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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

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59 thoughts on “Getting Rid of Ants”

  1. 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

    1. 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.

      1. I live just NE of Corpus Christi. I have a horrid time with cut ants. They strip citrus so often they end up killing the plant.

        I read somewhere equal parts of borax with cayenne pepper; I suppose cinnamon would be okay to use in lieu of cayenne pepper for the same reason.

        I just put some out; mixed it in a gallon glass jar. It was easy to dust the ant mounds. Seems to be working on cut ants AND fire ants. We have few other types or at least I don’t see them as easily.

        I really need safe means to get rid of both cut ants and fire ants. I have a veggie garden and many fruit trees. We have two water wells. I really don’t want to be aggressive with much poison.

        1. In my area, we have large carpenter ants that will chew your house into sawdust if you don’t keep them at bay. I have found no other source to destroy them but to use an ant spray made specifically for this type of ant. I hate doing anything that is harmful, but I’ve seen wood that they have chewed up and I haven’t the money to replace wall joists etc so poison it is.

          For kitchen ants, it seems that pure white vinegar wiped across every work space and cotton balls with vinegar stuck in corners and under counter and sink will get rid of them. They leave trails for other ants to follow, so wiping the trails away is the only thing to do.

      1. 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. Get Rid Of Termites in Brisbane

    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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. I had “islands” of ants floating around in my poor cats’ water bowls. I poured white vinegar in the bowls of “ant water” and started giving my cats water a little at a time in another bowl and then removing the water, so the ants had no water, other than vinegar water. I also started feeding my cats only what they could finish at one time and then removed the food (unhappy cats ?)
        So far, so good, but we’ll see just how far that works!

    1. 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.

      1. I love it! Thank you! (from someone infested with the damn ants both inside and outside, and thinks, since they fall into the “home invasion” definition, they should be treated just like someone who burst into your home waving guns!)

    2. I love all creatures, even with this ant battle, and I too pictured these ants exploding, somewhat like what people do to birds with alka seltzer or mintos (whatever they use) it was a horrible thought. Once you’ve watched how complicated and devoted these things are, it’s kind of hard to kill them. If you’ve seen them under a high microscope, they seem more ‘personal”, smaller they seem useless and easy to squash. Either way, I too am trying to get rid of about 7 piles that rest between the grass and the bricks. I would probably let them be EXCEPT I have a crawling, reading to walk Grandson, and these ants BITE, and leave big sores on big people, so I have to put my critter love aside for the baby’s sake. ANY options besides ALL of the above. And yes, I have bought poison that deactivates once wet. Recommended for red ants. ANYWAYS…..pls help the baby…….I do my share in rescuing ALL other critters, but need help on this. Thanks, critter luv!

      1. Try the non lethal methods (black pepper, pure citrus juice, or vinegar/water)
        Try to detour them elsewhere, perhaps a neighbors yard who you don’t like very much?
        You don’t have to kill ants to make them leave.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!”

  5. 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.

    1. Clean up any leaves and move any statuary around from time to time, they lay eggs in these damp places. If you must, try a granular insect killer it seems to last longer than powder. Try diatomaceous earth, warning it can be expensive.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!!

  8. 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).

    1. still toxic..maybe if everything else on the planet was not polluted with toxins that MIGHT be okay, THOUGH I do not believe so. It is either toxic or non-toxic period and the only way to go is NON-TOXIC.

    2. Also, the remedy suggested by the woman of putting anthills on other anthills
      and they kill each other seems the BEST way to get rid of and also is nontoxic.
      PLUS, are you saying putting it on one anthill will kill all the anthills in a lawn covered with them.
      I am guessing you have to put this on each anthill, adding to the toxicity you put in the earth.
      PLUS, the MAKING of the product takes water, produces toxic waste, the stuff as to be
      shipped to stores thereby creating a pretty large footprint. I am quite sure there are natural ways that work sufficiently.
      (sorry, I did not mean to make this personal to you nor to offend you, just my take as an environmentalist for 30 years and now reading about the extinction of honey bees and butterflies,
      which was not deemed important and probably still isn’t by the average person BUT read about it and think people will feel differently. In effect, like our body works as a whole so does the earth so
      every part is important, probably ants and mosquitoes so we have to be careful in what we do.
      If the government would take it seriously, then the public would be more aware and we would know better ways to treat everything on earth.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Using borax: it’s extremely soluble in glycerine but minimally soluble in cold water. Once in solution it blends completely with either sugar syrup or peanut butter.
    Watch the amount, a high concentration will repel ants. Don’t go over 5%. For grease-loving ants, I did some calculations and 1/16 tsp. borax to a spare tbsp. of peanut butter is close enough to that target concentration.
    If bait is on a hard surface and ants begin to detour around it, remove bait, wipe down surface with bleach to remove old trails. Repeat bait application after removing bleach residue. To check that your ants are still sugar-lovers, switch to peanut butter and see if that ‘gets’ them.
    For sugar ants, the commercial sugar-syrup baits have a somewhat -penetrating sweet floral fragrance and I suspect that was selected by experiment to make it more attractive. Would be hard to duplicate in a home-made bait — one possible reason why some report the store-bought baits to be more effective.

