Ants are often used as an example to demonstrate the advantages of teamwork, but to most of us these little black insects are nothing more than an irritation and it seems like once they have invaded your home, they are almost impossible to get rid of.
There are mainly three types of ants that can be found in cities. Garden Ants are attracted to sweet foods and leave a pheromone trail back to their nests for other ants to follow to the food source. Pharoah’s Ants feed on decomposing food and carries harmful germs picked up from its feedings. Fire ants are found in sunny spaces and sting animals and humans which is very painful. All of these ant species can be killed via pesticides and other poisonous products, but these are not only harmful to the environment as it can also be poisonous to animals and children. Therefore it is better to consider options that are more eco-friendly and poison-free when you decide to start your battle against these busy insects.
Prevention better than cure
Try not to lure ants into your home – always cover food, immediately clean up food and liquid spills, close the lid on your rubbish bin, seal cracks and other access points to prevent ants from entering your home and wipe down anything that is sweet and sticky.
Home remedies for your ant problems:
Here are a few eco-friendly, homemade solutions to assist you with your ant troubles, without harming the environment. Most of these remedies won’t actually kill ants but will just repel them and encourage them to stay away for a while.
- Baby powder: Find ant nests and sprinkle baby powder over the nest and ‘scout’ ants that are looking for food. Baby powder does not necessarily kill ants, but they dislike it so much for one reason or another that they will leave and not return for quite a while. It can also be used as a preventative measure to keep ants out of your home. Best of all is that it isn’t toxic and thus safe to use around kids and animals.
- Vinegar: Use plain white vinegar in a squirt bottle to get rid of unwanted ants by simply squirting it where needed and allowing it to dry. Try squirting it on the ground around the outsides of your home as a preventative measure and watch the ants disappear. Vinegar is non-toxic and the smell will evaporate as it dries.
- Black pepper: A poison free, cheap, and safe way to get rid of ants – sprinkle the black pepper where you see them congregating and watch them scatter. Follow them to where the nest is and sprinkle the pepper at the entrance to keep them from coming back in.
- Apple cider vinegar: This is a very useful product and can be applied to get rid of ants. Mix a cup of water with a cup of apple cider vinegar and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the targeted surfaces several times a day with this mixture. Ants guide themselves with their scent and will naturally avoid these areas.
- Mint: Ants crawl away from mint. Fill a spray bottle with water and add 10 to 15 drops of mint peppermint oil. Spray it in front of door openings and cracks to prevent ants from entering your home.
- Boiling water: If you are lucky enough to determine where the nests of the ant colonies on your property are, try poring boiling water in each ant opening.
- Red chili powder: Make a red chili paste by adding a little bit of water. Find the area where the ants are coming from and put paste in and over the ant holes. The ants inside will die and the others will stay away for a while.
- Cucumber peels: Apparently ants dislike the smell of cucumber and if you place it on strategic places in and outside your home, ants will stay away.
- Soap water: Fill a spray bottle with highly concentrated soap water. When you see ants, just spray them and they’ll be dead on contact. Wipe up the carcasses with whatever they were trying to eat.
Source: Homemakers Online
Ants are an extremely important organism in most terrestrial ecosystems and should not be killed unneces sarily. However, when they invade your house they can become more than an annoyance, especially if they start tunneling under floors and excavating earth through cracks. Another common area where ants can be a problem (especially in Africa) is near swimming pools. Not only does excavated soil fall into the pool but, over time, they can undermine the integrity of the pool walls where supporting soil has been removed. Other areas where some ants congregate and make nests are near water tanks, water storage vessels and leaking pipes (another good reason to fix that leak and save water!). There are many ant poisons that are extremely effective but a green alternative should always be tried first. Poisons in the house can potentially contaminate water and food so should be avoided if possible. Outdoor use of ant poisons can potentially cause the death of numerous non-target organisms that prey on ants. This could cause an imbalance and result in even more ants! I have found that pure lemon juice can be an effective ant repellent. Other benefits of lemon juice, apart from being eco-friendly: natural anti-bacterial properties and a pleasant scent.