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How to Kill Ants Using Natural Ant Bait and Other Non-toxic Methods

Updated on: May 15, 2021

Ants are literally pests to live with, indoors and outdoors. When they are inside your home, they get into your things and cause chaos in the household. When you're outdoors, you have to be careful not to accidentally disturb their nest because they can turn gardening or family lawn games into painful experiences. Don't underestimate these pesky ants just because of their size. They are not exactly easy to remove and they have serious staying power.

Spraying pesticides is the easiest way to deal with an ant problem, but is it necessarily the most effective? Also, you may not be comfortable using toxic solutions as an ant killer in your home. For this, there is natural ant bait and other non-toxic ways to eliminate your ants once and for all. A lot of the ingredients needed for your homemade ant killer can be found in your kitchen so you can create one if you don't feel like going to the store to get the materials that you need.

Understanding Ant Activity

In order to eliminate ants effectively, you must go for the source instead of just the ants themselves. The nests are part of the ant colony and each colony can hold hundreds or thousands of workers and a queen. Some ant types can have more than one queen per colony, so their reproduction is even more astounding. You can't just ignore an ant colony, even a very small one. Colonies can multiply and soon enough you will have a nightmare to deal with in your own home.

Now the colony survives as long as the queen is alive so it only makes sense to go after her when thinking of tactics to get rid of the ants. What makes this harder is that the colony can actually divide itself and multiply to form new colonies. If you only go after the ants, you may repel them temporarily and disappear in that one area, but best believe that they will turn up somewhere else.

Spotting ants outdoors is easy enough. They are commonly found in lawns or pavements. The visible part of an ant hill is really just the tip of the iceberg because their colonies usually extend two to three inches under the surface mound and extend two to four inches around it. Spotting ants indoors is a lot trickier because ants tend to hide and isolate themselves in your walls, between cabinets, and beneath your floors.

Why Baiting is the Most Effective Way to Control the Ants

Ants on the roof

Ant baits provide the most effective control, whether it's indoors or outdoors. Creating a bait involves blending a slow-acting pesticide (chemical or natural) and salty/sweet ant food. The food is what attracts the ants and disguises the pesticides. If effective, the worker ant, following a pheromone trail, will eat the bait food and carry it back to their nests, where they will feed it to the queen and the baby ants.

Since you're luring the ants with food in your homemade ant trap, don't panic if you see a lot of ant trail appearing suddenly, walking to and from the nest to the bait. The urge to just spray them with repellents is definitely high, but you must resist doing it. You need those ants alive to carry your poisoned bait back to their nests. This is essential in effectively eliminating the colony.

How to Control Ants Indoors

Seeing even just a few ants anywhere in your home is a sure sign that there's definitely more of them lurking somewhere. House ants are the most common of the types that typically invade homes. Those are really small, measuring just less than 1/8 of an inch long. House ants are really just nuisance pests and they are not carrying diseases and won't cause damages. You can easily control them with the following natural techniques:

  • Baking soda - make a simple mixture of equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. Place it in a shallow container and set it down in the spot where you see lots of ants. The acidic material in baking soda is fatal to ants and kills them.
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE) - DE kills ants by dehydrating them. Sprinkle this along ant trails so it can kill ants that come into contact with it. DE doesn't have any effect on the ants in the nest.
  • Borax ant killer - blend equal parts Borax and corn syrup to make this colony-killing bait. Smear the mixture on a small piece of index card or cardboard. The ants will certainly troop to the corn syrup and eat it along with the fatal Borax.
  • Castile soap - Mix 1/4 cup of Castile liquid dish soap and a quart of water. Put in a spray bottle and use this to kill ants on contact. This won't kill the ones in the nest, but it will surely work on scout ants.
  • Commercial bait - gel ant baits make use of the ants' love for sweet food. Squeeze the gel into cracks where ants tend to gather. You can also squeeze some into a piece of masking tape and place it sticky side down to keep the gel off surfaces. Use plastic bait stations that are fully enclosed if you have pets and kids in the house for additional safety.

Quick Ways in Repelling Ants

Follow these easy tips to lower the chances of ants wandering inside your home:

  • Spritz vinegar - mix equal amounts of common white vinegar and water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the liquid in areas where ants enter your house.
  • Citrus peels - don't throw away those lemons, lime, grapefruit, and orange peels. You can use these dried peels as insect repellent. Just place the peels in a grinder or food processor and turn them into powder, which you sprinkle on the entrance and exit point of ants.
  • Use essential oils - blend 1/4 cup of water with several drops of tea tree oil, peppermint oil, cinnamon, or citrus types of oils to make a natural ant repellent. Make that seven drops for citrus oils and 15 drops for the other oils. Put in a spray bottle, shake well, and then use this ant spray in places where ants enter your home, such as windowsills and baseboards. Alternatively, you can pour a few drops of the oil on cotton balls and then place those in pantry and cabinet areas to keep the ants out.
  • Make a barrier - pick a substance that ants don't like, such as ground chalk, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and cornmeal. Sprinkle along baseboards, windowsills, and door thresholds.

How to Control Ants Outdoors

Ants nest in the dirt

A good thing in dealing with outdoor ants is that you can see the nests and deal with them directly. These are some of the methods you can use to control outdoor ants:

  • Pour boiling water - open the nest using a rake and then pour boiling water on it. Be careful when doing this because you might end up killing surrounding vegetation. Add liquid soap to the water to make this more effective.
  • Soak nest in water - hose down the nest to saturate the soil around it and let it soak in water for 15 to 30 minutes. This is a long-playing solution since ants can survive underwater for 24 hours. Check the nest afterward and repeat the procedure if needed until the ants are truly dead.
  • Use boric acid - blend three tablespoons sugar or peanut butter with two tablespoons boric acid crystals and two cups of water to make your own liquid ant bait. Dissolve the acid crystals by boiling the mixture for six minutes. Let the liquid cool and store in a jar. Now create a container for your bait by punching holes in a yogurt cup or a similar container. These holes are for the ants to crawl in and out of. Put two to three tablespoons of your homemade solution into the container and then cover it with a foil or lid. Set the container down near the ant nest.

Other Ways of Getting Rid of Ants Naturally

You need to make your home as unappealing to ants as possible and this means removing all their potential food sources. Your kitchen and food preparation spots, including the sink and the trap, should be kept as clean as possible at all times. Check your doors, windows, and baseboards to see the entrance points of those ants. Seal those areas so they won't be able to get in your house to seek food.

These steps can also lessen the ants in your home and therefore make it easier for your natural ant killers to do their job.

  • Keep garbage pails and recycling bins clean. Wash them with warm, soapy water and apply a household floor cleaner with pine or citrus scent. Not only will this remove food particles but also eliminate the smell that attracts the ants. Cleaners with strong scents tend to turn the ants away. If the ants still return to your garbage pails and bins, keep those outdoors for now.
  • Remove or replace the liner papers in your pantry shelves and kitchen cabinets. These may hold spills and crumbs accumulated from food sources. Discard bags and boxes of food immediately if the ants have already gotten into them. Invest in air-tight glass or plastic containers to store your grains, cereals, and sugar.
  • Keep your pet bowls clean. Take them away for cleaning after your pets have finished eating. In the case of cats, who usually graze at their food instead of consuming it in one sitting, you can place their food bowl in a shallow pan or dish filled with water. This will drown the ants who will attempt to get into your kitty's food.
  • Mind your houseplants. Some species of ants tend to consider houseplants as attractive nest sites. You need to repot your plant in clean soil. Wash the pot first with a water and bleach solution and make sure to rinse thoroughly. Wash your plant's leaves too using a hose or spray unit. Now replant on sterile soil.

Here is Everything You Need To Know About Carpenter Ants, Homemade Ant Baits, and Repellents.

When to Use Pesticides and Commercially Prepared Products For Ant Control

Permakill staff photo

If you've done all you can, exhausting all means of killing ants the natural way (using bait station, DIY ant killer, etc), and still unable to get rid of them, you may have to resort to using pesticides and commercially prepared products. If you don't fancy using chemical sprays, you can use bait traps that contain pesticides in an enclosed form. The traps work by attracting the ants, making them eat the bait, and bring pieces of it back to their nests to feed their queen and other ants.

Now if the problem is still unresolved, make a wise choice and let a professional step in. A pest control service can solve your serious ant infestation problem once and for all. PermaKill Exterminating provides pest control services for all ant types, including fire ant, carpenter ant, sugar ants, and flying ants. They offer one-time service and seasonal plans. You can rest easy knowing that your problem will be handled by skilled and friendly technicians and not salespeople with quotas. Call PermaKill Exterminating now and work towards making your home ant-free.

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