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How to Kill and Repel Ants Safely From Home and Garden

The question is how to get rid of ants inside your house quickly or repel ants naturally and prevent entering your house or garden. If you notice ants in your home or garden, it may be a big problem as ants can lay up to 800 eggs per day  and multiply very quickly. It becomes a challenge to keep ants off from home and garden. There are natural ways to eliminate ants rather than killing them.

How to repel ants, Ants entering the house
Ants in the house

Although, the majority of 12,000 species of ants are harmless to people, they can carry dangerous bacteria, which can cause respiratory allergies and bronchial asthma to people.

How Do Ants Communicate

Ants have very strong senses of smell they have about five times more odor receptors than most insects. Their odour receptors are located on their antennae for finding food. They live in colonies and can travel up to a hundred meter away to find food. 

The worker ants go to find food ant colonies send and they leave behind them a trail of pheromones to help find their way back home. Once they find food to eat, they walk back to their nest and they leave a trail of pheromones of different scent to signal the other ants that a food source has been found. 

Thousands or even millions of ants live in a single colony. They do not have ability to speak so they have different methods for communication with other ants. They communicate by secreting pheromones, via the exchange of mouth liquids. and by touching their antennae to feel and smell each other. 

While walking, ants lightly touch the other ants to  communicate with them and senses the signals of pheromones. Sensing this, they follow the food pheromone trail from the nest to the food source. This is the reason ants walk back and forth in nearly perfectly straight lines to food and back following the pheromone trails.

How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

To get rid of ants or prevent ants entering your house or garden, two things can be done. Either remove the pheromone trails and/or confuse their senses of smell by introducing other strong smells. Other option is to kill them, which I do not like personally.

How To Prevent or Repel Ants Entering Your House 

There are many natural ways to eliminate ants and their colonies using ingredients found in your home. The following methods may help you keep ants out of your home and from your garden.

The common sense is to block or seal the places from where ants enter the house. So seal the entrance doors and windows or cracks in the walls from where the ants can enter your house.

Ants do not like smells of vinegar, essential oils, spices, pepper and baby powder. So you can use them to repel and prevent ants entering your house.

Vinegar To Repel Ants

  1. Ants do not like smell of vinegar. Dip a cotton balls in vinegar and place near entrances, the scent will repel ants.
  2. Mix vinegar and water in equal amount and wipe down the places where you see the ants, specially their walking trails to remove the pheromone scent that they use to communicate and move. Repeat many times in a day.

Essential Oils For Repelling Ants

Some of the scents that repel ants. Put a few drops of citrus, peppermint, eucalyptus, Tea tree oil or cinnamon oil on cotton balls and place near entrances to repel ants. 

Herbs and Spices To Deter Ants

Sprinkle some chilli powder, mint, cinnamon, mint,  black pepper, cloves, garlic or bay leaves in the ants activity area to deter ants. 

Chalk or Talcum Powder or Baby Powder To Make a Barrier

Draw a line of chalk or talcum powder on the floor from where the ants enter the home to create a barrier that they will not cross. The reason for this is unknown.

Coffee Grounds Repel Ants

  1. Sprinkle your used coffee grounds outside of your house and in the garden repel the ants by the smell of coffee grounds. 
  2. The coffee grounds are very good for your garden soil as they contain minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

How to Kill Ants

Boiling water

Pour boiling water on the ant hole to immediately kill many of the ants in their colonies inside. To be effective, you need to treat all the ant holes.

Borax (sodium tetraborate) and Boric Acid

  1. Borax and boric acid are slow poison that damages the ants digestive systems, resulting in their death within 3 weeks.
  2. Mix some borax in some sugar, honey, maple syrup or corn syrup and add some water to make a paste. Put this paste on a cotton ball and place the ball in the area where you see the ants activity.  The ants will come for sugar, but in the process borax or boric acid will die them. Keep boric acid and borax away from pets and children as they are toxic. You can use this in ant traps.

Corn-starch

  1. Corn starch may be an effective way to kill ants at one time.
  2. Sprinkle corn starch liberally over the group of ants and then pour some water on top that. This will cover their nose and mouth so they get suffocated and die.

Diatomaceous Earth (silicon dioxide)

  1. Diatomaceous earth is a natural crushed mineral dust - a chalk-like silica powder. 
  2. Its particles have sharp edges that look like broken glass which are able . These edges are able to cut through ants exoskeleton, , making their joints grind together and eventually kill them.
  3. Buy food-grade diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it directly on the ant trails and all possible areas from where ants may entre or may have entered into your home. The powder will kill the ants that come across it. You may repeat the treatment when the other ants come from the colony. If any ant carries the diatom to the queen, then queen may also be killed. 
  4. While working with diatomaceous earth, you must put on a pair of gloves and wear a respiratory mask to avoid discomfort if significant quantities are inhaled.

How to Control Ants in Garden on Trees

If you see a trail of ants on your plants and fruit trees, it means there is a food source on the plants for them. 

Ants are attracted to the plants by the sweet secretions from flowers and fruits. They are also attracted by the secretions of aphids on plants. Actually ants control aphids on trees.

If aphids are the reason, then get rid of them, and the plant will become ant-free. Spray a solution of neem oil to kill aphids as well as ants.

Flood their nest with water: Ants on plants can be forced out by overwatering the plant.

The tips given below will work on plants in pots and plants in ground effectively and your garden will become ant-free.

You can get rid of ants by creating an ant barrier around the plants and trees in your garden using the ant repelling substances as given below.

  1. Sprinkle some used coffee grounds around the base of the trunk of your trees in ground or in pot. In the pot, sprinkle all around the base of the pot to prevent ants to reach to the plant. As a further precaution also sprinkle inside the pot around its rim.
    1. The smell of coffee grounds around the trees will mask the scent of the fruits so they will not try to go to the tree. The same repelling effect you can achieve by putting some cottons balls with a few drops of essential oils.
    2. However, this method is not long lasting as the coffee grounds will lose their effectiveness after some time due to decomposition.
  2. Wrap the trunk of the tree to keep ants away with packing tape keeping sticky side up to create a collar around the tree, so ants will stick on the tape if they try to crawl beyond the tape.