifier to keep the humidity level down.
Don’t be tempted to start crushing ants wherever you see them. Besides being messy, this will not help at all. If you crush ants, then they will leave behind pheromones, which serve as a beacon for more ants to swarm the scene of the carnage.
There is a better way of preventing ants from entering your home. You should wipe off the pheromone trail. The ants will lose their way and won’t be able to enter your territory.
Water is not enough to wipe off the pheromone trail. You will need to prepare a mixture for this purpose. First, mix equal parts of water and vinegar. You can also mix water and lemon juice if you want. Place this mixture in a spray bottle and spray it over the ant trail area.
Before spraying, you should ensure that the food source is removed; otherwise, the smell of the food will bring back the ants and you will have to face another ant trail. Spraying the ant trail won’t work unless you get rid of the food source.
It is time to use a rather unlikely ant repellent: baby powder. Few of us do not have a problem using baby powder, but ants are certainly averse to this substance. The good thing about this repellent is that it is cheap and easily available.
Sprinkle baby powder over the areas where ants converge and the entry points as well.
There is a consensus among entomologists that natural repellents are not as effective as synthetic pesticides, but they are indeed much safer than chemicals. Insecticides can be toxic not just for you, but also for your children and pets. Therefore, you should try to give no-toxic interventions a full chance for controlling ants. Ant repellents like lemons can be helpful in providing a non-toxic way of controlling pests.
Cinnamon is an effective ant repellent. This is not just another folk remedy because scientific research seems to back up this claim. Before you go rushing to the kitchen cabinet for cinnamon, there is an important caveat to this. The researchers used concentrated cinnamon oil in the study to control ants. So using common household cinnamon powder won’t exactly do you a world of good.
You stand a much better chance with essential cinnamon oil. Douse small cotton balls into the essential cinnamon oil and leave them at the ant trail and point of entry. The cotton balls will give off cinnamon oil vapor, which is irritating to ants.
However, there is an important warning that you need to consider. Concentrated cinnamon oil can dissolve paint and stain surfaces. So you should be cautious about placing the oil saturated cotton balls as they can damage your floor and other surfaces. Try keeping something underneath the cotton balls to prevent the oil from seeping to the floor or other surfaces.
There are also other essential oils, besides cinnamon oil, which can help to repel ants and other pests. Studies show that peppermint oil is very good at repelling not just ants but other insects as well.
Peppermint is more than a repellent. It can also kill ants if you spray it directly onto them. However, this won’t be necessary – or even easy for that matter.
Just like you did for cinnamon oil, you can saturate cotton balls in peppermint essential oil and leave them on ant trails. You can also do the same with clove oil because research confirms the efficacy of this oil when it comes to ant control. In fact, clove oil can also kill off red fire ants, which are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
As much as you possibly can, try using natural methods to keep ants under control. Synthetic insecticides are highly toxic and can have serious health consequences if you are not careful.
Check your backyard for ant hills and mounds. Spray them with insecticide wherever you find them. If ants are proliferating rapidly in your backyard, then you may want to use powerful insecticide like bifenthrin. You should first mow the lawn to make sure that as much of the insecticide reaches the ground rather than the blades of grass.
After you have mowed your lawn, you can spray insecticide during the later afternoon or early morning. These are the times that ants are most active; so there is a greater likelihood of ants coming into contact with the insecticide during these time periods.
Look around your house for any trees, shrubs and bushes that may be in contact with your property. These work as easy bridges for ants to infiltrate your house. If you find any tree, shrub or bush in contact with them, then trim it to create a gap that will deny access to ants.
Firewood close to your house or in contact with the walls of your home is another cause for concern. You should look out for any cracks and crevices in floors, walls, window sills and other likely places. These often provide an entry route for ants into your house. Doors, in particular, can have big gaps at the bottom. Seal and caulk these openings to deny entry to the unwelcome tenants.
For certain ants, you need to locate the nest and eliminate it. This applies to carpenter ants and other kinds of ants that are difficult to get rid of. You can locate the ant nest by looking for the most likely sites that provide favorable conditions to ant colonies.
Search for damp areas like flooring or framing that feel spongy and soft. These moist areas are most often the result of water leakages and plumbing problems.
Try to look around the exterior walls, bathrooms and attics. Check the ant trail and see where it is leading. If you do find the insect nest within your residence, then you should spray it with insecticide meant for indoor application.
Spray some lemon juice along the window sills, door thresholds and other places where ants are gaining entry to your home. Try squeezing a wedge to constrict these entry points to make their access more difficult. You can also spread slice lemon peels along the areas where ants are gaining entry. The acidic smell irritates ants and keeps them away from your home.
There is a way to use flowerpots to eliminate fire ants, which can be hard to get rid of. The problem with fire ants is that they are very aggressive and will keep stinging you in your own patio and backyard if they are allowed to multiply.
It’s time to take some drastic measures to eliminate these annoying creatures. Look around your yard for anthills and mounds inhabited by fire ants. Place a flowerpot over the anthill upside down. This will expose the drain hole that is located at the bottom of the flowerpot. Pour boiling water through this drain hole to eliminate the ant colony.
Staple pantry items like flour, sugar and a few seasonings are often the target of an ant invasion. You can keep your food items safe by keeping a bay leaf within the containers. If you are worried that the food may acquire bay leaf flavor, then you can tape the bay leaf under the lid so that it does not come into direct contact with the food.
