Everyone has had problems with ants one time or another. These amazing insects are nature’s janitors, cleaning up all sorts of trash and transporting it to their underground homes. That’s all fine and dandy, but those same ants can’t tell the difference between the outdoors and inside our homes. So not only do they clean up outdoors, but they try to come in and look for food as well. That just doesn’t work out all that well for our lifestyle.
The last home I owned had serious ant problems, especially in the kitchen. The property had been unoccupied and foreclosed upon before we bought it and we must have had ten different varieties of ants living there, including a nest of rather large carpenter ants that I never did manage to get rid of.
More than anything, ants are searching for sugar; although they will eat many different types of grains and foods made from grains. They’ll also eat just about any type of fruit. A lot will depend on what is the most available to them.
Those ants loved to raid our pantry, so I ended up in a multi-year battle to get rid of them. While I did resort to poisoning a few ant piles, most of the time I was just trying to keep them from coming in the house and getting into the food. It took a combination of strategies, but I did ultimately win the battle and managed to keep my food ant free.
Related: 10 Ingenious Ways to Keep Moths Away From Your Grains
Probably the most effective thing I did to protect my food was to package everything in plastic containers. While this is a hefty investment at the start, the containers are reusable, so should last several years, with care.
Ants can’t bite their way through plastic containers, although they can bite their way through the plastic bags that food is packaged in at the factory. That packaging is no protection against ants, but only protects from the air.
Home Defense Insect Killer Spray
Home Defense is an excellent product, if you don’t mind using chemical pest killers. I used this for a number of years, spraying it around the foundation of my home. It did an admirable job of keeping ants and other crawling pests out of the home; and I only had to spray about once every six months. It also comes in a container with a pressure-pump handle, making application easy.
Homemade Substitute for Home Defense
As my goal was to go natural with all my gardening, I eventually moved away from Home Defense and made my own concoction.
There are probably other ways to do this, but I used a mixture of mint leaves and garlic, chopping them up in a spice grinder.
This went onto the stove to simmer. Then I added a small amount of cayenne pepper and some dishwashing liquid. Once it had sat overnight I put it in a spray bottle and used it in place of the Home Defense.
Vinegar, like a number of other strong-smelling herbs and foods, is a natural insect repellant. Simply mix white vinegar and water together in equal parts. Put in a spray bottle and soak the ground around any ant hills you can find. This will encourage these industrious little insects to vacate the premises and look for greener pastures elsewhere. They can’t stand the scent of vinegar.
Vinegar & Tea Tree Oil
You can improve on that ant repellant by adding a few drops of tea tree oil. This amazing essential oil is useful for a lot of things and has a very pleasant aroma. At least it’s pleasant to us, even if the ants don’t like it.
Ants don’t like lemon any better than they do vinegar; but at least it makes your kitchen smell nice.
Spraying a few drops of lemon juice into cracks and holes which ants use to gain access to your kitchen is just about as effective a road block as you can ask for. The ants will turn tail, looking for somewhere else to go.
Related: What Happens If You Put Lemons In Your Socks
Mint is another fragrance that ants abhor; any kind of mint. It’s also an excellent ground cover for your property. Planting mint around the foundation of your home makes a very effective barrier against ants, as they won’t want to go near it, even to get into your home.
You can also use the mint in cooking, getting double use out of it.
Salt is another thing that ants avoid. While they will make a beeline for sugar, they will do everything they can to avoid salt. That’s why you never find ants in a bag of potato chips or other salty snacks.
Spilling salt around known ant entrances into your home will keep these pests at bay, at least until they can find another way in. But you can be sure that they won’t bother with that entrance. It’s also safe for small children and pets, either of which are likely to eat anything they can find on the floor.
Related: How to Stop Migraines with Salt
Cayenne pepper is not only good for keeping ants at bay, but it’s a pretty good general insect repellent as well.
Most insects don’t like the smell of cayenne pepper and will steer clear of it, much like they do with mint.
Pouring ground cayenne pepper into an ant hole can also be a great way of giving the ants an eviction notice and forcing them to decide that it’s time to move.
While ants may eat things made out of flour, they won’t bother with plain flour, especially if a line of it is spilled along the back of a cabinet or counter, where they normally gain access to your kitchen. The ants won’t cross the line of flour.
Borax & Sugar Ant Killer
Borax is an effective ant killer; you know, the “20 Mule Team Borax” used to help whiten clothes. You can also find borax for sale in the garden department, as it is useful against a wide range of insects; killing them.
