Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Ants bringing ruination to picnics the world over. They aren’t necessarily harmful, but if they get into your house, they become an unsightly, unsanitary problem that can be difficult to tackle.
Left untreated, they can end up infesting your home in a wide scale epidemic, leaving you desperate to find out how to get rid of ants.
Because ants are colonial creatures, seeing one ant means there are probably many, many more close by. As soon as we see an ant crawling through our house, we’ll want to take action immediately because it’s likely a “scout” and the first sign of an infestation.
Once we figure out the type of ant, we can find a natural, at-home solution for the problem.
How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen
The best way to keep your ants from infesting your home in the first place is with a heavy dose of prevention. Like any other creature, ants spend most of their time trying to survive. Environments conducive to their survival attract them. Figure out what they’re looking for, make sure you’re not offering it, and the infestation will happen at your neighbor’s house instead. In most cases, your kitchen will be the place that attracts the most ants.
Here are a few tips for how to prevent ants from infesting your home.
Tips for Prevention
1. Clean up spills: Ants love sticky, sweet substances so if you spill juice, chocolate , or soda, take care to clean it up well and immediately.
2. Cover food: Ants go the easy route: why work twice as hard for food when there’s so much food lying around? You want to make it difficult for ants to reach your food because if you do, they’ll look elsewhere. If you’re leaving food out for a prolonged period, take care to cover it.
3. Seal trash cans: Along the same lines as covering your food, make sure your trash cans are well sealed. If the food is hard to access, ants will find sustenance elsewhere.
4. Check for crumbs: Sometimes while you’re preparing dinner, you might drop crumbs which might then roll under appliances. Ants then come along to clean it up. Check (and clean) under appliances.
5. Monitor your pet's food bowl: Sometimes while you’re preparing dinner, you might drop crumbs which might then roll under appliances. Ants then come along to clean it up. Check (and clean) under appliances.
6. Seal up compost: If you have compost around the house, keep it sealed and covered.
How to get rid of ants:
For house ants, you can use a borax solution as a simple but highly effective way of pest control. Fill small containers, like bottle caps, with the solution and place them in locations where the ants are entering your home. If you have pets, use ½ cup sugar, three tablespoons borax and one cup of water instead to make a homemade ant killer. Use this mixture on cotton balls near ant trails to kill them. If you see the ants, do not kill them directly. Instead, let them bring the borax mixture back to the colony where it will kill the rest of the Sugar Ant Deterrent Recipe
1.1 Water (1 Part)
1.2 Vinegar (1 Part)
How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants:
To get rid of sugar ants, start by mopping the floor at least once a day. Mopping and vacuuming help to remove the ants’ pheromone trails. Cleaning and mopping will rid your home of the food and crumbs attract the ants. In the kitchen, clean dishes completely and empty the trash bin regularly.
For deterring sugar ants, sprinkle black pepper around the entry point to keep them from coming inside. A 1:1 ratio of water and white vinegar can also deter them. Spray this mixture on countertops (careful with granite), window sills, and high traffic areas.
Home Remedies for Ants
If you are worried about harmful pesticides or have a lot of pets, there are safe home remedies for ants that can treat an ant invasion. Depending on what you have in your cupboard, you can use make your own natural ant repellent or use one of these techniques.
Ants despise vinegar, meaning you can make an effective and inexpensive ant repellent right in your home. Blend white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Afterward, spray it anywhere you see insects entering your home and on their nests. If you have a serious ant problem, you can try using full-strength vinegar to get them to leave. The vinegar-and-water method works well as a pesticide as well as a deterrent. Spray it directly onto ants to kill them, or spray it at common points of entry to keep them from getting into your house.
2. Chalk or Flour
Have you ever noticed how ants tend to follow the same paths, even if they aren’t following another ant? While ants move around, they deposit pheromones. Other ants follow the scent of these pheromones, which is how they stay organized and find their way back to the nest time after time.
One way you can use pheromone trails to your advantage is with chalk. Chalk is made of calcium carbonate and interferes with an ant’s ability to follow the pheromone trail. Flour will accomplish the same result. entry to keep them from getting into your house.
3. Lemons and Oranges
Citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges, contain a compound called limonene. Limonene repels ants, so citrus fruits are excellent natural repellents. The work also really well to keep spiders away. Use some lemon or orange juice on the windowsills, holes, cracks and door thresholds where ants normally get in. Then scatter the lemon peels and slices outside entryways.
For an even better option, wash your floors with lemon juice of four lemons for every half gallon of water.
If you know where the colony is, blend orange peels and water in a blender until smooth and dump directly onto the colony.
4. Spices and Essential Oils
Many spices and oils found in nature give off scents as a means of warding off potential predators. While they don’t seem like predators, ants can do a lot of damage to plants, which is why these plants are equipped with pungent odors to keep ants (and other creatures) away.
Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, mint, chili pepper, peppermint oil and black pepper will all work. Most essential oils work also really well to get rid of stink bugs and yellow jackets. Sprinkle the pepper wherever you see ants, and they’ll scatter. When they scatter, they’ll likely make a beeline for wherever they’re entering your house, so follow them and use more pepper when you find the entrance.
Note: Please use caution while handling cayenne pepper, as it can irritate the skin and eyes if mishandled. If you have children or pets, you might consider avoiding the use of cayenne.
If you know where the ants have set up their colony, flower pots and hot boiling watercan be an effective way of dealing with an ant problem. Place a flower pot upside-down over the top of the ant colony.
Then, pour hot, soapy water through the flower pot’s drain hole. The soap will cling to their bodies and essentially cause them to drown. Whichever ants survive will abandon the colony and start over elsewhere.
If you add some coffee grounds to your flowerpots, not only will it fertilize your plants but also repel ants naturally.