Natural Solutions for Ant Control

Our house is perched on a giant anthill.  I have no scientific proof of this except for the constant stream of tiny black specks that march around like they own the place. These little sugar ants are happier than ever since Roscoe has joined our family.  Now they can load up with the remnants of my son’s cracker snacks, spaghetti dinners, and cookie treats to their collective heart’s content.

So how do we mercilessly rid them of their newfound territory without endangering our son or the planet?   We don’t want to use any pesticides in our home, not just because our son likes to put almost everything in his mouth, but also because it isn’t safe for the environment. 

So far our weapon of choice has been Borax.  The Boric Acid it contains has natural ant-repelling properties and isn’t quite as scary as some other products.  It does need to be kept away from children so you have to be careful.

After looking at online resources such as and barebones gardening, I have some new tricks to try on our little friends. 

Barriers:   Sprinkle or spray these in ant walkways or areas where they enter your home.   Their odors disrupt the scent trails ants create for each other. 

  • White or yellow chalk (ants will not cross a chalk line)
  • Cucumber peelings
  • Red chili or dry mustard mixed with a bit of water
  • Lemon juice
  • White vinegar or half strength cider vinegar
  • Orange based environmental cleaning products
  • Cloves
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cinnamon
  • Baking Soda
  • Baby powder
  • Black pepper
  • Mint Leaves
  • Mint tea bags

Ant traps: You’ll need..

  • Borax
  • Sugar
  • A sticky substance such as mint jelly or peanut butter

Mix the substances together thoroughly.  Spread the mixture on a cracker and place out of the way of children in a cupboard or on a countertop.  When the ants get the food, they’ll also get the poison. 

Dealing with Ant Hills:  The most merciless way is to pour boiling water or hot vinegar directly into the anthill.  This site recommended putting dry grits outside the hole.  Apparently the ants try to eat them and then explode.  That sounds a bit less humane but it’s your call. 

What are your natural pest control tips?  How do you keep baby safe without ending up with ants in the sugar?  


  1. Joy, good article. Lots of good ideas. We had a terrible sugar ant problem in our first apartment as newlyweds. It almost drove me crazy so I want to hear your and others testimonies before I fire the pest control company:)

    Our crawly friends now are spiders and other bugs – I wonder if the barriers you mentioned work on them too.

  2. Joy-
    You have some great ideas in this article.

    Another suggestion for ant control would be anise oil. A few drops of this essential oil around problem areas seems to make ants scatter like……..well, like ants. It also makes your house smell like licorice.

  3. We have ant problems off-and-on as well, so I was glad to see some more tips. I’ve never tried borax with peanut butter, so I might try that. Here’s what we’ve had success with:

    1. Terro — this really is just borax, sugar, and water, but for some reason terro works better than when I cook up the mixture myself. But I’m still trying because I hate to spend money on something like terro when I should be able to do the same thing cheaply myself. To make a terro-like mixture yourself, you have to combine water, sugar, and some borax (maybe a half-cup water, a half-cup sugar, a tablespoon of boax).

    2. Cinnamon — in the entryway where ants come in. This only works for a while.

    3. Boiling water with a little borax mixed in on the ant hills.

    I find I just have to keep at it, killing and deterring more ants every couple of weeks during the summer. They never go away completely (you can win a battle, but you can’t win the war!)

  4. I’ve found that dry active yeast works great for ants. I open a pouch and leave it on the counter and the ants do the work. They get it, eat it, and magically disappear. I would guess it’s the same principle as the grits, and just as humane, but it beats bringing nasty chemicals into my home.

  5. Here is a tip for the borax ant traps. Make the mixture and then put it in a plastic container with holes cut in the lid (big enough for ants) and then stuff it with cotton balls or probably even a cotton rag would work fine. That way it’s a little more solid for the ants to climb in and then climb back out to take it to their queen. It also helps to keep your kitchen crumb-free. Ha ha, so easy with kids around. My kitchen is never crumb-free unless I just mopped and the kids are asleep!

  6. You rock. World needs more souls like you.

  7. Boric Acid, DOES NOT repel ants or insects period. As an insecticide, boric acid acts as a stomach poison for ants, cockroaches, silverfish and termites, and as abrasive to the insects exoskeleton. Boric acid may be used either in a bait formulation containing a feed attractant or as a dry powder. The powder may be injected into cracks and crevices, where it forms a fine layer of dust. Insects travel through the boric acid, which adheres to their legs. When the insects groom themselves, they then ingest the poison, which causes death three to ten days later of starvation and dehydration. As long as the material is not allowed to become wet, its continuous presence ensures that hatching insects, which sprays commonly spare, are exposed and die. Many insecticidal formulations can be effective for more than a year.

    However, while boric acid has become one of the chemicals of choice for many urban pest control programs, it can be toxic. EPA considers boric acid as a moderately acutely toxic due to acute effects including oral and dermal toxicity, and eye and skin irritation.

  8. Whitney says

    We always used cream of wheat on ant hills. you disturb the mound, pour the cream of wheat on and then give them a little while and fully saturate the mound with water. If you are having ant troubles inside it is always best to check outside the windows of that room for potential problem areas because you have to treat the indoors and the outdoors.

  9. Lots of great ideas in here. I will be trying some of the suggestions mentioned here and see if that helps with my ant problems around the house. Thanks Joy!

  10. I’ve never had an ant problem for the two years I’ve lived here and then I came home to find my cat’s feeder crawling with sugar ants-with a fresh filling of food no less. There wasn’t a trail and I don’t even have a problem with them outside either because I have so many spiders here-I don’t kill them because I never wake up with spider bites and I don’t have kids. Naturally I was surprised to find them at all because the feeder has been on the floor of my kitchen for 6 months. I scrubbed the floor with the vinegar and water mix which seemed to help instantly; but I suppose my remaining concern is if I don’t have an outdoor problem that I can find but I have ants on the food now after all these months, what should I change? or What could have attracted them after all this time?

  11. Michael Davis says

    To some degree I’ve had a sugar ant problem every year. It more or less stopped when I had subfloors installed. However, this has been a very wet year in NH, and they’ve come back with a vengeance. Following the leads on disrupting their entry through odors, i simply take a gentle aerosol like apple/cinnamon of S.C. Johnson. and Voila! they disappear.

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