Getting Rid of Ants

Getting Rid of Ants

Q.    I have a question about ants. We have had a problem with the small, brown ants.  We have tried the borax & sugar, and poison, nothing works. Does anyone have any suggestions?

• We have ‘them, too. About everybody we know does, here in Southern California. We don’t like to spray poisons around, so we have to put up with them to some extent, but we have found that they hate baby powder (preferably scented talcum). If you find a trail of them in your house, or some "scouts" looking for food so they can bring the rest of their nest to enjoy it, just sprinkle the baby powder on the ants and wherever they are coming in from, if you can find it, and you will see them begin to get upset. After a while, they’ll be gone, and they won’t be back again for awhile, even after you remove the powder. We dust  baby powder on our honey jar and sugar bowl, as well as the outside of the cats’ dish and it keeps the ants off.

• Sounds crazy, but try vinegar! Fill a squirt bottle with plain old cheap white vinegar, and squirt it anyplace you’ve seen ants (kitchen counters, windowsills, etc) and let it dry. It’s non-toxic, won’t harm anything, and the smell will go away in just a couple of minutes. It worked for me!

• I have a suggestion for the ant problem; plain old cinnamon. I put in or at the site of the ant invasion, they back off quick!


• Black pepper is a nonlethal, poison free, cheap, and safe way to get rid of ants – sprinkle the black pepper where you see them congregating and watch ‘them scatter. Follow them to where they’re exiting – which is the same spot they’re entering in at – and sprinkle the pepper at that spot to keep them from coming back in. It’s safe to use in your cabinets, on windowsills, near your pets and kids, around food, etc.

• I have a book with several tips for the use of apple cider vinegar. One of them is getting rid of ants.  Make a mixture of 50/50 water and vinegar and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the surface with the solution several times a day. Ants guide themselves with their scent. Vinegar has a natural chemical that alters ants’ scent and which ants avoid.

• My husband was in conversation recently with a gentleman in the pest control business. This man preferred to use environmentally safe methods to control pests. His recommendation for ants was: equal parts Windex and Ivory Soap. Simply mix, and spray problem areas.

• Most ant poisons have a sweetness to them that attracts most but not all ants. Some ants are attracted to grease. Observe your ants and see what they like, maybe you need a different bait. Also, though this is sometimes difficult, see if you can trace them back to where they are getting in, because caulking is usually the best solution, as it prevents recurrence.

• I live in south Florida, the bug capital of the world, and I don’t use anything toxic in or around my home. I discovered a safe way to get rid of ants. I found Shakley’s Basic H. It is a non-toxic soap made from soybeans. I take a pint spray bottle, fill it 1/3 with Basic H and 2/3 with water, mixing gently. Follow your trail of ants to try to discover where they are entering. Spray a thin stream of the mix around where they are coming in. I also spray around my door frames and into any openings where they might enter. Caulking any little holes or openings is also helpful. Please remember this is a SOAP. Do not spray where it will be stepped on and someone will slip. I reapply it as needed. Try to keep it off painted surfaces as it will eventually bubble the paint. You can also put three tablespoons into a Miracle Grow feeder full of water and spray outside around the foundation of your house. It will soak into the soil and get into the nests. Do this once or twice a month until the problem abates. As an added bonus, use the same mixture in your feeder and spray your lawn to keep it flea free.  I also keep the little spray bottle handy to spritz any bugs that try to dash in the door when it’s open. If it can kill a palmetto bug (roaches that are as big as B-52’s), it will kill anything!

• I had a bad problem with them last year and tried everything. Then, I read in a book to place Bay Leaves on your counters and preferably along the trail where they are coming in (if you can find it). It worked. Now I make sure that I keep some behind my canisters, etc. on my countertops.

• We use plain white chalk drawn in a line at the place they come in they wont cross for some reason and also I use comet cleanser sprinkled where children/animals don’t go.

