How to Get Rid of Ants from your House Permanently?

Every house has ants. There is hardly any place on earth that does not have ants, except for Antarctica and the Arctic. Estimates suggest that there are about 10 billion ants on this planet. However, it’s confirmed that getting their exact number is impossible. Studies show that there are about 13000 species of ants around the world.

What makes tiny ants such incredible survivors?

Ants are amongst the most evolved living organisms on this planet. They are proven to have an exceptionally high definition of smell, probably the highest among living organisms. Studies show that ants have four to five times more odour receptors than other insects. How often have we wondered how ants turn up so quickly around dropped food particles? Well, we now know how that happens!

While the sight of an ant infestation is constantly alarming, ants play a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem around us. They are often called ‘ecosystem engineers’ because of their fantastic ability to create and build their habitats. As silent workers, they aid our lives in more ways than one:

  • Ants are masters of natural recycling. They feed on dead insects, plants and other food particles and thus help in the decomposition process.
  • Like earthworms, ants aerate the soil to keep the soil fertile, thus aiding crop production. Many agriculturists believe that ants turn more soil than earthworms.
  • Ants play a crucial role dispersion of plant seeds and pollination. For those who live in an urban environment with terrace and balcony gardens, the process of flowers turning into fruits in small spaces will become very challenging without ants.
  • Ants act as a ‘cleaning crew’ by cleaning off minute dropped food particles around the house.

For all their good for our environment, ants can often become a big nuisance inside our homes. If left unchecked and uncontrolled, large colonies of ants could appear inside your houses, causing significant damage.

Why is it so difficult to keep ants out of our homes?

While there are numerous pieces of literature available on how to remove ants from homes, the reality is that getting rid of ants is a hugely challenging task. More so because ants are incredibly resilient creatures with highly evolved survival mechanisms. For instance, the ant colony visible to us is only a fraction of its full size. So, when we remove the visible ‘ant-house’, we only remove the top part of their colonies, while a significant fraction of it underground remains intact. But why is it so challenging to keep ants out of our homes?

The answer lies in minor little oversights on our part:

1. Uncovered food

Even though we are careful about food being properly stored inside our kitchen and store room, sometimes we forget and offer a massive opportunity for ants. Many times, it’s just that the lid of the container comprising food is not fully closed. With their strong sense of smell, ants immediately trace the gap and infest it.

2. Tiny food particles on the floor

Again, despite our efforts, sometimes small food particles end up on the bottom of our dining room and kitchen without our realisation. It could be a few particles of sugar, a drop of honey, or minute particles of cake that fell while we were storing it. Ants will find it within minutes. It is almost unavoidable if you have little children in the house.

3. Greasy surfaces

Many times, even though we are cautious in properly cleaning our dining tables and kitchen slabs after use, traces of food ingredients remain there probably because of unclean cloth used for cleaning or not using a good surface cleaner. It is typical for oily products and liquid desserts such as ice-creams.

4. Sticky garbage

Places where we keep our garbage are thriving places for ants. However careful we are, our garbage bins end up with solid or liquid food particles. Interestingly, it is the waste bin that is used for non-biodegradable waste that is the culprit. We hardly notice that last drop in the soft drink can or that biscuit powder inside its plastic cover, which is often tracked by ants easily.

5. Leaking pipes

Water is another ingredient that attracts ants as they need a water source for survival. It is worse in the summers, and you may suddenly start seeing clusters of ants in your bathroom or around your wash basin.

6. Wet wood

Moist wood in and around the house is a perfect place for carpenter ants to make their nests. It could be because of the rainy season or leaking pipes.

How to get rid of ants permanently?

While extreme infestations might need professional pest control methods by experts, it is always advised to try natural ways first to get rid of ants and only opt for a chemical solution if the natural remedies fail. Interestingly, certain home ingredients act as an excellent pesticide for ants in the house and are safe for humans.

On the other hand, chemical pesticides used to get rid of ants are chemicals with a strong odour that could harm humans in their first few hours, especially if you have bronchial conditions such as asthma or allergies. Infants and toddlers should be kept from pesticides when used by residents and when pest control professionals are deployed.

How to kill ants using safe-for-human remedies?

1. Boiling water

As soon as you see an ant colony, the first practical response should be to pour boiling water inside it. It will immediately kill many ants. However, remember that these colonies have many ants, so a follow-up action will be needed to dismantle the settlement altogether.

2. Salt

Salt is amongst the best natural remedies used to get rid of ants inside your house. Mix a good amount of table salt and hot water, then sprinkle it on infested areas and at the mouth of ant colonies. Use a sprinkler to spray in corners and edges of surfaces evenly.

3. Lemons

The bitter lemon is another helpful remedy to get rid of ants. Spray hand-squeezed lemon juice on ant infestations. You may mix squeezed lemon juice with water to clean the house’s floors and chase ants away. Often, placing lemon peels at places through which ants enter works well to keep them at bay.

4. Chalk

Chalks have been proven to be an effective remedy against ant infestations. The calcium carbonate in chalks acts as a deterrent against ants. A sprinkling of chalk powder helps to mask the scent trail of ants, thus preventing their early build-up.

