Ants in Your Pantries

It’s the time of year when those pesky little 6 legged invaders make their way into our homes, bent on the conquest of crumbs. Sometimes there are just a few ants that seem to be scouting things out, other times they appear in droves, apparently having let the rest of the colony in on some goodness that’s ripe for the taking in your kitchen.

Natural ant repellants

This is the second year in a row that I’ve battled with these tiny invaders, and after using store bought ant killers with no effect on the frequency of their appearances, I realized what I already suspected: killing ants is pointless, because there will always be more of them to start where the last group left off. You need to figure out how they’re getting into your home, what is attracting them to enter it, and what you can do to stop them from continuously invading! For these reasons, I’ve done a bit of research to find natural and hopefully more successful ways to repel and keep ants out of your home.

First things first, you should determine what is attracting the ants. Keeping your floors and counters clean, and all sources of food sealed well will mean there’s not a draw for the ants to enter your home. For instance, my cat’s food (normally located in the kitchen) gets moved to the basement in the summer, as it seems to be a huge draw for ants. Even with the cat food out of the picture, I have a 9 month old baby and 3 year old son and both are fairly messy eaters, so I do lots of sweeping and wiping up spills over the course of the day to keep my floors from looking like a free-for-all ant smorgasbord.

If ants still appear in your home, even with an immaculate kitchen, or for anyone like myself, an as-clean-as-I-can-keep-things-without-tearing-my-hair-out-kitchen: try following the ants to see where they are entering your home, and use caulk to seal off the areas they are crawling in through.

Some entry ways are not easily located or sealable, however. This is where natural repellants come into play:

–       Sprinkle black pepper over ants you find in your home, keeping an eye on where they run off to. You might be able to trace them to their entry point(s).

–       Spray white vinegar along ant trails in the home (the areas where ants are walking to and from their source of entry). Ants leave these trails, which let other ants know how to get into your home. The vinegar spray will mask their trails and repel the ants.

–       Plant some mint around the foundation of your home. Ants are not fond of its smell and will keep away from it.

–       Spread any of the following in front of the ants’ entry point into your home: coffee grounds, peeled garlic cloves, paprika, cinnamon, black pepper . . . ants apparently hate these smells and won’t cross over them in order to enter your home. Just keep in mind if you have small children who are inclined to put things in their mouths: you might need to take steps to keep the kiddies away from your natural ant repellants. Though I think we can agree that natural repellants beat having to keep your kids away from poison laced ant bait.

Have you had experience and success with any of the above methods for repelling ants naturally? Know of any other methods that I haven’t discussed? I’d love to hear about your experiences and results in the comments.

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  1. I usually mix 2 Tbsp of Borax with sugar water (1:2 ratio), dip botton ball in the mixture and spread them out where the ants are in the house. They eat borax and take it back to the colony and kill the colony.

  2. Ants can be very bad here in Florida. I believe it is ‘debunked’ on snopes, but if you put out some aspartamate where they are trailing, they will eat it and die. My friend told me about this a few years ago. I also told another ecoetsy team mate about this method a few months ago and it worked for them also. (Shanti Aromatherapy)

  3. Jen @ bugbabydesigns says:

    This is great info! I’m sure we’ll be invaded soon, so I’ll give some of these a try.

  4. Great article. Thanks for sharing!