How to Keep Your House Ants-Free Using Natural Solutions
How to Keep Your House Ants-Free Using Natural Solutions
Ants are very annoying when it comes to invading the home, trying to find any leftover food you may have left. They are drawn to greasy, fresh and sweet food. There are more than 12, 000 species of ants on the globe, however only a small number of those are known to invade houses. The Pharaoh, Argentine, Thief, Pavement and Odorous house ants are the most common species present in your houses. There is one more, the Carpenter ant, which is one of the most dangerous because it likes wood a bit too much, which can be disastrous to your house foundations. If you suspect having a colony of Carpenter ants, hire a professional immediately.
To be fair to the work they do, ants are not all bad. They eat flea larvae, flies, cloths moths, spiders, silverfish and many more insects, thereby providing cleaner environment for people. With that being said, while you do not want them anywhere near your house, it’s better to find a way to keep them from colonizing it, rather than killing them off when they do. Let’s take a look at a number of possible solutions for keeping ants away or driving them out.
1. Dealing with scout ants
Beware of the scouts
Ants don’t just come out of the blue in your home. At first, the scout ants come and explore the potential of the house. If there is something worth coming back for, the scout ant returns to the colony and then leads it back to your house. Kitchens are the most common places ants are drawn to, for obvious reasons. It has the biggest potential for ant invasion. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep your kitchen clean and don’t hold back removing everything all the cooking leftovers and keep your fresh food properly sealed and tucked away.
- Wash the dishes. Either wash the dishes shortly after finishing a meal or put them into the washer and seal the door properly. Use a vinegar solution to wipe all the things in the kitchen down, including the cupboards and countertops. Not only vinegar cleans the surfaces, it also leaves a disgusting smell which ants can’t stand. Throw everything you don’t need in the trashcan, but also make sure it is properly closed and there is no smell coming out of it. Used food containers must be also washed before being places back in the pantry.
- Vacuum the kitchen floors regularly. Doing it on a daily basis is recommended, but not always possible, so try to do it as often as possible
- Sticky jars and bottles. Some of the things most delicious to ants are jars previously containing honey or some syrup as well as jam or jelly. Sauce bottles too. Therefore, make sure to wash them enough to remove the odor completely.
- Use food containers. In case your kitchen is already colonized, one way to deprive ants from getting to the food is by keeping it in food containers. Keep literally everything in containers for about a week. This way ants have no access to food and after realizing that, they will retreat.
- It’s not only food that attracts ants. Cleaning powder, deodorant smell and other cosmetic products can attract ants with their odor. Make sure to keep those in an appropriate manner.
2. Restricting access
a) Seal off any entry points.
If the ants are smart enough to send scouts first, you should also do a bit of scouting yourself. Scout the kitchen for any possible entry points ants can come in through. If you notice any ant trails or simply suspect a spot they can come in through, you can close off all the entrances with silicone caulk, glue, putty or plaster. If none of those are available to you at the moment, petroleum jelly can be used as a temporary solution. There are other such products available, but their effect wears off soon, so only use them until you find a permanent solution.
b) Spray soapy water
It may sound simple, but that’s because it really is. Ants follow their trails, and spraying their trail with a solution of soap and water you will effectively destroy them. All you need is a spray bottle, a spoon of soap and water.
- If you want to juice it up even more you could add mint or citrus oil to the mixture.
- Put more than one teaspoon in the spray bottle to enhance its effect.
3. Setting up barriers and using deterrents
a) Set up barriers
In order to keep your house ants-free there are many available methods to scare them off with barriers. They do not need to cover the entire length of the hours, but simply placed on hotspots as wide as ¼ inch. These barriers can be made from ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen. Be aware though: these barriers only keep ants from entering, if they are already in they do nothing to remedy that situation. Items that could be used to create them are:
- Charcoal powder
- Citrus oil
- Baby powder
- Water mixed with white vinegar
- Hot pepper
b) Scatter deterring odors
Garlic, camphor or peppermint are just a few things that can keep ants away with their smell. On the other hand, they are not so deterring to people, so not only you will keep ants away, you will improve the smell of your house in general. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can use:
- Laurel leaves. As ants are more drawn to certain types foods you should place a laurel leaf in every container. They are a natural ant repellent. Especially in sugar containers, flour or paprika. The results will amaze you.
