When you open your kitchen cupboards and see a swarm of ants crawling around your spilled sugar, it can be tempting to reach for strong chemicals to get rid of them as quickly as possible. But pesticides are dangerous to people, pets and other harmless critters that you have around your home. The good news is that there are so many effective ways to kill ants without pesticides that there is no need to use chemicals at all. Go to Step 1 to learn how to make ant spray and ant traps, how to remove an entire nest, and how to prevent ants from entering your home, all without pesticides.
Method 1 of 4: Using Natural Insecticides
Step 1. Use dish soap and water
Fill a bottle with one part dishwashing liquid and two parts water, and shake well. If you see ants walking, spray the mixture on them. They suffocate immediately. Wipe up the dead ants with a wet cloth and keep the spray bottle handy for next time.
- If you place shallow dishes with soapy water you can also kill ants. Lure them there with a trail of something sweet.
- This method works well if you want to kill a group of ants, but you won't lose the entire nest. If the ants keep coming back, you may need to get to the root of the problem.
- Soapy water is a natural insecticide that kills most insects, not just ants. Try it with cockroaches too.
Step 2. Try white vinegar and water
Ants hate vinegar, and you can make a cheap pesticide from vinegar and water. Mix 1 part vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray it directly on the ants to kill them, then wipe up the corpses with a damp paper towel and throw them away.
- You can also use vinegar with water to deter the ants; spray it around your window frames, doorways, and other places you see them coming in.
- Some people use this vinegar solution to clean floors, windows and countertops so that ants are less likely to crawl over them. White vinegar is a great cleaning agent, and you won't smell it once it dries.
Step 3. Make a solution with lemon
If you can't stand the smell of vinegar, spray lemon juice on the ants. They hate the citric acid, so you can also use this as a deterrent if you spray it around your house. Mix 1 part lemon juice with 3 parts water and use it anywhere you want.
Step 4. Sprinkle kieselguhr in the house
Kieselguhr is a very effective insecticide that is the least harmful to humans or pets. It consists of skeletons of single-celled diatoms or diatoms, ground into powder. When insects walk on the powder, their outer skeleton is damaged by the abrasion, causing their bodies to dry out. Sprinkle the powder along baseboards, window frames, and around your home to kill ants.
- Put on a mask or hold a cloth in front of your face when working with kieselguhr. The powder isn't harmful if you ingest it, but the small particles aren't good for your lungs if you inhale it.
- Kieselguhr will no longer work if it gets wet or if the air is humid. It will recover when it dries, so if your house is too humid, use a dehumidifier.
Step 5. Use boric acid
This is completely natural and works very well against ants. If they eat boric acid, they poison their stomachs and die. Boric acid also damages the external skeleton, as does kieselguhr. You buy it as a white or blue powder that you have to sprinkle on places where there are many ants.
- Boric acid is not a toxic pesticide, but it should not be eaten by humans or pets. Do not use it in places where your children or pets play. Also, don't use it near food, such as in your kitchen cupboards.
- Boric acid is not toxic to beneficial insects, birds, reptiles or fish.
Method 2 of 4: Setting traps
Step 1. Make a trap of boric acid and sugar
This is easy to make, cheap and very effective. All you need is a few pieces of cardboard, a bottle of syrup and boric acid. Here's how to make the trap:
- Mix 2 tablespoons of syrup with 2 tablespoons of boric acid in a bowl.
- Make sure it becomes a paste, sticky and not too thin. Add more boric acid if it is too wet.
- Spread the mixture over a piece of cardboard with a spoon. Every piece of cardboard becomes a trap.
Step 2. Place the traps in places where you see ants
If they like to walk in your bathroom, put one there. Place one under the counter and one on your patio. Put them wherever there are many ants.
- Because the traps contain boric acid, you should not put them in your kitchen cupboards or with food.
- You can also set traps outside. Put them in flower beds or near the garbage can.
- The sweetness can also attract other creatures, such as your child or your dog. Make sure they can't get to it.
Step 3. Wait for the trap to attract ants
If you have an infestation, it won't be long before the trap is full of ants crawling up the cardboard in search of sweets and eating the boric acid candies. They won't die right away, but if the poison gets into their stomachs, they will. Meanwhile, they also bring it to their nest, which poisons their fellow ants as well.
- If you see ants going in and out of the trap, just let them do their thing. If you kill them right away, they won't take it back to their nest.
- This method won't wipe out the entire nest, but it will drastically reduce the population in and around your home.
Step 4. Replace the traps when the syrup dries
After a few days you may need to make new traps. Mix another fresh portion of ant poison, spread it on cardboard and set the traps.
Step 5. Keep using these traps until no more ants come at them
After a week or two, fewer ants come to the traps. If you find dead ants around your house and they don't walk into your house anymore, the job is done.
Step 6. Use cornmeal with boric acid to kill the larvae
Worker ants eat liquids, not solid food, but they will carry grains of cornmeal back to their nests. They give it to the larvae, who digest it into a liquid and give it back for the worker ants to eat. In this way, the boric acid works to kill several generations.
- Be sure to set out bowls of boric acid cornmeal that are low enough for the ants to climb in and out.
- You can also make a dry paste with cornmeal, boric acid and a few drops of water. Spread the paste on places where you see a lot of ants.
Method 3 of 4: Eradicate an entire nest
Step 1. Follow the ants to the nest
If, despite all the traps and sprays, ants still come into your home, you may need to tackle the source: the nest. If you see a line of ants marching in, follow them back as far as you can until you get to the ant nest. Depending on the species you are dealing with, it could be underground, between rocks or in your house.
- the garden ant is the best known species. The name 'garden ant' is a collective term for road ants, tree ants, shiny carpenter ants and shadow ants. The garden ant is black in color and between 3 mm and 4 mm long. The ants have wings but don't fly much. Garden ants eat insects and sweets. They mainly live in outdoor environments. The shiny carpenter ant often has its nest in rotting wood, underground.
