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Ants are social insects, meaning they live together in groups called colonies. Colonies are divided into workers and reproductive castes of the male and female gender. The day you spot a steady stream of ants marching across your kitchen countertop or loitering along a windowsill, you may be panic-stricken. Thankfully, there are more ways than one to repel ants naturally and eliminating their colonies in your home and the yard.
How to Find an Ant’s Nest
Pest infestation with ants is a common problem in most households. Having ants running around can be frustrating and pretty unhygienic as they contaminate food. Specific varieties like Fire and Harvester ants can even bite humans and cause skin irritations. Carpenter ants may even cause structural damage to buildings. Kitchen ants carry bacteria around, which they transfer to food or an open wound, causing infection. The vast majority of ant species that are garden dwellers can be useful in certain ways. They aerate the soil or control damaging pests such as aphids. During warmer months, they usually enter the house through small cracks or gaps in the foundation, underneath the doors or spaces found around windows. Hence, it is important to exterminate ants through home remedies. However, before that, we need to find the ant’s nest. Trailing ants back to their nest and finding their colony can be tedious due to their size and ability to sneak into spaces where humans cannot reach. However, if you have patience and determination, you can try following the ants you see. Don’t follow one ant, instead observe multiple ants. With luck, they will take you back to their nest site. The key is to target the queen ant who stays hidden in the nest and keeps getting fed by the worker ants. So, even if pesticides are sprayed on the visible worker ants, the queen lays more eggs to take their place, and your infestation never ends.
Moreover, the nests are often deeply hidden behind walls or beneath concrete slabs. It is important to discover the trails used by worker ants to reach upto and return from the nest. Any visible ants moving inside your home are seeking edible food. The worker ant carries it back to the nest leaving behind a chemical path for its fellow worker ants to trace and collect more food. When several ants walk in a meandering pattern, they lay down a pheromone trail which other ants follow. It can take an ant a long time to cross even a short distance of this zigzag pattern. These pheromone trails become refined over time with the emergence of shortcuts paths. Finding an ant’s nest outside and getting rid of ants in the yard isn’t difficult as they’re practically everywhere. Finding the specific nest is tough as it acts as the base of the ants invading your home.
Different Ways to Kill And Repel Ants
There are amazing remedies that one can follow to kill and repel ants inside and outside your home. It is their behavior that makes it possible for combatants. Furthermore, it’s important to identify what you’re dealing with to take proper measures. Here is a compilation of the different ways that’ll help in killing ants naturally.
1. Find the Source
Identify the factor that’s attracting the ants in the first place. Whether it’s a sticky drip of honey or jam by the side of a jar, a tiny cake crumb, or a chocolate chip, clean it up so that they might move out on their own.
2. Shut down the Scouting
Teams of scout ants search for food using pheromones that leave a trail for other ants to follow. So simply sweeping the ants away won’t cut it. You should destroy their tiny trail if you want to get rid of ants in your room.
3. Determine the Best Ant Bait
Ants are industrious and can find a meal even in the cleanest of kitchens. Prebait ants in areas they have been sighted. Ants’ tastes change over the course of the year. They usually prefer protein in the spring and sweets or oily foods in the summer. Set out food like sugar, honey, fried food, and peanut butter that attracts the ants. Once you know what the ants prefer, set out toxic ant bait that suits their taste.
4. Boric Acid
Boric acid is a poison, which has been scientifically proven to kill within three weeks of exposure. Wear protective gloves while using them. Keep boric acid safely away from children and pets. Take half a teaspoon of boric acid, eight teaspoons of sugar, and one cup of warm water to make a solution. Keep stirring till the two ingredients are completely dissolved. Saturate cotton balls with the mixture and place them in areas where you have spotted ants. You can also leave the mixture out in containers. Wash containers thoroughly or discard them after use. You can also mix the powder with sweet maple syrup or corn syrup that will attract ants instantly. Spread on a flat, disposable surface where you see ants, and they’re sure to run away.
5. Borax (sodium tetraborate)
The most common substance in ant baits used to disrupt the reproductive cycle of ant colonies is a natural substance called borax that is non-toxic to humans and pets. Make borax, sugar, and warm water solution, using the same procedure as you would with boric acid.
6. Pyrethroids or Pyrethrin Compounds
These common ant sprays are derived from chrysanthemum flowers that paralyze ants. They are not seriously toxic to humans or pets.
7. Liquid Detergent And Glass Cleaner
Mixing glass cleaner with dish soap or liquid detergent can remove the pheromone trail. Usually, this trail emits a scent while walking, which triggers other ants to follow. This smell can stop ants from coming into the house. Spray liberally wherever you find ants gathering around or at the entry points. You may wipe the area but leave behind a light residual solution for the ants.
8. Hand Soap
Few people find the smell of glass cleaner to be utterly obnoxious. Instead, you can use hand soap or soapy water to remove the stench of ant pheromone trails that aid them in communicating with each other and follow it. Use it on trails left behind by ants and places that serve as entry points into your home.
Ants get irritated by the strong scent of pepper. Black or cayenne (red) pepper can be one of the most natural and safe remedies for driving away ants. Sprinkle pepper behind kitchen appliances and around the skirting of the walls to keep ants away.
Peppermint works as an effective natural insect repellent for keeping ants away. Put ten to twenty drops of this essential oil into two cups of water. Mix it and spray it around the bottom of the wall surface and windows. Leave to dry. Remember not to expose pets, like cats, to peppermint as they are likely to fall ill.
11. Tea Tree Oil
This natural oil repels and banishes ants away. Add five to ten drops of this oil to two cups of water and spray it. You can even dip cotton balls with this solution and place them at places where there are ants. If you find the scent too strong, try combining peppermint oil and water with tea tree oil to reduce its effect. Keep it out of reach of pets.
12. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
This tree is a natural ant repellent that contains citronella. Ingestion of lemon eucalyptus oil can be dangerous, so hide it away from children and pets. You can saturate cotton balls with undiluted oil and place them in areas where you see ants. Change every week.
Add orange peel to one cup of warm water to make a paste. Spread it around the entry points of ants and wipe it off later. You can also place few orange peels on the kitchen slab or places where the ants are likely to enter your home. The aroma of orange peel can be a deterrent for ants.
Using table salt is one of the most cost-effective ways to get rid of ants naturally. Place it near nooks and corners from where ants enter the house. Do not use any health-boosting rock salt. Boil water and pour a large amount of salt into it. Stir it well until it dissolves. Pour into a spray bottle and spray where you think ants tend to enter from.
15. White Vinegar
Ants can’t tolerate the smell of white vinegar. Prepare a solution of equal amounts of water and white vinegar or straight, undiluted vinegar. You can even add a few drops of essential oil to it and shake well. Store this solution and sprinkle it around your windowsills, doorways, and other places where you usually see ants coming. Ants can smell the vinegar after it dries. Repeat this once daily. Again, this solution may not kill the ants but will definitely keep them away from entering your home.
Ants are found on every continent except Antarctica and have proficient survival instincts, making them worthy opponents for humans. Make it a routine to clean up any spills quickly and thoroughly in the kitchen or dining area. Never leave uncovered food on the counter. Clean spills inside pantries and cabinets promptly. Inspect and repair any leaking faucets or plumbing pipes as excess moisture may invite pests of all kinds to your kitchen. In the yard, ants do not directly cause any damage to the tree but may “farm” the aphids or scale insects as both of these pests produce a sweet, sticky, saplike substance that the ants eat. Aphids may be washed off the tree when you spray water by force or killed with insecticidal soap. Insecticide sprays can eliminate scale ants when the crawlers are active and develop a hard shell, making them difficult to control.