There are approximately 12,000 species of ants worldwide. Although most are considered harmless, some species can cause considerable damage, and even bite humans. While not all ant species will cause such adverse reactions, ants are often considered unwanted pests and cause destruction to yards, buildings and can contaminate food.
It’s important to Ants are a part of the insect family formicidae, and live in colonies that may contain thousands of members.
In extreme cases, ants may cause structural damage or pose a significant health risk. In these situations, an exterminator may need to be called. Chemicals used during extermination procedures can prove toxic and harmful if not used correctly.
As an alternative, many people turn to creating a homemade ant repellents as a way to control small infestations. Thanks to the advances in research, scientists have helped identify certain essentials oils that contain natural insecticidal qualities that can be used as a non toxic ant killer. Using essential oils for ants in house environments may also be a safer alternative for individuals who have allergies, weaker immune systems or have household pets.
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally
Since commercial solutions are easy to obtain, users may wonder why they should use natural ant repellent as an alternative to a commercial spray. Many commercial solutions contain harmful pesticides, insect growth regulators or harsh chemicals that can be dangerous for pets or small children.
Numerous everyday ingredients have been claimed to be natural ant killers including white vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, cornmeal, and cinnamon. Without evidence to back these the use of these ingredients, applying them to affected areas may not prove to be effective, and may even attract other pests.
Essential Oils for Ants
Ants are one of the most common household pests and regularly appear in areas where they can easily find food and water. If you’ve identified an ant infestation, it’s important to take action quickly. Before starting any sort of home remedy for ants, it’s important to properly sanitize any effected areas and dispose of any contaminated food.
Inspect areas that may be possible food or water sources, including under sinks, along cracks, in cupboards, or other dark, moist areas. Identifying possible entry points is important for preventing further infestations and the development of more ant colonies.
With natural insecticidal properties, essential oils can be used as a natural way to kill ants. When applied regularly and monitored, using essential oils may be an effective tool in ant management. As a natural ant repellent, essential oils help drive away ants and may also be aromatic.
While there are several essential oils that may be used as a natural way to get rid of ants and other insects, based on the most recent scientific research, the following five essential oils are considered the best essential oils to keep ants away.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
In a 2014 study, researchers investigated the potential insecticidal benefits of cedarwood essential oil. In the controlled experiment, cedarwood essential oil was placed between several species of ants and an established food source. Results indicated that the ants were significantly repelled by the cedarwood essential oil, and was even effective against imported red fire ants.
Patchouli Essential Oil
One of the benefits of patchouli essential oil is its ability to deter insects, specifically ants. In a 2013 study, patchouli essential oil was tested for its natural insecticide qualities against three different species of urban ants. The patchouli essential oil was shown repel all three species, and had a mortality rate of over 80%.
Peppermint Essential Oil
For a natural homemade ant repellent, consider using peppermint essential oil. One of peppermint essential oil’s beneficial qualities is its high menthol content, which has been shown to effectively repel ants, cockroaches, mice and rats.
Vetiver Essential Oil
There are several beneficial properties of vetiver essential oil, including its natural antibacterial, antifungal, insect repelling qualities. Based on its odor and chemical composition, vetiver essential oil can be used as a natural insecticide to help repel ants, cockroaches, termites and ticks.
Orange Essential Oil
For users dealing specifically with fire ants, you may want to consider using orange essential oil as a natural ant killer. D-limonene, one of the main constitutes of orange essential oil, is able to penetrate the hard, waxy exterior of the ants’ respiratory system. The oil can either be sprayed directly on ants or on applied on individual ant mounds for a faster way to naturally kill ants.2
DIY Ant Killer
Using a homemade ant spray is a natural and chemical-free approach to controlling pests. While there are numerous home remedies to get rid of ants, the following is considered to be the best homemade ant killer by our readers. By using more than one essential oil for killing ants, users can protect their household against several different ant species, and potentially other household pests.
For an easy, DIY ant spray, combine the following ingredients:
- 15 drops peppermint essential oil
- 10-15 drops tea tree essential oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 3 drops of orange essential oil
- Combine the Ingredients – In a plastic bowl thoroughly mix the homemade ant repellent with a spoon. The vodka will help the essential oils mix together.
- Pour into a Spray Bottle – Carefully pour the mixture into a large spray bottle. Store the non toxic ant killer in in a cool, dry place.
- Spritz the Affected Area(s) – Pointing downwards, spray the mixture onto entry points, cracks or areas where ants were seen. Make sure to avoid spraying food or furniture.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. (2016, June 21). How to Manage Pests: Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets. Retrieved April 20, 2017 from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7411.html
- Texas A&M University – Agricultural Communications. (2004, May 12). Get ‘Two Steps’ Ahead Of Fire Ants With Organic Control. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2017 from sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040510014001.htm