Annoyed at finding ants in your home? You’re not alone – ants can be one of the most common pest problems, especially in summer.
There are few things worse than going to the kitchen to make your morning cup of tea or coffee only to find a trail of ants on your countertops. Though they’re tiny, ants can show up in massive numbers, making it feel as if there is a full-scale invasion.
But anti-bug sprays can have strong odours and chemical residues, and they may not be the best way of discouraging ants. Try these cost-effective natural tips and remedies instead that can help you enjoy your summer while getting the ant invasion under control.
Keep the kitchen sink and countertops clean and dry so that food residues do not attract ants. Sweep and mop the floor daily. Keep all food, especially tempting things like honey, syrup, sugar and jam, in airtight containers. Empty kitchen bins regularly so that food smells don’t draw ants. Keep pet food bowls clean and wipe up any food or water that is spilled. Seal any obvious holes no matter how small such as gaps in baseboards, flooring or roofing, vents and near plumbing, or cracks near windows. Spray them and any potential entry points both inside and out.
White vinegar spray:
The smell of vinegar repels ants and also masks their scent trails.
Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the ants. You can also spray around windowsills, doorways, cracks and other places where you see ants. Repeat several times a day.
Citrus vinegar spray:
Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of water to a spray bottle. Add 30 drops of peppermint, tea tree, orange, lemon, grapefruit or clove essential oil, with just a few drops of clove oil as it is very strong. Shake the bottle and then spray the vinegar mixture around entry points, baseboards and on countertop surfaces in the kitchen. Repeat daily until the ants are gone.
Castile soap spray:
Soap dissolves the waxy coating on the outside of ants. Pour one cup of distilled water into a spray bottle and add one tablespoon of unscented liquid castile soap then ten to 15 drops of essential oil. Shake the bottle to dissolve the essential oils and the soap. Spray around baseboards and the entry points for ants in the kitchen and repeat every day until the ants are gone. If you have castile soap in bar form, you can grate it and dissolve it in water to use in place of liquid soap.
Glass cleaner and liquid detergent spray:
This combination or other similar ones can help keep ants away, as it removes the scented pheromone trail ants leave behind when they move. Without pheromone trails to follow, ants are unable to communicate with each other. Mix equal parts of glass cleaner and liquid detergent in water in a spray bottle and spray on areas where ants seem to assemble or originate. Wipe down the area after spraying.
Peppermint is effective at keeping ants away. Mix ten to 20 drops of peppermint essential oil with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture around the baseboards and windows of your kitchen.
Borax and sugar trap:
Boric acid kills ants, and it can target entire nests as ants may take boric acid-laced bait placed in an ant trap back to the nest. Mix one cup sugar, half a cup of water and one tablespoon of borax in a plastic jar or container. Make holes in the lid and sprinkle some extra sugar on top and around the outside of the trap. Place your homemade ant trap in any area you’ve noticed ants gather, including damp areas, cracks in the walls or floor, or the kitchen counter. If you have any pets, keep the trap out of their reach, as they may be sensitive
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 August, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly