We know how to get rid of ants naturally because we’ve been doing it now for years! We’ll show you how to make and use homemade ant bait, diatomaceous earth, and more.
I take pride in my advanced detective skills, and I apply them to almost everything including figuring out who ate a sticky snack on the couch, busting the person who wore muddy shoes into the house, and most importantly, identifying the entry point of an army of ants invading our house!
When the ants invaded, I figured out how to get rid of ants naturally, of course, and here’s how we did it!
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally
Having ants everywhere outdoors doesn’t bother me – it’s when I see them trailing along the kitchen countertops that I spring into action. Therefore, the past two spring/summer seasons we have successfully rid our house of two different types of ants and decided it was time to show you how to get rid of ants naturally!
When learning how to get rid of ants naturally, detective work is an integral part of eradicating them, but there’s actually much more to it. Furthermore, finding the most effective treatment for ants depends on the specific type you have invading your house. This is because each species has different behaviors, preferences in food, and remedies that will be effective in keeping them out of your home.
Some ants are specific to the region, so we only have experience dealing with certain types. So in this article, we’ll cover remedies for odorous house ants and carpenter ants. In addition, read the end of the article for tips that may work on other species.
Odorous House Ants
You will find these ants anywhere you have sweets laying around.
Odorous house ants will leave a chemical pheromone trail wherever they travel. If you kill them, other ants will simply follow the trail and show up in the same places. For this reason, kill the entire colony.
When you see the first few ants, you can sponge them (and the surrounding area) with soapy water to eliminate the pheromone trail. Immediately work to figure out where they’re getting into your house, and begin placing homemade ant bait at the entry points.
How to Get Rid of House Ants
Homemade Ant Bait
Borax will kill odorous house ants, and powdered sugar will attract them.
Make a homemade ant bait by thoroughly mixing one part borax with 3 parts powdered sugar.
Fill tiny containers (such as bottle caps) with this homemade ant bait and place them as close to the place where you suspect ants are entering your house. If you see trails of ants, place small containers of the mixture directly in their path. This prevents most of them from traveling all around your house if they have easy access to this sugary treat.
(Have pets or kids who might get into this powdery mixture? Try this instead: mix one cup warm water with ½ cup sugar and 3 tablespoons borax. Soak it up with cotton balls and place them in shallow dishes near ant trails.)
Resist the urge to kill all the ants you see. They will carry the bait back to the nest, unable to differentiate between the borax and sugar, and the borax particles will eventually kill the entire colony. The more homemade ant bait carried back to the colony, the fewer ants you will have.
More Tips for House Ants
Spray vinegar near baseboards, in any cracks, and on countertops where they may be traveling. You can allow the vinegar to dry on surfaces or wipe with a clean cloth – this eliminates their chemical trail and will deter some of the stragglers. Repeat several times a day. (find white vinegar here)
Practicing good sanitation practices is one of the best ways to make your home less attractive to ants. Keep spills, crumbs, and garbage cleaned up in the kitchen. Be sure to store all food – especially sweets – in tightly sealed containers or zip-top bags. They will get into things like jars of honey that have drips on the side or around the lid, so sealing the jar in a zip-top bag will protect it.
The ants will choose more desirable bait (like spilled soda or cookie crumbs) over this natural bait, so learning how to get rid of ants naturally means keeping your place clean!
You will find Carpenter ants around homes in wooded areas. They don’t carry the homemade ant bait back to their nests, so you have to kill them at the source. This means you have to do a little detective work to find the nest(s). Don’t bother using the borax/sugar bait – they’ll just feed on it like little piggies at a trough.
They will typically live outdoors very close to the house, and eventually, enter your house in search of food and water.
How to Find the Carpenter Ants Nest
Carpenter ants live in wood and tunnel through it. The best clue to look for is small piles of very fine sawdust – the remains of the wood they have chewed through. You will typically find carpenter ant nests in moist wood in foundations, decks, woodpiles near your house, trees, gaps between boards, etc.
If you take some time to figure out where ants are entering the house, you can usually track them back to a nest. It’s easiest if you kill all the ants in sight, then watch for new ants to appear to determine their general entry point. This may give clues to holes that need to be sealed up, rotting foundation where they’re living, or cracks under doors they’re traveling under.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Naturally
The best natural remedy we have found for eradicating carpenter ants is Diatomaceous Earth (DE). DE is completely natural and organic. It is made from tiny skeletal remains of algae-like plants.
DE is a lethal dust for insects. Its microscopic razor sharp edges will cut through the body of insects, drying them out and killing them. If ingested by carpenter ants, it will shred their insides. There are different types of DE, so keep in mind you must get food grade DE for pest control. (You do not want the DE that is sold for swimming pools – it has a different make-up.)
Food grade DE is completely safe to be used around kids and pets and can be sprinkled around the home and yard without posing a threat. Find food grade Diatomaceous Earth here.
In order to get rid of a colony of carpenter ants, DE must be injected directly into the nest. We used a medicine dropper to squirt dry DE into cracks where we found them nesting. You can also use a bulb duster gadget to spray it into cracks or holes. And remember, DE must be reapplied after it rains.
You can also mix the Diatomaceous Earth powder with water and apply using a spray bottle (either a small bottle or the pump action yard sprayers). Simply mix 2 Tbsp of powder per quart of water and spray wherever you have ant problems.
The best advice I can give to get the most out of your DE treatments is to stay on top of it! This pesky ant species may relocate their nests and find new ways into your house. If you see a resurgence, put your detective hat back on and find that nest.
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally: Other Tips
Here are some remedies DIY Natural readers (thanks Y’all!) have used to treat ant problems:
- Some ants like protein and grease. Mix a spoonful of peanut butter with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of borax. Using a plastic straw, tap the end into the mixture repeatedly until the straw is full of the mixture. Cut the straw into ½ inch pieces and place them next to ant trails.
- Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and place in areas ants are crawling around. (find 100% pure essential oils here)
- Sprinkle cinnamon (being careful not to get it on things that will stain) near entry points.
- Some ants dislike baby powder. Sprinkle around the perimeter of the house or indoors where ants are entering your house.
- Rub a little Vaseline near the areas they are entering the house.
Note: we also have a great article on how to get rid of aphids naturally.
(photo credit to Diane Jabs)