Ants are often on the prowl for food and water, and they may be finding what they want in your kitchen or pantry. The best method for handling ants is to prevent infestations in the first place. Wipe up spills, especially those of sticky foods such as honey, and keep your kitchen counters and floors clean. If ants flood your home despite your best cleaning efforts, turmeric, pepper and several other natural remedies can get rid of the ants with minimal environmental damage or danger.
Turmeric and Pepper
Turmeric, a yellow spice related to ginger, and black pepper don't kill ants, but the spices can deter the pests. Sprinkle turmeric or pepper, separately or together, where you see ants collecting, and they should scatter quickly. Or track down where the ants enter the home, and sprinkle the spices across the access point to make an unpleasant barrier. Nor do ants like cinnamon or cayenne pepper. Use cinnamon or cayenne pepper separately, or mixed with pepper or turmeric, for a fuller deterrent effect.
Cleaners or pesticides with oil of d-limonene, or orange-peel extract, also deter rather than kill ants. To apply this method, find the ants' trail, starting with where they come into the home. Spray the entry point inside with orange cleaner or pesticide and let it sit for several minutes. Wipe up the spray. Repeat the process outside, where ants are entering the home. The citrus oil scent will erase the ants' odour trail and keep them from following the path inside. Pest controls and cleaners with d-limonene include Orange Guard and Murphy Oil Soap.
To kill ants and keep them from returning to your home, make a 50-50 mixture of sugar and the mineral washing powder boric acid. The sugar will draw ants to the mix, and they'll take grains of boric acid along with the sugar back to the colony to feed their queen. The queen will die from eating the boric acid; when the queen dies, the nest disperses. Boric acid can be hazardous to children and pets, so be careful with this solution if you live with kids or animals.
Ivory Dishwashing Liquid
Ivory dish soap can kill ants on contact. To make a sprayable solution, mix 1 part water with 1 part Ivory soap in a spray bottle, and squirt ants as you see them. This technique also works with 1 part Ivory and 1 part window cleaner, such as Windex. Plus, you can spray these mixtures on plants to keep ants away from your garden.
Fossilised and crushed remains of ancient, single-celled microorganisms called diatoms make up diatomaceous earth. The chalky, white substance comes in powder form. Though the powder seems as fine as talc to humans, it's as sharp as glass to tiny ants. The grains' sharp edges slash the ants' protective cuticles, and the ants die of dehydration. If ants eat diatomaceous earth, it shreds them inside. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth outside, at the bases of trees or around other vegetation harbouring ants that may be visiting your home. Diatomaceous earth is an all-purpose pesticide that will kill other insects as well.
- National Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Turmeric
- Planet Natural; Natural Born Pest Killers; Eric Vinje
- The Greenest Dollar: Natural Ant Control
- Home Remedy Central: Killing Ants
- eartheasy: Natural Insect Pest Control
- EcoSherpa; Getting Rid of Ants - Natural Ant Killers
- Tiny Game Hunting; Hilary Dole Klein, Adrian M. Wenner; 2001
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images