Ants Away – Indoors & Out

by Ron & Lisa Beres on September 5, 2011 · 9 comments

Ants Away – Indoors & Out copy

If you followed our last post, Bugs Begone! 7 Non-Toxic Ant Control Recipes, then you have hopefully reaped the benefits of an ant-free picnic or celebration. But, as we all know, ants can also be a problem inside the home.  Ants follow pheromone trails left by other ants to help them find food sources. Following this path backward can help you identify their point of entry into your home. You can eventually seal that part of your home with a non-toxic caulking. We recommend AFM’s Safecoat which is a not-toxic, water-based, elastic emulsion type of caulking compound. It is ideal for windows, sealing cracks, filling holes, door perimeters, walls and woodwork, air duct openings, venting and plumbing areas, siding openings and masonry cracks.  It won’t dry out or crack and does not release any solvents or obnoxious odors that could harm you or your family members.

Another trick is to leave out a small piece of cardboard covered in a mixture of borax (bait) and syrup or a high protein treat (depending on type of ant) overnight. The ants will return the bait to the colony. Allow up to 10 days to complete the cycle and keep out of children’s reach. Remember, there are 12,000 species of ants throughout the world and different types of ants are attracted to various types of food.  Some prefer sweets while others prefer fats and protein, etc.  Therefore, identifying the ant species will help you understand which treat to use with this method.

Finally, here are two additional methods you can utilize to remove ants in your own backyard:

Choose the ideal backyard location for entertaining.

  • Avoid heavy vegetation. Areas with thicker vegetation are more attractive to ants. Look for barren areas to place your outdoor table or barbecue grill.

Eliminate ant colonies from your backyard prior to a hosting guests or dining outdoors.

  • Look for obvious signs of ant infestation. If many ants are visible, soapy water can be used to drench outside ant nests in your backyard. This will not only kill some of the ants, but will force the remaining ones to relocate.
  • Ant colonies can also be controlled by digging up the ant nests and pouring scalding water and or soapy water on to the nest.
  • Pouring apple cider vinegar down entrance holes of ant nests will cause them to leave the area.
  • Repeated flooding of an ant nest every few days with a garden hose can cause the ant colony to relocate. However this method requires persistence and is not always effective.
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Elkaye September 9, 2011 at 8:51 am

I’ve tried sugar & borax for my ant problem and was disappointed that they didn’t seem to like it. (It never occurred to me that they may prefer “proteins” to sugar- it makes good sense though)

I think I’ll try a mix of borax & peanut butter to see if my ants will like that mix better. Thanks for the inspiration! :D


Ron & Lisa September 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Hello Elkaye! Yes, if you can get a good look and description of the of ants you have, you can do an online search. Once you have identified your ant species, you can determine which bait works best. It is fascinating how many different types of ants exist, so trial and error might be the safest and fastest bet. Please let us know how it goes with the peanut butter!


Jewelly Shetka September 9, 2011 at 9:59 am

Diatom powder can cut down on ant populations. To people and pets, it’s like chalk (there is even a food grade product), but to ants, or any bug, it’s like walking across razor blades. The because the outer shell doesn’t heal itself like skin and the ant dies of dehydration. We have oodles of those little black ‘piss ants on our courtyard and when they get too numerous, I sprinkle diatom powder around the nests and where there are ‘groupings’.
The little ants are good for the garden, so we don’t want to get rid of them. We just use it to thin the population when we can’t work without getting nibbled on.


Ron & Lisa September 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Thank you for this advice. I think it is wonderful that you have respect in only ‘thinning the population’ to a point where they are no longer a nuisance. All creatures on this earth have a purpose (perpahs ants are only to teach us patience – lol) and we do encourage IPM (integrated pest management) whenever possible. According to the EPA’s website: ‘Integrated Pest Management (IPM)’ is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.’

By the way, is the diatom powder you use the same as Diatomaceous earth? If so, can you shed some light on where you purchase this for our readers? I read that it can also work to eliminate cockroach, flea and even bedbug infestations!


Ron & Lisa September 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

One of our Facebook fans suggested dry ice for ants. She used it while in Costa Rica and said it worked like a charm every time (thanks Jen)!

Has anyone else had success with this?


jim September 11, 2011 at 4:44 am

I’m trying to get rid of carpenter ants that have taken a home in a large piece of tree trunk that was left over when we cut down a tree (about 15 feet from our front porch). I read that their colonies are underground, where the queen lives and can be twenty feet or more from the main feeding site. Any suggestions on how to get rid of them before we pull up the cut tree piece and get rid of it. I’ve read that if you don’t get rid of the colony first, they’ll just move on to the next largest wood structure, which happends to be our house! Thanks.


Ron & Lisa September 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Hello Jim,
Beyond Pesticides is a great resource for specific concerns such as yours. They suggest the following methods for control of Carpenter ants:

1.) Since carpenter ants can only survive in a narrow temperature range, manipulation of the temperature provides a non-toxic control. Various pest control companies may offer to tent and heat the house, or provide an alternative freezing method.

2.) Boric acid provides a least-toxic alternative for control. Both Timbor™ and BoraCare™ offer control, but must be handled with care, as boric acid is a poison. BoraCare™ can only be used by a pest control applicator.

3.) Insecticidal dusts such as silica aerogel and diatomaceous earth are another least-toxic option. Beware that some varieties of the products that contain these dusts also include pyrethrins. When applying insecticidal dusts wear goggles, gloves and breathing protection. Do not apply insecticidal dusts where they may accumulate in water runoff, as these chemicals are toxic to fish. Both silica aerogel and diatomaceous earth are inorganic and will remain
effective for a long time.

Finally, for more information on prevention and monitoring of Carpenter ants, click HERE. We hope this helps. Good luck and please keep us posted of the outcome!


Jewelly Shetka September 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

Glad I could help.  We live in a rural area and got the diatom (yes, diatomisious(sp)earth, powdered prehistoric coral as I understand it) powder at our local feed store. It’s also used in certain kinds of salt water aquarium filters (diatom filters). Anything that has it’s skeleton on the outside can’t deal with it. While it is death on any bug that gets into it, it’s safe for anything else (I saw a man lick a chunk of the stuff during a natural foods demo!!!). I have no idea what use diatom powder is health wise, the stuff we bought was labeled ‘food quality’, but it sure works on ants…and crickets, spiders (to get Black Widows too close to the house), scorpions, centipeds, silverfish, roaches…Just keep in mind that this will take out the ‘good bugs’, too.
Again, glad I could help.


Jewelly Shetka September 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Don’t have any carpet ants that I know of. I think it’s too dry of them (high mountain desert), but there’s s hill of big (maybe a 1/2″ long with big mouth parts) black ugly ones right in the middle of our dirt parking pad. Usually one or other of the cars is over it. Last night (9/10) I tried the suggestion about apple cider vinegar. I slow dripped 16 ounces of it directly into the hole (I loosened the cap and stuck it in place).
It bubbled and fizzed and upset the hill quite a bit. I went out to check and there’s more ants around the hole than last night. I can’t tell if there’s live one clearing the dead away, if they are all alive or what. The nest is still very POed and I don’t want to get on my knees to look closer. Haven’t been bitten by one and don’t care to be.
I’m going to try carbon dioxide next.
Since carbon dioxide is heavier than air, it should the job, hopefully.


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