In spring, summer, and fall, the insect world is alive and well and busy invading your home. And the most active of them all are ants. Ants can build mounds in your yard, making their way into potted plants, and your kitchen and garage. So what can you do to get rid of these pesky critters? We’ve put together a list of 21 natural solutions to resolve annoying ant invasions—of any variety—without the use of harsh chemicals!
Natural Ant Deterrents
- Cornmeal Deterrent: To keep ants from crawling up the pole of the hummingbird feeder, sprinkle cornmeal around the base of the pole, post, or tree. Reapply as needed.
- Keep Shrubs In Check: Don’t plant trees or shrubs close to the house. Clip any tree branches or bushes that are touching the house to prevent ants from crawling up the trees and into your home. This is a common way that carpenter ants enter. They can cause structural damage to your home, as they make tunnels through the wood.
- Fahrenheit 212º: To eradicate an ant colony, carefully pour hot boiling water directly on an ant mound. Hot water is also one of our weed and grass-killing remedies, so avoid pouring it onto the lawn where grass and plants are growing.
- DE to the Rescue: Are ants making a trail across your deck or porch? Use food-grade diatomaceous earth, a fine silica powder that provides a natural abrasive barrier to crawling insects. While the tiny crystals aren’t harmful to humans (Important: wear a mask when applying, and don’t breathe it in, especially if you have asthma or other breathing issues) it kills insects, including ants. Sprinkle the powder directly onto an ant trail. It also works in flower beds: cover any ant mounds with the powder. Stir with a long stick and apply more diatomaceous earth. If the powder does not come in contact with all of the ants in the colony, you may need to apply it more than once. Be careful not to apply diatomaceous to flower petals, or anywhere bees may land.
- Baking Soda Remedy: To destroy an ant colony, dust the ant mound with baking soda and then spray with full-strength white vinegar.
- A-Peel-ing Advice: Ants don’t like the smell of citrus. Save and dry peels from oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. Grind them and spread near entry points, in flower beds and potted plants to deter ants.
- The Mini Moat Trick: To prevent ants from getting in your pet’s food bowl, build a mini moat around it. Select a lid or tray that is larger than the bowl and fill it with water. Place the bowl in the center to form a barrier ants will not swim across. Refill/change water as needed.
- Better Than Hopscotch: Ants will not cross a chalk line. Draw a chalk line in front of exterior doors, to prevent ants from coming into the house. You can also draw a chalk line around tables on the porch or patio, to keep pesky ants away while dining outdoors. Get the kids involved!
- Save Those Coffee Grounds: To create a barrier that ants won’t cross, sprinkle used coffee grounds along the edge of a flower or raised garden bed, at the base of your house and entry points.
- Minty Fresh Cure: To repel ants in the kitchen and bathroom, place several drops of peppermint essential oil on cotton balls and place them on countertops, in cabinets and pantry, near the garbage container, and other places that attract ants.
- DIY Ant Spray: Mix 4 oz. water, 2 tablespoons vodka along with 15 drops of peppermint essential oil and 5 drops of cinnamon essential oil in a spray bottle. Shake and spray as needed, indoors or out. Doubles as a room freshener!
- Clean and Repel: To a cup measure, add 2 tablespoons of Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap, 15 drops of peppermint essential oil, and 5 drops of fir needle or Tea Tree essential oil. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a bucket containing one gallon of hot water. Stir, and use to mop washable floors.
- Bait ‘Em With Borax: Combine equal parts of powdered Borax laundry booster, and powdered sugar. Add several tablespoons onto a jar lid and set out for ants to find. The sugar will attract the ants, they’ll take the mixture back to their colony and ingest the fatal borax. Keep out of reach of pets or children. Works against roaches, too.
- Borax-Free Bait: No Borax? No problem. Try mixing equal parts of baking soda and powdered sugar together. Follow the steps above.
- Cinnamon Stick Trick: Place cinnamon sticks near window sills to discourage ants from creeping in. To amp up the fragrance, add a few drops of cinnamon oil to the cinnamon sticks.
- Ants-Be-Gone Spray: Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and lemon juice in a spray bottle, and gently shake. Spray around windows and door frames to stop ants from entering. Spray ants spotted in the home to eradicate them. This gets rid of their scent trail which other ants follow.
- Ants In Your Plants? To keep ants from making a home in your houseplants or potted plants on the porch, place the containers on a tray filled with water to create a protective barrier. Or, sprinkle cinnamon powder around the plant container.
- Check For Leaks: Inspect your house to make sure it is sealed tightly around plumbing and any openings with weather stripping to prevent ants from entering your home.
- Wood Culprit: Don’t stack firewood near the house, or store firewood indoors except when ready to burn. Also, remove rotting trees and limbs from your yard where ants like to build homes.
- Lemon Repels: Spray sinks, counters, and tabletops daily with lemon-scented cleaner to remove food particles, residue, and lingering odors that ants find attractive.
- Tansy To the Rescue: Ants hate tansy! Grow tansy, the pretty yellow flowering herb outdoors near the entrance of your home, and as a companion, plant to keep ants out of your garden. Place dried tansy near window sills to repel ants.
Do you have any great ideas to keep ants out? Share them with us and our readers in the comments section, below!
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.