5. Peppermint

Peppermint is often called the natural insect repellent. More so for ants as its strong smell chases them away. It also acts as an effective deterrent for any future infestations. Here is how you can prepare a peppermint solution against ants:

  • Take about 2 cups of water inside a spray container and add 15 drops of peppermint oil. Shake the solution well.
  • Spray this solution along the windows and doors of the house. Ensure you cover all corners and edges.
  • Repeat this process every 15 days for three months for best results.

6. Self-made ant repellent

Ants produce a scented chemical called pheromones from various glands all over their body. These pheromones are secreted as they move and are picked up by other ants. This is how they create a scent trail between the food and their colony. The self-made ant-spray counters the pheromone scent, due to which ants cannot re-enter your homes. This repellent can be prepared as follows:

  • Mix liquid detergent, glass cleaning spray and water inside a spray bottle.
  • Shake well and then spray it on ant infestations and entry points.
  • Wipe the area gently after spraying to leave a light residue.
  • Repeat once every month and twice a month during monsoons.

7. Tea-tree oil

Among the natural insect repellents, tea-tree oil is highly effective against ants. Follow the instructions below to prepare an effective tea-tree oil ant spray:

  • Mix water and ten drops of tea-tree essential oil in a spray container
  • Mix well and spray it in places where you see ants.
  • Spray the mixture onto a small ball of cotton and place them in deep places that could contain ant infestations, such as wooden kitchen cupboards, under the sink etc.

8. Lemon eucalyptus oil

Lemon Eucalyptus oil can be purchased from local grocery stores. It comprises citronella, which has been proven effective against ants, mosquitos and other home insects. Follow the steps below for effectively using it:

  • Take a small cotton ball and add 2 -3 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus oil.
  • Allow it to soak well.
  • Place these balls in areas where you frequently see ants.
  • Replace the cotton balls with fresh ones every fortnight for three months for best results.

9. Neem oil

The uses of Neem oil are quite diverse. However, its potency against ants is pretty high, especially in gardening and small-scale agriculture. Neem oil is sprayed around plants to neutralise ant colonies. It also helps to kill many other forms of plant pests. For those unaware, Neem oil is extracted from the Neem tree, which is extensively used to prepare Ayurveda medicines.

10. Silicon dioxide (diatomaceous earth)

Diatomaceous earth is not a chemical poison. It is made of fossilised remains of diatoms(plankton). Just sprinkle it on ant infestations to kill the ants. Some people can be allergic to it, so it is recommended that you avoid its direct contact with your skin and refrain from directly inhaling it.

11. Boric acid

Boric acid is a chemical poison considered very effective against large ant infestations. It is available at the nearest hardware shop. Follow the steps below to use it. Make sure you have put on safety gloves while doing this.

  • Mix eight teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of boric acid in a cup of warm water. Stir well till the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Soak small cotton balls with this solution and place them in areas of ant infestations. Make sure it is out of reach for children and pets.

12. Sodium tetraborate (borax)

Borax is another chemical poison that is highly potent against ants. As above, prepare a mixture using half a tablespoon of borax with eight tablespoons of sugar and warm water. Soak it in cotton balls and place it in locations with high ant infestations. Make sure it is out of reach for children and pets. You will find borax at the nearest hardware shop.

13. Bait traps

If all of the above methods fail, a bait trap is your last option before calling in full-fledged pest control experts. It attracts ants to eat the bait and carry it back into their colonies, targeting the root of the entire infestation. Bait traps contain boric acid, borax or hydrmethylnon, which could be dangerous for children and pets.

How to get rid of red ants?

Red ants often become unwanted and painful visitors to our home. Here are ways using which you can specifically kill and prevent red ants from your house.

1. White vinegar

One of the most effective ways to kill and repel red ants is using white vinegar.  Here is how you can use it potently against ants:

  • Take a spray container and mix equal amounts of white vinegar and water (1:1 ratio),
  • Shake it well and use it to clean table-tops, floors, and other hard surfaces.
  • Spray the solution over ant infestations and wipe with a paper towel. While humans will not get the smell of the vinegar after it has dried, ants will continue to get it and will not return.

2. Pepper

Red ants hate pepper as much as they love sweetness. Crush the black pepper balls into a powder and sprinkle it in infested areas. You may also prepare a mix of water and pepper powder and spray it. Instead of pepper, cinnamon is also equally effective against red ants in particular.

How to get rid of ants: FAQs

Why are ants considered unsafe for our homes?

Ants are unhygienic and can leave bacteria on your food, making it harmful for consumption. Some species of ants can destroy your property, such as carpenter ants which can damage your wooden furniture. Moreover, ant bites can be painful, especially if you have infants at home.

What are the common types of ants found in our home?

Black ants are the most commonly found species at homes. Their mouth contains high levels of formic acid, due to which their bite bites can be extremely painful. Also, black ants live the longest – up to 15 years. Red ants are the other commonly seen species inside our houses and can be dangerous for our health. Homes with wooden furniture will see infestations by carpenter ants. They feed on the wood and hence destroy your property. Many houses also see infestation by the dangerous fire ants. They attack humans in clusters if you step on their mounds.

What are the smells that ants like and dislike?

Ants love the smell of sugar. It triggers their mind, and they rush towards it. This also turns out to be their weakness and is often to trap them. They, however, hate the smell of bleach and ammonia. They are repelled by acidic smells.

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