  13. I am pleases to hear that South Africa is not the only country that has ant problems. I live in the provence of Limpopo and they are very very active. We use all the remedes mentioned

  14. I am not an entomologist, but this home remedy works for many weeks to rid yourself of these pesky tiny buggers. Use 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup icing sugar and mix well. Do not put this mixture on grass but place it along driveways or inside your home where ants are seen amassing. Ants are nature’s most resilient creatures, and soon you’ll see them disappear as they’ll be attracted to the icing sugar to take morsels to their hidden nest. The borax is the secret killer, and soon you will see no signs of them for several weeks, but re-apply later to keep them out. It is much better solution than harmful chemical costly sprays that are dangerous to pets, children and our global environment. Good luck and enjoy the summer without these pests disrupting your time. Kerwin Maude

  15. katydid says, I have a stone foundation, the mortar is falling out so the ants from my suburban yard have clear entrance thru these opening, they come up behind the walls. come in behind moldings and behind cabinets. also, they do not like any kind of bait, I watch them I’ve tried sugar,jelly,peanut butter greasy meat etc with borax. they meander in scatter all around the bait that’s it. I just have to constantly wipe away with vinegar, bleach. I,ve been told that they don’t like the taste of the borax, I,ve tried adjusting the recipe to no avail. I know I have many nests in the yard, but no ant hills probably under cracks in the cement and under weeds. I have a small dog I have to be careful of what I use for safety. never thought this problem would become so serious, with all the natural solutions out there. thanks for any feedback.

    1. Catherine, try my method but sprinkle icing sugar and borax lightly in cracks or directly on top of their ant hills. If you lace the borax with a 50-50 mix of icing sugar (sweet temptation) they’ll go for it if they are similar to the ant breed we have in westcoast Canada anf later on they’re history. Read my comment above you.

  16. I have a question because i have regular ants in our house and the keep making holes in different places and once we see a bunch of ants we kill them with dysol but it still dosent solve the problem!!!???

  17. • 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.

    What part of safe did they not understand. There is absolutely nothing environmentally safe about chemical Windex or Ivory soap. If I was looking for a toxic solution then I would use this one. I am looking for a homemade ant removal that is organic or naturally safe, that I can use around my Shiba’s.

    1. “There is absolutely nothing environmentally safe about”.

      Found the middle aged house wife that looks for things to worry about. The only thing most of the people here care about is repellents and poisons that are safe around children and pets. I wish I could find a repellent that kept my kids safe but destroyed the environment. My only priority is my kids. Last year I found a couple of some vermin’s tunnels on my property. I filled each with quick create. Bye bye whatever the hell was invading my property. If you care about the environment so much, I’m sure you can reduce your carbon footprint with a healthy dose of suicide.

      Anyhow, I used a Cinnamon & Cayenne pepper mix with water in a spray bottle. Sprayed under the baseboards and over the thresholds. Immediately drew out the little shits. As for the colony I found in my yard, I’m torn between feeding them cream of wheat so they explode or dousing the colony with gasoline and making them actually explode.

      My dog is a papillon by the way.

  18. I have been having a battle with ants. I have a paved patio. There is sand between the pavers. I have gone through 10 gallons of straight vinegar, carefully pouring it down the cracks, but those ants keep coming back. I have swept up a 1/2 of bag of sand that the ants dug up. So I resorted to buying Ant Bait( , because I have dogs, I put heavy flower pots over the ant traps, only to find out one of the dogs was able to somehow move the pot and ate the trap. Luckily, the poison did not affect him. I am now on to cinnamon. I cannot believe these little creatures can be so hardy and destructive! Does anyone have a 100% fool proof method??

  19. Had a huge ant mound in the back yard. Poured big kettle of boiling water right down the middle. Not only did it kill the ants – it sterilized the soil, killed the grass and we couldnt grow anything in that 2 foot perimeter for a couple years!

  20. Most folks may not like this but there is a 100% method of killing off ANY type of ant…

    The trick it to observe their movements to locate the nest(s)

    Then simply pour a small amount of gasoline into the holes… Done

    Like I said, most may not like the idea of using gasoline but in severe cases (as in young children at bite risk) it absolutely works once and for all.

    You do NOT ignite the fuel.!! Just pour a slow trickle into each any hole until you see no further attempts of escape from the deep and far reaching nest branches. This may cause them to try and leave from nearby connected tunnel openings so be vigilant in observing surrounding areas while pouring into each hole.

  21. my experience has been with “carpenter” ants and smaller red and black ants …. carpenter ants live IN THE WALLS AND /OR ROOF .. so what I can up with was a live centipede in a dish of mixed butter and sugar and BORAX … the ants came for bug and ate all the “grease/sweet mix … end of story ..ants eat the dead ants and so the borax keeps on killing til the colony is dead..
    the red and black ants :I found the mounds of the nest and poured boiling water in after scooping out a “funnel’ hole ……they will come back .. .. but water is cheap!!

  22. Anything other than food grade DE to repel small black/brown house ants that isn’t toxic to cavalier spaniel (15 lbs) that eats/licks everything! Preferably something I can spray, wipe or leave cotton balls of it in the few inaccessible places to the persistent dog.

  23. My name is David and I live in SW Missouri. I am always fighting with the little black ants coming into my home. We have a little Chihuahua, and the ants are always finding a way to the food bowl. I have tried, just about every pet/child safe product, and the one I found that works the best is powdered clove. I just sprinkle it around the food and water bowl, and now they won’t go near it. I’m sure different products work for different people, but the clove really worked for me. Then I find the point of entry and use caulk whenever I can. I hope this helps someone. Have a great day.

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