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Written by Alison Mooradian   
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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Get Rid of Ants Naturally

Dry summer months can lead ants seeking water or food to invade your home. Spring rains might also leave people fending off ants that have come inside their homes. If you want to get rid of an ant invasion, but you do not want to use toxic pesticides to do so, there are some effective, natural alternatives.

Background on Ants
Currently, scientists have discovered over 10,000 species of ants. While ants live all over the world, they are especially prevalent in tropical habitats. Ants are insects that belong to the order Hymenoptera, which also includes bees and wasps. While sometimes people mistake ants for termites, you can identify an ant by looking for its waist in between its abdomen and thorax. Other distinguishing features include its large head and elbowed antennae.1

Worker Ant Anatomyi

Ants are incredibly social animals that live in communities located underground, in mounds, or in trees. However, some species of ants do not live in these locations. Carpenter ants make their home in wood, which makes them problematic for houses. Army ants migrate consistently with no permanent home.2 Ant communities have a distinct hierarchical structure. The queen’s (sometimes there are multiple queens) job is to lay thousands of eggs. Male ants have one role: to mate with the queen. Afterwards, they typically die. The worker ants, which are the ants we often see, are female ants that do not reproduce. Their jobs are to forage for food, care for the offspring, work on the nest, and protect their community.3

What are Ants Attracted to?

Ants are omnivores; in nature, they typically eat nectar, seeds, fungi, or insects.4 They communicate with one another by emitting a pheromone scent trail that lets the other ants know where the food source is. Once the food source is finished, the pheromone trail disappears.5 Ants are also attracted to human food. Like humans, ants need a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in their diet. Because sugar is a good source of carbohydrates, many ant species are attracted to food that contains sugar. However, since artificial sweeteners do not contain carbohydrates, ants are not attracted to them. Ants are also attracted to salt because it helps them maintain their bodily functions, just like humans.6

Natural Pesticide Options
The first step is prevention. To prevent ants from entering your house in the first place, take stock of your kitchen. Make sure any sweet ingredients or foods are sealed tightly, and make sure that any dribbles on honey or maple syrup jars are cleaned up. It also helps to sweep the floor frequently to get rid of food scraps and crumbs that may attract the ants.7 Make sure not to leave food, especially sugar treats, in rooms around your house or outside your home.

Ants Swarming Fruitii

If you know where ants have entered your home before, another prevention idea is to create a barrier with something that ants do not like. Common ideas include using baby powder, chalk, coffee grounds, or cayenne pepper. Since ants also dislike citrus, you can grind up orange, lemon, or lime peels and make a barrier with the grounds. Spraying diluted essential oil solutions or vinegar can also help repel ants. Some effective essential oils are citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, orange, or lemon. A mixture of water and castile soap will also help stop ants from entering your house because the castile soap alters the waxy coating on ants that protects them.8

If there are already ants in your house, identify the food source and clean up that area (the food and the existing ants). Then you need to work on making the pheromone trail and the incoming ants disappear. One option for a natural ant pesticide is using Borax. By spreading a mixture of Borax and corn syrup on an index card and setting it as a trap, ants will carry the mixture back to their nest. Then, all of the ants that feed on this mixture will die. Another option that will yield the same result is to use a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar.9

Lastly, one option that will kill the scout ants, although they won’t make it back to their nest to feed it to the other ants, is to use diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from fossilized algae. When ants come into contact with diatomaceous earth, it ruins their waxy, protective coating, causing them to die from dehydration. However, avoid using diatomaceous earth outside because it is harmful to other types of insects. For example, when bees come into contact with it, it sticks to their legs and then when they groom themselves, they will accidentally consume it and die.10 And as you have hopefully already heard, we need to save the bees , the future of our food supply depends on it!

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Last Updated ( Monday, 09 October 2017 )