The ants are on the march through gardens and backyards and coming soon to a kitchen cupboard near you. Eek!!
But hang on a sec, before you reach for the poisonous ant killer under the sink because that ant killer’s almost certainly got deltamethrin in.
And deltamethrin aint just nasty for ants.
It can also harm cats, aquatic life and bees. And we really, really need to keep it away from our kids.
So what on earth can we do to kill ants and get rid of ants naturally – without toxic ant killers – when we’ve got a whole army of ants marching through our kitchen?
Well, luckily there are a whole load of natural DIY ways to get rid of ants including non toxic homemade ant killers to destroy ant nests in our homes, gardens and backyards that are pet friendly and pet safe AND safe to use around small children.
So I’ve put together for you this big list of 25 natural ways to get rid of ants and to kill ants along with my tips on how I use these to keep ants out and get rid of them quickly if they do get in.
I do hope these tips help you get rid of ants without having to use toxic ant killers. Do let me know how you get on.
How To Get Rid Of Ants Naturally
1. Destroy Ant Scent Trails
The first thing to do to get rid of ants from your house naturally is to destroy the scent trails they use to tell all their mates: “food this way”.
Clean around anywhere you see ants coming in plus kitchen counters, cupboards, bins and the dishwasher door with any of these natural ingredients that wipe out the ants’ scent:
- Lemon juice
- Cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
- Peppermint oil
- Tea tree oil
Just use what you’ve got, you don’t mind your kitchen smelling of. Vinegar and lemon juice are great because they are natural antiseptic cleaners. But if you don’t have them just make “tea” with any of the above spices or herbs you’ve got, let it cool and use as a cleaner.
In early summer, do this quickly every day as part of your cleaning routine to stop any random ant who wanders in from laying a scent trail.
2. Don’t Leave Food Lying Around
My home is not spotless, I promise you, not at all. But in the summer to keep ants out we need to be obsessive about cleaning up food.
Especially, sweet fruit!!
So don’t leave jellies and jams out. Wipe up any spillages straight away. Put fruit cartons and ice lolly wrappers straight into the outside bin. And get the whole family to rinse crockery and cutlery before it goes in the dishwasher.
Ants can smell the sweet stuff from a long way off, so if we leave it lying around we will keep attracting them back in even if we destroy their trails.
3. Get Rid Of Dead Bodies
If you see an ant in the house, you kill it on sight with a quick squidge, right? It seems simple enough.
But the thing is, ants can smell dead ants and will come looking for the corpse. So if we don’t get the dead ant out of the house instantly we are again just encouraging the ants in.
4. Block Entrances With DIY Natural Ant Repellent
Sometimes the ants will still get in.
In our house, it has always been when someone has put something fruity like a lolly wrapper or fruit carton in the bin. Grrr!!!
But even if lots of ants do get in you can still get rid of them naturally. The first thing to do is block their entrance with any of these natural DIY ant repellents:
- Diatomaceous earth
- Baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
- Corn starch (corn flour in UK)
- Ground chalk
These don’t instantly kill the ants but the powder gets into their exoskeleton which they hate so if you block wherever the ants are coming in with the powder, you will stop any more ants from entering.
Some people swear by baking soda – I use it lots in natural cleaning – but I found diatomaceous earth works best and I always keep some in.
You can mix any of these strong smelling dry ingredients into any of the above for added repellent powder :
- Cayenne pepper
- Ground cloves
5. Kill Ants With Vinegar & Soapy Water
Once you’ve blocked the entrances with your DIY ant repellent power go round and kill any stray ants with vinegar or soapy water, again making sure you get the bodies outside away from the house.
6. Destroy Ant Nests
Now obviously toxic ant killers supposedly work because ants take the poison back to the ant nest where the whole colony gets killed.
In reality, these ant killers don’t usually destroy the whole nest but do kill a whole load of other good bugs we need in the garden in the meantime.
But there are child and pet safe, natural ways to destroy ant nests with much less or minimal impact on good bugs:
- Boiling water
- Pyrethrum powder
Some people also use borax successfully to destroy ant nests but it is banned for domestic use here in the UK on safety grounds so isn’t something I can recommend from experience myself.
The quickest, easiest way to destroy an ant nest in your backyard especially on patios is to pour repeated kettles of boiling water over it.
If you pour boiling water on grass or beds you will kill other bugs and plants but won’t do lasting damage to soil, so sometimes if you’ve got a problematic ants nest in the garden, needs must.
Pyrethrum powder is derived from chrysanthemums and is naturally toxic for the ants if you sprinkle it into the nest. It is widely available from organic gardening sites but there are concerns about whether it is pet safe and wildlife friendly even though it is natural.
I would your own research before using.
Nematodes are basically bugs used to attack other bugs. Ants won’t tolerate steinernema feltiae worms anywhere near their nest and will actually move their colony away from the worms.
7. Keep Ants Off Plants In The Garden
Ants are a menace in the garden.
It’s not because they eat the plants themselves but because they literally “herd” the aphids who do and protect them from natural predators like ladybirds (ladybugs) and lacewings.
Some plants e.g. my raspberries can withstand a combined onslaught of ants and aphids but others e.g. my courgettes and runner beans, can’t. Between them, ants and aphids, will destroy flowers before they are pollinated.
To get rid of ants in the garden and keep them off vulnerable plants try these natural remedies to actually get rid of the aphids first:
- Dish soap: spray first signs of aphids with water with a little dish soap. I do one teaspoon to three litres of water. Spray directly on aphids as dish soap will harm beneficial bugs like ladybirds.
- Garlic & mint: make yourself a DIY garlic & mint insect spray to keep aphids of all sorts of small plants & fruiting vegetables.
- Neem oil: spray infected leaves with diluted neem oil.
There are also a number of natural barriers you can use to stop ants getting to the flowers and fruit where they do all the damage. Try:
- Fruit tree grease: paint on fruit trees to prevent ants climbing up them
- Glue bands: attach to trees or plant containers to again prevent ants climbing up to the flowers and fruit where they do the damage.
And there you go, a really big old list non toxic ways to get rid of ants from your house, garden or backyard without reaching for the toxic ant killers.
I do hope they help for more non toxic pest control follow me on Pinterest and have a read of these tips:
- Natural Mosquito Repellents
- Get Rid Of Flies Fast
- Prevent Fruit Flies
- Get Rid Of Slugs & Snails Naturally
- Get Rid of Moths Naturally
- How To Treat Mosquito Bites
- Cat Repellent Plants & Herbs