To use borax, mix three parts of sugar with one part of borax. The ants won’t eat the borax alone; but will eat the sugar, which makes an effective bait. Since the two are mixed together, that means they’ll be eating some of the borax as well, which will kill them.
Like borax, diatomaceous earth will also kill ants and other insects. It has tiny sharp edges, which scrape away the coating from their exoskeleton, messing up their ability to breathe.
While it won’t hurt humans or most animals, it is deadly to almost all kinds of insects.
Try to buy “food grade” diatomaceous earth, or at least some that is stated as being safe for humans and animals. That way, you won’t have to worry about it harming your pets, should they get into it.
Believe it or not, simple chalk, like the kind used for writing on the blackboard or that kids use for drawing on the sidewalk will keep ants at bay. Draw a heavy line of chalk around entryways and other places that you don’t want ants to cross. They’ll stop at the barrier and won’t cross it.
Powdered chalk dust works just as well and can also be sprinkled in the garden to keep ants out of there, as well as keeping slugs out. It’s actually the calcium carbonate in the chalk, which repels the ants.
You can kill ants in their holes by a number of different means. One is to pour boiling hot water into the hole.
To do this, it helps to use a flower pot, centering the drain hole directly over the ant hole. As you pour the water into the pot, it acts as a funnel, directing the water where it needs to be.
This is not foolproof, as ant hills can go extremely deep and be extremely complex. However, chances are pretty good that you will greatly reduce the colony, at a minimum and may even force the survivors to move out.
Basically the same idea can be done with kerosene, as can be done with hot water. Some people have poured kerosene down the ant holes, then lit it on fire. This really doesn’t accomplish much after the first few seconds, as the flame doesn’t have enough oxygen to burn underground. Rather, the kerosene will evaporate and burn at the surface, as it rises.
This can be dangerous as well, so you want to use extreme caution and not do it near your home. Have water available, in case you need to put the fire out. Better yet, just use the hot water and forget about the kerosene.
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To kill ants in their habitat is counterproductive because our Creator created ants for a reason.
I had ants invading my kitchen…they found some crushed walnuts I was storing in a cup…I decided to let them have their way with the walnuts, which was near there nest/home. When the scouts would stray from that location I would intercept the scouts, tell them that they can have the walnuts but that was it. The”infestation” went on for months and occasionally they would try to infiltrate to other parts of my kitchen…I would enforce my rules and everything seemed to be working. The colony actually had a second generation appear (smaller ants) and they worked so hard but never went beyond our agreement. Nearly a year later they (the ants) packed up and moved on! I never had to use pesticides or poisons to get rid of the ants, they just decided to go to a different source…probably my neighbors downstairs.
Our kitchens are not their habitat!
Just make certain that your home wasn’t built on top of THEIR habitat.
I suppose fleas and mosquitos also have a purpose for being on earth. Perhaps it is to lessen the impact of humans by spreading typhus, yellow fever and malaria which kills significant numbers of people every year and leaves others seriously debilitated.
Some folks think it would be good if the population of humans on earth were significantly reduced. When I suggest that they show us the way by leading off on population control by eliminating themselves and all of their relatives somehow they take umbrage at the suggestion.
Of course fleas and skitters have a reason to exist. They spread diseases and fatten bats.
i Like, OLE!
Would you want a bear living in your house?
Using that logic we should kill nothing.
That would of course mean no meat or vegetables until they died of natural causes.
The next time you get a nasty infection, you should not take Antibiotics (literally Against Life) and see if the infection goes away on its own.
That same creator gave us brains large enough to solve problems, including dealing with pests like ant.
AND… God gave Man dominion over ALL the creatures, to do with as their intelligence, also God given, dictated!!!
