The arrival of summer, marked by the aroma of refreshing summer treats, freshly baked pie, sweet-savoury summer delights, ice creams and Ants! Yes, the season and these tempting treats also attract uninvited groups of pesky ants. Although many off the counter products can be used to get rid of ants but the caution “Toxic for both Humans and Animals” keeps one from buying and using these products that are heavily equipped with toxic chemicals. How to effectively use essential oils to get rid of ants and other natural products? Read on for effective all natural non-toxic remedies to get rid of ants.
How do Ants Find Food?
Ever wondered why ants never tend to get lost even though they randomly march miles away from their nest in search of food? That’s because Ants possess a strong sense of smell, moreover while scouting for food ants tend to leave a pheromone trail which they tend to follow back using their antennae once they have found food.
A Step by Step Guide to Using Essential Oils in Winning the Battle against Ant Invasion
Identify Your Enemy
First thing is first, identify your enemy. Ants are extremely social and have big colonies. Ants communicate through touch and by using their antennae. There are various species of ants and identifying the species can help in preventing or eliminating them. These are the four most commonly found species of ants in the home
- Odorous House Ants:
Also commonly known as coconut ants, get their name from the distinguished smell of rotten coconut that these ants emit when crushed.
o Appearance: Odorous ants have a smooth hairless body and are usually brown or black in colour with an unevenly shaped thorax.
o Food: Sweets and meats are preferred by these ants hence commonly found in kitchen cabinets and pantries resulting in contaminated food.
o Nest: Odorous ants live in colonies. Indoors these ants reside in wall cracks, behind panelling etc.
- Carpenter Ants:
o Appearance: these are usually brown or black and their midsection is slim or pinched in appearance.
o Nest: Carpenter Ants nest in moist wood commonly. They can damage the wood, these ants hollow out the wood structure.
o Food: They feed on Dead and living insects as well as trees and shrubs. Indoors these ants are attracted by sweet food, pet food and meat.
- Pavement Ants:
o Appearance: these have comparatively pail legs and brown to black bodies. They have parallel lines grooved on the head and thorax.
o Nest: as the name suggests their nest can be found in pavement cracks or underneath cement slabs and stones. Indoors they usually nest under the floor, or behind the walls. Pavement ants usually invade the property in vast numbers.
o Food: These ants feed on grease, insects (both dead and alive), meats, sweet food.
- Flying Ants:
o These are basically winged carpenter ants. Although harmless, flying ants are pretty annoying. A number of home remedies such as soapy water can be used to get rid of flying ants.
- Ghost Ants:
o Appearance: These ants get their name from the pale colour of their legs and abdomen. Ghost ants have head and thorax in dark colour.
o Nest: if nesting indoors Ghost ants usually reside inside or behind baseboard and cabinet.
o Food: These ants prefer sweets, and feed on honeydew collected from plants when outdoor.
o Soapy water or a solution of vinegar and water can be used to get rid of ghost ants naturally.
Seal and Clean
Next step involves preventing the pesky invaders from entering our territory. These tiny creatures can easily find a way inside your home through the tiniest crack or hole or even create one.
- Seal gaps between windows, doors and other entrance areas. Block all spaces which might allow a passage leading the ant army inside.
- Fill in wall cracks, floor cracks and pavement cracks with a strong permanent sealant.
- Keep the counters clean; do not leave sources of food like crumbs between the cushions or on the couch. Keep the food covered and sealed properly.
- Keep the trash bins clean, change trash bags regularly and clean the bin with warm soapy water. Use essential oils for ant control in and around the trash bins or litter box. Spray with a solution of lemon, tea tree, clove or peppermint essential oil, the peppermint aroma keeps the ants away, the citrus in lemon repels the ants and tea tree essential oil acts as a disinfectant. Keep the garbage bins outside and not indoors preferably.
- Keep the food bowls for pets clean.
Repel, repel, repel
Use a repellent to keep the ants away after cleaning. Fortunately for us, essential oils and ants don’t exactly complement each other. So, what essential oil gets rid of ants? Essential oils such as peppermint oil or clove oil are powerful repellents when it comes to choosing essential oils for ants. These essential oils for ants in house or outside will not only keep the annoying little creatures away but also add a refreshing aroma which relaxes the nerves. Although it is strictly suggested to keep these away from children, especially clove and tea tree essential oil (these can be toxic). The aroma of essential oils masks not only their pheromone trail but also defers the scent of food; consequently, they are unable to smell food. Pretty smart, isn’t it? We’ve listed down some of the most effective essential oil ant repellents for you.
