You want to know how to get rid of ants naturally. Lucky for you – when it comes to killing ants, it turns out that not everything is binary digits and harmful manmade toxins.
No, not when there are still many people out there who prefer the natural toxins over something chemically damaging.
In lieu of pesticides and insecticides, these honorable people seek out all natural methods of handling their persistent ant problem.
I doff my hat to you. And without further ado – the 11 best natural ways to get rid of ants.
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally
There are a number of all natural ways to get rid of ants. Just keep in mind that not all of them will kill – some natural repellents are just that: repellents that serve to deter ants. While others are more lethal. Read on to find out what’s what!
Get Rid of Ants Naturally with Citrus
We’ll start with a surprisingly obvious/common one: citrus scents and oils are pretty damn effective across the board when it comes to pests and creepy crawlies of all kinds. Different beasties react to the oils and scents in different ways, but for ants, it’s a simple case of utterly confusing them.
Ants rely heavily on their sense of smell for a general awareness of the environment around them – this is why they can locate a Twinkie crumb from about ten thousand miles away. These figures might not be accurate. But, anecdotally, I can claim that I’ve seen it happen.
Powerful citric scents and flavorings bamboozle the ants’ senses; they become overwhelmed to the point of basically having no idea what’s going on. A lemon essential oil, for example, is a great way to keep them away from your food!
Use Orange Oil as a Natural Ant Spray
This is basically a continuation of the previous step, but orange oil warrants its own number on the list due to how effective and powerful it is in the pest repelling/killing world. Really, when I say orange oil, I’m referring to the compound Limonene (which is more or less 99% orange rind).
Now, it’s up to you how you use this substance, but it can be a very effective natural ant killer if mixed in a powerful enough ratio with water. If you want to dilute it down and make it last a little longer, though, it can become a very handy repellent for spraying around suspect areas of the garden or home.
There are a number of ways to use orange oil or other citrus scents: go for a straight up potent d-limonene extract, citrus-y essential oils you can mix with water and spray around your kitchen or get a pre-made spray like Orange Guard, which is made with d-limonene (extracted from orange peels) and works both to kill ants on contact and repel them.
Vinegar Repels Ants Naturally
What goes well with oranges? Mmmm… vinegar. Yummy, bitter, tangy, vinegary oranges. What’s not to love?
Alright, maybe keep it separate, because vinegar on its own is actually a very potent and effective natural ant repellent. For a repelling factor, vinegar (in any of its forms; white wine, apple cider, wrung out from last night’s chip wrapper) works in the same way as the overwhelming citric essences: by screwing with the ants’ antennae and ability to detect pheromones in the air.
This makes it a handy, if pungent, preventative measure. However, if you’re using pure vinegar and you manage to catch the ants ‘in person’ so to speak, then it can kill them off. You need to make sure you’re making direct contact, though. That’s when it makes a lethal all natural ant killer.
Essential Oils Ward Off Ants
You know all of those mad smells, tinctures and scented candles that seem to haunt your grandmother’s home? Most of those are essential oils and, believe it or not, they’re one of the most useful weapons in the natural war against ants and all manner of horrible, horrible things with too many limbs and not enough perpetual distance from me.
Essential oils allow you to get quite creative with your repelling and killing techniques – you can opt for the oils themselves and add to water for homemade, natural sprays, or you could use dried leaves for a physical, stinky, barrier in particular areas of the home or you could even burn one of those sacred scented candles that you were always told never to actually light.
The choice is yours; and the choice is about as wide as the essential oil roster goes, but some key players are peppermint, tea tree, cloves, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and citronella. Basically, choose the one you most like the smell of (because you’re going to have to put up with a lot of it) and get experimenting!
Insect Repellent Plants
If your ant problems exist mainly outside the home, in the wonders of your own backyard then you might want to think about a little bit of creative landscaping. People often forget that the natural essential oils have their smells, potency and repelling effectiveness ingrained in them – it’s not some manmade alteration that gives them their smell.
With that in mind, why not put some of the actual plant life in your own yard?
Again, this is really just down to your own discretion and taste: you can turn your garden into a veritable botanical wonderland, or just stick a citronella shrub by the back door to make sure nothing sneaks in when nobody’s looking. It’s up to you – but you’ll have a much nicer smelling yard, hopefully ant-free.