And, the first Law in animal rights, you shall not cook a lamb in its mother’s milk. This insults the animals, which belong to God, not to us. Nope, not a tree hugger, but last time I had to leave Arizona I darn near stopped when coming home to kiss the earth in gratitude. And, you do not cut down a food-bearing tree. You do not kill predators just to get rid of them. No ravens, rattlesnakes and so on have a population boom. No wolves, coyotes thrive, and Coyote was a curse to humanity long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. niio, walk in beauty
Our creator also created leprosy…
When did he do that? Study some biology and you’ll find diseases tend to contact different things and take knowledge, I guess you could say, from each other. Viral infections can contact bacterial. It goes downhill from there. Apparently, it was people who created leprosy, the black plague, pox and so on, by spreading fairly harmless germs into new areas. Viking brought the black plague to Europe from Asia. why weren’t they killed by it, as well? Syphilis is common in the Americas, yet few Native Americans fall prey to it. God didn’t create evil, humanity did and humanity promotes it. The saying goes, since Cain killed Abel, the devil has only been a student of mankind. niio
Red, You impress me. You have a wide vocabulary and knowledge. You’re making me work overtime to keep up to you, LOL. My Respects…
Researching got many results but 2 stood out to me.
First one from JW.ORG
Second one from an article published today Surging Homeless Population in Los Angeles Could Spark Increase in Leprosy by Jim Hayek Sept 9 2019.
I do not know why I found your quote offensive and was shocked “When did he do that ?” probably I was tired. But I read it again with a clear mind. Did God create leprosy as Vocalpatriot stated ? Did he use it as a curse ?
To threaten or pronounce evil on someone or something. It is not to be confused with profanity or with violent anger. A curse is often a formal declaration of a pronouncement or prediction of evil, and when made by God or by an authorized person, it has a prophetic value and force.
As a Sign.
One of the signs Jehovah empowered Moses to perform to prove to the Israelites that God had sent him involved leprosy. As instructed, Moses stuck his hand in the upper fold of his garment, and upon his withdrawing it, “his hand was stricken with leprosy like snow!” It was restored “like the rest of his flesh” by his returning it into the upper fold of his garment and withdrawing it once again. (Ex 4:6, 7) Miriam was stricken with “leprosy as white as snow” as a divine act because she spoke against Moses. He begged God to heal her, which was done, but she was quarantined outside the camp for seven days.—Nu 12:1, 2, 9-15.
Los Angeles / Leprosy link
Sorry for offending you, but no, God did not create anything bad, and we’re told that. All things were created for our good. It was after the fall of man that things decayed and grew perverted, the Law of Thermodynamics. On leprosy, no, God did not create it. It changed. But, God provided a cure by way of a Jesuit priest on Maui in the 19th century. One of the southwest’s funnies animals is the armadillo. The armadillo carries the disease, but no one was ever recorded as getting leprosy from them. When God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, did he stand on a could and zap them with a lightning bolt? Science says no. a comet come in at low trajectory destroyed the cities, and the comet was recorded by a number of civilizations. The Jordan standing up so the Hebrews could cross into the holy land, was it magic? Or an earthquake God provided. Water has been observe often enough to act like that. Look at what Native Americans in Washington say the last time the Straights rattled. “Water stood up like mountains and crashed on the land.”
I wonder, how many people carry leprosy and never know it? Most cases are barely more than a rash. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy I’m not going to worry over it. We have too much else threatening us. The plague is far more likely to devastate our cities than leprosy. You have Penn State to thank for new types of it. Typhoid fever is water-borne, and water-borne plagues are a horror.
The word miracle means a sight to behold, not magic. God uses what is there and rarely has to ‘force’ something. Healing is a force, to take away illness, and I’ve had it happen. The list is endless, but what it comes down to is the world is corrupt and getting worse, not better. If we choose, God will stand back and allow tings to happen, but in the end, it is always for our good. We may not see it at the time, or ever understand things, but in the long run it’s meant for our good. Miriam was punished for her evil, and she was being evil in her jealousy. What happened to her was nothing compared to Moses taking up the sword against the backstabbers.
Yeah, I have family in East LA and try to follow what’s happening in lala land. What it sounds like is more terrorism to force up taxes, a hit piece. The poor get their 20% and wealthy politicians hog the rest. These plagues are always endemic among drug abusers and so on. The poorest are always the first victims and the politicians run. niio
Robot Ant’s! Robot Ant’s!
Cotton-Picking Picnic Ant’s
With a Chew Chew Chomp Chomp and a Cha Cha Cha
We’re the Ant’s in Your Pants
1,2,3,4 – 1,2,3,4
i Like, OLE!
I spent most of the last 9 years living in a Motorhome frequently parked on the street and was plagued with infestation of tiny ants. One product I found that killed them was spraying them with a generic version of the
old Listerine Mouthwash. I kept it in a spray mister and sprayed it directly on them. I would intentionally leave containers of water packing from tuna fish or canned salmon to bait them. This also had a benefit in being able to spray wasps & other flying insects approaching my window screens. It at least angered & repelled them
Most likely due to the eucalyptus oil and alcohol content of Listerine.
