Getting Rid of Ants – Part II

View more answers to the problem of ants here: Ants

Q. Is there a cheap way to get rid of ants. I seem to be having the problem several times a year. I just came in from work and the table and counter were full of little black ants and I need something that wont smell. I have a problem and just about any smell makes me sick. I try to keep the table and counter cleaned off but with 2 teenagers and a husband I have a hard time.
Thanks for any help, Cindy

• This is in response to Cindy who wanted an ant killer that didn’t smell bad. The only thing I’ve found that works on ants and doesn’t make someone pass out is orangeguard. It uses orange oil to eradicate ants. Their website: http://www.orangeguard.com/ Also, a cheaper alternative, and I’ve tried it, it works, is Orange Plus cleaner, made by Earth Friendly Products. It sells at Trader Joe’s stores for $2.39. The major ingredient is orange oil. It explains at the orangeguard website why the orange oil kills the ants. And no unpleasant smell. And the Trader Joe’s one is cheaper than the Orangeguard. Give it a try, it really works. And no harmful fumes or chemicals. Just pure and natural ingredients. 🙂 -Amy M Las Vegas,NV

• Hi, I have heard of a couple of things. One draw a chalk by where they are getting in. And two, make a paste of dry mustard and water and again put it where  they are getting in. Hope this helps.. There is a product called Terro that is great for ants. It isn’t too expensive and it works well and a small bottle will last forever. You should be able to find at a Home Improvement store in the aisle with other insect repellents and sprays. Try boric acid.  You can put down the powder, or put some water in it and paint it down.  It will dry clear.  You can sometimes get the mixture or ants and other insects in the $ stores but if worse gets to worse, you can always buy some at your local pharmacy in the dept. with eye drops, etc. as boric acid is a solution you can dilute and use for the eyes. First of all, you do NOT want an insecticide which will kill the ants on contact. This is because if you want to really get rid of ants you must kill the queen who lays all the eggs for the colony. If you kill the worker ants, the queen (who is in the ant’s nest) will just lay more eggs to replace the workers you’ve killed. So unless you can find the nest insecticides will be simply a waste of money. We have found an inexpensive bait-poison which is not only cheap but very easy to use. It is called "Terro Ant Killer II" and it should say "with Borax" on the box. There are actually two kinds of bait that should be used, depending on the kind of ants you are having a problem with: either the ants are "sweet eating ants" or they are "grease eating ants". Terro is found in most hardware stores (at least in the South), but if you use it you must use it properly. There are little cardboard tabs on the back of the box which you tear off and place wherever you see ants.

Then you must simply be patient, especially when the ants arrive. Your instinct will be to kill the worker ants, but you must not do this IF you want to kill the queen!! You must let the ants eat the poison and if they eat all of what you put out you must put out more. Do this and after about a week you will have killed that colony. If more ants arrive, then you probably have more than one nest of ants. Do the same and you will kill all them too!! This stuff should cost less than $5.00 a bottle and will last a long time. You can also use this stuff around the outside perimeter of your home or apartment.

• Buy several bottles of Terro and especially whenever the seasons change (which seems to make the ants try to get in your home) squirt some Terro around the outside of your home to feed them OUTSIDE (as opposed to inside) your home.

• In comparison (in case you’re interested) to professional exterminators, I can tell you that Terro is much, much cheaper and in our experience much more effective, because professionals like to spray your rugs, and baseboards, etc. not with a poison bait but simply with an ant insecticide. In our experience, this is very expensive and more importantly doesn’t work nearly as well.