• So far this has worked in my house. First you need to find out where they are coming in at. To kill ants that have entered  your home without poison I use straight Simple Green. Believe me it works. Then after they are all dead, clean the area and spray the area with a peppermint spray. Fill a spray bottle with water and add approximately 10 – 15 drops of peppermint essential oil , sometimes called Peppermint Spirits. Ants won’t cross the area because they hate the smell. Hope it works as well for you as it has for me. Please note this can be dangerous to cats !

•Ants will crawl away from mint.  I did this as a science experiment and it worked.  Just plant mint all around your house.  Especially near doorways.

• A line of cayenne pepper usually stops them from crossing over it.

• Try putting some whole cloves around. I put them on the window sills and door jams and also sprinkled a few around in my bottom cabinets. It worked.

• I recently purchased the book “The Garden Guy – A Seasonal Guide to Organic Gardening in the Desert Southwest” by Dave Owens. Below is quoted information that may help you out.  Dave Owens, does the Garden Guy’s segments on KTVK (Channel 3) in the metro Phoenix area during Good Morning Arizona. – C.L.

Outdoor Ant Control
Supplies: 1 to 2 gallons water
Stove or barbecue grill
Instructions: Heat water to 160 to 170 degrees. Quietly sneak up to the mounds of ants and pour the boiling water down the hole.
Note: I normally try to do this between 11am and 2 pm.

Indoor Ant Control
Supplies: 1 tbsp. boric acid
  1 tbsp. mint jelly or peanut butter
  1 cracker
  Small cardboard box
Instructions: Mix the boric acid and mint jelly; spread mixture on a cracker. Punch pinholes in a cardboard box; place cracker inside. Place box in an area where ants cause problems, but away from children and pets.
Note: The mint jelly or peanut butter lures the ants in and the boric acid kills them.

Indoor and Outdoor Ant Control
Supplies: Diatomaceous earth
Instructions: Dust food-grade diatomaceous earth along the ant’s pathways.
Note: The white powder will cut through their exoskeleton and they will dehydrate and die.

Indoor and Outdoor Ant Control Supplies:
1 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat
Instructions: Place a dish of Cream of Wheat where the ants can access it.
Note: After they eat it, the cereal expands and the ants will explode.

• Red chili powder !! I’ve been using it to repel ants for years. Make a paste using a little water, find where the little black pests are coming in and going out and paste the area. you can sprinkle the powder too, but I find adding water makes it more potent. The ants hate the stuff. Brooke and Mary B.

• To trap ants leave an open bottle of maple syrup (cheap stuff is ok) the ants love it and they drown happy. Just make sure you your children and sig. other know about it (LOL). Also I have had luck with the Torro ant poison. It’s like a syrup. This they take back to the colony. – Lucy

• Mix borax with sugar water. Place it on the ant trails and where the ants are coming in. It kills any ant that eats the mixture. From CSinbad

• Some mint oil and mint chewing gum help repel ants in a house. placed a stick or open pack of chewing gum on a shelf. Outside you can plant mint around the foundation. It makes a good groundcover and is fragrant when it’s stepped on. I hope this helps. Please let me know. – Diana

For More Ant Removal Suggestions Click here!


  1. karen millsap says

    I live in south texas and have these huge ants that strip my plants of all their leaves and they carry them back to there home how do I get rud of them? stressed in natalia,texas

    • Pete says

      I have had limited success dealing with those #@$& Cutter or Harvester ants. I live in rural Central Texas and have been trying to rid myself of them for ever. I have followed their trails of destruction for many hundreds of feet.

      Not wanting to use poisons at first, I used numerous things that were non-toxic. I found that regular ground cinnamon (cheap when bought in quantity) will kill them. While the ants were active (usually after dark), I would locate their ant hole and liberally dust it and all the surrounding 2-3 feet with cinnamon. I would then follow them back to where they were cutting (your garden or ornamentals) dusting the trail as well as all ants on it. My result was a massive ant kill as witnessed the following morning. You must be dilligent in watching for them. What you see dead on the surface is only a very small number compared to the masses that are underground. They will return! It was a nightly task to try and stay ahead of them.

      I had one colony of these ants that was around 30 ft in diameter on which I alternated using cinnamon and wood ash (primarily oak) that seemed to not only diminish their number, but caused the remainder to move.