You can use the same trick to protect staples and food items within your cabinets. You can make up sachets containing a blend of cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and sage. Place these sachets within the cabinets. You will be greeted by an invigorating aroma every time you open your cabinets. Most importantly, the strong scent from these sachets will deter ants from freeloading off your pantry and cabinets.
Cleaning is not exactly a fun activity for many, but it can prevent quite a few headaches if done correctly. Make sure that you diligently wipe the counter tops and other kitchen surfaces with a clean wet cloth. This will help to remove crumbs, sugar, flour, seasonings and spices that can attract unwanted attention from ants.
Make sure that pet food bowls are clean. Always keep an eye on the area around the pet food bowl to be certain that your pet has not created a mess that will instigate an ant conquest.
All trash cans, both inside and outside your house, should be covered properly to prevent them from becoming a feeding spot for ant colonies. Keep a close watch on the trash can inside your kitchen in particular.
When you take out the garbage from your trash can, give a quick glance to the bottom of the trash can to make sure that no food has been left behind.
DE is one of the best natural remedies for eliminating several kinds of ants and carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are known to be very resilient. Hence, it is often very difficult to get rid of these annoying pests with other methods, apart from DE.
Besides being annoying, carpenter ants are also destructive. They can bore holes into wooden structures to build their nests. They can damage wooden columns, sills, ledges and other parts in the process of constructing their nest. Carpenter ants love tunneling into wood and resemble termites in this sense.
One of the first signs of a carpenter ant infestation is the sudden appearance of small piles of sawdust. These are the remains of the wood that they have eaten their way through. Carpenter ant nests can often be found in places with damp rotting wood, such as the gaps between wooden floor boards, trees, woodpiles, decks, patios and foundations.
You need to get rid of these creatures fast to limit damage to your property. The best way of doing this is by depositing DE at the scene of the crime. DE is lethal for ants because of its microscopic sharp serrated edges that can lacerate the insides of any insect that consumes it. Remember to use food-grade DE.
This is often one of the first things that people have in mind when trying to get rid of pests and vermin. But it would be simplistic and probably ineffective to jump towards traps and insecticides without taking other preventive measures.
Preventive measures should have a higher priority in your pest control strategy compared to traps and insecticides. The logic behind this is that you should prevent entry in the first place. The pests will not be able to compensate for the losses inflicted by traps.
If you don’t take preventive measures first, then the ants may not only compensate for the losses, they may even multiply despite having traps in place. This will defeat the purpose of traps and any other elimination method. So you should play smart and not hard by doing things according to priority.
While traps work, they may not always be effective in all cases. To make these traps work, you have to use the right bait. This means that you should identify the ant species and investigate the foods that these species prefer. Hence, the bait must be according to the feeding preferences of the particular ant species in question.
Here is an example to help you understand. Carpenter ants do not have a preference for sweet sugary foods. Instead, they are drawn towards protein. So a sugary bait will not help you hit the sweet spot. Go for a protein-rich bait instead.
Another factor that plays a key role in the successful deployment of traps is location. You should try to trace back the ant trail to their colony as far as you possibly can and place the trap there. The ideal situation would be to place it just outside the nest. However, if you place it close enough, then the trap may prevent ants from making it to your kitchen or bathroom.
This homemade bait works for odorous ants, which are a common species in the US. You can try this if all natural methods fail and you are still bent on giving DIY pest control another try. But keep in mind that the substance used is toxic and harmful for you and others. Make sure that there are no children or pets in the area where you have set up these traps.
The substance that you will use to eliminate ants is borax. This material is particularly useful for killing off odorous ants. Since odorous ants have a penchant for sugar, you should use the sweet stuff as bait.
Create a homemade bait for odorous ants by mixing 3 parts of powdered sugar with one part borax. Fill small containers with this concoction and place them around ant trails. Bottle caps will do just fine. You should also place these containers along all the suspected points of entry points for ants.
If you have kids or pets around, then there is still some hope. You should use a different recipe to keep your kids and pets safe. In one cup of warm water, pour in 3 tablespoons of borax and half cup sugar. Mix it as well as you can. Then, use cotton balls to soak up the poison bait and place them along ant trails and suspected entry points.
The ants will be delighted by the sugary bait and will start carrying it back to the nest. Borax is deadly for ants and should kill off the colony.
If natural insect repellents do not work, then you may want to try ant bait stations. Keep these in areas frequented by ants like under the sink or anywhere else where ants are traveling. Keeping the bait station close to the ant trail will increase the likelihood of ants carrying the poisonous bait back to their colony.
You might even see a surge in the number of scavenging ants when you first deploy the bait stations. If you see this, then it is a sign that more ants are coming out of the nest to carry the toxin back to the nest. In other words, they are helping your cause. The toxin will be shared with other ants and perhaps even the queen.
While all this is happening, make sure that you don’t disrupt the ants in any way. Let the ants work on your side. You should also remove the natural ant repellents to allow the ants to carry back the toxin unhindered.
By learning how to get rid of ants using the steps mentioned above, you will hopefully be able to control ant infestation and avoid calling in an exterminator. But if the infestation is too heavy, then you should not waste time and contact the exterminator without further delay.