Ants are one of the most common pests in the world, both indoors and outdoors. In the kitchen, having ants often results in ruined food. In the yard, getting a bad infestation can lead to anthills on an otherwise perfect lawn or worse, fire ant bites. Though they are an important part of the ecosystem, you know you gotta get rid of them one way or another. But, how?
Ants can be gotten rid of through the use of soapy water, salt, diatomaceous earth, as well as vinegar solutions. To get rid of ants, just spray the natural pesticide of your choice on your lawn. To further prevent them from finding your lawn appealing, remove food sources they may be attracted to.
If you just saw a couple of ants walk by your lawn, you might not have a problem. However, if you’re facing an infestation, it’s a good idea to know what you need to do before it gets totally out of control.
Table of Contents
- Should You Get Rid Of Ants?
- Natural Ant Extermination Methods
- Preventing Ants From Making Your Garden Home
- Related Questions
Should You Get Rid Of Ants?
Most people do not like ants, and it’s easy to see why. They’re pests, they eat your food, and they can even bite. However, it’s important to remember that they do play a huge role in the environment. They are active hunters of pests like termites, can help aerate soil, and also tend to act as food for birds.
In most cases, you really don’t need to get rid of ants. However, ant extermination might be a good idea if any of the following ring true:
- You’re noticing anthills popping up on your lawn. Having ants cut through your lawn is okay, but if they’re setting up shop there, it’s a different story.
- The ants in question are fire ants. Fire ants can pose a risk to you and your pets, which makes them a serious problem no matter how you look at it.
- You’ve been having a hard time keeping your picnic time ant-free. Though this isn’t a serious sign, it definitely suggests that ants are turning into more of a nuisance than anything else.
- Ants have attacked your garden. Anyone who’s ever grown fruits or vegetables can tell you that ants can really wreck a garden fast.
- You have discovered ants inside your home. Ants belong outside. If you find them in your house, you definitely have to do something about it.
Natural Ant Extermination Methods
Now that you’ve gauged whether or not ants should be removed from your home, it’s time to actually discuss the different ways you can safely and naturally kill them off. Each method will use a different substance, so it’s up to you to choose which one is the most accessible for you. Let’s take a look at each one.
If you want a quick and easy way to get rid of ants, mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, then spray it on the area infested by ants. Ants’ bodies can’t handle the high acidity of the solution, so they’ll die fairly quickly. If you have anthills, then pouring the solution down the hill’s hole will usually solve the problem.
Vinegar is a good solution if you don’t want to potentially dry out your soil or make your pets sick. It’s easy to make, non-toxic, and won’t greatly affect the quality of your soil.
Diatomaceous earth, also known as DE for short, is a unique powder that is made up of shredded, crushed up microscopic shells. It has a unique ability to dry out things. With insects, the microscopic shells end up getting lodged inside the insects’ exoskeletons. This dries them out and also cuts them deep.
DE is a particularly good insecticide if you have other critters crawling around aside from ants, such as bed bugs or ticks. Due to the way that diatomaceous earth works, no insect is immune from it. Using it is fairly simple, too. All you have to do is spread it around your yard, and you should be good to go.
Are you a major fan of organic gardening? With cayenne pepper powder, you can protect your veggie garden using vegetables. Cayenne pepper (or if you’re low, chili pepper!) kills ants fairly quickly, and using it is simple. All you have to do is sprinkle it around your garden and let it do its thing. The capsaicin kills ants fast.
It’s worth noting that anecdotal evidence suggests that you can double the efficiency of cayenne pepper by adding used coffee grounds to the mix. However this hasn’t been proven, so take it with a grain of salt.
Cinnamon oil has been used as a bug repellent for ages. Most insects die on contact with it, primarily due to its harsh nature. It also happens to work on more than just ants. Centipedes, spiders, termites, and flies all hate it. However, this is one of those remedies that need to be used sparingly and with great care.
Though cinnamon works wonders as a pesticide, it also happens to be one of the harshest options on this list. If not used properly or used on sensitive plants, it can kill your vegetation. That’s why we don’t suggest it on plants that require a lot of delicate care, like roses.
Baby powder is one of those household items that everyone should have, and that includes gardening enthusiasts, too. This works as an ant killer that leaves behind a fresh scent. Ants breathe through tiny holes called spiracles. Baby powder just so happens to be fine enough to get into the spiracles and clog them up. The end result? A bunch of dead ants.
