You’ve worked hard to have a nice yard, but now you’ve discovered an ant hill in the middle of it. It’s more than unsightly. You know the ants will bite or sting anyone in the yard, including your pets and children. It also won’t take long before you’ll have ants in your home. It’s imperative that you learn how to get rid of ants in your yard as quickly as possible. However, you prefer to avoid poisons or harmful chemicals. Keep reading for tips on removing resident ants and repelling newcomers.
Why Are There So Many Ants in My Yard?
Ants provide many benefits to humans and the environment. These include:
- Preying on other pests such as fleas and flies.
- Pollinating flowers and vegetables.
- Distributing the seeds of many plants.
- Aerating and fertilizing soil.
That doesn’t mean that you want them taking up residence in your yard. Rather than apply ant poison, you want to know how to get rid of ants naturally.
Ants are dependent on each other and live in colonies. Many ant colonies contain millions of the little insects, making it difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate them. Your best chance of eliminating ants in your yard is to prevent them from moving in.
Ants Have a Sweet Tooth
Ants love sweets. Most will appear anywhere they can find sugar. Although it’s unlikely that you intentionally have sugary foods in your yard, it’s easy for children to drop food crumbs during play times. Other foods, such as BBQ sauce on grills, also lure ants to your yard.
Ants may seek water. Ants usually get all the water they need from their food, but they will invade moist areas in dry climates. Ants will also invade trash containers left outside. They also like uncovered pet food.
What Is an Effective Way to Get Ants Out
Ant colonies can extend many feet underground in a labyrinth of tunnels. Generally, all that is visible to you is an ant hill.
Disturbing the colony will make them move. The problem is that they may build another colony close to the one they abandoned. You need to make the whole yard undesirable to effectively remove ants from your yard.
Ants navigate areas by leaving chemical trails to and from food sources and the nest. Eliminate the trails, and you eliminate the ants.
Homeowners destroy ant trails in several ways. These include:
- Pouring soapy water on them.
- Spraying the area with a solution of cayenne pepper and water.
- Spraying a solution of lemon water around the area.
- Sprinkling powdered chalk on the trail or drawing chalk lines across it.
These are all remedies that are harmless to the environment, pets, and children.
An ant’s small size is offset by its superior strength. They can lift 20 – 50 times more than they weigh. That’s equivalent to you lifting a small vehicle. Ants can run as fast as three inches a second.
Ants “hear” with their feet, rather than with ears. Sounds to them are vibrations in the ground. They also lack lungs. They “breathe” through tiny holes in their their bodies.
Ants are regarded as the smartest of all insects. They have 250,000 brain cells, significantly less than the 10 billion brain cells in humans. Ants, however, have been around longer than we have and may still be around long after we’re gone.
What Are Good Natural Home Remedies
Homeowners have tried many home remedies and natural products to eradicate their ants with varying degrees of effectiveness.
- Baby powder
All three are easy to obtain and use.
- Baby Powder
There’s more than one kind of baby powder. Some of it is made with cornstarch, and some of it contains talc. You may have to try both kinds to eliminate your ants. That’s because there’s uncertainty about exactly how the baby powder affects ants.
Some homeowners believe the powder clogs the ant’s breathing apparatus, suffocating them. Others think it’s just the scent or texture that repels ants. Whichever it is, sprinkling baby powder on ant trails and around their colony makes ants go away.
To the surprise of some homeowners, ants like salt. As do most living creatures, they need small amounts of salt for their bodies to function. If they don’t get enough salt from what they eat, they will look for it in your home or yard.
However, salty water can be a good ant deterrent when poured on their nests. The excess salt can kill ants. It also masks their trails, and they will abandon the area.
White vinegar is one of your most useful home products. Along with everything else, it will help you eliminate your ant problem. If the smell doesn’t bother you, you can use vinegar full strength. Otherwise, mix it with water.
Spray the vinegar on ant trails. Ants cannot stand the smell of vinegar, even when it’s diluted. They won’t go near it. It also is stronger than the scent they use to mark their trails.
