The end of spring is when homeowners usually see those pesky ants marching along the sidewalk and into our homes. One way to deal with an ant problem is by discouraging them from coming into your home in the first place. Open trash cans, pet food in bowls, uncovered food on the kitchen counter, dirty sinks and food spills in your home will attract ants like mad which is why a clean house is often an ant free house too.
So what do you do once the ants are inside? I’ve discovered that a solution of borax, sugar and water does an amazing job of killing ants naturally. The proportions that works for me is equal part of borax and sugar, with enough hot water added to turn the borax and sugar it into a syrup. The syrup is spread on a paper plate and put directly in the middle of the ant’s scent trail where they’ll carry the syrup back to nest and kill the swarm. Borax can be found in the laundry section at your favorite grocery store and costs under $4 a box.
Dealing with a swarm of ants outside is also quite easy. My first line of attack is boiling water poured directly onto the hill. Once the soil has cooled slightly, I scrape away a little bit of the dirt and then pour another kettle of boiling water on top. Some of my neighbors swear that coffee grounds or vinegar dumped on the ant hill will work as well.
I discovered years ago that planting certain kinds of herbs around my foundation and elsewhere in the yard does a fantastic job of keeping ants (and aphids!) at away. Strong smelling herbs belonging to the mint family such as mint, catnip, sage, and salvia work the best. The strong smell messes up an ant’s sensors making it impossible to set down a scent trail and they end up going elsewhere. This has worked so well in my own yard that I even planted mint around the foundation of one of my rentals that used to have an chronic ant problem.
The older I get, the less I like using synthetic chemicals for weeds, pests, and other house and garden problems. Using a natural solution like borax, boiling water, or mint takes care of the ant problem safely.
More by this contributor:
Protecting your vegetable garden from pests with trap cropping
Protecting your garden humanely with a small animal trap
Organic, natural ways to prevent aphids from attacking your roses