• Now, here’s the best thing yet. It is possible (if you desire) to make your own Terro (although there are no real savings here–Borax or Boric Acid is rather expensive). All it is a Sweet clear syrup with a high sugar content to which you add boric acid or Borax (sorry I don’t have the exact recipe), but I’m sure it’s somewhere on the web. Personally, since Terro is cheap anyway, it’s much more convenient to just buy the stuff and then you don’t have the additional problem of mixing up a poison in a metal pot on your stove!! (You have to heat the syrup [or grease!] and pour the boric acid or Borax in it). But take your pick. But forget the professional exterminators, because they want to come to your home forever (and thus get to charge you a monthly fee to come spray an insecticide which won’t work nearly as well). Some of these companies charge as much as $100 a month to boot!!! Want to guess how much Terro you can buy with $100?? Enough to last you for many, many years!! 🙂 There is no way to permanently eliminate any insect colony. If you kill all the colonies in your yard, the colonies in your neighbor’s yard come over and take their places!! Terro Ant Killer II is made by Senoret Chemical Co. in St. Louis, MO 63122. According to the box there is 5.4% Borax and 94.6% inert ingredients (ant food!). This will help you figure out the ratio of Borax to Clear Sweet Syrup.

• The only thing I have ever known to work to get rid of ants is called Terro.  I don’t recall that it has a smell (my bottle was borrowed by my sister and not returned!).  It is a thick liquid and you put some on a piece of cardboard and set it out where the ants come.  At first, a lot of ants will come, but you let them take  the poison back to their nest and it wipes them out.  Good Luck, Kim Born and raised in San Luis Obispo county, I know all the tricks concerning every creepy crawly critter. Ants HATE red chilli powder…make a paste (water works) and find where the little black eyed foes are coming in and going out, apply the paste and you will NOT see them entering there again.  Helpful also, is to sprinkle the powder under sinks or sometimes in worst cases around windows. good luck, –B. brooks

• Here’s how: without any chemicals. Go to a store that specializes in fruits and vegetables.  They have many rolls of small plastic bags for the produce. They’re free. These bags are air tight and water tight with the small wire tie twist.  Use a plastic pitcher of about 2 quart size near your sink/kitchen top and line it with one of these plastic bags — and then use it as your trash can.

When full, apply the wire twist. The garbage is now airtight. No odor. No attraction to ants. You can even keep several filled bags in the kitchen — no problem, the ants won’t pick up any scent.  It’s those little antennas they have that pick up the scent of food.  This simple procedure eliminates those scents.  No more ants — and no more need to carry the trash outside every night.  You need do it only once or twice a week. Also no more ants near the garbage cans outside.

• Make a syrup of 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 2 teaspoons borax. Cook until smooth and well blended. Let cool. Put in old jar lids where you see the ants coming in (near windows/doors). I put mine on the window sills behind curtains. It took a couple of weeks and I thought it wasn’t working, but one day I realized I hadn’t seen any ants for quite awhile. I looked behind the curtains and found a few little black bodies to clean up, but the price was negligible.

• I too had a problem with ants last spring. We spent LOTS of money on the sprays and traps and strips and none of it worked. Finally, one day, my mother-in-law made a suggestion and after trying virtually everything, we figured, what the heck, it can’t hurt… and believe it or not, within a week, the problem was practically non- existent. Simply sprinkly a little bit of SALT wherever they are spotted. Plain old regular table salt. If you can find the place they’re getting in, put salt there as well. Apparently, the ants like the taste of it and will take it "home" for the family. When they eat it, it makes them extremely thirsty. As gross as it sounds, they will drink water until they "explode". I don’t know if the "explode" part is true, but i do know that I sprinkled salt on the edges of my kitchen counter, along the wall, and around the back edges of the counters of the shelves in my pantry, where they were seen most often, and the problem is gone and has not come back. Hope this helps. –Stacie. Raleigh, NC

• Hi. I got rid of ants in my infant son’s room by scattering a combination of eucalyptus leaves and whole cloves (available in the spice section of the supermarket) on the window sills and the floor near the windows. I haven’t seen ants since. The eucalyptus leaves are available in the flower shop. Good luck.
Editor’s note: these leaves are poisonous and should be kept away from children’s mouths

• We live in the country and occasionally have an ant problem as well, the solution I use is as follows: Take 8oz. of clear Karo style syrup and 1/2 cup of water and boil them together on the stove for about a minute.  Remove them from heat and add 2 TBS of Boric Acid Powder, stir it together. Let this cool and then put it in shallow containers, like a milk jug lid, in a place where pets or small children will not get to it.  You can also store it (well labeled) for later in an air-tight container. In the first day or so, the ants will swarm over this and you have to resist the urge to kill them then, because they are taking all this back to their nest – after about 3 days I hardly ever see an ant.  I am not sure about the smell, but I think it is minimal, you can give it a try. Hope this helps, Laura,  Irvine, KY

• I use a mixture of small equal amounts of borax and powdered sugar. The sugar draws  the ants. They eat this mixture then take it back to their nests and die. Supposedly ants are carnivores and when they die the alive ones  eat the dead ones and then they die. I have used this mixture for years. Hope it helps your reader, and by the way Keep up the good work with the newsletter, and especially enjoy your beautiful daughters. They grow up so fast. My baby just turned 19 years young and it seems like just yesterday!!

• Try wiping the counters down a couple of time a day with white vinegar. Also, I found that if I sprinkled the outside perimeter of my house with Sevin dust, the same as I use on my tomato plants, the ants don’t come in in the first place.

• A non-smelly way to get rid of ants is the use of a bottled liquid you can buy called tarro. You put some in little caps and sit it in the areas the aunts are seen coming in. This way there is no spraying etc. We had the same problem until we used this For the first few days, every ant ever seen, will all gather at the full caps, and it isn’t very pretty, but after you leave it alone after awhile, you will never see them again like it did for us. LW

• Hi!  I have a really great solution for getting rid of ants.  I had a problem and nothing I put out would work.  Then I came across this idea in a book, and it worked really well.  First, you have to make sure that the entry point is blocked off – keep them from coming in.  Also, minimize the amount of crumbs and other food that is attracting them to your house.  Finally, take a spray bottle and mix some liquid dish soap with water.  The soapy spray will knock out the ants right away, and it only smells as much as your dish soap does.  It’s really cheap, and works very well.

• In response to the lady with the ant problem, I too have a hard time using certain chemicals because of the smell and they tend to make my asthma flare up. We had a problem with those little ants that seem to show up in the kitchen and bathrooms. I tried cleaning well and spraying with insecticide but had no luck. I called an exterminator (luckily I got a nice, honest one) who told me that the regular sprays they spray your home with don’t kill those kinds of ants. They recommended that I buy ant bait traps at the store. I don’t remember if what I bought was made by Raid or Combat, but they come in a thin box and are called ant bait. They are little circular or dome shaped disc like containers and they have no smell at all. You put them on your counter top or in your cabinets where ever you see the ants. It worked great! You may need to put out a second set when those get old to make sure the ants don’t come back. I hope this works as well for you as it did for me. Good luck. 

• When we were invaded by a small herd of ants, I used plain old chalk to get rid of them (it’s a folk remedy:  "Ants won’t cross chalk.")  I drew a good solid line around the area where they were getting in — in this case the electrical outlet.  When they encountered the chalk, they would either curl up and drop off the wall or turn around and go back where they came from.  I left the chalk up for a couple of weeks; since my walls are the standard rental property off-white, it really didn’t even show.  Use plain old white or yellow chalk from the toy department (not colored chalk, since it stains) — I  think mine cost $1.50 for a box, and I only needed half a stick. 

