Ants, ants, ants

How to battle ants

I discovered an unhappy side effect of my new kitchen floor the other day.  The lovely wood does a MUCH better job of hiding ants than our previous ugly white vinyl.  Apparently we have them.  When I spotted them, I sprayed the corner with windex– a quick fix for any visible ants.  Then I found a tip that suggests making a boric acid solution to kill the ants.  But with the pets and babies around here, I wasn’t sure about doing that.

I came across another suggestion on for ant-killing.  It turns out that borax is a milder form of boric acid  AND — bonus– I already have it in the house.  So far the ants are only coming in one corner of the kitchen behind a garbage can, so I think I’ll sprinkle the borax back there.  Other years we’ve also had ants in a corner of the laundry room, so I may sprinkle a bit in there preemptively.  Both of those places are not places that babies play, and if I just brush the borax down the cracks, it’ll be inaccessible to cats as well.  I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.

Do you have a good ant-fighting tactic?



  1. I’ve heard that cornmeal does the trick. Has worked for me before. Something about them eating it and then exploding. Not really sure 🙂

    • I’ve heard the same thing, just with grits. I used grits outside in my garden this spring, and it killed off an entire colony.

  2. We’ve been fighting a raging war with small black ants all winter long, and the thing that finally worked was the Terro Ant Bait traps. The ones that you cut off the tip and place where the ants are feeding. And an interesting tip, you need to kill 3-4 “generations” of ants (if you have a nest in your home), and they will come in waves of about 2 weeks. So the ants that you’re killing now will die, but the pupae will break out in a couple weeks. Then the larvae. Then the eggs. But as the younger generations come, it should be less and less ants because the adults weren’t there to care for the next wave.

    Good luck! 🙂

  3. Cinnamon can help too — I often “draw” a line of cinnamon across where they’re coming in and sometimes that redirects the line. You can make a nontoxic spray out of Dr. Bronner’s soap (good for spraying outside the house where you think they’re coming in) and that both kills the ants and the peppermint smell helps repel the ants too.

    • Yes, I’ve used cinnamon too, as well as cloves. Helps sometimes but other times the ants are more determined than that, I think…

  4. Angela Mayer says:

    Hartz 2-in-1 flea and tick powder works well. We sprinkle it on the visible ants and it desiccates them pretty quickly. I leave a little pile where they are coming in the house and the ants inevitably track back through it on their way back to the ant hill. Since this is a product that you can put ON your pets, it is a little safer than some other things. My eldest did put some in her mouth when she was a baby and poison control was not alarmed. We are still careful with it, though!

  5. I’ve used a mixture of borax and strawberry jam and put it on an index card. It works great, but I wouldn’t put it anywhere the pets could eat it.

  6. If you know the areas where they’re coming in (especially since they don’t sound super-visible), what we’ve done (in addition to the spraying/cleaning for the pets and liquid ant traps) is use clear temporary caulk to try to seal up the entry point. It’s meant for weather-stripping, and doesn’t remove as easily if you leave it down indefinitely, but it’s easier to eventually remove than regular clear caulk. We’ve just left ours down, since it’s invisible to anyone not on the ground and is doing its job.

    I think the one I’ve used is Dap Seal ‘N Peel Removable caulk. 🙂

    • To clarify, we lock the pets in another room and spray unscented raid LIBERALLY where wall/cabinet meets floorboard, and entry ways. Then we clean up liberally with both soap and clorox wipes, basically leaving the raid in crevasses and a very thin strip of the ground and wall, where paws and pets’ bodies don’t touch or brush against. We don’t like them breathing it either, but as long as you wait until the raid dries you should be good (but I still clean well, since I don’t want them licking residue off of their paws or fur).

      Plus, all the soap and clorox = less stuff for the ants to find.

      We get more careful about what goes in the inside/kitchen trash can and spritz lysol in there more often during ant season, too. And once while we were out of town, the ants arrived and discovered the hard pet food they get sparingly, so the kibble treats have been kept in those sealable containers from target ever since.

  7. Try cucumber peels. It’s supposed to deter the ants and certainly won’t hurt your babes.

  8. The only thing that has worked for us is sprinkling ant pellets outside near the point of entry. It has worked well for us the past few years and we have a huge ant problem.

  9. Beth in the City says:

    Terro works for us too. We seem to live on a huge ant hill – we’ve lived in various houses in this neighborhood of the city. Some struggle terribly with ants, to the point of needing an exterminator. It’s a little crazy! 🙂 But terro does the job. I don’t think it’s healthy, by any means, but it’s easy to set out in it’s little traps. They will swarm it, then die. The next batch may hatch and need to eat it, but then typically for us we get a reprieve. So you could put it out immediately after a baby visit, in hopes that you can pack it all away before they come again.

