However, more than just four precious kids, a gorgeous husband and a bevy of lovable pets greeted me as I entered our home: Apparently, while I was away, we've become the indoor Mecca for ants of all sizes and descriptions.
I've identified four distinct sizes and shapes of ants, one of which seems big enough to saddle and ride. And they are coming in from EVERYWHERE.
I'm a pretty hospitable person, but frankly, I can't live with that.
So, I've been on the hunt for natural ant remedies for ant problems. Being that the largest concentration happens to be in the kitchen and dining room, I want whatever I try to be completely food and child safe.
My go-to natural remedy for small scale invasions (aside from the usual deep clean and making sure food is covered well and put away) is actually a product totally not intended for this purpose. I can't remember when or why I tried it, but I vaguely remember being very frustrated with a persistent ant issue when we lived in England and grabbed the nearest thing to hand and fired at the little buggers, not really thinking it would do much but make me feel better. But it SO worked. Stopped them dead in their tracks. . .without being caustic. What was this shocking little product?
"Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash."
Interesting, huh? I don't know why it works, but besides cleaning fruit and veggies well, removing wax, bacteria and pesticide residues, apparently it can kill ants on contact, too.
But for the size of large scale attack we were currently under, it just wasn't financially prudent to buy barrels full of the stuff. So I decided to check out other options. Here's what I found:
- Lemon juice - Spray it wherever they enter. I think this might be why Fit works. . .the citric acid might be the key.
- Vinegar - Another acid-based solution that seems to work well is vinegar. Pour straight white vinegar into their nest, or around entry points. If you clean floors and counters, etc., too, it should help deter them. Spraying a mix of half vinegar and half water on their trails should also help to confuse them and lose the scent.
- Tea Tree Oil - For even more of a punch, add ten drops of tea tree oil to a mix of one cup each white vinegar and water. Put in a spray bottle, shake well to mix, and spray the ants, trails, and nest.
- Cinnamon (ground or essential oil) - Sprinkle ground cinnamon around the area they enter through, or make a thin border between your house and the little critters using cinnamon essential oil on a Q-tip.
- Instant Grits - Apparently, ants like them, but can't digest them, so they die. They'll take some back to their nest, too, to share and do their dying there! Less cleanup! Just sprinkle a pile where they congregate and wait a couple of days. Then clean up the pile and they should be gone, too.
- Cream of Wheat - This must work similarly to instant grits. . .it's reported that when ants eat C of W, it expands in their tummies and they explode.
- Cornmeal - Keeping with the foody theme, just sprinkle it in nests and around any opening they seem to be coming through. It can take several days, but the results are supposed to be lasting.
- Peppermint - Make a strong smelling mix of peppermint essential oil and water. Put in a spray bottle and shake well before using on the unwelcome army.
- Clove Water - Boil a handful of whole cloves in two cups of water. When cool, put in a spray bottle and spray the little buggers. Be careful of where you spray it, though. . .it can stain!
- Equal - Mix a packet of Equal with a tablespoon of fruit juice or jam you've thinned a bit with water. Apparently, the Equal acts as some sort of neurotoxin to ants. That's a little worrying for us humans, too.
- Diatomaceous Earth - Make sure you purchase food-grade DE in areas where it won't get wet (around doors, windows, up against the house, under cabinets, etc. Also not a quick fix, but should work well if you are patient.
- Chalk - Not remotely sure why or how this works, but ants are not supposed to like crossing a chalk line, so draw one anywhere you want to deter them (like around windows or before doors, etc.
- Baking soda and Powdered Sugar - Mix equal parts together and then place in lids or bottle caps around areas they frequent. Again, not an immediate solution, but seems to be effective.
- Coffee Grounds - If you're looking for a deterrent, rather than something to kill them, try placing grounds anywhere you find them, in their nests, or even around the perimeter of your house. They don't seem to like the smell or something and so they will move to another location.
- Boiling Water - If you see where the ant hill/nest is outside, sometimes going after them at the source is the best solution. Just boil up a kettle of water and immediately pour it down the hole (being careful not to splash and burn yourself). It will kill them right where they live.
- Chile Powder/Cayenne - Sprinkle in areas they frequent (making sure that kids and pets can't get into it. . .it's not toxic, but it sure can hurt!). . .and the ants should high-tail it out of there!
- Baby Powder - Sprinkle on the ants as well as their trails and nests and they will hopefully never return!
- Bay Leaf Water - Another deterrent for ants is the smell of Bay leaves. Place a small handful in a couple cups of water and bring to the boil. Boil for one minute, then turn off heat and let the leaves steep until the mixture cools. Strain off the leaves and put in a spray bottle. Spray where ever you see them entering.
- Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash - Like I mentioned above, it works well, and makes me feel safe about using on counters and other areas where food might be prepared. Just spritz on the ants and they will die immediately.
(Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)