If you’re low on baby powder, there’s another household treat that you can use: baking soda. Either way, you can pick up these quick fixes on your next visit to the pharmacy.
Dish soap happens to be one of the most useful things money can buy, and not just because it can get almost any stain out of a carpet. If you want to get ants off your lawn for good, soapy water makes for an amazing non-toxic pest killer. All you need to do is combine a tablespoon of dish soap (like Palmolive) with a quart of water.
If you want extra bug-fighting power, you can also add a teaspoon of vinegar or cinnamon oil. However, most people will find that just spritzing the soapy water over their garden will be more than enough to get rid of ants. After all, there’s no need to overkill it, right?
Want to go “old school” with your ant killing? Make a borax trap! Borax is toxic to ants, so if you want to get rid of a large colony, this is a good way to do it.
- Mix half a cup of sugar with 1.5 tablespoons borax and 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir gently.
- Then, drop cotton balls into the mix. Let them soak completely.
- Place the soaked cotton balls near the anthills and wait. The ants will sense the sugar and start taking the solution back to the anthill. The borax will kill them slowly, so they won’t realize they’ve poisoned themselves until it’s too late.
Personally, I’m not that big a fan of using salt. While salt can be a highly effective ant-killer since it can dry them out in a pinch, it tends to be pretty foul for your garden. After all, the phrase “salt the earth” came from the fact that pouring excess salt on the ground can prevent plants from growing there for years.
However, we’d be lying if we didn’t say that salt is a highly effective way of killing ants. Sprinkling it throughout the garden can help you get rid of them in a pinch. To get the salt better targeted, we suggest mixing up a large, strong solution of saltwater and just pouring it down the anthills.
Preventing Ants From Making Your Garden Home
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is absolutely true when it comes to ants and other creepy-crawlies. To prevent ants from coming back after you’ve gotten rid of them the first time around, use these organic tricks below!
- Plant lots of peppermint, cinnamon, spearmint, and lavender around your garden. Herb gardens weren’t just popular in the olden days for no reason. They also acted as incredible pest repellents! Planting these herbs around your gardens will ward away ants and also keep other bugs away from your home.
- Get rid of food sources that your ants might be getting. Do you have rotten fruit hanging off your vines? Do you leave food out at random places? Yeah, you need to stop that.
- Keep ant baits outside your garden. Ant bait traps are a great way to decrease the chances of finding ants closer to your home. They work just like the borax treatment; they lure, then kill.
- If you just want to get the ants to move away, then drop citrus peels near the anthill and spray areas closer to your home with a vinegar solution. The vinegar will kill ants that go too close to your home, while the citrus will encourage them to leave the area. Ants hate the smell of citrus!
Should You Call An Exterminator For A Typical Ant Infestation?
Like with all things creepy and crawly, there are going to be some people who just do not want to deal with this problem on their own. If you’re like me, your first instinct will be to call an exterminator. This is okay, but truth be told, most cases of ants will not need an exterminator. These remedies should work and should be more than enough.
When Should You Call An Exterminator?
Of course, there will be moments where calling an exterminator or lawn pest control company will make sense. If any of the following are true, you should consider calling someone to help you out:
- You are not sure that those are actually ants. Do they look a little “weird” for ants? They might be termites or something more alarming. If you cannot actually identify the “ant” or suspect it might be something else, call a pest control expert.
- The anthills are ridiculously large and are multiplying. Any time that you see a pest population exploding and you cannot control it on your own, you should call a pest control expert. There may be something more complex at the bottom of this problem.
- Your pets or children have experienced bite marks from ants or ant-like insects. This means your ant infestation has turned into a public health issue.
- It’s not just ants that are making your garden home. A sudden influx of new bugs of all walks of life, then you will need to get some professional help to determine what’s causing the change.
How bad are ants for your house?
If you see an ant crawling around on your kitchen table, it’s normal to feel a little freaked out. You don’t want to have them anywhere around you. However, they are not considered to be a serious health risk (unless they’re fire ants). They are really more of a nuisance pest than anything else, so try not to panic.
Do ants eat grass?
Though they are often blamed for ruining lawns, ants naturally live in hot, dry, sandy areas. They don’t eat grass, though the way they tunnel underground tends to kill grass in large patches. Ants actually prefer to seek out moisture and sugar, which they promptly bring back to their anthills.
What plant to ants hate the most?
Like many other insects, ants seem to hate peppermint with a passion. The smell alone will be enough to send them marching the other way, simply because it overloads their senses.