Keep the Ants from Marching In!

Are ants infiltrating your home? Try these surefire natural pest deterrents!

Venturing outdoors for a leisurely picnic or a brief repose on the patio? Protect children playing barefoot in the grass from ant bites. Try these two natural remedies will ward off invasive ants.

Fire ants recently set up camp just off our patio, beside the walkway, building more than one mound. Being so close to the house, we want to keep the area free of biting ants and toxic chemicals. Here’s our nontoxic way to rid ants from the yard and patio. If you have young children, you don’t want their playtime ruined by painful fire ant bites. If you discover a fire ant colony in your yard, here are two safe and natural ant remedies, that won’t harm you or the environment.

Fortunately the refreshing scent of peppermint is offensive to ants. This fragrant, natural spray is safe to use indoors or out, whether you spot ants on your kitchen counter or porch. Take a spray bottle on your next outing, to use on a picnic table or around your picnic blanket before dining, to discourage ants from invading your lunch.

Ant Spray
This fragrant spray doubles as room freshener and ant deterrent.
4 oz. water
2 T. vodka
15 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops cinnamon essential oil
Mix above ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake and spray as needed.

Diatomaceous Earth
Wondering what Diatomaceous Earth is and how it works? It is powdered shell flour, a natural product composed of ground diatoms (a type of algae). The tiny, white crystals aren’t harmful to human touch or consumption, but will effectively eliminate soft bodied ants and other pests like fleas.

To use on a fire ant mound, cover the top of the mound thoroughly with the powder (be sure to purchase “food grade”). Stir the mound with a stick and apply more diatomaceous earth. Only the ants that come in contact with the powder will be destroyed, as it does not penetrate deep into the colony like chemical poisons. You may need to make more than one application to eliminate the entire colony. If ants are making a trail across your porch, deck or patio, lightly dust them with a coat of Diatomaceous Earth.

Diatomaceous Earth is also safe to use for insect control in the garden or greenhouse. Sprinkle it onto plants to deter harmful insects. Apply a ring of Diatomaceous Earth around the perimeter of a raised garden bed to keep ants at bay. You’ll need to reapply after a rain.

Be careful not to breathe in the powder.

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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Kerwin Maude

Sorry to say, commercial ant traps like sticky box traps work a bit but will fail to deter others from invading homes or back yards. Pure vinegar works well but do not use it on lawns nor close to plants. I found those commercial little metal circular cans with bait to be a band aid approach, and like other voicers say, boiling water works but try to stay away from harsh chemicals that can endanger pets and young children Good luck…


Nothing works for fire ants quite like a big pot of boiling water. Two applications and they are done. After the first application you will see hundreds of dead ants around the mound. Second application usually does the trick.


Our 160 year old family home has never been plagued with termites. Why? Because ants loathe termites & we respect & coexist with the tiny ant.

We must have contented ants, as I don’t ever recall ants ever entering our home………except perhaps, for the stray ant who entered, having hitch hiked in on a picked flower.


I had several mounds around the walkway and in flower beds. I used boiling hot water to
get rid of them. Hot water will kill grass but in places where there is no grass, it works great.

Kerwin Maude

I found a 50/50 mixture of borax (environmentally friendly product used for laundry and storing frozen fishing roe) mixed with icing sugar works quite well. Ants are nuisance pests, and are resilient. Sprinkle the mixture along ant paths, and on top of hills, we even put a little in the pantry and within days the little buggers are gone. Please be careful when using this idea with young children or pets around. Do not clump it on the grass as it will burn as it suffocates the spot. The ants will be gone and not reappear for several weeks. The icing sugar is the attractant and the borax will be taken down to share with the nest to destroy them. Reapply after rain periods or watering the lawn, it works…..


A few years back I had a bad case of ants on my kitchen counter…….. I just mixed equal parts of water and vinegar and sprayed the counters window sills and threshold……… In a few days they were gone, never returned……………


Boric acid power will kill sugar ant’s


The exterminator, cinnemon didn’t seem to work. Only thing that might have worked was the peppermint, spearmint, eycupliptis citris scented cleaner kept the spiders away and mice, ants-NO! They ran over the cinnimon and baking soda.


