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Natural Ways to Control or Exterminate Ants

Ants: friends or foes

As kids we were fascinating by ants, and by time we grow to adulthood we consider them only pests and continually dream up ways to eliminate the very resilient intruder.

Quite a number of experts consider ants the most successful species on earth because of their ability to adapt to a multitude of environments they've accidentally been introduced to. They not only adapt, they thrive, so the ongoing battle to manage them has to deal with that specifically.

Anyone that is still fascinated with ants can find any number of places to get more information than you could probably take in in a lifetime.

What I want to do is talk about the numerous natural ways people have experimented with to institute their version of ant control.

Most of us tend to pick up the phone and call an exterminator to kill an ant, but the ant problem has a very good chance of being solved using natural methods that really work.

Ant sending out battle cry


Do Plants Really Ward Off Ants

The one proposed natural ant control I really can't get behind is the one that suggests you plant things like sweet fern to repel red ants, and tansy, spearmint and pennyroyal to fight off others.

Supposedly the ants don't like it and will stay away. I don't think this is practical at all, and wouldn't recommend trying it unless it just happens to be the types of plants you want around the outside of your house.

Things like this don't really work because of the ability of an ant to adapt to its environment and simply find another way to enter you house, assuming there is really any ant control there in the first place.

How to effectively manage fire ants

Most ant problems can never be totally eradicated, as far as killing off every ant, but they can be managed to the point of having negligible, if any impact inside your house.

With that in mind, I've personally used a simple and effective remedy to control those vicious little fire ants, which at one point had so invested our yard that even children that played there were attacked on such a consistent basis they didn't want to play outside.

What I tried was boiling water and pouring it on the middle of the anthill without disturbing the mound before pouring in the water so the queen couldn't be moved to safety.

I had a huge yard of about an acre to manage with the ants, so obviously it was a lot of work. But I took a day or two and did it, and amazingly there were very few ants any longer in the yard, and if a mound started being built again, it was nothing to boil a pan of water and pour it on the middle.

One thing about boiling water, when they're dead, you know they're dead. There's no uncertainty. This really works good, and it lasts.

Fire ant mound


Other natural methods to exterminate ants

So what are some other ways you can be the exterminator of ants, or better yet: the Terminator of ants. I like the sounds of that.

There are a lot of different methods to control ant infestation I'm going to mention, and probably the most common is a variety of methods people use to mess up that ant run. By ant run I mean where they follow one another by leaving a scent trail behind, and the rest of the ants follow that.

Most people offering these solutions don't know that's what they're doing, they just know ants won't cross certain barriers. When you look at it though, I think it's because when ants lose the scent of their mound, if they return, they are attacked because they're no longer identified as being one of them.

Possibly another reason this type of ant pest control works is it many interfere with the scent trail left by the ants. Either way, it's one of the more potent forms of natural control to use, and it can be employed via a number of different mediums.

Cinnamon gets rid of ants in a hurry

Here's another natural ant control remedy that I have personally tried, and so can vouch that without a doubt it really works.

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I just had an ant investation recently, which entailed two different ant species; one black and one red. They were entering through a light switch cover, and so I took the cinnamon and placed it on the insulation behind the plate, then I sprinkled it across the ant runs, and around some of the places they were trying find food at.

I was definitely the terminator exterminator of the ants, as it immediately worked and the problem was solved.

As with all types of ant remedies, eventually the ants adapt and look for other means to attain their food, but cinnamon definitely works to immediately give you relief from an ant infestation, and I found it works for quite some time before having to reapply it.

Pharaoh Ant Photo


Some people swear by vinegar as a natural ant control

Another natural ant repellent I've heard has worked for a number of people is plain vinegar. All you have to do is fill a squirt bottle with vinegar and spray it wherever the ants have been seen.

Those using this method say the strong vinegar smell goes away quickly, and you can just let it dry.

A variation for that pest control for ants I've heard is you can use apple cider vinegar and mix it 50/50 with water. Again, simply put it in a spray bottle and spray it where the ants enter or have been.

Glass cleaner and liquid soap as an ant repellant

Another spray solution for getting rid of ants is to take an equal solution of glass cleaner and liguid soap and mix it together and put it in a spray bottle, and again, spray areas where the ant infestations seems to be coming from and where their ant runs are.

Argentine ant photo


Baby powder as the ant exterminator

Another natural pest control for ants is baby powder, which according to some, is best when using the scented talcum kind.

Some claim if you see a few ants at first, if you sprinkle it on them it stops a major ant investation from occurring. But even if you don't stop them at that point, you can just apply the power on them when you discover them, and the claim is it keeps them away for quite a while.

You can also sprinkle the baby powder around the bowls of your pets to get rid of ants, and keep them from infiltrating their food. 

Use Chalk to stop ants in their tracks

One very simple and quick solution to ant investation is to take a piece of regular white chalk and draw a line across where they are coming in.

Observations are they won't cross the line once it's up. 

Peppermint spray will keep the ants at bay

Another spray type of item used for ant control is to make a peppermint spray.

Just take some peppermint essential oil and put a dozen or so drops in a spray bottle filled with water, and the ants will also refuse to cross this area as well.

You may want to try a different remedy if you have cats, as it's possible it could harm them.

