Has your home been invaded by ants? You don’t have to use pesticides. Try using an all natural ant killer indoors to get them under control.
You’re an eco warrior. Your medicine cabinet is stocked with all natural remedies with no pharmaceuticals for your family.
You probably donate money to worthy environmental causes, and you’re passionate about animal rights. Except when it comes to ants invading your house.
It’s not like you can kindly ask the ants to leave. So unless your religion forbids you from killing or causing harm to any living creature, you’ll want to kill those ants. But, what’s a conscious consumer to do?
There are all natural ant killers you can try. And if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you might even have a couple natural ant killers in your home.
However, the best way to get rid of ants in your house is by adopting the motto applies to general health: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
In other words, don’t let ants become a problem in the first place.
Gerry Weitz is the owner and founder of Hearts Pest Management, an EcoWise-certified company that offers organic pest control management and is the first pest control company in Southern California to achieve the California EPA Integrated Pest Management Award.
Weitz says he has heard on more than one occasion from a shocked customer who thought that their house was super clean. And, as such, there was no way it could be infested with ants.
“But then when you go to their house, you’ll find bread crumbs in the toaster, sandwich bread left out and dishes piled up. You just have to be a clean freak about your home,” says Weitz, whose company cautions against DIY ant removal, arguing on its ant control page on its website:
“In most cases, the DIY ant treatment will be neither complete nor environmentally sound and the ants may move to a more difficult location to treat. In some cases, the attempt may cause a noticeable increase in ants around the house. DIY ant treatments can lead to self-poisoning and inappropriate pesticide disposal harmful to the environment.”
Weitz is a prevention-first advocate. “Ants need three things,” he says. “They need moisture, food and shelter, just like humans. If you want to avoid ant infestation, get rid of all three. The easiest one for a homeowner to get rid of is food.”
Using essential oils to kill ants
One popular all natural ant killer that Weitz does not recommend is essential oils.
Weitz says that essential oils are, like conventional pesticides, repellents. Although they are not bad for the environment, Weitz says that essential oils are not that effective. “Oils will repel ants in one direction, but the ants will just relocate to another location.”
Also, using essential oils on rugs, flooring with treated wood, linoleum and the like can cause stains. If you’re going to use essential oils such as peppermint (you can add it to vinegar to naturally kill ants) in nooks and crannies of your house, Weitz says to use a heavily diluted solution of one percent to avoid staining.
Strategies to prevent ants from invading your home
In addition to making sure no food particles like crumbs are in the house, Weitz recommends taking the garbage out every day. While this might not seem environmentally-friendly, you don’t have to use a new trash bag everyday.
Another strategy for preventing ants from invading your home is to get rid of moisture. Many houses have drain systems that retain moisture. (Ants love a free mini swimming pool especially in summer.)
Outside your house, Weitz says to keep everything trimmed back and make sure there’s no excessive moisture, for example, from gardening houses and spigots. Weitz advises to make sure there are no leaves on ground and no brush around the sides of the house. In addition, ants particularly love big mounds of mulch and landscaping cover resting against the house.
“There should be no dark and safe areas for insects to nest,” he says.
As opposed to when most people do something about ant invasions, i.e. spring and summer, Weitz’s company recommends taking care of the problem in winter.
“By providing active control during the wintering season, the homeowner has a much better chance of avoiding spring and summer infestations,” reads the company website.
Baking soda as an all natural ant killer
Many people recommend baking soda as an all natural ant killer. But Weitz does not recommend it for indoor use.
“Baking soda is a heavy powder that get’s easily blown and pushed around. Ants simply maneuver around it so you have to use a lot of it.”
Weitz continues, “Baking soda is very cheap but do you really want to put a large amount of hydrogen peroxide around your counter tops? And if you’re going to try and eliminate ants yourself outside the house, you’re going to need a ton of it.”
How to get rid of ants with borax
Borax is another popular all natural ant killer. It’s also known as sodium borate. But Weitz isn’t sold on borates either, at least not large amounts of it in powder form. Borax and other borate powders look like talcum and have the consistency of flour. (There are ant bait products which contain a small amount of Borax; one of them is mentioned below.)
Because of this, Weitz says it’s easy to get borate on your feet.
Although the negative side effects of borate are very rare, it is possible that over exposure to it may cause respiratory irritation. Do you have a dusty home or a respiratory condition such as asthma? If either apply, sprinkling Borax around your home might not be the best all natural ant killer.
“I don’t think products with borate are the best, especially if you have young children or pets. It’s very easy for a pet to lick up borate residue. Maybe borate isn’t as harmful as traditional pesticides, but they shouldn’t be used with kids and pets,” says Weitz. He adds that using borates outside the house is fine, especially in flower and plant beds.
Best all natural ant killer
If you’re going to try and kill ants yourself outside your home, Weitz recommends sugar bait products such as Intice and Terro (which contains 5% Borax). Liquid baits allow worker ants to consume the product. But the worker ants aren’t killed instantly; they survive long enough to carry the liquid sugar back to the nest, thereby “infecting” the rest of the colony.
Is killing ants against your religious beliefs? If your home has already been invaded by ants, you can try your best to get rid of all food sources. You’ll need to eliminate tiny crumbs as well as any sources of moisture both within and leading into the house. If that doesn’t work, you can always try praying them away!
The most important thing to keep in mind is don’t panic and don’t throw away your environment-first values just because your home has been invaded by ants. “I’ve seen it many times where someone professes to be very pro-environment but freaks out when their home gets infested with ants and they end up using pesticides,” says Weitz.