Sunday, 17 August 2008

Natural Ways To Get Rid of Ants

I haven’t had a big problem with ants this year (touch wood) but a few weeks ago I noticed a couple of the blighters crawling around in my back porch and knew it would only be a matter of time before they’d invaded the house and would be driving me absolutely insane.

Now, I’ve nothing against ants in general - they’re very beneficial little chaps that help clear away dead insects and animals while aerating the ground and carrying organic matter into the soil so that our plants will grow bigger and stronger. What I dislike is the fact that at this time of year, they tend to think it’s their given right to just move into my house whenever they please and I’m sorry, but I just ain’t sharing!

The thing is, if they’re not controlled they can make nests in the insulation layer found below houses and from what I’ve heard, that's when you really have problems.

Of course, the best thing to do is make sure there’s nothing in the house that’s likely to attract them in the first place. Anything sweet and sugary that can easily be found will be like a magnet to them; once one has found it, the entire working population of the nest will be marching in to pick up their share. Unfortunately, even if we’re careful to keep sugar, honey, fizzy drinks, sweets, and the likes tightly packaged and away from kitchen work surfaces and other areas that are easily accessible, ants can still find something that attracts them. Just one tiny grain of sugar or biscuit crumb is all it takes.

Not wanting to use commercial ant-killer stuff to get rid of my visitors - the common Lasius niger, otherwise known as garden ants, that are the general cause of problems here in the UK - I decided to look into ways of deterring them through natural means. This is what I came up with:

Lemon juice - pour around the areas that ants frequent. This is meant to destroy their scent trails, confusing them into marching around witlessly rather than following their trodden path. A piece of string soaked in lemon juice and left where they come in is meant to do the same job.

Chalk - draw a line across their path and apparently they won’t cross it. A couple of people have told me they’ve successfully tried this but as I didn’t have any chalk, I didn’t get a chance.

Bicarb (baking soda) - does pretty much the same job as chalk. Sprinkle a line of it across their path.

Baby Powder - again, does the same as the above.

Vinegar - this one worked for me! Apparently ants absolutely loathe the stuff so spray it around doorways and anywhere else they may be coming through, as well as across their paths. I tried a mixture of 50/50 white malt vinegar and water and the ants were gone the next day!

If ants in the garden are a problem (and who wants them harvesting green fly on the veggies?), growing mint amongst the plants is said to be a deterrent. I can’t vouch for the validity of that, though. If that doesn’t work, you could always try laying your own sweet, sugary trail leading them elsewhere (like the compost heap, for example).

I have my vinegar at the ready should they decide to return to my humble abode. Until then, I’ll just relax and be happy that once again I managed to solve a problem without turning to synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals.

Sharon J


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emmani said...

Great post Sharon, much needed advice for me to use in India. Ants are a BIG problem, you can't leave anything outside the fridge without an army arriving. They get into screw lid jars to eat honey and sugar, just put the sugar jar outside in the sun and they disappear. They crawl all over bananas, keep them over a flat hot surface (saucepan lid without handle) before eating. My husband says most Indians will eat them anyway, otherwise too much food is wasted...and they are supposed to be good for your eyes (I'd rather eat carrots!) I know that turmeric powder is good, it has antiseptic properties too, just be careful because it stains everything yellow!

apieceofwood said...

Vinegar is just amazing isn't it!

Where do you get yours from? I need to purchase a serious amount of this and haven't found anywhere yet that does bulk buy on it.

Gavin said...

What a great tip! I will have to try vinegar on the ants next time the ants herd the next swarm of aphids onto my corn cobs. It might not kill the aphids, but will certainly stop the ants moving them around. Thanks Sharon.

Chris said...


Well the vinegar has not worked here! I use it for the cats who like to come and dig up my garden and this works but the ants are still there! Suppose I need to try one of the other things! Off to find some lemon or baby powder etc soon!

Thanks Sharon!


shabby chic said...

Hi sharon thats handy to know, as I did some weeding a while ago at the front of the house near the brickwork and anyway the ants were indoors marching about. I bought ant powder, will try vinegar next time

Sharon J said...

@ Emmani. Will there be a lot more bugs to contend with in India than we have here? I'm sure living over there will be an amazing learning experience for you :)

Are you saying they eat ants in India? I'm sure you'd need a lot of them to get a decent amount of protein so somehow I don't think I'll be trying it.

I'll remember the advice about turmeric. Thanks.

@ apieceofwood. Yepp, definitely amazing. I still buy mine in ordinary supermarkets as I haven't found anywhere I can buy it in bulk from yet. This is hardly the town for wholesale anyway so I very much doubt I ever will.

@ Gavin. Isn't it annoying when they decide to farm aphids? I know they need to eat too but I'd prefer they found somewhere else to farm them :)

@ Chris. Sorry vinegar didn't work for you. Maybe because it's outdoors so seeps into the ground or gets rained away? Mine were in the porch so a different environment entirely.

@ shabbychic. I generally try to find a natural method of 'bug removal' before I use anything commercial (and probably made from artificial chemicals) but at least the commercial ant killer usually works.

Anonymous said...

I can vouch for peppermint oil working, again use it as you used your vinegar, they do not like it at all, neither do mice

Sharon J said...

Peppermint oil? I never knew about that one. Thanks for the tip :)

Matt said...

Thanks for the great tip.
One of the ways to get rid of ants is by using the insecticidal soaps that will immediately control them and the other solution will be pyrethrum that will be useful for flea control. Vacuuming and regular cleaning of the floors will take care of the dusts that will be left over and thus will keep the fleas away from your house.

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Hollie Truesdale said...

I usually pull out the ant traps when I see ants marching around my house. They get everywhere! I'm glad to know there are some other remedies to help get rid of them. I haven't tried the vinegar or baking soda yet, but I want to try them if I see any ants this summer. It would be cheaper than buying more ant traps!

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