Want to take care of your little ant problem without “taking care” of the insects for good? We don’t blame you! After all, ants aren’t nearly as offensive as many other varieties of pests whose bites and stings can spread disease (e.g., mosquitoes, ticks).
In fact, ants are actually quite helpful when you think about it. Their tunnels aerate soil, allowing water and vital nutrients to reach plant roots. Ants also distribute seeds and feed on fly, flea, roach and bed bug eggs, which means they prevent you from having to deal with even more annoying pests.
Following are some simple, natural ways to send ants packing without having to hire an exterminator or resort to potentially dangerous pesticides. You probably even have most of the necessary ingredients lying around your home!
Ants have poor eyesight. So, instead, of relying on their vision to guide them to a food source and back to their homes, they release pheromones. Lucky for you, vinegar disrupts the scent of those pheromones. Simply mix equal parts white vinegar and water and spray the solution wherever ants can enter your home (e.g., door thresholds, windowsills). You can also use the mixture to clean your counters and floors.
2. Lemon juice
The citric acid found in lemon juice also interferes with an ant’s ability to sense its pheromone trail. Just spray pure lemon juice around visible ant trails and all areas in which the bugs can enter your home. Also use lemon juice to wipe down your counters and other surfaces near food sources.
There’s one more delicious citrus fruit that can help you rid your home and garden of ants! Add a few orange peels and a cup of warm water to your blender and puree the mixture until it’s smooth. Then pour the solution over any visible anthills to let the bugs know they are no longer welcome on your turf.
This powdery substance isn’t just for baking. It’s also very useful in discouraging ants from invading your home. To keep the bugs at bay, sprinkle the flour in lines along the backs of your pantry shelves and in any other potential entry points in your house.
5. Herbs and spices
Your spice rack may be home to several ant deterrents. Herbs and spices, such as crushed bay leaves, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon and ground cloves are wonderful aids when warding off ants. Sprinkle a small amount of your preferred seasoning in a line in front of each entry point of your abode.
6. Essential oils
Because ants are sensitive to strong smells, essential oils make a great (and fragrant!) repellent. Popular choices include cinnamon oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and the essential oil of your choice and spray down floors, doors, windowsills and counters. You can also dip the tip of a cotton swab into the mixture and use it to draw a boundary line across each entrance into your home.
7. Coffee grounds
Put your coffee habit to good use! Instead of tossing your grounds into the trash, use them to line the perimeter of your home. Unlike most humans, ants are repelled by coffee and will not cross over your caffeinated barrier.
Some ants are also deterred by the calcium carbonate in chalk, which is composed of ground-up shells of marine animals. So, grab a piece of white chalk and use it to draw lines in front of all the entrances to your home. Although we can’t guarantee that this method will repel the insects, it’s simple, affordable and definitely worth trying!