Natural ways to get rid of ants and other household pests

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ant faceEvery year around this time I start seeing posts on social media about ants. They seem to return with monotonous regularity, Ants are everywhere! They’re on our countertops. Ants gather around the cat’s food bowl. They leave a trail that goes to the silverware drawer. And they’re annoying!
I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything to deter the ants that seem to invade my kitchen every year. And there are few people I’ve spoken to who don’t have an ant problem. (Those who don’t talk about it may just be houseproud!)
Over-the-counter remedies seem to help for a short while, then it seems like the ants become immune to whatever is in the product. I’ve tried traps, drops, sprays, you name it!
There is one thing about these ants that contradicts everything I ever thought I knew about them. They don’t only go for the sweet things! The ants in my house like cheese crackers, dog food, weird things like that. I’m sure I could wipe down every single surface in my home and they still would find something to snack on.

So, how do I get rid of ants?

ant with water dropletsI’ve always been careful to avoid anything that would hurt Penny and Pucci (our pit bull and kitty.) My latest non-toxic, yet effective, way of dealing with ants and other pests around the home? Diatomaceous earth.

Ants and cockroaches and fleas, oh my!

DE, as it is also known (and if you’ve ever had to type it out, you’ll appreciate the acronym!) is made from the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. It is not harmful to people or pets but will kill any insects with an exoskeleton. Ants, fleas, bed bugs, dust mites, and cockroaches all fall into this category.

Check the quality of your DE

Word of warning, DE does come in different grades. Make sure you buy food grade. (Yes, it is safe to eat!) Don’t buy pool grade, unless you want to use it in your pool filter.

How do I use DE?

I bought a puffer contraption to disperse this talc-like powder around my home. It dispenses two ways – in a stream or in a cloud – depending on which way up you hold it. In a stream, I can concentrate it into a corner or any other “spot placement”. In a cloud, I can cover the carpet in an entire room, which I then vacuum after leaving it to sit for a few minutes.
I also mix a small amount of DE with an equal amount of sugar (to attract the ants) in bottle caps. I leave these in places I see ants gathering and the ants soon find their way into them.

Why does DE work?

Diatomaceous earth scratches the waxy protective layer of the bug’s exoskeleton, causing them to lose moisture, dry out, and die. And an added bonus – pests cannot build a tolerance to DE because it’s not chemical.
The only way that DE can be dangerous to humans or our pets, is if we breath in large amounts. And I’m not about to go sticking my head in a cloud of DE to find out! The amount of DE you need to get rid of your ants is only a sliver of a fraction of the amount that would be dangerous.
Fact sheet on DE from the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)

Essential oils and pest control

Of course, there are essential oils that will also do the trick:
  • Lemon Eucalyptus, Citronella, and Lemongrass are all insecticidal.
  • Add a few drops of Peppermint essential oil to cotton balls. Place in your heat vents and on windowsills to repel spiders, ants, or rodents!
  • Mix 15 drops each of Peppermint and Melaleuca (Tea Tree), and 7 drops of any citrus oil in a clean spray bottle with 1/4 cup of water. This makes a great ant-repellent spray.
Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for any products or services purchased through links on my website. These commissions are not added to your cost for the product or service and help support my work in bringing you the best information possible about natural health and wellness.
Photo by Poranimm Athithawatthee from Pexels

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