Ant mounds and hills can ruin a perfect garden view, some ants can also be dangerous to a curious pet or a small child that is disturbing them, and they can be a real nuisance when moving your lawn and trying to get around those pesky ant mounts.
However, if you want to get rid of ants and you have small children or pets, you don’t want to use pesticides or other substances that could be harmful.
It is therefore important to find a way to get rid of ants naturally, it is also usually easier and cheaper if you have the items around your home.
Do I Have To Get Rid Of Ants?
Ants aren’t necessarily bad, and if they aren’t bothering you or they are in a part of your garden away from any part of your home, then they could be beneficial.
Ants dig tunnels underneath the soil, this helps aerate and loosen the soil, this improves soil structure and drainage. These tunnels also help carry water, oxygen, and nutrients to nearby plant roots helping the growth and development of plants.
Ants also help to decompose organic matter such as leaves and dead insects, this releases nutrients into the soil and gets these nutrients to nearby plants.
However, ants can be an invasive species and if they were to get into your house, they could become difficult to get rid of, so if you are concerned about this, it is best to get rid of them beforehand.
How Do I Get Rid Of Ants?
Here is a list of natural ways to get rid of ants without affecting your plants and using potentially harmful pesticides.
This is a classic. Soap and water are a great way and an all-natural method to get rid of ants. Soap and water are also very cost-effective as all you need to make some soapy water is dish soap or normal all-natural soap and some tap water.
To mix the soapy water all you need to do is add one tablespoon of soap to every quart of water. After making the mixture, put the liquid into a spray bottle.
Take your spray bottle into the garden and spray it generously around the ant mount, make sure to get any visible ant trails or plants that are near the ant mound.
Ants communicate using pheromones, meaning they have to pick up the scent of where the ants have been as that is how they know where to find the food.
The soap kills that scent and therefore the ants become confused over where the food is. Alternatively, with dish soap, you can spray the mixture directly onto the ants to kill them.
Unlike some chemical alternatives, the dish soap and water do not harm any plants that may be around the ants. To kill the whole colony simply pour dish soap and water down the ant mound.
Salt is a very common household item and can be very effective when getting rid of ants. Salt is a desiccant, which is a substance that is used to induce or sustain a state of dryness.
Meaning that when it is applied to ants it completely dehydrates an ants’ exoskeleton. As a result of this, the ants will soon die from dehydration.
To apply the salt, you don’t want to litter salt around your garden, instead, fill a spray bottle with water and mix a small amount of salt in with it, then spray this mixture onto ant trails and around the ant mound.
Be careful when making this mixture, however, and be very cautious when spraying it around your garden. Because salt is a desiccant it can be very harmful to plants and vegetation.
Deterring the Ants
If you have ants then there is a reason you have ants. There must be some sort of renewable food source near that the ants are living off of.
Sometimes this is a natural food source such as a patch of unkempt vegetation, however, in most cases, this will be a compost pile/ bin, organic waste, or your trash bin.
To deter the ants from using these food sources it is important to move these food sources away.
Ants will only take paths to food sources if there are pheromones to guide them, if this trail leads nowhere, this will get back to the colony and they should move elsewhere.
If you cannot move these items for whatever reason, make sure that when you are using a different method such as salt or soapy water, you use the mixture liberally around the ants’ food source as well.
This will cut them off from their food source and they should leave to find food elsewhere.
White vinegar is a great household item when it comes to getting rid of insects and ants are no different. You need to take your white vinegar and mix it in equal parts with water before funneling it into a spray bottle.
White vinegar is very acidic and the ants’ bodies cannot stand the level of acidity. The ants, therefore, die quickly from the acid. If you want to get rid of a whole ant mound, take this mixture and pour it down the mound.
You need to be cautious when using white vinegar and water to spray ants, however. The acidity can be very harmful to plants nearby and can even affect the soil in large doses.
So remember to be careful and only use small doses if spraying directly onto ants.
Cinnamon is a natural pest repellent and can be easily accessed in the home. It can also be used in many different ways to different effects.
You can use ground cinnamon to sprinkle in and around the ant mounds, when an ant inhales cinnamon, it suffocates and dies due to the dense, dusty nature of ground cinnamon.
It also has a distinctive smell that confuses the ants’ pheromones.
You can also use a few drops of cinnamon oil in a spray bottle of water to confuse the ants and repel them away from any food sources. Make sure to spray lightly onto any ant trails or around garbage bins and compost.
Cinnamon can be harmful to plants, however, so be cautious when spraying. Cinnamon oil is also very strong so make sure to be careful when creating your mixture, you don’t want the oil too strong otherwise it may affect the surrounding soil.
Baby Powder or Baking Soda
Both baby powder and baking soda are very fine powders. Because of this, they are able to suffocate ants. Ants breathe through spiracles, these are pores on the outside of their exoskeleton.
Because of its fine nature, the particles in baby powder and baking soda can clog up these pores and cut off the oxygen, killing the ants. If using baking soda or baby powder, sprinkle generous amounts onto the ant trails.
Baby powder is not harmful to plants and can actually be used to keep moisture out of the roots, as well as kill unwanted insect guests.
Chill or Cayenne Pepper
Chillies and cayenne peppers have a distinctive and strong smell, they can therefore be used to repel ants as these strong spices will mask the trail of the ant and confuse the ants’ pheromones.
As soon as they don’t know where the food is then they should leave. Although strong spices are good for a temporary repellant, they have not yet been proven to work as a permanent solution, so it is worth using this method alongside deterrence or soapy water.
It is also important to keep some pets away from these trails if you are using strong spices as the strong flavors can upset most dogs and cats.
Diatomaceous earth may sound very scientific and out of this world, and when I tell you that diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized shells of diatoms (a type of small sea creature).
These small fossils are sharp enough to kill ants when they walk across them, but people and pets can walk across them with no injuries at all.
There are two types of diatomaceous earth, one is used for cleaning swimming pools and the other is a food substance used in cooking.
The diatomaceous earth that cleans pools contains some insecticides and can be harmful to pets, so make sure to get the diatomaceous earth that is used in cooking.
Use diatomaceous earth by sprinkling the ant trails with it and placing some around the mounds, as well as impaling the ants, diatomaceous earth can actually absorb the oil on the outer covering of the ants’ bodies and dehydrate them.
Diatomaceous earth is a very useful substance to have around as it can also be used to get rid of pests such as bedbugs, fleas, and cockroaches.