- The black seed ant. The black seed ant is about 2 to 3 mm long. The shape of the body is striking about the black seed ant: it seems as if all kinds of buttons have been applied in the ant's body from head to butt. Black seed ants are exceptionally found in buildings. They do occasionally nest under buildings. The nests can grow into massive ant colonies with up to 80,000 workers. The black seed ant eats insects, plants and fats and can sting and bite.
- the pharaoh ant. The pharaoh ant is a small ant species whose workers are only 2 to 3 mm long. Pharaoh ants love warmth and like to build their nests near indoor heat sources. Pharaoh ants eat everything but prefer cold cuts.
- The common sting ant Common ants are reddish brown and have a dark head and abdomen. The workers are about 3.5 to 5 mm long. Common sting ants live in moist places in meadows, fields and forests. They are rarely found indoors. Common stinging ants can bite fiercely.
Step 2. Prepare a kettle of boiling water
Fill a large kettle halfway with water. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, get the kettle to the nest as quickly as possible.
Step 3. Pour the water over the nest
Try to pour the water into every entrance you see. The boiling water can kill hundreds of ants, and it also causes the nest to collapse. If the nest is very large, you may need to put in more than one cauldron.
- If the nest you are dealing with is indoors, the boiling water may cause damage. Please use soapy water instead. You can also put on a pair of rubber gloves and scoop the entire nest into a bucket, then pour boiling water over it.
- If you're dealing with sting ants, wear long sleeves and long pants that you tuck into your socks. The ants will certainly get very angry, and may crawl into your clothes.
Step 4. After a few days, look at the nest again
If the boiling water has been effective, the ant infestation should be over. If you see a small line of ants coming back, pour boiling water over the nest again. Sometimes you have to pour more than once to kill all the ants.
- If the boiling water doesn't seem to work, take a stick and stick it in the nest. Wiggle it back and forth until you have a big crater. Fill the crater with baking soda and pour vinegar over it.
- If you're dealing with stinging ants, you can also scoop out the entire nest. Put your pants in your socks for protection, take a shovel and scoop the entire anthill into a large bucket that you've sprinkled with baking soda so the ants can't climb out. Keep going until the entire nest is scooped out. Then pour boiling water or vinegar into the bucket.
Step 5. Close the entrances if you can't get to the nest
Sometimes it's hard to get to the whole nest, but usually you'll find an entrance. You can pour water into the entrance, but often plugging the hole is just as effective. Put sand or stones in it, and sprinkle some boric acid around the spot. The ants will then probably make their nest somewhere else.
Method 4 of 4: Natural Deterrents
Step 1. Make a line that ants cannot cross
There are several natural remedies that ants hate so much that they don't want to get over them. Using one of these substances to draw a line along your window frames, or in certain areas in and around your home, can help keep the ants out of there. Change the line every few days, because if the line is broken, the ants will go through it. Here are some resources that can work for that:
- cayenne pepper
- Grated orange and lemon zest.
- coffee grounds
Step 2. Squeeze lemon juice around the edges outdoors
This will prevent your house from getting sticky indoors, but the ants will be deterred by the strong citrus scent. You can also make a solution of half lemon juice and half water.
Step 3. Use essential oil to keep the ants at bay
They hate the smell of different types of essential oils, which actually smell nice to people. Put 10 drops of essential oil in 250 ml of water, and spray the solution both indoors and outdoors to keep ants away. Here are types of oil you can try:
- lemon oil
- Peppermint oil
- Eucalyptus oil (Don't use this if you have a cat! It's toxic to cats, not to dogs)
- lavender oil
- Cedar oil
Step 4. Keep everything clean so that ants don't want to get in
During the spring, most ants want to come in, so be sure to keep floors, countertops, and cabinets spotless. This really helps to keep ants out. If they don't smell food, they won't want to enter your house.
- Keep storage containers tightly closed. This is especially important for sugar, honey, syrup and other things that ants like to eat.
- Clean up immediately if you spill anything, especially fruit juice or syrup.
Step 5. Seal any cracks to keep them out
If ants can't get in easily, they're more likely to stay out. Find all the cracks and holes where they can get in, such as under the door, along window frames, and through other cracks. Fill the cracks with sealant or other insulating material to keep your house sealed. Squirt lavender oil or lemon water around it just to be sure.
- Always check doorways and windowsills; one ant can quickly lead to thousands of ants. Ants leave an invisible scent trail that can only be smelled by other ants. So use cleaning agents specifically aimed at ants to remove this trail.
- You can squeeze some lemon juice into a pan of boiling water and pour it over the anthill.
- Ants don't like peppermint toothpaste. Put this on places where you see them, and you will see them disappear.
- If you can't bring yourself to kill the ants, leave a jar of honey in a tree in the garden at the beginning of summer. The ants will then happily leave your kitchen alone.
- The best way to keep ants out is to keep your house clean. Wipe countertops regularly and don't leave any crumbs.
- Make a mixture of dish soap, vinegar and other cleaning agents and spray it on the ants. Always works!
- Arm yourself with tape. If you see an ant, put a piece of tape on it and crush it underneath. The ant body is then stuck to the tape, so you can easily clean it up. Repeat until the tape is no longer sticky.
- Crush ants with your fingers. Wash your hands well afterwards, because ants can smell.
- It is said that you can put up a barrier of lime or salt against ants, but many people think it doesn't work well.
- The ants will come back in time; so be prepared to have to repeat everything again.
- Keep ant traps and poisons away from children and pets. Place them where only ants can reach.
- Remember: ants are an important part of the food chain. So don't try to kill all the ants in your area, just the ants in your house.