All in One Magic Concoction of Essential Oils to Get Rid of Ants:
Yes! You read it right. Presenting you with a bonus recipe for essential oil Ant spray;
Peppermint essential oil 25 to 30 drops
White vinegar ½ cup
Clove essential oil 12 drops
Orange essential oil 18 drops
Water ½ cup
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a spray bottle and voila! Your all in one homemade essential oil ant repellent is ready.
5 Essential Oils to Get Rid of Ants Once and For All:
1. Peppermint oil:
How to use peppermint oil to get rid of ants? Just a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball would be enough to repel ants. Place the essential oil infused cotton ball in areas infested and affected by ants. Repeat a few times. A peppermint spray for ants can also be made at home by mixing a few drops of peppermint essential oil in water. Is using peppermint oil for ants a good enough solution you ask? Absolutely! Ants hate the peppermint aroma since interferes with their ability to sense the pheromone trail.
2. Cinnamon Essential oil:
Powdered cinnamon and cinnamon oil for ants has been used for ages to deter ants. Plus it gives a very pleasant warm aroma. Dab a few drops of cinnamon essential oil on a cotton ball, or use it as an essential oil ant spray. Cinnamon powder can be sprinkled as well to mask the essence of food.
3. Orange and Lemon Essential Oil:
If you are a fan of the citrus scent of orange and lemon which is no doubt very refreshing, then use lemon and orange essential oil to get rid of ants. D- Limonene in citrus fruits is toxic for ants. Again, just a few drops on a cotton ball to be placed in the pantry or where ever required would do the trick, plus it will give a very revitalizing citrus aroma.
4. Clove essential oil:
If you are looking for essential oils to kill ants, then this is your go-to oil. Clove essential oil is a powerful repellent when it comes to ants. Eugenol in cloves kills ants on contact. In a spray bottle add a few drops of clove essential oil and pour in some water then mix well. Spray on ants or use as a disinfectant surface cleaner.
5. Tea tree essential oil:
Tea tree essential oil is not only an antiseptic but also a very good disinfectant. It can be diluted with water and used as a spray. A few drops of tea tree oil on a cotton ball is used as a disinfectant used to wipe clean the surface. Tea tree will wipe away the pheromone trail created by ants leaving the pesky little creatures confused and wandering until they find a new home outside our home (which is exactly what we want) or starve. Tea tree plus clove and peppermint mixed in a water spray bottle would make a perfect tea tree peppermint oil bug spray to rid your surrounding from not only ants but other bugs as well, however Tea tree and clove essential oil can be toxic and should be kept out of children’s reach.
Other Ways to Get Rid of Ants:
o Ants bait; Mix 1 ½ tablespoon Borax Powder in ½ c Sugar and 1c Water. Dip cotton balls in mixture and place where needed. Borax doesn’t kill the ants immediately, but gradually. By the time borax works, the ant is back in its colony sharing the toxic bait with fellow ants. This bait is a great help while trying to get rid of sugar ants.
o Chalk: Yes, something as common as chalk can be used to deter ants.
o Cinnamon: sprinkle cinnamon powder, it acts as an ant deterrent.
o Castile Soap: This soapy spray is especially helpful in getting rid of flying ants. A Castile soap spray is used to kill ants naturally. Crumble up castile soap, mix one quart of water with ¼ c of crumbled soap. Add a few drops of peppermint or tea tree oil, mix and spray away!
Dehydrate till Death by Using DE
Another natural way of getting rid of these enemy invaders includes the use of food grade Diatomaceous Earth commonly known as food grade DE, Diatomaceous Earth is a natural insecticide. The sharp edges of diatomaceous earth particles cut through the waxy coating of insects and penetrate the outer layer. Once inside, it absorbs all the moisture, dehydrating the insect to death. The good thing about DE is that it is not hazardous to human beings but only insects.
A word of caution:
Always use food grade Diatomaceous Earth, not swimming pool DE.