Carpenter ant photo


Cayenne pepper can stop the ant run

Another ant method to stop those ants marching in their tracks is powered cayenne pepper, which when laid down, will keep ants from crossing into wherever you want to stop them.

Chili powder can be used in a similar way for ant control.

Regular black pepper is also another very inexpensive way to combat ants.

Cream of tarter for your ant problem

Cream of tarter has also been said to be a great barrier to an ant investation if you know where they've coming into your home. Just apply it around the area and the ants won't come in.

Boric acid mixed with about anything sweet

A long term solution to ant control is using boric acid with something sweet. The easiest way is to just mix sugar with it and the ants will carry it back to their mound and infect other ants.

People have also used jellies or corn syrup to mix with boric acid to do the same thing.

This wouldn't be safe to do around children of pets.

Bullet ant photo


Use Molasses to Kill Ants

Molasses evidently can do something similar to boric acid, except it's much safer if there are pet or children concerns.

One molasses past conconction I found included 1/3 cup of molasses, six tablespoons of active dry yeast, and six tablespoons of granulated sugar. You mix it all together until it's smooth and blended good.

What I've heard it does is cause mortal indigestion that kills and ant that east it. Just put it in little containers around the house.

Another type of natural ant control

If you don't like using liquid mixtures or other methods mentioned above, another possibility is to use either bay leaves or cloves put at strategic areas in the ant runs and where they're coming in.

Other places could be behind your kitchen cannisters or around the counter tops.

Those using this method say it works great, probably for similar reasons the spray liguid solutions work.

Fire ant worker photo


An outdoor solution to protecting from ruining your barbecue or picnic

This is really easy, and when you hear it you'll be surprised you haven't thought of it before, if you already haven't heard it.

If you have a picnic table or place you're placing or eating your food outside, just put the legs of your table in a small pan of water before putting your food down or sitting at the table.

No ants will bother your picnic with that practical step.

Why so many ways described to be the natural ant exterminator?

I went through so many different ways to kill or stop ants because many people many not have the ingredients to use in their house, and part of the strategy is to use everyday household items or products to do it.

There's also the allergy and comfort factor involved, where people can't or won't use certain methods to kill ants.

So with those ways of ant pest control or ant extermination mentioned above, there should be any number of ways the vast majority of people would feel comfortable doing, and have the necessary elements available to do it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 28, 2016:

These are all wonderful solutions to try. I like that they are safe and use household items so I don't have to go out and purchase something extra just to get rid of the ants.

maryif on March 02, 2014:

@pestcontrolproduc - Did you mean the antioxidants resulted in more bugs? Just because the radiation failed to kill the eggs, larvae & bugs that were already present does not mean that the radiation itself actually resulted in "more" bugs than already existed.

About the article - a lot of typos, how many times can you misspell "infestation"!?

As for the recommendations - I've personally tried Cinnamon powder & essential oil & they worked great, but wore off in less than three days!! When I first applied no ants would cross over or touch the powder. By the third day they were crawling all over it as if it wasn't even there :( I've had pretty much the same experience with clove & peppermint, both the dried herbs & essential oils.

pestcontrolproduc on May 17, 2013:

Great article. A comment on turmeric powder. A friend of mine who used to work in the spice trade often comments on the potent antioxidant power of turmeric (due to the curcumin content). When he was importing the powder from Australia, the Australian vendor sent it through an irradiation chamber to kill bugs. However, the antioxidants in the turmeric protected the ant and beetle larvae against the radiation treatment so that radiation resulted in more bugs, not less.

Faysal on November 03, 2012:

Nice image of carpenter ant. This is the largest type of ant. It is very essential to know this ant because of getting rid of it. They are very destructive. They destroy wood for making nest, not for eating. It is very hard to get rid of carpenter ant. Early identification of presence of this pest helps getting rid of it. For some good information anyone may visit PestMall com.

Anita on September 04, 2012:

Good info. I've used boric acid & it does work. I've also used food grade diatomaceous earth. I just sprinkled it along their trail & they were gone in no time.

HomerMCho on September 05, 2011:

Great to know about these tiny yet magnificent ants.Thanks for the great information,MakinBacon.

RTalloni on February 17, 2010:

These are great tips. Thanks for putting the info together!

Kebennett1 from San Bernardino County, California on July 12, 2009:

Good ideas! We have used the Cinnimon and it worked. Not that day, but by the next day our indoor ant infestation was gone. They were all over the house too! We will try some of these ideas with our Ant problems outside. Thank you.

Beau on July 12, 2009:

I am down-loading and printing the material listed here. I'll let you know how the different methods work. Thanks for the info.

jppayal on July 02, 2009:

You can use the turmeric powder to keep the ants away. You can find it easily in any indian grocery shop.

Take two spoon of powder put straight in the nest.

jenn moore on June 28, 2009:

fantastic article. I have a4 year old with asthma and giving info on sprays and dusting powders gave me a choice. The cinnamon was my initial application then the vinegar. Worked fantastically without causing chemical interactions.Thank you so much.

Dori S Matte from Hillsborough on June 09, 2009:

Very very informative. Today, I had my ant sprayed outside. I had one mound that was at least a foot tall. Could've saved some $$!! I will try these on my carport and front porch. I have heard of some of these but I think cayenne pepper is great.


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