      I witnessed a grand scale migration or emergence of these ants with large wings. They are almost alien in appearance and I was informed that these were possibly queens or breeding males. They are quite large by comparison to the ‘worker’ ant. The emergence of these winged ants was following a fairly heavy spring rain. At the time I was out of cinnamon and all my wood ash was wet so I resorted to ‘Diazanon’ in a pump sprayer only spraying down the many holes from which they were coming so as to minimize any bird or pet contact. After this it was a long time (several weeks) before I saw any more ant activity. In the same manner I have also sprayed ‘Malathion’ down their holes with limited results.

      They were here before us and will probably be here long after we are gone.

    • Joshua says

      Believe it or not.. try cinnamon it works every Time!!! I Guarantee it… On any ant species. : -) you can apply how much ever you want. Try it !!!

      • Michelle says

        Traced the trail of ants to a point where it seems like they are coming in under the baseboard. Gave the floor a wash with vinegar/water, then sprinkled cinnamon all around the cat food bowl (our problem spot) and the potential entry point. I also tried coating the outside of the cat food bowl with cayenne. No luck. Ants were everywhere, same trail re-formed, there was no aversion to the cinnamon or the cayenne.

  2. says

    With so many options to get rid of these pesky ants, I should use the method I am most comfortable with — vinegar. I also make sure to give them more reasons not to stay in my premises and that is keeping the kitchen free of spills and food droppings.

    • Nancy says

      I tried vinegar, orange oil, peppermint spray, baking soda, baking powder. Ants are coming into a 2nd floor bedroom, infesting the cat’s food.
      Nothing has kept them at bay.

      I am going with cinnamon now. Hope that works, or I’ll have to call someone in.

      • Marie says

        I have same prob with my dogs food bowl. I used the dollar tree cinnamon and it worked! Sprinkled it each place I knew they trailed. They won’t cross over it.

      • ASQuiros says

        I read that if you put the food bowl inside another bowl, then add water, you can create a moat. The thinking is that ants don’t swim.
        The same article mentioned putting containers/bowls under the legs off an outside/picnic table and filling with water to create a barrier.

        • AR Forrest says

          Unlike us, ants have learned to act with altruism. They will form a bridge with their little bodies to cross water. The “bridge workers” lay down their lives, and life goes on for the family.

          • Steven says

            When you do the ‘water moat’ trick, to prevent the ‘bridge workers’.. simply put a few drops of dish soap in the water. The detergent breaks the surface tension of the water, preventing the ants from floating on top. This is also the key to trapping fruit flies in the liquid bait – 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or cheap wine, a few drops of dish soap, they land in it thinking they can stand on the surface tension, but sink instead.

    • someone else says

      Because you spelled it wrong,, its SHAKLEE not shakley,, and yes it works great for alot of stuff.
      Ive been using it for about 40 years.

  3. ladycruzfield says

    Why would you want to make ants explode? terrible. just find ways to keep them from coming back without killing them.

    • someone else says

      yea you should try things like , saying go away,,or your not welcome here.
      ,,,how about a sing,, ,do not enter, or no trespassing,
      btw they dont actualy explode.

      • azresident says

        I’d rather abruptly explode than slowly starve to death. The way I see it, I’m being merciful!

  4. Buddy says

    Just use Windex straight out of the spray bottle. Spray it on the ants and their trail, they quickly stop moving. Windex is probably in most homes in the U.S. so it will always be handy. Spray over their trail(s) as well. They seem to lose track of where they’re going.

  5. Marvel Riley says

    At one time, I lived outside of San Antonio. I tried the Cream of Wheat and the ants carried it all in to their nest. A few days later, I noticed a white color on the ant mound. On closer inspection, I discovered they were carrying the Cream of Wheat back out of their nest!

    • Steven says

      The ‘Big Head’ ants here in South Mississippi will do the same with the granulated baits. First it’s like “Yay! Free food! Bring it to the queen!” and apparently she’s the only one with a brain, and you can imagine her saying “You IDIOTS! That’s poison! Take it back outside!”

