Ants are one of the most pervasive creatures in the world. Every landmass on the globe—with the exception of the Arctic, Antarctica, and some isolated islands—has at least one indigenous ant species. Thanks to their great populations and small size, ants can easily find their way into your home, contaminating your food and compromising your home’s structural integrity. While calling a professional exterminator is the best way to handle a full infestation, there are plenty of household remedies to keep ants out of your humble abode.
1. Keep things clean.
Ants thrive in clutter, which gives them plenty of hiding spots and steady food source of crumbs and forgotten food scraps. Keep your home clean and clutter-free. Wipe down your cupboards, drawers, and counters. The slightest stain or drip of jam is an ant feast waiting to happen. Make it a daily habit to empty your trashcans into the dumpster outside to keep it from overflowing. A simple mix of dish soap and water is also effective in destroying the chemical trails that ants use to communicate and create paths into your home.
2. Seal up your home.
An ant can enter your home through a hole smaller than a grain of salt. Inspect the outer wall of your home, identifying any cracks and holes. Pay special attention to areas around doors and windowsills. Use weatherproof caulking, as it will last longer.
3. Fight back with strong smells.
Ants have an amazing sense of smell that helps them locate food and forms the foundation for how they communicate, but there are a variety of foods, herbs, and spices that will disrupt that smell, causing ants a lot of discomfort. Some strong smells include:
- Mint – Mint offers a light, refreshing taste and aroma that goes well in gum and mojitos, but it’s that same smell that keeps ants away. Plant mint around your home, focusing primarily on doors, windows, and other areas of entry.
- Cinnamon – Place cinnamon sticks near doors and on windowsills. If you find ants in your pantry, place some cinnamon sticks in corners and on shelves.
- Garlic cloves – Even some humans have trouble stomaching the smell of garlic, so ants don’t stand a chance. Peel and slice or crush some cloves of garlic and place them wherever ants are a problem.
4. Draw a line.
With chalk, that is. For this to be effective, use chalk containing talcum powder. As soft as it is to us, to ants and any insect with an exoskeleton, the powder is actually sharp and abrasive. Draw chalk lines around windows and doors, or sprinkle chalk powder around areas where you’ve seen ants.
5. Mix up some homemade pesticides.
Over-the-counter pesticides often contain harsh chemicals and can be dangerous, especially if you have pets and kids in the house. Fortunately, you can mix up your very own pesticides using ingredients around the house.
- Mix one teaspoon of cayenne pepper with 10 drops of citrus essential oils in a cup of warm water. Spray in affected areas.
- Mix an ounce of orange oil, 3 tablespoons of soap, and a gallon of water. Spray directly on ants.
- Boil dried chrysanthemum flowers in water for about 20 minutes. Strain the mix, let it cool, and pour it into a spray bottle. The brew contains a chemical that directly affects an ant’s nervous system.
If your infestation gets out of hand, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from a professional exterminator!