Cornstarch is good too because the ants et it and take it back to their nest where other ants eat it and it swells them up inside and kills them.
I have been using cornmeal in the garden to deter ants. I am told they take it to the nest eat it…swell up and die.
Yes, that’s what I meant to say, cornmeal. Oops.
You can also use a soda, something like regular 7-Up in a very shallow container inside or pour around an ant hole outside. The carbonation gets the ants every time.
Tea tree oil can be harmful to pets. Use caution.
I had ants getting into my kitchen thru a crack between the kitchen sink and counter top. The landlord had somebody come over and caulk the crack. It worked but they found another crack to enter. I have been using Bay leaves for a half dozen years to keep spiders out of my cupboards. I got tired of finding spiders in my sink and all of a sudden dangling in my face. I put about 4 or 5 leaves on each shelf in the cupboards. No more spiders. I figured if they kept the spiders out of my cupboards and sink that maybe they would get rid of the ants. I put some leaves in the crack and haven’t had any more ants in the kitchen. The leaves will last several years before you have to replace them.
Another great article!! Could you please give me some help with mice in the house? Anything you can assist me with would be VERY MUCH APPRECIATED. Keep up the good work and thank you!
I lived in an old farm house years ago and had no trouble with mice because I keep cats, but one summer the garage just filled up with mice and I finally discovered that one of the cats was catching mice outdoors and bringing them into the garage to play chase. Grrr…
We had a mouse problem because, like you, we had a cat that brought them in the house to play with, got bored and walked away. We rescued a Dachshund who has proceeded to kill every mouse the cat brings in.
My ex had a half-dozen cats in the house and a rat problem. It was bad enough when the stepdaughter came from from the city to visit, when she put the babies down for a nap, rats chewed the nipples off their bottles. I took the dachshund down and within a few days no more rats. For that matter, she was missing a few cats…niio
Our 16 yo male cat taught the Dachshund real quick to not pick on the cats. He was only 9 lbs but he flipped the dog over and was going for his throat when my husband grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and told him he wasn’t allowed to kill the dog. The dog was good around the cats after that.
Psycho Susie, who owned any dog that dared come in her house made live a living hell for a police-trained German Shepherd, a niece’s rottie, killed tom cats, and so on. Then she met the dachshund. She attacked, he was too fast for her. She tried from cover, from the backs of furniture, from the sink and stove. He was playing, she wasn’t. He was used to bouncing over meadow voles, which are lightning, and rats, and large dogs. Any time she got aggressive (to him, playtime), he went after her. Eventually, she quit attacking the Shepherd and late made friends with both. Later, when my stepdaughter brought a 30# alley cat, tamed by not, from Brooklyn (named Arkon, for the mass-murderer) all 3 made him behave. The dachy was playing Roman games and that she was so fast only made it more fun. Once, my stepson tried to smack the dachy for messing in the hall (the dog wanted to go out to go visiting), he got bit 3 times thru one hand–like putting my hand thru a sewing machine, and this was right after he came home from Iraq. The dog was named for him, BTW, love of war, friendly, gentle, loves to hunt, takes no BS, messy feeder.
!? subject went from Ants to Wienie Dog LOL at had to read other comments to see where it went astray.. perhaps Aunts typo !?
At a party a friend of mine owned a wienie dog, never had much respect for those, what can it do ? on the other side of the fence lives a rottweiler. wienie kept digging at the fence soon enough he dug a hole and all you could see was the snout and teeth of the rottweiler. covered hole and again wienie dog dug it up. we just let it be continued drinking and eating when we heard blood curdling screech and saw wienie being a rag doll blood flying everywhere. Talk about a Buzz kill and sobering up Pronto…weenie’s owner was screaming wailing. separated the dogs covered it up with towels and rushed to emergency room (almost, but animal hospital) I was starting to feel bad for the little guy. Doctor says there’s nothing wrong with him, who’s blood is this ? We had this dumb look on our face. so happens that little guy ain’t a Weenie. Doctor told us they were bred to pull out them mean ‘ol badgers. Yep, rottweiler thought he was bad. Yes the little guy was being tossed around like a rag dog, only because he had a firm grip of the rottweilers nose, ripped it off and barely hanging on by skin. My new found respect on the little guy. I ended up liking the furry ones, they cute.
