Unlike the ants in your favorite computer animated flick, the ants marching steadily across your kitchen counter are neither cute nor endearing. Instead, these common household pests arrive in veritable armies, attracted by the lure of available food or water. Because of their extremely small size, ants can enter a home through tiny cracks, window screens, gaps around exterior doors and windows, vents and many other small openings, some of which can be very difficult for homeowners to find and repair. Since sealing every possible opening in your home where ants can enter is probably not possible, the best battle plan involves taking steps to make your home much less appealing by using the following natural ant control methods.
The first step in making your home less inviting to ants is to remove the temptations that lure them into your home in the first place. Ants are attracted to both water and food, especially sweet foods (like fruit, honey, sugar, jelly, jam and syrup), dead insects (like flies) and meats. Some ants, such as the species known as the Monomorium pharaonis or Pharaoh ant, will also feed upon some types of soap and toothpaste.
To keep ants your of your kitchen, remove or remedy any water sources that ants may find irresistible, by
- repairing leaky faucets, appliances or pipe connections
- wiping up water spots in the kitchen sink before leaving the house each morning or going to bed at night
- relocating pet water dishes to another area of the home
- wiping up spills on counters, tables and floors as they occur
To remove tempting sources of food that may attract ants
- vacuum windowsills frequently to remove debris and dead insects
- wipe kitchen surfaces daily to remove grease residue, drips and bits of food
- keep all food products tightly sealed in glass or lidded plastic containers
- refrigerate ripe fruit, when possible
- relocate pet food dishes to another area of the home
Create Natural Barriers
Another excellent way to repel invading ants is to create barriers that repel or confuse them. Fragrant varieties of plants from the Lamiaceae family, including peppermint, spearmint, sage, basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano, are known to cause many of the ants to become confused and unable to follow the trail of pheromones left as a guide by the first ants to make their way into the home.
To reap maximum benefits from the use of these plants, consider growing them along the outer perimeter of your home during the growing season, as well as placing potted varieties on interior windowsills and counters throughout the kitchen year round. Additionally, these fragrant plants can be cut, steeped in hot water, cooled and strained into spray bottles to use as a spray deterrent for particularly stubborn ant problems.
Provide a Killer Snack
When given a chance, ants will help you with their own demise by carrying substances back to the nest where other members of the colony will consume them. Simple cornmeal, laced with a bit of sugar, is a powerful attractant that ants cannot resist, even though it will kill them because they cannot digest it.
To use cornmeal for ongoing ant control, put a tablespoon full of cornmeal, blended with a quarter-teaspoon of white or brown sugar, in a dry lid or small dish and place it in an area where ants have been seen. Replace this bait often to keep it fresh and attractive. The ant population in your area will slowly diminish when using this treatment, but it can take several weeks.
Call in Reinforcements
If these methods do not give you the results you need, you may be experiencing a severe ant infestation that will require the assistance of a pest control professional. When discussing your pest issue, be sure to state your preference for using environmentally safe products. Many pest control companies offer a full range of treatment options that provide alternatives to traditional chemical treatments. Click here for additional info.