  6. Janene in Birchip says

    What can I do to get rid of EARWIGS, they are everywhere here in Birchip, they eat all the young plants, chomping them off at ground level, have tried various things like: pieces of hose scattered around to trap them, rolled up newspapers, sprays,etc. They are even getting up into my apricot tree and getting into the fruit, also into my rose flowers and just destroying them, any tips please.

  7. bill says

    Fire ants are a whole different story. They seem to survive just about everything. Unbelievably, awhile back, I drenched a large mound of fire ants with undiluted 9% white vinegar and it had zero effect on them. I also heard that soaking mesquite wood in water 24 hours and pouring the water on the ants would kill them. Didn’t work.

    • Lindsey says

      I get them out of my garden by pouring boiling water right into the main hole at the start of the season… they do seem to return each year though, but theyre mostly gone for the duration of a new england summer while im in the garden

    • Linda says

      Diatomaceous Red Lake Earth works great on Fire Ants… I have used this several times on fire ant mounds and they have either died or left…. This though does not get rid of the completely as they do come back. But I do sprinkle the Red Lake Earth around and it has brought the ants down considerable. I have also been getting them in my camper (primarily at my bed) and have sprinkled it at the headboard of the bed and have not had fire ants there now for several days… Yea as getting bit by them at night is not fun….

      The other item I have been using and have had some good results with is a mixture of water, dawn and peppermint oil and spray that around…..

      These options are where you have to keep at it or they will eventually come back but it does take it from thousands to just a very few.

  8. Dee says

    I once moved to land with acres of ant hills. A wise farmer friend advised me to shovel into one hill and transport the ant-filled soil to another hill; then keep trading mound soil from one hill to another. My teenage kids and I each took a shovel and went to work trading soil, starting with the largest hills; then we saw our first astounding battle of the ants! The hills we shoveled were dead in a very short time, and ants did not return. Of course, some colonies had time to mate new queens, but we went after the newer/MUCH smaller hills every time we found them. I was under the impression that we had one giant well tunneled extended colony of ants with one overworked queen, but the ants from neighboring beds did not like each other one bit and defended their turf to the death!

  9. Jim Biddle says

    I found the ant colony under a big rock in my garden. I lifted the rock up, poured gasoline on the colony, through a lit match on it, and….. bye bye ants!!

    • TheFrugalLife says

      Editor’s Note: This method requires prior knowledge of how to use gasoline so only use this method if you know the danger that can be present.

  10. Marilyn says

    If using the mint gum remedy, please be sure that it does NOT contain XYLITOL. This ingredient is found in many sugar free gums/candy and is EXTREMELY TOXIC to dogs. Very little can sicken and possibly kill your beloved pet.

    On another note, I have an invasion of tiny little ants this year. I have tried cinnamon, vinegar, diatomaceous earth, baits…
    I can get them to go away for a couple of days, but then they come back with a vengeance! c
    Cannot seem to find the ant hill and they’re just everywhere.
    I just read an article about attracting them with Comet; that they liked the Comet and they take it back to the nest and supposedly it wipes out the colony. I don’t know. Has anyone tried this method?
    I can at least put it into areas that my dog cannot reach it. Just one sniff from my very nosey lab, could prove to be more problematic than having ants, thats for sure (sigh).

  11. Diane says

    The best remedy is cayenne pepper around corners of doors and windows ants haul tail and they don’t come back it really works for me.

  12. Rick Steinau, Ask the Exterminator says

    The problem with every one of these suggests is that they only repel the ants. A low toxic ant bait gel or granular application will kill the entire ant colony. Getting the ant properly identified is best. Not all ants have the same food preferences.

  13. carmen says

    I have been at war with these little tiny brown ants. I have used ant baits granular pellets you springle around the perimeter of the house. Orange grinds. You name it I ve tried it. But 1 thing I tried that works is Off the spray spray spray that you spray on your body if you are going out to a picnic or a bar b cue. That works but I need some thing to kill out the whole nest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *