57 All Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Ants
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I’ve been searching for some all natural ways to get rid of ants for a while now. We have a lot of fire ants down here in Georgia as well as many other kinds of ants. These buggers keep showing up in our home, in the chicken pen, in the dog’s food, and in our garden!
And there are ant hills everywhere! I think ants are going to take over the world. They are the true zombie apocalypse! Isn’t that kind of more terrifying than the walking dead?
Anyway, it feels like that’s possible sometimes here. If left undisturbed their ant hills can get to 3 feet wide and over a foot tall. Something must be done to get rid of these ants!
But I really hate the thought of broadcasting poison where I could expose my children, my dog, and my chickens to nasty chemicals that could make them sick. So I’ve been looking for some all natural options for ant control that I can try.
Turns out there are tons of ideas for controlling ants that don’t involve using chemicals.
In fact, I found 57 all-natural ways to get rid of ants, so to help sort through them all, I made a big list of all the ideas I found. Leave me a comment with your results if you’ve tried any of these.
In order to really get control of an ant infestation, it really helps to understand a few things about how ants behave.
- Ants use pheromones and sensors on their antennae to talk to each other.
- Ants communicate so effectively that in a colony of ants working together is as intelligent as a human brain.
- Ants are more active during a dry spell than during periods of a lot of rain.
- A colony of ants consists of thousands to millions of worker ants and one or more queens.
- The workers are sent out in search of food and leave a scent trail of pheromones to lead other ants to good sources of food.
- The workers find food and bring food back to the queen or queens, larvae, and other ants.
- The queen does not usually leave the nest.
- The colony will not die unless you kill the queen or queens.
So what does all that mean?
Just that ants are very smart, the ants you see are only a tiny part of the whole colony, and that you have to kill the queen or queens in order to get rid of that colony.
There’s no way to get rid of all the ants on your property. And it’s really not a good idea to try to do so.
Ants have an important role in our ecosystem through their activity aerating and bringing nutrients into the soil as well as controlling populations of other insects through predation and being food for some animals themselves.
But should they get to come into my house and eat my potato plants? Nah.
Here are 57 ideas for controlling ants naturally.
DIY Ant Bait Recipes
Ants really like sugary, sweet foods as well as protein rich foods. If you set out bait with tempting foods and add in an ingredient that is toxic, then you can get poison into the ant colony and potentially kill the queen.
Tips for DIY ant baits
- Be patient! It can take 1-3 months to completely get rid of ants with homemade ant baits
- Be strategic! Place your ant bait along the trail the ants are already taking, but NOT on their mound.
- Be persistent! You will need to replace your bait every 2-3 weeks until the mound is killed.
- Be flexible! You need enough toxin to kill the ant, but not before it can deliver the toxin to the mound. So you may want to experiment with different concentrations of the toxin as well as different toxins.
- Be careful! Some of these toxins can be harmful to children and pets.
Ant toxin 1: Boric acid/Borax
When ants ingest boric acid, it acts as an abrasive agent within their gastrointestinal system and disrupts their metabolism so they die.
But boric acid is toxic to humans and pets who ingest it as well, so keep this one away from an area where your kids or pet might have access to it. In humans (especially little ones/children) and pets, boric acid can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and can be a skin and eye irritant.
Boric acid can also sterilize garden soil, so be careful when using it around your plants.
For all recipes add 1/2-1 tsp of boric acid per cup of bait. That equates to approximately 1-2% boric acid.
- Any jelly + peanut butter + boric acid
- Honey (or corn syrup) + canned cat food (fishy) + boric acid
- Honey + butter (or vegetable shortening) + boric acid
- 10 tsp Sugar + 2 cups water + boric acid
- Applesauce + boric acid
Ant toxin 2: Instant Grits
Instant grits (or other grains) will kill ants by expanding once they’ve been ingested.
- You don’t need a recipe for this one. Just sprinkle instant grits around the mound or in their path. They’ll find the grits, eat them, and then take some back to the mound.
Ant toxin 3: Dry yeast
Once ingested, the active yeast will continue to expand until the ant dies.
- 2 parts molasses + 1 part sugar + 1 part active dry yeast
Ant toxin 4: Baking Soda
Baking soda works in the same way as yeast and grits, gut expansion leading to death.
- 1 part baking soda + 1 part powdered sugar sprinkle along ant trails
- Same as above, but add 1 tsp powdered ascorbic acid + 1/2 tsp honey and roll into small balls
The power of distraction
If you just need to get rid of ants for a little while like when you’re on a picnic for example, then try distracting them with an ant favorite.
- Place a slice of watermelon or cantaloupe or a bit of honey in an area several feet away from your picnic blanket. **Make sure you don’t place your blanket over a mound.**
DIY Ant Trap Recipes
- Leave a piece of peanut brittle in the sun. The ants love this treat, but get stuck!
- Leave some tape sticky side up in their path to catch them.
- Mix 1 tsp dish soap and 1 tsp cooking oil in 4 cups of water and leave in their path. They go in and can’t get out.
How to Kill ant hills
To treat an ant mound, choose a warm sunny day between noon and 2 pm. This is the time the queen is said to be most active.
Don’t step on or disturb the mound before you treat it as the workers will hide and protect the queen if they have any warning of danger.
If it doesn’t work on the first try, repeat daily until they’re all dead.
- Mix 1/4 cup liquid hand soap with 1 gal of cool tap water. Pour 1-2 cups on the hill and repeat after an hour to make sure it penetrates deeply into the mound. Will kill grass and plants.
- Saturate the mound with vinegar. Will kill grass and plants.
- Pour boiling water onto the mound
- Dump several liters of Coke or soda water onto the mound
- 1 gallon of orange juice in 2 gallons of water plus 2 tablespoons of dish soap
- 1 cup of dish soap + 1 cup lime + 4 gallons of water
- Use a meat baster to blast the mound with talc powder. Stab and squeeze.
DIY Ant Repellents
With ants, you really have to set your boundaries or they will invade and take what they like whenever they like.
There are several recipes for ant repellents that can be used in the garden, home, or animal pens. Some are sprays and some are powders.
With powders, you can literally draw a line in the soil or at entries to your home to stop ants from entering. Make sure the line is 1-3 inches wide and reapply every week or after a rain.
For sprays, mist the boundary you want to set and allow it to dry. Reapply weekly or after a rain (if outside).
Ant repellants that are also Great for the garden:
- Mix equal parts of dried peppermint + rock dust + seaweed powder + alfalfa meal + cayenne pepper. Sprinkle around plants to deter ants. Reapply after rain.
- Diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle on or around your plants. Ants must walk through 3 inches of DE to be affected. Also treats other insects in the garden like aphids.
- Biochar (or powdered charcoal) will repel the ants and is great for the garden. Just don’t use charcoal from your grill.
- Bone meal is an excellent fertilizer for your garden, and ants hate the smell.
- Apply Vaseline, lard, or other slippery substance around the stem of infected plants
- Garden lime: ants hate lime, but don’t over do this in your garden. Always check the pH of your soil before adding lime.
- Cinnamon: Ants hate cinnamon. Sprinkle it around your plants to deter them. You can also do this in your home, but that just sounds messy to me.
- Cayenne pepper: Same as cinnamon
- Manure tea: horse manure plus hot water. **use only aged or composted manure** **don’t use this inside your home**
- Used coffee grounds: ants hate coffee! They won’t cross a line of slightly moist coffee grounds. Coffee is a great soil conditioner.
- Soak orange and lemon peels in hot water overnight. The next day, remove the peels and pour the water around your plants.
- Toss orange and lemon peels into your garden.
Prevent ants At doorways and windows:
- Garden lime: sprinkle in a line to form a barrier or broadcast on your lawn to deter mounds
- Mix 1 tsp table salt + 1/2 tsp white pepper in 1 qt water. Spray wherever you see ants.
- Peppermint spray: make a solution of peppermint soap and water to spray wherever you see ants
- Essential oils spray: Recipes range from 10-20 drops of citrus, peppermint, clove, tea tree, and/or pine oil per cup of water. Use whichever ones you have. Adjust the spray as needed for efficacy.
- 50:50 vinegar and water spray
If you see ants in your house, reach for these.
If you’ve got ants marching inside your house, use ammonia, Citra solv, or vinegar to clean the areas where they are moving around. This will get rid of ants you see and the scent trail they leave for fellow ants.
Try to identify where they’re coming in and grab one of the following items ants hate to prevent them from coming back.
- Bay leaves
- Cucumber peels
- Garlic cloves
- Dried or fresh mint leaves
- Baby powder/talc powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Citrus oil soaked string
- Lemon or orange peels
- A sprig of lavender flowers or culinary lavender
- Tea tree, clove, or pine oil: soak a q-tip and place a dab anywhere you see them entering the home.
All-natural lethal ant spray recipes
- Almost any household cleaner will kill ants including those that contain bleach and ammonia.
- Soak the stems of a soybean plant in water for 24 hours. Then use the water to spray anywhere you see ants (or aphids).
- 1 drop of pure pine oil into 1 qt water. The pine oil is toxic to ants but smells great to us.
- 1 cigarette into a quart of water let sit overnight. The nicotine will kill the ants.
- Citra solve (d-limonene) concentrated cleanser
Grow these plants that ants hate.
Whether you use them as companion plants in the garden, in a landscape border, or among the foundation plants around your home, utilizing these plants that ants hate can help with your ant problem.
- Peppermint: plant in containers only to prevent it from overtaking your garden.
- Tansy: Can be invasive.
- Sweet bay tree: a large tree that can be pruned into a bush.
- Lavender: loves sun and well-draining soil.
- Garlic: An excellent companion plant for tomatoes.
- Sweet fern: A shrub, native to North America with medicinal properties.
Have you tried any of these methods to get rid of ants?
Let us know which methods worked for you and which didn’t in the comments below.
Thank you for putting this together. We love in South Georgia and battle several types of ants, including fire ants constantly. My vegetable garden is riddled with them, our yard has endless mounds, and the ants are willing to attack at even the slightest offense into their territory. It is so frustrating. A few months ago our baby girl was toddling in the yard and stepped in fire ants. She had a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction to the bites. We live 25 minutes from the hospital. It was the worst ride of our lives. The doctors keep telling us to make sure we avoid ants and I just give them an irritated look. I live in Georgia with 12, mostly wild, acres of land, exactly how can I avoid ants… All that to say, I would love to hear which of these methods have worked for you personally. Have you been able to get a safer yard and garden? Our daughter loves to be outside and she misses it so much, but ants rule our yards. 🙁
Hey, Shirley! What a terrifying experience. We are in north Georgia, and the fire ants are really bad here, too. They are extremely invasive and aggressive. I still get bit by ants all the time. I can only imagine the constant terror you must feel worrying about your baby getting bitten by an ant! You can hardly let her outside. I’m not sure what I would do if I were in your shoes. Many of these methods for killing mounds do work, and I personally use the vinegar around our sidewalk for weeds and ants. But it sure wouldn’t be enough to get your yard completely rid of ants (plus it would kill your lawn). The repelling herbs also work, but not 100%. For me, when it comes to risking life or death for my baby, I feel no shame in talking to a pest control company. I always feel it’s better to avoid chemicals if I can, but would not hesitate to use them to protect my children. I’m so sorry for your situation, and I hope you can find a solution that works for you. (hugs)
Laura, thanks for your response. I agree and that when it’s this serious the chemicals come back into the running as an option. Unfortunately the fire ants seem to be incredibly resilient to even the pest control options. I’m going to try some of the mound killing recipes. Thank you!
I live and garden in Central Texas, which is known as the worst infestation on the entire planet. However, all it takes is one mound to ruin your day!!! We use the product “Come and Get It” and pure orange oil. The orange oil is perfect for a smaller or newer mound and has the advantage of speed. I use 1/2 cup into a gallon of water; start at the outside of the mound and pour in circles getting closer to the center as you go, then pour the rest into the middle. In a few hours they will all be dead. Come and Get It is safe for organic gardens and will not harm us or pets. It can be used indoors also. Boric acid works too. Essential oils are not practical even if they work, which they generally don’t. Orange oil will keep ants away, but only for a few days.
Thanks for your tips, Leslie!
Great article i am excited to see how well this will help me. My wife is getting sick of the ants and told me to find a solution. Thank you for the advice in advance.
I love this list. Be sure if you have pets to use the Food-grade DE , it is a great deterrent to ants as well as fleas and ticks. I grow mint and lavender as well as rosemary in lots of pots near entryways to the house. We live on a 40acre farm in almost Upstate SC. The fire ants here are ridiculous. I still spot treat with Andro, and if I have too I use the stinky stuff.
Thanks, Jodie! I love that you’re using aromatic herbs to help keep the ants away!
Great article! I live in Las Vegas. Being that we have a Desert Climate there aren’t much in the way of insects except for ants, spiders, and cockroaches. I really dislike using poisons so I have been experimenting over the last few years. What I have discovered is that both ants and cockroaches are killed by Sobey water because they have a waxy exoskeleton that is dissolved on contact. Cockroaches literally turn into gelatinous blobs. This is a wonderful way to kill them if you see them. However Ants have a way of telling all their friends to come visit. They don’t seem to mind crawling over dried up soap. They hate peppermint oil when you first spray it but they don’t really care the next day. Cinnamon oil is amazing! If you spray cinnamon oil and water they will not return to that area for a long time. I just go on the Internet and I buy the cheapest cinnamon oil I can get, mix it with water in a spray bottle. Kills on contact and they don’t return!!! I have been trying to figure out what to do in the garden. What is funny as I thought today I wonder if charcoal would work against ants. Charcoal is amazing for soil too!!! Thanks for the info 🐜💀🐜💀🐜💀🐜💀🐜
Tried grits, the fire ants waved, said ‘Thank you very much’ then carried it underground. Tried mixing fire ants between two mounds, read that they will war with the newcomers and basically destroy themselves. Believe the queens found some commonality and proceeded to multiply. Both mounds are busier than ever. The ants don’t play fair and I don’t either, try to be organic elsewhere, but fire ants cause a ‘Katie bar the door’ reaction from me, and if there is one within an ant mile he will find me.
Totally understand where you are coming from!
I have used Diatamous Earth and it seems to work pretty well. My husband says to pour beer on them. He did it the other night and said it works. I have not tried it yet.
That just gives them a buzz and a hang over the next day. It’s sugar, just like soda pop, so they love it. They may stagger for a bit, but they’ll get over it.