Tackle Ant Problems with Ordinary Pantry Items

Ants are fascinating creatures. For example, each ant colony has several different kinds of ants. They are all the same species, but they look different. If the heat of summer has you in a constant battle, you might like to know that most of the ants you see are workers. They are female, but they cannot reproduce.

Ants carrying food and fork

Inside the nest is the queen, she is a large female, and is the only one who can lay eggs. Only males and queen ants have wings, but the queens remove their wings when they start a new nest. Worker ants never have wings.

Now that you know what you’re looking at, here are 11 ways to get rid of ants—especially those teeny tiny sugar ants*—using ordinary things from around the house or in the garage. Think of what follows as a kind of buffet where you pick the solutions that meet your immediate need with items you have on hand.

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.

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 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.

ALL-PURPOSE OUTDOOR BUG SPRAY. Mix 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 chopped small onion and 1 tablespoon cayenne powder into 1 quart water. Steep for 1 hour. Add 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap, such as blue Dawn or liquid Ivory. Strain through a sieve and poor into a spray bottle. This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only 1 week, so use it up.

BLACK PEPPER. To deter sugar ants, sprinkle black pepper around the home’s entry points to keep the ants from coming inside.

VINEGAR. A 50/50 ratio of water and white vinegar can also deter ants. Spray this mixture on countertops, window sills, and high traffic areas.

WD-40. 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.

CHALK. Keep ants at bay by drawing a line around your homes entry points using ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. The ants will be repelled by the calcium carbonate in the chalk.

BOILING WATER. 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. Pour boiling water through the drain hole and you’ll be burning them and their house for good.

CITRUS. 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.

COFFEE. 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.

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. 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. Do not wet the DE or it will not work. Once the ants walk in the fine powder they’ll die because the DE quietly destroys their exoskeletons.

*Sugar ant is a common name that many people use to describe any small ant that is attracted to sweets.

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4 replies
  1. Patty Moran
    Patty Moran says:

    I use artificial sweetener with aspartame to get rid of ants. The ants take it back to the nest and feed the other ants so the whole colony gets eliminated. Just sprinkle the sweetener wherever you see ants and leave them alone to take it back to the nest. Clean it up when you do your regular cleaning and sprinkle more around if needed. You can put this in bait stations (purchased or make your own) for placement on the floor if you need to keep away from pets so they don’t finish it before the ants do!

    Reply
  2. Nancy J
    Nancy J says:

    We had horrible problems with ants in our bathroom for several months. Even an exterminator couldn’t get rid of them. I found that the spray bottle with Dawn and water was extremely effective in instantly killing the ants. It was not necessary to use a 50/50 solution, however. A small amount of Dawn (3-4 oz) in a quart of water was adequate and did not leave a heavy, blue (and slippery) coating on the bathroom floor and walls. Especially important in the shower!

    Reply
  3. Linda
    Linda says:

    I inadvertently discovered I could keep ants off my organic strawberry plants with regular feedings of a dilute mixture of fish oil emulsion. They hate it!

    Reply

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