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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Keep the Ants from Marching In!

Keep the Ants from Marching In!

Venturing outdoors for a leisurely picnic or a brief repose on the patio? Protect children playing barefoot in the grass from ant bites. These two natural remedies will ward off invasive ants.

Fire ants recently set up camp just off our patio, beside the walkway, building more than one mound. Being so close to the house, we want to keep the area free of biting ants and toxic chemicals. Here’s our nontoxic way to rid ants from the yard and patio. If you have young children, you don’t want their playtime ruined by painful fire ant bites. If you discover a fire ant colony in your yard, here are two safe and natural ant remedies, that won’t harm you or the environment.

Fortunately the refreshing scent of peppermint is offensive to ants. This fragrant, natural spray is safe to use indoors or out, whether you spot ants on your kitchen counter or porch. Take a spray bottle on your next outing, to use on a picnic table or around your picnic blanket before dining, to discourage ants from invading your lunch.

Ant Spray
This fragrant spray doubles as room freshener and ant deterrent.
4 oz. water
2 T. vodka
15 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops cinnamon essential oil
Mix above ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake and spray as needed.

Diatomaceous Earth
Wondering what Diatomaceous Earth is and how it works? It is powdered shell flour, a natural product composed of ground diatomaceous earth, primarily silicon dioxide. The tiny, white crystals aren’t harmful to human touch or consumption, but will effectively eliminate soft bodied ants.

To use on a fire ant mound, cover the top of the mound thoroughly with the powder. Stir the mound with a stick and apply more diatomaceous earth. Only the ants that come in contact with the powder will be destroyed, as it does not penetrate deep into the colony like chemical poisons. You may need to make more than one application to eliminate the entire colony. If ants are making a trail across your porch, deck or patio, lightly dust them with a coat of Diatomaceous Earth.
Diatomaceous Earth is also safe to use for insect control in the garden or greenhouse. Sprinkle it onto plants to deter harmful insects. Apply a ring of diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of a raised garden bed to keep ants at bay. You’ll need to reapply after a rain.


1 S.Sagee { 10.17.14 at 10:29 pm }

I am curious as to know of there is a way to track where the little pesty ants would be coming in and also which works better to sprinkle out side….Chili or baby powder?

2 S.Sagee { 10.17.14 at 10:27 pm }

How would I be able to tell where these little pesty black ants are coming in? Does chili or baby powder work better to keep them OUT?

3 Robert { 05.06.14 at 10:45 am }

Last year I tried something new. I tried using Sun Light Dish soap straight out of the bottle. I found an ant colony’s nest between the crack in my sidewalk and decided to try using my dish soap. I poured it right out of the bottle directly into any openings I found. I waited a day or two before taking the garden hose to the area in order to let the soap do its work. And long behold it worked. I haven’t had any ant problems since.

4 Melissa { 05.06.14 at 9:57 am }

I didn’t know that about the DE thanks for the info everyone! Also I saw a mention of borage and I was going to try interplanting it throughout the garden. A few old books said that planting borage will keep pests at bay and improve the vigor and disease resistance of the surrounding plants. Anybody have any tips regarding borage?
For a buck a pack of seeds I think its worth a try.

5 Melanie { 05.06.14 at 9:35 am }

The ants in the kitchen are searching for water… U usually see them when it’s really dry outside.
The flying and (could be terms, so look at them) are probably carpenter ants, nesting in some wet wood inside your house.
Please don’t use diatimacious earth… We already have a low number of bubble bees because of mites, try not to kill anymore. Love the idea of the mints!

6 dhallman { 05.05.14 at 10:18 pm }

Instant grits…they’ll eat them, take them back to the queen for food and explode when ingested.

7 Jessica { 05.05.14 at 8:17 pm }

We sprinkle baby powder in the door and window thresholds and voila no ants will come inside.

8 Louise { 05.05.14 at 7:53 pm }

I put out garlic, onion, chili powder combo around my foundation. I will try baking soda also.

9 Fran { 05.05.14 at 6:35 pm }

Planting Borage or catnip does the same. And, it’s natural

10 just wondering { 05.05.14 at 6:17 pm }

Just sprinkle baking soda outside around the foundation of the house… “really cheap and non toxic” ants will eat it and die… they poop themselves to death…

11 Shelly { 05.05.14 at 6:14 pm }

Love Diatomaceous Earth. Use it for ants, palmetto bugs and fleas

12 jan { 05.05.14 at 5:43 pm }

I drenk the Vodka…Ants gone..

13 Judy { 05.05.14 at 4:58 pm }

Clean my coffee pot with a pot of vinegar when its done coffee pot clean then I pour the hot vinegar over the fire ants it works but it to will kill grass as well.

