Ants are persistent little critters. You can go from seeing one ant on your counter one day to seeing hundreds in your kitchen the next. You want them out of your house, but you’re also concerned about some of the pesticides that may be used to remove them. If you are trying to be more environmentally conscious, the prospect of calling an exterminator might be offputting. Fortunately, there are ways to address your ant problem without resorting to harsh pesticides. First, let’s talk about one of the substances most commonly used to keep ants away.
Does vinegar keep ants away?
Vinegar has a reputation as a cure-all for everything. It can add shine to your hair, is a miracle cleaning product, and mixed with a little oil it adds flavor to your salad.
But is it effective in repelling unwanted guests, such as ants from your home? The answer is a resounding yes! Vinegar is effective at keeping ants away and killing the ants already in your house.
Spray any ants you see with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Target their points of entry, your countertops, and around your doors. Ants send scouts ahead to forage for food. These scouts lay a pheromone trail on their way back to the colony for the other ants to follow. The strong scent of vinegar disrupts the ants’ ability to sense these pheromone trails.
What kind of vinegar gets rid of ants?
White, or apple cider vinegar are your go to’s when trying to keep ants away. There are people who swear by one or the other when it comes to repelling ants. It’s all down to which vinegar you prefer to have around the house. The strong odors of either vinegar are enough to break the pheromone trail and prevent ants from entering your home.
How long does it take for vinegar to kill ants?
Vinegar is acetic acid, so spraying it directly on the ants you find in your home will kill them immediately. It will not, however, kill the colony. You can encourage them to move along by spraying the area around the colony, which will cause them to abandon it. To keep them from entering your home, you will need to repeat the application of your vinegar solution about twice a week.
The benefits of using vinegar to repel ants
Some pros of using vinegar to repel ants:
- It’s inexpensive. Since most of us have vinegar around the house it might not cost anything to use vinegar to repel ants.
- It’s safe for humans and animals in and around the house. You won’t have to make plans to leave your house or worry about toxic chemicals in your kitchen.
- It’s easy. You don’t have to follow precise measuring directions. You can just pour vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray away.
Some cons of using vinegar to repel ants:
- You will have to spray your vinegar solution weekly to keep the ants away
- You will have to deal with the smell of vinegar until it evaporates. You can try adding essential oils to your vinegar solution, but you will still smell the vinegar.
- If you have a massive infestation, this will not be as effective. If you only have a few ants, repelling them with vinegar is effective, but for a large infestation, that may have more then one route into your house, this may not work for you.
5 ways to get rid of ants
There are other effective ways to get rid of ants if you don’t think vinegar is the way to go.
1. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is another safe and effective way of getting rid of ants and other insects. It comes in a powder that you can sprinkle around your house. It kills insects by damaging their exoskeletons as they walk through it, causing them to dehydrate. Diatomaceous earth can be used for pest control inside and outside. Here is some diatomaceous earth you can use for getting rid of ants. For use indoors look for the variety marked as “food grade.”
2. Boric Acid
This is another low toxicity way to remove ants from your house. Ants ingest the boric acid, and it kills them within 24-48 hours. This is long enough for them to take it with them to the colony exposing other ants and eradicating them on a larger scale. Boric acid can be purchased as powder or tablets. Be sure to place this away from your kids and pets. While it is lower toxicity it can still be harmful if ingested. Zap-a-Roach Boric Acid Roach and Ant Killer is a popular option on Amazon.
Borax works similarly to boric acid. Ants ingest it and carry it back to their colonies, where they spread the poison to the rest of the ants. You can mix this with syrup to make your own ant bait. Place it out of the reach of kids and pets so they don’t accidentally eat it.
You can purchase borax here.
4. Peppermint oil
Mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with 2-cups of water makes a solution that will help repel ants. You can also soak a few cotton balls in peppermint oil and place them at the ants’ point of entry. Peppermint oil will make your house smell great, and has the added benefit of helping to repel mice.
You can find peppermint essential oil here.
5. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a great option for keeping ants away. It will remove them without harming any of the beneficial insects in your yard. You can make a neem oil spray by mixing neem oil with 1 tablespoon of liquid soap, and 10 oz of water. This also makes an excellent garden spray to kill aphids and ants on your plants.
You can find neem oil online on Amazon.
Dealing with an ant infestation in your house or garden can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or involve dangerous pesticides. There are many more natural ways to remove ants and keep them from returning to your home. Keep in mind ants serve an important role in nature. Many songbirds eat ants, they help aerate your garden soil, and they are decomposers, which means they feed on organic waste and release the nutrients back into the soil.
Ants have an important place in the world, and that is not in our homes, but by remaining conscious of the role they play we can protect the other creatures that rely on ants, by maintaining a controlled approach to kicking them out of our houses.