If the arrival of Spring is ushering an ant infestation into your home and yard, don’t panic. You may not require toxic pest control products or a professional service to take get rid of these pesky creatures.
In fact, chances are good you already have everything you need to do it yourself. Or if you prefer a commercial product that is eco-friendly and really works fast, I’ve got that for you, too.
Knowing how to get rid of ants around the house is important. But it’s also fun to know just how fascinating these creatures are.
Some ants can support up to 50 times their own weight while upside down on glass. Most of the ants we see are workers. They are female, but they cannot reproduce.
Queen ants, sometimes living for up to 30 years, give birth to millions of babies! Male ants’ only job is to mate with the queen. (You’re chuckling.)
Ants are found almost everywhere on Earth. The largest ant colony ever found was over 3,750 miles wide. And you think you’ve got problems?
Despite how fascinating ant facts may be, control and management are important for both health and safety reasons. If you suspect you have a serious ant infestation, consider calling a pest control professional.
However, most ant problems—especially those teeny tiny sugar ants*—are generally annoying and a problem you can solve quickly with ordinary items you have around the house and garage. Think of what follows as a kind of buffet to get rid of ants. You pick the solutions that meet your immediate need with items you have on hand.
Soap and water
If you have ants or other bugs around the house, pour a 50/50 mixture of Blue Dawn dish soap and water into an empty spray bottle and keep it handy. When you see the insects, spray them with the mixture. Provided you really saturate those little critters, the soap actually breaks down their exoskeletons, and they die almost immediately. Cheap and easy cleanup, too.
Mop and vacuum
To get rid of sugar ants, start by mopping the floor at least once a day. Mopping and vacuuming help to remove the ants’ pheromone trails. Cleaning and mopping will also rid your home of the food and crumbs that attract the ants. Make sure you don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink and empty the trash bin regularly.
To deter sugar ants, sprinkle ground black pepper around the home’s entry points to keep the ants from coming inside.
Vinegar and water
A 50/50 ratio of water and white vinegar can also deter ants. Spray this mixture on countertops, window sills, and high traffic areas.
Spray any areas where ants are feeding or accessing your house with WD-40. The spray will kill ants and also serve as a deterrent from further access as long as residue from the spray remains. Not sure where they’re coming in? Spray WD-40 along the outside perimeter of the house. They will not cross it because ants hate the smell of WD-40. (So do rabbits!) Repeat as necessary.
- MORE: For Every Problem, WD-40
Keep ants at bay by drawing a line around your home’s entry points using an ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. The ants will be repelled by the calcium carbonate in the chalk.
If fire ants plague your yard or patio and you’re tired of getting stung by those tiny attackers, a flowerpot can help you quench the problem. Place the pot upside down over the anthill. Carefully, pour boiling water through the drain hole and you’ll be burning them and their house for good.
You don’t need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First, squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance.
Sprinkle your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house. Ants are repelled by the scent given off by the grounds and as a bonus coffee grounds are good for your soil and plants.
All-Natural Outdoor Bug Spray
- 1-quart water
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cayenne powder
- 1 tablespoon Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap, or other liquid soap
- Pour the water, garlic, and onion into a 1-quart jar. Allow steeping for 1 hour.
- Next mix in the liquid soap.
- Then strain through a sieve.
- Finally, pour into a spray bottle.
This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only 1 week, so use it up
Hint: Scroll down to find a Printable Recipe Card for this spray.
Killer Ant Spray
If you prefer a commercial product to get rid of pesky ants, take a look at Harris Ant Killer Spray. It works fast, has no fumes, and super safe around kids and pets. I use this quite often without any worries because it is:
- Eco friendly. Uses clove and cottonseed natural plant oils as active ingredients that are safe to use around children and pets
- Quick kill. Proven to kill ants in 30 minutes or less
- Non-staining. The formula will not stain when used according to label directions
- Indoor & outdoor use. Can be used as an outdoor perimeter treatment as well as an indoor all-purpose spray
- Pleasant scent. Essential oils emit a pleasant, light odor without the use of artificial fragrance
Since I had my bottle out just this morning to tackle a small ant invasion that I needed to deal with pronto, I snapped a photo for you. And yes, geraniums! They thrive in the glorious Colorado sunshine, even when temps soar—and armies of ants appear suddenly, looking for food and water.
Diatomaceous earth is my first line of defense because it’s non-toxic, readily available and it just plain works! Make sure you’re using food-grade diatomaceous earth (NOT swimming pool DE, which has been chemically altered).
Sprinkle the food-grade DE outside around the perimeter of your home. You can also safely sprinkle it inside where you see the ants—as long as it is food-grade, it is totally non-toxic.
If the diatomaceous earth you select does not come with a powder duster, make sure you have one so you can strategically distribute the DE exactly where you want it.
Once the ants (or any kind of crawling bugs) walk in the fine powder they’ll die because the DE quietly destroys their exoskeletons.
Caution: DO NOT let DE get wet or it will not work. If that happens, let it dry, then reapply.
*Sugar ant is a common name that many people use to describe any small ant that is attracted to sweets.
All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray
- one-quart jar with lid
- measuring spoon
- 16-oz. spray bottle
- 3 cups water
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap
- Gather items: jar, water, onions, garlic and tools.
- Chop and prepare
- Pour the water, chopped garlic, chopped onion, and cayenne into a 1-quart jar. Apply the lid and allow to steep for one hour
- Add liquid soap, apply lid, and shake to mix.
- Pour through a sieve into a spray bottle (or into a wider container first, then transfer to spray bottle.)