14 Shirley { 05.05.14 at 4:57 pm }

I use cornmeal the ants eat it and go away and I have dogs so I can not use poison.

15 Bonnie Allen { 05.05.14 at 4:52 pm }

I’ve used just cinnamon the past two years after Orkin charged me an arm and a leg to set out traps for ants which did nothing. The cinnamon worked and has already worked this year. I also have a patch of peppermint plants that I’m going to transplant around the house to take care of everything else.

16 margaret reider { 05.05.14 at 4:49 pm }

Kathy, I cut a piece of my grape vine with at least two sets of buds. I then either place it in water and in a window or simply stick it in the ground and keep it well watered. This has always worked for me. I do the same thing with Hydrangeas!

17 elvirahowell { 10.02.13 at 3:39 pm }

I have these little tiny black ants invading my kitchen sometimes, they come out of the receptacles and with no warning. I bought some glue looking stuff that they seemed to really like, because the next day they where doubled. How do i get them out? Oh, and now i have these big brown looking flying ants. These dive bombers really bite, anyone know how to get rd of these two pests?

18 kathy { 09.16.13 at 1:55 pm }

how can you graft a grape vine, or how can you get one started………………..thanks

19 debbie { 09.15.13 at 8:43 pm }

Is there any natural repellent for crazy ants?

20 Joe { 09.14.13 at 1:55 pm }

But who would waste good vodka?? I’ll just use Raid :)

21 mary newman { 09.13.13 at 12:19 am }

What about for a huge grass field and sidewalks at a school. My ankles are constantly getting bitten as are the kids!

22 kate { 09.12.13 at 11:12 pm }

Helps if you find the entry point….I had ants on my window sill & put corn meal all the way around : voila gone overnight.I think they choke…I also had an invasion of fire ants got bit under my foot fire all right..I keep a parmesan cheese container of 20 Mule Team Borax & sprinkled all around the base board : they too disappeared…keep you pets out of the room till vacuumed…

23 Al { 09.12.13 at 11:30 am }

DE only lasts for a short time (has to be dry)…I got rid of ants by using a mixture of borax and icing sugar. Make a deep hole into ant pile and carefully spoon the stuff down the hole. I say carefully because it will kill the grass. This works every time to kill ants, and without using toxic chemicals.

24 Clarks { 09.12.13 at 1:41 am }

If you can keep mint controlled, that is keep it from taking over your flower gardens and such, plant good aromatic mint around the foundation of your house and in hedgerows around where you picnic or kids play. Many mint varieties are invasive so again, be careful! I’ve got peppermint and spearmint along our foundation, easily controlled by mowing. No ants, very few crawling bugs. The only bugs we have are flying ones and of course a few spiders that get through the mint border, perhaps they hang-glide over it or hitchhike?
I’ve also got chives and sage mixed in so when I mow and stir up those scents, I get very hungry! Our house and yards smell good even when there aren’t any flowers blooming! Just walking along the foundation growth stirs up the aroma!

25 Susi { 09.11.13 at 11:53 am }

(Actually more like crawling though broken glass than fiberglass.)

26 Susi { 09.11.13 at 11:49 am }

Diatomaceous earth should be used only after careful consideration. It is not poisonous but once it’s in the ground it’s in for good and can be harmful to beneficial critters too, like earthworms. Basically it works by cutting them if they crawl through it. Like if you had to crawl naked through fiberglass batting. Ouch! It’s not a pest killer as much as a deterent. It makes the area you want to protect inhospitable to tiny creatures. Like putting barbed wire around your house. Except you can remove barbed wire.

27 janel ferrara { 09.11.13 at 11:29 am }


28 Gypsy Brokenwings { 09.11.13 at 11:02 am }

I get food grade at the feed store.much cheaper than the small bags at the pet stores.

29 wrightashley73 { 09.11.13 at 10:27 am }

Careful with DE – it’ll knock out any beneficial insects, too, including honeybees and ladybugs. Personally, I try to use it sparingly, and never in my garden. But I get it from my local feed store – I think you can also find it at hardware stores. Make sure you get food grade DE, though, not the stuff they use in pools. The pool stuff is poisonous to us, so not safe. And DE only works when it’s dry, which is another reason why I don’t use it much, here in the rainy Pacific NW.

30 Maria { 09.10.13 at 8:49 am }

Where can one get Diatomaceous Earth?

31 Heidi { 09.09.13 at 7:50 pm }

sorry fire ant’s

32 Heidi { 09.09.13 at 7:49 pm }

Sounds good. But we live in texas ant fire ant’s like crazy . I did cinnamon I kid you not gone!

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