- Clove oil can be sprayed on risky spots. Crushed cloves work just as well.
- Lavender. Either use lavender oil, or you may even plant it around your house.
- Mint leaves. Just like lavender, you could apply if at risky spots or grow it around your house.
c) Scatter sweeteners
This solution is especially useful if you have children around. They are not harmful to children, but great ant repellent.
Yes, coffee grounds can also keep your house ants-free. Scatter them all round your house foundations. Coffee removes scent trails, confusing the ants, since they rely on scents to go back and forth. It does take considerable patience for this method to show results, but when it kicks in, you will not see ants anywhere near the house.
- Your problems might not end even after you have removed all the colonies from your yard. To ensure long lasting results you should sprinkle coffee grounds once a year.
e) Mix baking soda and dish soap
Prepare this mixture and apply it at the places where you know ants come in through. This is especially effective when applied to windowsills.
4. Make your own baits
a) Use self-made ant baits
You may be wondering why do that, especially since you can just buy ant bates from the store. The downside to commercial bates is that they are highly chemical products, which can damage your own health along with the ants’. It is rather simple to create home-made baits using boric acid. It is a strong poison when it comes to ants. Have in mind that this solution kills ants because of its potency, and completely cleaning the environment from ants may not be the smartest idea, since they do provide other pest control. Nevertheless, if you have no other option, here is how boric acid baits can be made:
- Acquire boric acid from the store. It’s easy to get and inexpensive.
- Find any leftover food which you know ants are drawn to and leave it in the open.
- Cover the space around the food you left out on the open with boric acid so that the ants must pass through it when getting to the food.
- Also, leave such baits where ants pass through. Take extreme care where you place it and keep it out of children’s reach. Take note that this may take for up to a week to show initial results.
b) Beat them at their own game
Ants are drawn to food, so use specific food that will get rid of them for you. This is also a method that kills ants completely. It involves baiting ants with types of food that are extremely hard for them to digest and thereby cause death. Naturally, you need to place it in the appropriate locations.
- Corn meal. It is a great idea to use corn meal, especially since it is not dangerous for children or pets. Ants will not be able to resist taking it back to their home and feast on it, however, they won’t be able to digest it because it will expand inside of them.
- Wheat cream. It is used uncooked, raw. It also expands once ingested by ants, inherently killing them.
- Coffee grounds. Leave it where ants pass through. They will carry it back to their homes, ingest it and suffer the consequences. This method might take up to a month to show initial results.
c) Handle carpenter ants naturally
Carpenter ants are possibly the most dangerous species of ants to have to deal with. They have the ability to gravely damage the foundations of the house. If you hear strange noise from the walls, spot fecal sawdust-like pellets and chunks of broken wings, you need to act immediately. Those are the most common signs of carpenter ants invasion. Let’s take a look on possible options to deal with them:
- Use baits. They are really into sugar, so use that to your advantage. Leave some sugar on the open, surrounded by boric acid.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to suck them out of the walls. That may not always be possible.
- Get a professional exterminator to help you. They drill holes in the walls and insert boric acid, silica aerogel and other substances which effectively remove ants.
5. Hiring professional help
If you cannot deal with ant invasions yourself, the next step is to hire an exterminator. Look for one that uses natural pesticides, especially against fire ants. This ant specie is not known to invade a house very often, however, when they do they are the absolute worst. They pack a powerful ability to sting people and some people are susceptible to allergic reactions from fire ant bites.
In case they have to be sprayed, make sure to use a solution that contains insect growth regulator such as abamectin. Although not recommended, you could perform the spraying on your own, but only on outside areas. You must wear the appropriate protective clothes if you choose to do it. Wait for cooler days to sneak up to the fire ant colony. Cold weather makes them come closed to the surface, which makes it easier for you to get to them. Use several bowls of boiling water and pour it inside the nest. You can make a more powerful solution by adding soap, vinegar, citrus oil or ammonia to the water. That procedure has to be repeated of a period of several days until the ants have disappeared.
As ants will try and seek shelter wherever possible, if you don’t want them to crawl all over you, you should cover your boots with some sticky product.
Ants are known to be one of the most hardworking creatures on this planet. And while they do offer protection from other types of harmful insects, they can be quite dangerous themselves. If you do find yourself in trouble with them, use any of the possible solutions discussed in this article.