Use the rest of the chalk to write a note for your husband and children:  if you can’t clean up after yourself, no eating allowed! –Christine

• I have heard that leaving an unwrapped stick of wintergreen or peppermint gum near where they come in is a deterrant

• Not sure about anything that doesn’t smell but will pass this on to you.  It came from one of my Fraternity Men (I was the House Mom!) at Ole’ Miss and I have found it effective.  Nothing more than a spray from a can of ‘Pledge’ Furniture Polish!!  This should be done on the outside where they are coming in the house.   At point of entry and along the line that you see where they are moving.  I have also found on my counters that I spray vinegar, when I find them there, which I keep for all household cleanups.  I use it ‘straight’ but it can be mixed w/alcohol–maybe 1/4 to one–which helps it dry faster.  Hope this is of help.  LeBrun

• CORNMEAL…..the ants eat it and it swells up inside them…I guess they explode!!  I don’t know, but it works.  Of course you’ll have to leave the cornmeal sprinkled out on the counter while your gone or sleeping for the ants to eat it…! –Janet

• I have found that the best way to rid your counters and house of ants is to sprinkle cinnamon where they tend to accumulate. This is an inexpensive way to rid your home of these annoying little pests!

• A cheap, non-toxic, and effective way to get rid of ants is to simply wipe counters, doors, and window openings with vinegar.  I understand that this works because of the non-interaction between the formic acid in their bodies and the acetic acid in vinegar.  (Maybe that makes sense to somebody, but it doesn’t mean much to me.  I’m just repeating what I was told.)  I’ve used this method with great success.  It does smell for a little while, but the vinegar smell really doesn’t stick around very long.  Is your problem with all smells, even the natural ones?  I’m very chemically sensitive myself, but I don’t have any problem with the smell of vinegar.

• Other methods I’ve read about, but not tried, are to sprinkle black pepper around where you see ants, or to sprinkle cinnamon or whole cloves, or to place bay leaves around, or to draw lines near windows and doors with chalk  (supposedly ants won’t cross a chalk line.)  Hopefully you can find something that will work for you. -Martha

• Try one of those electronic pest repellers. They cost about $20.00 in Lowes and Home depot and are located in the pesticide aisle. However, there are no poisons involved, so they are environmentally sound and last a very long time.  

• I bought one from a TV sales program for my son’s three-room New York City apartment to keep the roaches away. It’s working miraculously. He hasn’t seen a roach since he plugged it in. Believe me, if it keeps the New York roaches away, it will keep any crawling, creeping pest away.

• Use Citronella oil undiluted on the affected area like steps or paths use rubber gloves as undiluted essential oils shouldn`t come in contact with your skin. Citronella is wonderful for any sort of insects bees, wasps, slugs they hate the smell. Also if you have a dog put some shampoo in a small tub and add a few drops of citronella it repels animal fleas. Good Luck – Sandra, Scotland

• Believe it or not, ants hate pepper.  My mom always put red pepper flakes out in cupboards where dry perishables were to keep the little critters out. This works in windows too. Since they are edible too, no smell, no pesticides and it’s Mother Nature approved.- Becky

• Responding to a "cheap way to get rid of ants":  my bug guy (exterminator) recommended the following: mix dish detergent with water, spray outside perimeter of home at ground level or obvious areas of ant activity.  Thoroughly wash counters/cupboards.  Here’s the tip:  place bay leaves inside cupboards and under items on counter tops.  Ants hate them and will not cross over bay leaves.  It works!

• Here’s what we did when we had the same problem:  Take your used coffee grounds and spread them across doorways, entrances, etc. around the outside of your house, and anywhere inside that is a problem area.  Ants dislike the coffee very much and won’t cross the line!  It worked for us – and it smells good. I had so many red ants in the front yard you would think I was raising them for sale! �Looking for the most inexpensive way to get rid of them I found this solution online. Mix orange or grapefruit juice, water and liquid soap together (equal parts) and spray the area. �It seems that the acid is what gets them. �I tried this and it works, but repeated applications were necessary. � Hope this helps someone else. 

• Hi – found your site looking for safe ways (for pets) to get rid of ants in my apt. (the small black kind) and I tried EVERYTHING natural on your page (plus many others) to get them to flee – NOTHING worked. I started trying out other herbs (besides mint as your readers suggested) that I had around and found that they absolutely despise ground dandelion root. I have it for tea – and they dislike the bits of it – but totally scatter when you sprinkle the powder near them. I get it at my local natural foods store – and it is very inexpensive.