Salt and vinegar won’t harm children or pets, but they may destroy vegetation wherever they are sprayed. Baby powder made with talc is controversial as some believe that it can be carcinogenic.
How Can I Get Rid of An Ant Colony?
It’s usually a futile effort to attempt to kill every ant in the colony. Your first step in getting rid of the ants is to disturb their nest. Raking the top off ant hills is a simple way to make life unpleasant for an ant population. Rake weekly or whenever you see a hill starting to form.
Pouring water on the nest often makes ants move on. Spraying the area with a solution of black pepper and water repels ants. Some people have found success by making a “tea” of tobacco and spraying that on the nest. Others deposit used coffee grounds around the nest.
If you drink mint tea, place your used tea bags around the ant nest. Otherwise, crush dry mint leaves and sprinkle the powder around the colony and on the ant trails. Ants dislike cucumbers, so dropping pieces of cucumber around their homes can make them move away.
How Can I Kill the Ants
Homeowners who want to kill the ants in their yards rather than repel them often turn to diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is the skeletal remains of tiny marine organisms. It’s available for use in a food grade variety as well as a variety intended for use in swimming pools.
Use food grade DE against your ants. Use it dry, not wet. The very sharp DE particles will cut the bodies of the ants, causing them to die. It may take a week or so to kill all ants.
They Aren’t All the Same
Although there are thousands of kinds of ants, only a few species settle in your yard. These are:
- Pavement ants – small black or brown ants that like greasy and protein foods as well as sugary food. Read more here.
- Carpenter ants – large ants that can be red or black. They prefer damp wood and will destroy structural parts of your house. Please see detailed descriptions here.
- Fire ants – small to large red ants with a painful sting.
- Odorous ants – medium-size brown and black ants that love sugar. Click here for more information about best way to get rid of sugar ants.
Carpenter ants are the ones you most want to kill because they are so destructive. Seeing one usually means you have a water leak somewhere.
Outdoor Ant Killer
Most effective homemade ant killer recipes include borax. Borax is attractive to ants and they eat it. It may take awhile, but any ant that eats borax dies. Ants will carry the dead bodies of nest mates back to the nest and eat them. The borax from the dead ant then kills other ants, until eventually all of the ants in that nest die.
You can make borax especially appealing to ants by mixing it with sugar and water to make an irresistible syrup. Use caution with borax as it is harmful to children and pets. It will also kill any vegetation it comes into contact with.
The Best Natural Ant Killer
The best ant killer is the one that works for you. People have had more success with repelling ants than killing them.
Products that have worked include:
- Spices, such as cinnamon and cloves.
- Citrus oils and peels.
- Corn meal sprinkled around the nest.
- Powders, like baking powder, that suffocate ants.
Sometimes the best remedy is a combination or solution of several ingredients.
Results vary according to:
- Your climate
- Your landscaping
- Objects in and around your yard
- The kind of ants you have
- How extensive the ant colony is
Natural and home remedies are usually inexpensive and nontoxic; however, not all of them will work in every situation. You may need to experiment.
The Best Ways to Remove Ants From Yard
To keep ants out of your yard, it’s necessary to:
- Keep your grass and landscaping healthy and trimmed.
- Eradicate insects, such as aphids, that ants like.
- Remove trash containers and other attractants.
- Plant flowers, such as marigolds, that ants avoid.
Applying mint essential oils, especially peppermint oil, repels ants.
Their chemical trails are necessary for ants to survive. You can remove ants by removing their trails. You know you’ve discovered a trail when you see a line of ants. Squashing the ants doesn’t help, nor does killing a single “scout” ant.
Putting a strong smelling substance on the trail will often mask the chemical scent the ants have deposited.
Once they lose their trail, ants can’t find their way back to the nest or to their food source. Being lost is the death knell for an ant. When those responsible for bringing food to the nest don’t return, the remaining ants leave the area.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Although you can use various products to kill ants, it’s unlikely that you’ll kill them all. If a queen survives, which is probable, you’ve only postponed your problem. Ants can be beneficial in the right place, so your best remedy is to prevent them from invading your property. If they do appear, then apply home remedies known to repel them. Make ants feel unwelcome enough, and they’ll go away.