  10. We’ve done a similar thing to get rid on ants! We actually put sugar in tiny containers (like the tops to coke bottles, etc) and added a bit of Borax to it. That way the sugar attracted the ants and then the Borax killed them. 🙂 They also take the sugar AND Borax back to their clan to poison the rest of them.

  11. Honey and borax mixture tapped into straws. It seems to take a while – but the ants take to them better than the ant traps available for purchase.

  12. Linda Sue says:

    cinnamon or dried basil – both seem to work to repel the ants – of course you are most effective if you find the place they are entering. Pesky little creatures

  13. i tried the borax and sugar with water last week. haven’t seen an ant since!

  14. I use the generic ant traps from Home Depot. I place them in hidden spots from small children, such as under couches, under the front door rug near the corner, on the counter backsplash behind my sink (its a window sill), way back behind the china cabinet hutch, etc. I put them out when I see the very first ant of the season, and it works like a charm!

  15. Carolyn says:

    We have a problem with ants and we have little ones around the house too. Cream of wheat and cornmeal works good. Also, mix a bottle of dish detergent (like dawn or sunlight) with some water and put it in a spray bottle and be sure to spray the path where the ants have been treading (you can spray it on them too and it kills them) because it gets rid of it so ants get confused as to where they are supposed to go.

    I also recommending finding where they are coming in from and seal those spots. Our ants were coming in through holes in the woodwork along the floor by the back door… I used petroleum jelly to seal the holes where they were coming in and we haven’t seen any more ants so far!

  16. Melissa says:

    We had a horrible infestation of ants last summer. We had a new baby and if we left a milky burp cloth out ANYwhere in the house they would find it. An inadvertant piece of cereal dropped under the table and they were coming up between the wood boards. We had seen ants in every single room. So we did not have one single entry point. We tried several poisons and store-bought ant treatments without success. We were going to call an exterminator when my husband read about the borax. He mixed it with jelly and put it in the kitchen cabinet (after I had emptied it). The ants swarmed there and for a while I did not think it was doing anything. More and more ants came. Then they slacked off and it seemed there weren’t any. But about a week later a whole new slew of them came. I guess it was like somebody above mentioned… new eggs had hatched. But after that we never saw another ant in any room.

  17. Karen. says:

    Bayer makes a product called Tempo. It is the safest residual indoor-outdoor pesticide currently on the market. In my experience, the residual properties last about nine months. Basically, if you spray it on baseboards and window and door frames, the home is off limits to not only spring infestations of ants but also fall infestations of box elder bugs plus a good stretch on both ends. Once it is dry, it does not pick up on children’s or pets’ skin or fur or even tongue, and it also doesn’t smell once it is dry.

    Granted, this is far from an all-natural solution, but it is easy, effective and long-lasting — three things that give it high value to me. (As a person who holds a degree in chemistry, I tend to trust modern science more than a lot of parents do, I guess — for better or for worse.)

  18. I heard that either cinnamon and black pepper can keep them away. To cover my bases, I sprinkle both around the places where they come in and around my counters. It looks like I forgot to clean up after cooking, but it works and is cheap, nontoxic… and smells good!

    I have seen a total of two ants in my (often ant infested rural Oregon) kitchen in the times I’ve had it out. I now just leave the same mixture sprinkled out for days at a time and it doesn’t seem to go bad!

  19. trisha says:

    be sure to wash their “trail.” I read somewhere that they leave some sort of “scent” for them to follow. For several years we would have these big ants, crawling along the top part of the wall, coming from the boy’s closet, going into the dining room, heading to the kitchen. It was really creepy! Never could figure out where exactly they were coming in from or where they were going. I did wash their trail and so far I haven’t seen them in a couple of years.

  20. Cammie says:

    Terro does work really well, but you do have to keep it away from kids/pets. Also, cleaning with vinegar helps to deter them. They don’t like the sent so they stay away from those areas.

  21. Heather says:

    I do anything to avoid using poison of any kind. And we get fire ants every summer which are horrible and a nice old man told me he sprays his yard down with ivory dish soap and has no bugs. I fill a bucket with water, squeeze about 3 good squirts of dish soap and pour that directly on the ant pile. It has to saturate it so the soap goes throughout it. My husband never thought it would work but a few hours later he asked if I’d poured coffee grains on the ants and when I looked it was hundreds of tiny dead ants. Now we do this every year any time we get ants and they all die within a few hours. And I’m not afraid for my babies to run barefoot in the grass because there’s no poison at all. Btw, if you use this in a sprayer that attaches to your hose and spray your yard, and around the outside of your house,windows, doors, ect your spiders will dissapear too.