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. 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 ants facts may be, control and management around the home 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.
Mop and vacuum
To get rid of 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 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.
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.
Notes: This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only 1 week, so use it up.
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.)
Another pantry staple is pepper. To deter sugar ants, sprinkle ground black pepper around the home’s entry points to keep the ants from coming inside.
A 50/50 ratio of water and white vinegar can also deter ants. Use this mixture to spray 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.
Get rid of ants by drawing a line around your home’s entry points using ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. The calcium carbonate repels ants.
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.
To ant-proof your kitchen you don’t need insecticides or ant traps. Just give it the lemon treatment. First, squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze the lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance.
Scatter 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.
This is my personal favorite way to get rid of ants because it is quick and sure. Also, make sure you are 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—along baseboards especially. 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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