7 thoughts on “Getting Rid of Ants – Part II

  1. Andy Kopac says:

    Hi folks,
    I’m a bee keeper and deal with ants on a regular basis. The natural baits all work great. Orange oil, Boric acid and with anything sweet. BUT and I have to really emphysis this please use a covered trap. Sugar and boric acid or honey will attract bees too, and kill them. Also this will attract your pets and possibly your kids. COVERED TRAPS OUTDOORS!!! Really important.a pice of cardboard with borax and sugar past is just as effective upside down or right side up. Save a bee or bee queen and colony. Thanks so much for beeing careful and kind to the bees.

    • TheFrugalLife says:

      We truly know the importance of bees and we want to do everything we can to keep them alive and happy. So thanks so much for your comment. We had no idea that could be jeopardizing our bee populations.

  2. Ming says:

    I have fire ants. I kill them two ways. 1. Two quarts of boiling water mixed with 1 cup of 20% vinegar (bought at Lowes) and 1/8 cup liquid dish detergent. Around noon when the ant hill is quiet, pour the boiling liquid down the center of the mound. You’ll find their hole very quickly. The object is to get the boiling liquid down the hole and to the queens. I did this to a hole yesterday that was right next to a cement walkway. When I came out an hour later, there were thousands of ants covering the dirt around the hole and the sidewalk In the house use 1/4 cup of 20% vinegar
    mixed with 3/4 cup water. Add to that 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap. Kills on contact. Find the hole outside they are coming from and do the boiling water routine. Boiling water will work for any ant. I use it in my organic garden.

  3. Howard James says:

    I’ve had huge sections of my very large yard in Maine turn from green grass to dust as ants have moved in and taken over. Each year the dust patches have grown larger and more and more of the six acre lawn has disappeared. This year I have tried several things that work. I bought several boxes of corn starch, put the powder in a restaurant style sugar shaker and then sprinkled it in the ant infested areas. After a rain the hills weren’t rebuilt. I read ants eat the stuff but can’t digest corn starch and become bloated and then starve. I also mixed 20 Mule Team borax with the cheapest grape jelly I could buy at WalMart. That also seems to work. Then I mixed borax with powdered sugar and that attracted the ants and the borax kills then. Finally, I tried cheap pancake syrup and borax.
    That too works. But I’m quickly growing convinced powdering corn starch on the top of the ant hills is best. It won’t kill birds and other creatures. Doesn’t hurt pets. Is safe for the children playing outdoors. And is very inexpensive.

  4. Dallas says:

    Care warning: Sevin dust is illegal in several countries because it kills other valuable insects like bees which are being killed off around the world due to pesticides. Without bees, no plants. No plants, no us.

    The chemical in Sevin dust helped create the world’s worst industrial disaster in 1984.

  5. Carolyn Schinsky says:

    If you want to get rid of ants for good, use TERRO ant baits. The active ingredient is borax, a natural ingredient that has a low level of toxicity for people, but is deadly to ants. The bait interferes with the ant’s digestive system and works slowly enough that the foraging ant has time to get back and share the bait with the rest of the colony. As the ants travel, they drop a pheromone trail from the bait to the nest, which lets the other ants know where the food supply (bait) is. The ants follow the trail to the bait, so expect to initially see more ants when using TERRO ant baits. http://www.terro.com/

  6. trish says:

    you have to know what kind of ant you have. I have the tiny black or brown kind that pest control has said is the odorous house ants. I have tried cinnamon, cloves, mint oil, eucalyptus oil and the liquid baits. NOTHING kills them 100%. I have been using the liquid baits and yes, the ants disappear for a couple of months but then they are back. And in my case, back in two different places – and I didn’t use pesticide spray. The person who finds out how to sterilize these ants will be a millionaire! That is the only way these creatures will stop being a problem as far as I am concerned. But until then, I will keep reading these posts and others to try and find a permanent solution.

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