Every living organism on this planet has its place in the natural order of things.
But few will deny that, while insects and crawling bugs have their place, they can be pests to humans.
Harsh chemicals used to ward off or rid us and our homes of these nuisances pose a danger not only to their target but to other living things and the environment in general.
While natural solutions may be more time-consuming in the beginning, they are infinitely more effective in protecting your family in a healthy manner.
Ants: The Pest that Keeps Fighting
Ants are amazing creatures, able to lift and carry up to a thousand times their body weight and able to withstand pressure up to five times that (1). They’re also incredibly resilient and intelligent, making them a hard pest to get rid of.
And getting rid of a few ants doesn’t always solve the problem: these creatures leave pheromone deposits as they make trails to food sources so their buddies can follow and find their ways back to the colony (2). This means that despite wiping out all the ants in your home, you may suffer from multiple infestations throughout the year.
Keeping your home clean may seem like the obvious solution to keeping bugs at bay, but it’s not always easy to do: Families with children or busy schedules can’t always keep up with spilled juice, breadcrumbs, or poorly closed cereal boxes. Let’s face it, there are plenty of things to worry about other than a few hungry creatures taking over your home.
Here are simple, non-toxic alternatives to keep out the party crashers.
1. Ant moat
Get a little medieval and protect your picnic table with its very own moat! Place a large empty can or pie tin under each table leg and fill it with water up to about an inch from the top. Most ants don’t swim and if even they float, their legs will be too slippery to crawl up the table to where your luscious potato salad awaits.
2. Clean your Trash
Ants will get into any corner of your home if it means securing a food source for their colony. That’s why it’s important to regularly empty your trash bin of food scraps. If you don’t have a compost or you don’t produce enough waste to throw it out throughout the week, freeze your scraps to avoid attracting bugs. It’s also important to rinse empty cans and food containers before throwing out or recycling them. If possible, leave your recycling bins and trash outside to keep the bugs out too!
3. Inside? Out!
If ants have infested your home, mix one tablespoon of borax and three tablespoons of sugar and place the mixture in a few small plastic containers with fitted lids. Mix in just enough water to make a syrupy texture.
Poke small holes in the top and sides of the container (so the ants can get in and out), affix the lid, and place indoors around entrance points. Ants are attracted by the sugar but the borax is poisonous to them. They’ll drink the mixture and track the borax back to the colony, depositing it there, eventually killing all its inhabitants.
Use this trick only if you do not have pets or small children, as ingesting borax will make them sick.
4. Clean their Tracks
Once the ants are gone, spray a mixture of half water and half vinegar with a couple shots of dish soap around entry points (like windowsill and doors that lead to the outside) and baseboards. Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe away with a clean dishtowel. This will remove any pheromone traces from the ants so they won’t find the trail back inside.
5. Flood their Colony
Spray vinegar along your baseboard to force ants back to their home. Once you find the anthill, run your hose directly into it for 10-15 minutes at a time. Repeat every day to force the ants out and away.
Bonus Tip #1 – Cool as a Cucumber
One vegetable that ants dislike is cucumber. Grow it in your garden and add it to salads and other dishes to keep them away. If you have guests over, slice a cucumber or carve into elegant shapes and place strategically around the table, especially the serving dishes (4).
Bonus Tip #2 – Spice Trick
Ants don’t like cinnamon, it’s too spicy for their taste. Sprinkle some cinnamon on the ground around the baseboards in your kitchen and along doors and windowsills. If you often eat outdoors, sprinkle a bit of the spice along the edges of your picnic table to create a spicy line of defense.
If you’re fighting a tough war, go even spicier and swap the cinnamon for some cayenne pepper. To make a homemade ant deterrent, combine one teaspoon of cayenne, 10 drops of citrus oil , and one cup of water in a spray bottle and shake. Spray the mixture around wherever you’re serving food but make sure to keep it away from young children ad they may try to swallow the mixture or they may get some in their eyes.
Bu that’s not all you can do with cayenne: to stop ants in their tracks, sprinkle cayenne around the entrance to an ant hill. They won’t want to cross the barrier and will soon find somewhere else to start over.
There’s also an extreme and pretty inhumane trick you can use to wipe out a colony for good. Simply combine a generous dose of cayenne with boiling water and pour on the ant hill while it’s still hot. The hot water will kill the ants before they can run away and the cayenne will poison the hill so that the surviving ants won’t try to rebuild it. Ants are actually beneficial to your backyard and garden, so this should only be used as a last resort.