14 April 2011

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants

As much as I love spring and the boost of colors, bird songs and aromas it brings to our forest each year, there is one aspect of it which freaked me out some weeks ago. This year spring came with a bonus for the nature lovers - we got some really hardworking unexpected guests - small, delicate and black. Yes, you guessed right, our house was the top dining venue for hundreds of ants for a good 5 day period.

Our neighbors were sure we were literally stumbling over big chunks of food scattered on the carpet, which were attracting the ants. Now, I must admit there is the occasional breadcrumb under the table, but we do not, I repeat, we do not eat in the bathroom, or at the front door, or under the sink. None of us. For sure. Never.

Anyway, we were invaded. At a certain point I started considering adding "pets" to my Etsy descriptions. It was going to be something along the lines of: "Produced in a smoke-free and extremely ant friendly home." Truth be told, everything was alright as long as they kept to their paths and we to ours. The food from the cupboards was well packed and hanging joyfully around the house and we managed to keep a friendly relationship with our guests while frantically looking for an ecological way to part with them.

But the moment came when the ants started to get proactive. I mean, they wanted to get to know us better, maybe even hug a little... Obviously, the time for action had come. I want to make it clear that  we did not want to use any chemicals on our ants for two reasons:

1. Chemicals have long term effects on the natural balance.
2. Chemicals are expensive.

Naturally, we love ants. Not only because they are an important part of the environment and they keep the ecological balance by feeding on pests, dead insects and decomposing tissue from dead animals. We also love them because of the image they have earned of hard workers and team players. But good as they are, our friendship could not continue. Not in our house that is.

A room with a view - I still wonder why the ants would come to our house if they have settled in this old stump overlooking the sea.

So, my husband and I remembered something our grandmothers used to do and we put it to action. We sprinkled salt along their paths and put some basil bouquets (we are romantic) in the holes they were coming out of. Lovely and friendly. And cheap. Although the ants did not miraculously disappear and at first it looked like nothing was changing, after two days we were left to ourselves and have been ever since. Thank you, grandma!

I have also heard that the strong smell of vinegar repels the ants and that they hate cucumbers, but I am not sure if that really works. What experiences do you have with ants?


  1. Thanks for the tips, I didn't know those. I like ants too, as long as they stay outside.

  2. Boric acid sprinkled at the holes works too. It's not food in the bathroom it's the moisture they are attracted to! Good Luck!

  3. Great tip, I have to write it down so that I can use it next time the ants get too friendly:)

  4. I'll have to try the salt when we are visited (occasionally when it has rained a lot)! Fortunately, they seem to like the outside better than inside. I wonder if the salt would work on ant hills? Funny post! (found you on Handmadeology)

  5. I've heard that cinnamon or black pepper work at the sites but I haven't tried it. Great post!

  6. @My Life Under the Bus - Great tip, I read that boric acid is not much more toxic than salt.

    @Sarah~Magnolia Surprise - I guess it would works but as far as I remember, warm salt water works even better for ant hills.

    @Annete - Do you think it matters whether the black pepper is ground or whole?

  7. I didn't know about the basil, but I've put bay leaves in cabinets and I've never seen an ant in those. Otherwise, I wipe down counters, walls, doorways and floors with vinegar and that seems to do the trick for me.

    I don't mind the bugs, as long as they stay outside.

  8. O wow! Your photography looks so great! those bugs are so detailed.

  9. I had a little problem with ants a couple of years back. They'd invade the kitchen and then wander all over the house. I read that sprinkling ground red pepper across the doorway or window sills discourages them from coming in.
    I didn't know wether that meant chilli or paprika but I used paprika because that's what I had and it worked like a charm!
    They wouldn't come in after that. It was just like magic!
    And so very eco-friendly.

  10. They hate vinegar and cucumbers? Maybe the huge ones in my yard won't come in them since my husband and son eat cucumbers with vinegar, salt and pepper all the TIME!

  11. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth (you can find it at pool stores or hardware stores) around. The sand is super fine and it sticks to their legs and skeletal system. I know it sounds mean, but they act like little pieces of glass that cut their skeletal system. Does sound cruel.

    The DE works for other crawling bugs like scorpions, lice, roaches, crickets, etc. It's sort of a slow death.

    The dirt is very fine, so you definitely don't want to sprinkle around any electronics, as it can ruin them.

  12. The best solution is Cucumber! Slice a small piece and put it anywhere the ants stay. Try it. Very very effective. Ants hates the smell of cucumber skin.

  13. The best solution is Cucumber! Slice a small piece and put it anywhere the ants stay. Try it. Very very effective. Ants hates the smell of cucumber skin.

    1. Thank you! I will definitely try cucumber next spring.