How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally: Eliminate House Ants — Carpenter Ants

Get Rid of House Ants and Carpenter Ants Naturally

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

We know how to get rid of ants naturally because we’ve done it for years! We’ll show you how to make and use homemade ant bait, diatomaceous earth, & more.

I take pride in my advanced detective skills, and I apply them to almost everything! For example, figuring out who ate a sticky snack on the couch, who wore muddy shoes in the house, and most importantly, where is the entry point of the army of ants invading our house?

When the ants invaded, I figured out how to get rid of ants naturally. And here’s how we did it!

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

Having ants everywhere outdoors doesn’t bother me. But when I see them treading upon the kitchen countertops I spring into action. Therefore, the past two spring/summer seasons we have successfully rid our house of two different types of ants. Also, we decided it was time to show you how to get rid of ants naturally!

Identifying Ants

When learning how to get rid of ants naturally, detective work is an integral part of eradicating them. Furthermore, finding the most effective treatment for ants depends on the specific type you have invading your house. To explain, each species has different behaviors, preferences in food, and eradication solutions.

Some ants are specific to the region, so we only have experience dealing with certain types. So in this article, we’ll cover remedies for odorous house ants and carpenter ants. In addition, read the end of the article for tips that may work on other species.

Odorous House Ants

You will find these ants anywhere you have sweets laying around.

Odorous house ants will leave a chemical pheromone trail wherever they travel. If you kill them, other ants will simply follow the trail and show up in the same places. For this reason, kill the entire colony.

When you see the first few ants, you can sponge them (and the surrounding area) with soapy water to eliminate the pheromone trail. Immediately work to figure out where they’re getting into your house, and begin placing homemade ant bait at the entry points.

How to Get Rid of House Ants

Homemade Ant Bait

Borax will kill odorous house ants, and powdered sugar will attract them.

Make a homemade ant bait by thoroughly mixing one part borax with 3 parts powdered sugar.

Fill tiny containers (such as bottle caps) with this homemade ant bait and place them as close to the place where you suspect ants are entering your house. If you see trails of ants, place small containers of the mixture directly in their path. This prevents most of them from traveling all-around your house if they have easy access to this sugary treat.

(Have pets or kids who might get into this powdery mixture? Try this instead: mix one cup warm water with ½ cup sugar and 3 tablespoons borax. Soak it up with cotton balls and place them in shallow dishes near ant trails.)

Resist the urge to kill all the ants you see. They will carry the bait back to the nest, unable to differentiate between the borax and sugar, and the borax particles will eventually kill the entire colony. The more homemade ant bait carried back to the colony, the fewer ants you will have.

More Tips for House Ants

Spray vinegar near baseboards, in any cracks, and on countertops where they may be traveling. You can allow the vinegar to dry on surfaces or wipe with a clean cloth – this eliminates their chemical trail and will deter some of the stragglers. Repeat several times a day. (find white vinegar here)

Practicing good sanitation practices is one of the best ways to make your home less attractive to ants. Keep spills, crumbs, and garbage cleaned up in the kitchen. Be sure to store all food – especially sweets – in tightly sealed containers or zip-top bags. They will get into things like jars of honey that have drips on the side or around the lid, so sealing the jar in a zip-top bag will protect it.


How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

The ants will choose more desirable bait (like spilled soda or cookie crumbs) over this natural bait, so learning how to get rid of ants naturally means keeping your place clean!

Carpenter Ants

You will find Carpenter ants around homes in wooded areas. They don’t carry the homemade ant bait back to their nests, so you have to kill them at the source. This means you have to do a little detective work to find the nest(s). Don’t bother using the borax/sugar bait – they’ll just feed on it like little piggies at a trough.

They will typically live outdoors very close to the house, and eventually, enter your house in search of food and water.

How to Find the Carpenter Ants Nest

Carpenter ants live in wood and tunnel through it. The best clue to look for is small piles of very fine sawdust – the remains of the wood they have chewed through. You will typically find carpenter ant nests in moist wood in foundations, decks, woodpiles near your house, trees, gaps between boards, etc.

If you take some time to figure out where ants are entering the house, you can usually track them back to a nest. It’s easiest if you kill all the ants in sight, then watch for new ants to appear to determine their general entry point. This may give clues to holes that need to be sealed up, rotting foundation where they’re living, or cracks under doors they’re traveling under.

Diatomaceous Earth

The best natural remedy we have found for eradicating carpenter ants is Diatomaceous Earth (DE). DE is completely natural and organic. It is made from tiny skeletal remains of algae-like plants.