Tried exterminator,,didn’t work, I don’t know what he is using but spiders and roaches, ants are thriving like never before! They are building & escavating all around us, stirring up all kinds of varmin,,like mice also!! Daddy long legs are horrible! Anyway, baking soda sorta worked,,,for mice the glue pads are working, for ants,,cinnimon didnt work! Mint and spearmint , peppermint OILS are VERY EXPENSIVE. Hard to find. Euculiptis oil was cheaper and worked good, got it at Kroger grocery store,,found out they have it at just SOME of the stores,,it sells right away! So does peppermint oil,,goes fast! Found some tiny teeny bottles in the baking dept. I will never build in the woods, undeveloped land again!! Mice, roaches, ants, spiders, racoons and deer are a nuci
ence, they poop and eat your plants and trees,,no nature for me!


Borax & maple syrup. Worked like a charm!


Bay Leaves. use em safely on window sills,cupboards,base boards. Non toxic -works for me.


Use crushed eggshells instead of DE. The sharp edges are supposed to repel ants. Run eggshells through the blender.


I heard powdered sugar and baking soda 50/50 mix, or something like that


Ants hate crossing peppermint oil, also.


Used dried coffee grounds work!


WARNING!!! Use a good dust mask or respirator when using DE. Breathing in the dust can cause incurable lung disease!!!

Susan Higgins

Thank you, Roma.


Blue mouthwash spray and gone 🙂


I’m not going to waste the vodka, we used 409 and sprayed the window sill when they were in our guest bedroom. I kept it up as long as I saw some and that was the end of them.


Cinnamon stopped the Raspberry crazy ants for about an hour, DE works for about a day. Crazy ants don’t have a bed to take food back to, so poisons haven’t worked. I’ll try peppermint oil and clove oil, but I get the feeling they will also be temporary. Crazy ants just don’t care!


I truly wish the diatomaceous earth came with a LARGE printed warning on the package…people really need to know that it kills honeybees!!!! That is a very bad thing. Also it will kill the other good bugs that help to pollinate our gardens. It just isn’t worth it.


For small ants I use tansy…it grows wild on the side of the road. I put it in my cupboard and it literally drove them away…black carpenter ants…the only solution I’ve ever had luck with is terro…so I’ll have to give the peppermint a try.

Donna Betteridge

We only seem to get ants on the side where the water comes into the house. Just had plumbing done & inspected Las year. Have tans both the large and miniature growing and the peppermint is finally starting to spread. Along another side next to the pave driveway is Mt spearmint patch which has been there for years. They all help, but early spring before the plants have come up is tough. The ants crawl up the bricks into the kitchen window. Crazy. Will try these others for when the plants are just coming up.


Cinnamon works for keeping ants away, chili powder no, I have had them make a trail right through chili powder but they stayed away from the cinnamon, I even put it on top of my humming bird feeders to keep ants out if them.

Jackie Goss

The DE should be FOOD GRADE DE, not the stuff you use in the pool. It is NOT poisonous, and can be ingested by human and animals. Farmers use it to rid livestock if internal parasites and some people make teas out of it for digestive health. The only problem I found in using it around the house (inside) is that it is powdery /dusty /dirty but it works.


Diatomaceous does work. Use it a lot because it is so safe. Also use baking soda with powered sugar mixed in. Powered sugar gets them to take it in the mound & baking soda kills them.


I am curious as to know of there is a way to track where the little pesty ants would be coming in and also which works better to sprinkle out side….Chili or baby powder?


How would I be able to tell where these little pesty black ants are coming in? Does chili or baby powder work better to keep them OUT?


