The past few weeks I have been spending a lot of time outside in the backyard weeding, cleaning up our patio and bug proofing like crazy. We really did not get a lot of use out of our covered patio last summer and I am determined to not let that happen this year.
We have a very nice large outdoor patio that we had a landscaping company build for us when we moved into our home. Over time, weeds and moss have started growing through some small gaps we have. When I started removing some of the moss, I disturbed a bunch of ant colonies that were underneath the moss 🙁 One thing I never really thought about is that when you build an outdoor patio with pavers, sand is typically used as the foundation. Ants really seem to love to build their homes in the sand.
Needless to say, I was thoroughly grossed out by the large amount of little black ants that started pouring out from the cracks, so I decided to see if there was anything I could do with things I already had at home to get rid of these ants!
DIY Ant Killing Sprays and Traps
Dawn Dish Soap
I found this to be the easiest method for my problem. Dawn dish soap kills ants. Because the ant colonies were actually between the cracks in my patio pavers, I just squirted Dawn down into the cracks and then used the hose to mix up the soap a bit. I was surprised how quickly this worked, it killed them immediately and I did not notice any ants in those problem areas the next day.
Powdered Sugar Ant Killer
- 1 empty water bottle (cut down to about 2″ tall)
- 5 tablespoons baking soda
- 5 tablespoons powdered sugar (must be powdered)
- 3 tablespoons water
Mix all ingredients and put the mixture into empty water bottle bottom. Place near walls or other areas you notice ants. The ants will be attracted to the powdered sugar. Once they eat the mixture, the baking soda will react with the formic acid in their stomachs and cause gas. Ants are unable to eliminate gas like humans. The gas will build up and eventually kill the ant.
Mix 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of Borax together. Soak cotton balls in the mixture and then place in areas you notice ants. Borax is a natural mineral that is used in most commercial bug sprays and for good reason, it gets the job done.
Spread cornmeal in problem areas. Ants are unable to digest it and it will kill them. Cream of wheat will also have the same effect.
Once you have killed the ants, here are some things you can do to keep them from coming back or re-entering your home.
Keep up on Cleaning
If you notice an ant or two in your kitchen, take that as a warning that more will likely be on their way. Do your best to keep your kitchen counters clean and stay on top of the dishes. Do not let sticky messes or grease sit around for long periods of time if you can help it. This will just invite the ants into your home. Consider using a DIY Vinegar or Citrus cleaning product. Vinegar and Citrus scents are both natural ant deterrents.
- All Natural All Purpose Vinegar Household Cleaner from The Bold Abode
- Orange Vinegar All Purpose Cleaner from One Crazy House
Use sealed containers for items such as flour, sugar, cereal, pet food and so on. If you leave open cereal boxes and sugar bags around the house, you are leaving the ants a buffet of delicious and tempting food. Here are a few different sealed food storage containers I use around my home that I love.
- Rubbermaid Cereal Containers
- Anchor Hocking Glass Jars (Good for Flour, Sugar etc.)
- IRIS 3 Piece Airtight Petfood Container
Seal Off Entrances
While cleaning your house, take the time to identify any access points where ants may be getting inside. Common places to look are gaps in woodwork, cracks in cement, vents, screens, cracks in the floorboards and so on. Once you have identified access points, purchase silicone caulk and seal off all entrance points. If you do not have silicone caulk on hand, you can use glue or putty as a temporary solution.
Put Up Defensive Barriers
There are several items around your house that can be used as a defensive barrier to keep ants out of your home. A defensive barrier doesn’t need to be wider than a ¼ of an inch but it must form an unbroken line. You can use these barriers in places like counters, sills, floors and around access points.
- Powdered charcoal
- A line of chalk
- Citrus oil
- Black pepper, cayenne pepper, or red chili pepper.
- Vaseline (great for doors and windows)
- Baby powder
- White vinegar and water
- DIY Essential Oil Ant Spray from Making Lemonade
Sprinkle Deterring Scents
Ants dislike a variety of different scents. Some of these include garlic, peppermint, crushed mint leaves, lavender oil or grow lavender near their entrances. Put bay or bay laurel leaves in your flour and sugar containers to deter ants. Over time the leaves do lose their potency. Replace every month for the best results.
Get Rid of Ant Trails
Get rid of ant trails effectively by sprinkling Splenda over them. Once the ants consume the Splenda, they will die shortly after. This is a great option if you have animals as the Splenda is not harmful to them. You can also spread coffee grounds on ant hills or along your foundation. This confuses worker ants because it causes them to lose their scent trails. You will need to be persistent when using this method, it may take a season to fully affect any colonies nearby. Refresh the coffee grounds every year. The more often you refresh them, the stronger the effect will be.