DE is lethal dust for insects. Its microscopic razor-sharp edges will cut through the body of insects, drying them out and killing them. If ingested by carpenter ants, it will shred their insides. There are different types of DE, so keep in mind you must get food grade DE for pest control. (You do not want the DE that is sold for swimming pools – it has a different make-up.)

Food grade DE is completely safe to be used around kids and pets and can be sprinkled around the home and yard without posing a threat. Find food grade Diatomaceous Earth here.

How to Apply the DE

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

In order to get rid of a colony of carpenter ants, DE must be injected directly into the nest. We used a medicine dropper to squirt dry DE into cracks where we found them nesting. You can also use a bulb duster gadget to spray it into cracks or holes. And remember, DE must be reapplied after it rains.

You can also mix the Diatomaceous Earth powder with water and apply using a spray bottle (either a small bottle or the pump-action yard sprayers). Simply mix 2 Tbsp of powder per quart of water and spray wherever you have ant problems.

The best advice I can give to get the most out of your DE treatments is to stay on top of it! This pesky ant species may relocate their nests and find new ways into your house. If you see a resurgence, put your detective hat back on and find that nest.

Other Tips

Here are some remedies DIY Natural readers (thanks Y’all!) have used to treat ant problems:

  • Some ants like protein and grease. Mix a spoonful of peanut butter with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of borax. Using a plastic straw, tap the end into the mixture repeatedly until the straw is full of the mixture. Cut the straw into ½ inch pieces and place them next to ant trails.
  • Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and place it in areas ants are crawling around. (find 100% pure essential oils here)
  • Sprinkle cinnamon (being careful not to get it on things that will stain) near entry points.
  • Some ants dislike baby powder. Sprinkle around the perimeter of the house or indoors where ants are entering your house.
  • Rub a little Vaseline near the areas they are entering the house.
Note: we also have a great article on how to get rid of aphids naturally.

How to Get Rid of Ants Permanently Using Home Remedies

Are there suddenly trails of ants appearing all over your home? Whether it’s due to a bout of bad weather or due to other reasons, there are certainly things you can do on your own to get rid of the ants before they become an even bigger problem.

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Even pest control professionals will agree that ants are one of the more difficult pests to get rid of at home. You should expect it to take a few weeks to clear out the ant invasion at home.

Recommended Ant Traps

If you are already facing a fairly major ant problem at home then we suggest trying out these well-documented ant control products to help you eliminate the tiny bugs.

Terro Ant Killer Bait

This simple but super-effective ant bait uses borax as an active ingredient to help you eliminate ant colonies in or around your home. Just place the bait stations near common ant gathering points such as the space underneath kitchen appliances and windowsills.

Harris Diatomaceous Earth

Sprinkle a very fine layer of diatomaceous earth where the ants are frequently sighted. Give it a few days and you should start to see the ants slowly disappear one by one. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is also safe for pets but you should still keep them at a safe distance when the powder is being applied.

How to Get Rid of Ants in the House

Here are the important steps you need to take to prevent more ants from invading your home. Ant problems can be avoided if you get rid of the things that are attracting the ants in the first place.

Clear the Food Away

Most ants make their way into homes because of the presence of food. Store away all food in tightly-sealed containers and vacuum the house religiously until there are no crumbs left on the floor.

Remove Sources of Water

Water is another common reason for ant home invasions, especially in places with dry weather. Checking for leaking faucets around the house and get rid of all standing water.

Seal the House Exterior

Try to repair or fill any openings along the house exterior that may act as an entrance point for ants. This includes wall crevices and cracks, power outlets, and loose window frames. Ant may try to find shelter in homes during bad weather.

Avoid Squashing the Ants

Stepping on ants will trigger the release of a scent called oleic acid, which may attract more ants to rush to their dead comrade. The scent may also activate an ant’s self-defense mode and cause them to scatter.

Here are some common house supplies that may help with killing the ants.

  • Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
  • Sugar + Borax
  • Cinnamon Powder
  • Vacuum with Filter

Natural Ant Remedies at Home

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

It doesn’t need to cost a fortune to get rid of ants at home. All it may take are some everyday supplies that can already be found at most homes. Be prepared, however, to spend at least 1 hour daily to eliminate the ants.

Sugar + Borax Bait

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

Baits are one of the more effective methods of killing ants as the effects aren’t immediate. Most ants will have enough time to take the bait to their colonies and share it with other ants. One simple bait you can make is with sugar and borax. Mix half a cup of sugar with about 1.5 tablespoon of borax and warm water. You can then soak some cotton balls in the bait solution and place it near the trail of ants.

The ants will be attracted by the scent of the ant and take back the borax mixture back to the colony. Borax will gradually kill ants by causing havoc on their digestive system. You could also consider using peanut butter as an alternative to sugar.

Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

While the effects of it isn’t immediate, food-grade diatomaceous earth is one of the most cost-effective ways of dealing with pest infestations at home. Food-grade diatomaceous earth works well for soft-bodied insects like ants, fleas, and roaches. It can get rid of these insects by scraping against and damaging their exoskeleton, which leads to the loss of bodily fluids.

All it takes is to sprinkle a very fine layer of the diatomaceous earth powder near the trail of ants. You can also mix the powder with a bit of sugar to attract the ants. One thing to note. Diatomaceous earth loses its effectiveness when it becomes wet so make sure the powder isn’t applied in damp areas.

Spray Vinegar Solution Near Entry Points

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

By now, you may have identified the main points where the ants enter your home. One way to deter more ants from coming in is to spray the area with vinegar solution. Ants rely heavily on scent for directions so the strong scent of vinegar may help by blocking the ant’s main form of communication.

Vinegar is also used to eliminate other common household pests like fruit flies. We recommend making the vinegar spray by mixing equal parts water and white or apple cider vinegar. If you don’t like the scent of vinegar then you can use cinnamon as an alternative solution. Cinnamon very much works in the same way by confusing the ant’s sense of smell.

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Why do ants not like cucumbers?

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally
Ants do not like the scent of these cucumber peel! According to research sources, it is because cucumber peel are contains of chemical content that enable to eliminates fungi that ants are attracted to.

How is it applied?

Slices of cucumber peels are placed strategically at hot spots in a home, where you typically see those ants crawling around, especially at places with presence of food and water. Or entry points because of gaps, crevices, holes that made it possible for ants to enter.

How effective cucumbers to get rid of ants?

The problem while using the DIY ant control solution like cucumber to get rid of ants is only a quick and temporary solution to resolve the obvious and visible ant problem in home, by deterring and chasing physical ants away, instead of resolving the real problem by eliminating the root source of problem!

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

Leaving these kind of food sources in the open area at your home without clearing them for hours, could potentially inviting other pests to come, such as cockroaches and rats!

On other hand, the scent that coming from the cucumber only temporarily derails ants. Soon, the line of ants will returns once the scent is diminished.

What do you do if you have ants in your house?

Although in general ants are harmless, there are other ants species can be a real nuisance when they get into your home.

Fire ants use trees as nesting places and often found in your garden. This type of ants can sting and cause symptoms of anaphylaxis in just a few minutes.

There are also carpenter ants — the other species of ants that can damage your furniture! FYI, carpenter ants and termites are often mistaken for one another by homeowners due to their destructive nesting habits.

Wipe Away the Ant’s Scent

Ants rely on pheromone to create a chemical trail from their nest to potential food sources. When you have managed to eliminate some ants, you should wipe down the previously-infested area with water and dish soap to destroy the scent and replace it with something the ants don’t like.

Build a Barrier Before it Rains

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

A lot of homeowners suffer from major ant problems due to bad weather such as heavy rain. To avoid future ant invasion problems, you can take a step ahead of time by building a barrier around your home using the methods suggested above. For example, you can create a thin wall of food-grdae diatomaceous earth or cinnamon powder along the door or any other potential ant entry points.

Common Species of Ants

Ants aren’t the easiest of insects to distinguish due to their tiny size. Here are a some of the most common species of ants that one may encounter in their home or backyard.

Odorous House Ant

These ants make an appearance in most states and are largely known for producing a foul odor when they get crushed. They typically have a dark brown or black body appearance, and they are also known for constructing their colony nests near sources of moisture.

Carpenter Ants

The carpenter ants are probably the most destructive ant species for homeowners as they can build elaborate tunnel systems in wooden structures. They are also found in many states and typically have a black (with a mix of red) body appearance.

Fire Ants

The fire ants are more commonly found in the southern states and they can leave quite a sting. Those who get bitten by a fire ant may experience intense pain and itching. You may have come across images of fire ants creating a “floating island” when a colony find themselves in flood waters.

Ant Control FAQ

Here are some common questions that people have about getting rid of ants in the house.

What Will Keep Ants Away?

The ants will stay away as long as you don’t give them a reason to visit in the first place. As mentioned, get rid of the things that will attract the ants such as open food crumbs, water, and shelter.

What Smells do Ant Hate?

Vinegar and cinnamon are common household ingredients that ants don’t particularly like due to the strong scent. They may also not like the scent of peppermint, which is used as an ingredient for repelling other common household pests. If you plan on using essential oil to repel the ants then make sure you dilute it first.

Does Windex Kill Ants?

Household cleaners such as Windex may kill ants instantly on contact, but we suggest you use it with caution, especially households with children and pets, as the solution contains chemical that may cause irritations to various parts of your body.

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