Last year I tried something new. I tried using Sun Light Dish soap straight out of the bottle. I found an ant colony’s nest between the crack in my sidewalk and decided to try using my dish soap. I poured it right out of the bottle directly into any openings I found. I waited a day or two before taking the garden hose to the area in order to let the soap do its work. And long behold it worked. I haven’t had any ant problems since.


I didn’t know that about the DE thanks for the info everyone! Also I saw a mention of borage and I was going to try interplanting it throughout the garden. A few old books said that planting borage will keep pests at bay and improve the vigor and disease resistance of the surrounding plants. Anybody have any tips regarding borage?
For a buck a pack of seeds I think its worth a try.


The ants in the kitchen are searching for water… U usually see them when it’s really dry outside.
The flying and (could be terms, so look at them) are probably carpenter ants, nesting in some wet wood inside your house.
Please don’t use diatimacious earth… We already have a low number of bubble bees because of mites, try not to kill anymore. Love the idea of the mints!


Instant grits…they’ll eat them, take them back to the queen for food and explode when ingested.


We sprinkle baby powder in the door and window thresholds and voila no ants will come inside.


I put out garlic, onion, chili powder combo around my foundation. I will try baking soda also.


Planting Borage or catnip does the same. And, it’s natural

just wondering

Just sprinkle baking soda outside around the foundation of the house… “really cheap and non toxic” ants will eat it and die… they poop themselves to death…


Love Diatomaceous Earth. Use it for ants, palmetto bugs and fleas


I drenk the Vodka…Ants gone..


Clean my coffee pot with a pot of vinegar when its done coffee pot clean then I pour the hot vinegar over the fire ants it works but it to will kill grass as well.


I use cornmeal the ants eat it and go away and I have dogs so I can not use poison.

Bonnie Allen

I’ve used just cinnamon the past two years after Orkin charged me an arm and a leg to set out traps for ants which did nothing. The cinnamon worked and has already worked this year. I also have a patch of peppermint plants that I’m going to transplant around the house to take care of everything else.

margaret reider

Kathy, I cut a piece of my grape vine with at least two sets of buds. I then either place it in water and in a window or simply stick it in the ground and keep it well watered. This has always worked for me. I do the same thing with Hydrangeas!


I have these little tiny black ants invading my kitchen sometimes, they come out of the receptacles and with no warning. I bought some glue looking stuff that they seemed to really like, because the next day they where doubled. How do i get them out? Oh, and now i have these big brown looking flying ants. These dive bombers really bite, anyone know how to get rd of these two pests?


how can you graft a grape vine, or how can you get one started………………..thanks


Is there any natural repellent for crazy ants?


But who would waste good vodka?? I’ll just use Raid 🙂

mary newman

What about for a huge grass field and sidewalks at a school. My ankles are constantly getting bitten as are the kids!


Helps if you find the entry point….I had ants on my window sill & put corn meal all the way around : voila gone overnight.I think they choke…I also had an invasion of fire ants got bit under my foot fire all right..I keep a parmesan cheese container of 20 Mule Team Borax & sprinkled all around the base board : they too disappeared…keep you pets out of the room till vacuumed…


DE only lasts for a short time (has to be dry)…I got rid of ants by using a mixture of borax and icing sugar. Make a deep hole into ant pile and carefully spoon the stuff down the hole. I say carefully because it will kill the grass. This works every time to kill ants, and without using toxic chemicals.


If you can keep mint controlled, that is keep it from taking over your flower gardens and such, plant good aromatic mint around the foundation of your house and in hedgerows around where you picnic or kids play. Many mint varieties are invasive so again, be careful! I’ve got peppermint and spearmint along our foundation, easily controlled by mowing. No ants, very few crawling bugs. The only bugs we have are flying ones and of course a few spiders that get through the mint border, perhaps they hang-glide over it or hitchhike?
I’ve also got chives and sage mixed in so when I mow and stir up those scents, I get very hungry! Our house and yards smell good even when there aren’t any flowers blooming! Just walking along the foundation growth stirs up the aroma!


(Actually more like crawling though broken glass than fiberglass.)

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