” You don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don’t mess around with The Dachshund”
i Like, OLE!
OLE! When the stepkids were small, a neighbor owned a pair of breeding rotties police trained. His kids thought it was funny when they took the dog out on a leash and sicked it on people. They held onto the leash, of course. Their dad is deaf and did not know what they did. We had a little hairy female dachy, and she wasn’t much bigger than my hand at the time. Because 5-year-old stepdaughter beat the dailights out of their 8-year-old son, they tried it with her, but I was with her. The rottie came after me and the dachy runs screaming out of the brush acting like a sewing machine on steroids. Scared the dog so bad he tried to get away, then lunged at me. She ripped off part of his lip almost to the eye and then he ran. The dad comes over later claiming I sicked the dachy on his kids. Nope, we sat down, had a beer, and talked. He nodded and went down the road to talk to people who lived near the woods. a while later there was a very sweet music coming from his house, “Dad, no! Ow, please dad don’t it hurts, please!” Half the village came out to drink a few on their front porches and listen and smile. We’ve had dachys for generations because they’re excellent hunters. Females are best because they’ll learn fast and obey the boss. Males are the boss 🙂 niio
2 cats in the house and half a dozen outside and we have no mouse problem and also no squirrel or chipmunk problem.
An occasional field mouse gets into the house and one of the cats plays with it until it stops moving at which point it is dumped outside to feed some animal during the night.
Living on a rural homestead we often see ants in the bath or kitchen and use a Borax & Sugar Ant Killer a bit different and I suspect more effective than the one you list.
½ Cup Sugar
1 ½ Tbsp Borax
1 ½ Cup warm water
You can scale down the recipe for a smaller amount.
Place in a container out of the way of pets and spill a little over the edge of the container onto the floor or countertop to attract the ants.
You will soon see the container completely covered with ants, as they all com out to feed; but, within a day or so as they drag the mixture back to the nest, they will simply all disappear.
Depending on how many and the size of the ants we’ve used everything from a tuna can to a bottle cap for the container.
We had some tiny ”grease” ants a few weeks ago on the kitchen counter and a bottle cap with this mixture made them all go away within a few days.
At some point I read that if it were to become one on one , every human on earth would have to fight 5 million ants. I don’t like those odds ,especially if I were in the south where fire ants have a lock on painful bites.
While I have imported fire ants they’re not much of a problem. Horn toads live on them. The black ones, yes. While not as aggressive, numbers can build up to where they’ll dig up ever seed in the garden and steal it. For them, one tablespoon borax, 3 tablespoons sugar. The next generation will be very small. Ants like cornmeal and corn four but can’t digest it. They eat it dry and then get a drink and pop open. On occasion it take 3 treatments to wipe out a next, but it works. Niio
Fire ants are everywhere my friend. Not just the South.
What about how to get rid of mosquitoes, fleas, flies naturally as well. Thanks
In the past, we used ground up oatmeal to keep ants out of the house. We found their entry point and sprinkled some there. Their skeleton is on the outside so when they ate the oatmeal their digestive juices mixed with the oatmeal and expanded in their stomach. Because they don’t stretch it killed them. It is also kid and pet safe to use around the house.
avena + hormigas = Muerte !
oatmeal + ants = Death !
well, there you go… natural stuff will kill ya LOL
That’s something good to know, thanks. I use corn flour, which is less expensive and does the trick. We get ant nests that rival anything tropical. One red ant nest had an entrance big enough to put my fist in (were I stupid 🙂 It had three other openings. After using the cornflour, the next generation came on, but the bigger ants were foraging, meaning the younger ones had died. More cornflour, then a week later, topped the nest with borax and sugar, 1-3 mix, 1/3 cup for a big nest. I got rid of a lot of nests, but the horny toads wiped out one red ant nest and are working on the last one. Like I was told when I was a kid, that’s Arizona, if it ain’t got horns, thorns, or fangs, it’s poison. Hey, it’s home 🙂 niio
Thank you. We will try the borax mix. The oatmeal keeps ants out of the house, but we have been looking for something to use outside. We have a butterfly garden and our plot is riddled with ant nests. Hard to weed the garden and fight off the ants at the same time! Can’t use the oatmeal because it rains here, Thanks again, Red.
Lemon peelings might be safer. Borax can become toxic and kill plants. Putting the oatmeal under a bowl would help, too, to keep it dry. niio