Cinnamon to Prevent Ants Naturally
Remember that ‘cinnamon’ challenge that was doing the rounds a few years ago? The one that came with all the health warnings about basically violently choking and dying on a spoonful of spice for the adulation of internet users?
Yeah, well, the same risks apply for ants, too.
I wrote that as a joke, but it’s actually more or less true. The powdered form of the cinnamon can easily suffocate any ants trampling through a big pile of it – the same actually applies to a lot of other strong spices and powders like coffee, cayenne or turmeric. Maybe they just like their food unseasoned…
Again, though, even if the ant itself doesn’t come into contact with the cinnamon or whichever spice you’ve opted for – the powerful scent will help to confuse them and keep them away for the most part.
Boric Acid is a Natural Ant Killer
Continuing on with natural ant killers, boric acid also works, although it steps a little further away from the natural side of things, when we consider compounds like Borax; but the ‘acid’ itself is a natural product and is a highly effective ant killer.
Application is pretty much the same as any baking soda – lace it with delicious bait to lure ants to consume it and leave it in a place the ants will find it. And hope that they track it back into their nest to share with the others, too.
Diatomaceous Earth for Natural Ant Control
Keeping this granulated perspective on the go, let’s move onto something that straddles the divide between natural ingredients and pesticides. Diatomaceous earth is naturally occurring, but acts in much the same way as a number of powerful pesticides and insecticides.
Unlike baking powder and boric acid, where the idea is to have the ant ingest it and suffer the consequences, diatomaceous earth is a much slyer ant killer. The granules and crystals of the powder adhere to the ants as they wander through your strategically placed deposits.
Then, over time, it begins to dehydrate them to the point of complete exhaustion and eventually death, leaving you with nothing more chemically harmful than a dead body to deal with.
If you want to make sure you’re luring them in, you can of course add the same baits as previously discussed.
No, I don’t blame you for asking your computer screen “what the hell are nematodes?” If you haven’t had any persistent bug or insect problems in the past, then there’s really no reason that you’d be au fait with these little worms… Well, I say worms… nematodes are actually microscopic parasites that search, restlessly, for a living host to affix themselves to.
Once they latch on, they burrow into the body and consume the creature from the inside out before dusting their microscopic parasitical hands and moving on to the next job.
You can buy nematodes from most garden centers, and application tends to be pretty simple: just introduce them into the soil around the area that you’re having problems. Before long, you should notice a drop in the ants’ numbers.
Unless they’re very diplomatic ants and they manage to make friends with the nematodes…Good god.
Boiling Water Works in a Pinch
I’ll be brief with this one, because it’s brought up in just about every ant article under the sun (even those that are concerning manmade chemicals).
It truly is the most natural and basic DIY method of ant extermination, though. All you need is a kettle, water and the sheer, unadulterated bloodlust to pour it into an ant hill or nest.
Now, be warned; this isn’t guaranteed to actually kill off every ant in a given hill and if you use it indoors – say on a small nest, resting in a gap in your wall or something similar – you’re going to be faced with a flurry of ants trying to flee.
Save it for the external ant hives and make sure you use a lot of water.
Vodka Makes a Strong Ant Killer
Right, right, right. So I know we’re diving headfirst into grey territory when it comes to what we mean by ‘natural’ now, but you know, if you want to get highly technical about it, vodka comes from potatoes which is bizarre when u thnkl about it dnt you thnk? Rly weerd.
Sorry, I’ve had a few.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you head out and buy an expensive bottle just to pour it all over the floor, nor do I think you should sit down and share a few glasses with the ants and try to sort the problem out like civilized gentlemen.
Vodka is useful when mixed in with water to create yet another handy, DIY ant killer spray. You’re looking at around a 3:1 ratio of Vodka to water to get some real killing done.
Hey, that leaves a whole ¼ for yourself! What’s not to like? Now give me back that bottle and shut the door on your way out.
There we are – 11 highly effective, natural ways to get rid of ants. Not to mention, many of these are really cheap alternatives to chemical options to kick those horrible ants out of your neighborhood, yard or even your own home.
Short of grabbing a shovel and digging them straight out of the ground (which is a viable solution, by the way) – you’ll find no better solutions. Now, seriously, give me that bottle back.