Leafcutter ants.

How To Control Ants Naturally

Spring is the time of year when we tend to have the most problems with ants showing up in our yards and kitchens.

As the weather starts to warm up in spring, the worker ants that make up the vast majority of the colony begin to forage for food. Initially just a few scouts will leave the nest on this errand, yet this is the starting point of potential problems with ants intruding into yards and homes.

  Ants Can Be Beneficial

Ants can be found in your home or outside throughout most of the year. You may wonder if ants can be beneficial to your garden or if they cause damage to your plants.

Ants can be beneficial to your garden. Since they are predators, they hunt other insects that live in your lawn and can aid pollination while they are foraging. However, ants like to build nests around the root system of plants, which can stunt growth and leave plants more vulnerable to disease.

  Ants And Honeydew

Quite a few species of ant also eat honeydew, which is excreted by aphids as they feast on plants. Ants have been known to protect aphids from other predators, such as ladybirds, to maintain a reliable food source. Increased aphid activity in your garden, especially when they have bodyguards, can be disastrous for plant life as they can advance unhindered through your garden, sucking out all of the tasty plant juice.

  What Attracts Ants To Your Yard?

  Food Sources

Ant hills in the lawn.
Ant hills in the lawn.

Ants invade yards when they can find a steady food source. Your yard has many things that hungry ants can feed on. The most common food sources for ants are:

Pests: Ants will feed on small insects including fly larvae, termites, and other dead insects.
Honeydew: Garden pests, like aphids and mealybugs, produce a sweet substance called honeydew. Some ant species will farm these pests to eat the honeydew.
Trash: Your crumbs and spilled drinks are a favorite treat of ants. They enjoy meats, sweets, and greasy items.
Vegetation: Ants eat decaying plant matter and living plants. One species, the army ant, travels in large numbers eating grass as they move.


Like other pests, ants need water to survive. Keep an eye out for these sources of moisture in your yard: leaky pipes, puddles and items that collect water.


Many spots in your yard are undisturbed and give ants a safe place to shelter. Yard debris and decaying wood are common sources of shelter for ants.

  How To Deal With Ants In A Non-toxic Manner

Dealing with ants can be very frustrating. Pesticides for ants contain chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment, but there are some natural, non-toxic ways to control ants. These may take some time and patience, but will provide good results.

Most natural methods don’t work immediately. It’s because of what they are – natural, meaning, the active ingredients in them are not as lethal for ants as what professional poisons will be.

Here are the top natural ways to get rid of ants without harmful chemicals.

If you want to keep ants off your hummingbird feeder, hang the feeder with fishing line. Ants find it difficult to grasp the fishing line.

1. Boiling Water

Ant in garden plants

The most widely known natural ant extermination method is using boiling water. Simply locate as many entrances to the nest as possible and pour boiling water inside. You may have to do this repeatedly until all of the ants are dead.

2. Dish washing liquid and oil.

This method has quite a high success rate as the dish washing liquid and oil soak into the ant exoskeletons and suffocates them. All you need to do is mix half a teaspoon of liquid dish soap with one and a half teaspoons of cooking oil (olive oil and canola oil work best) with 1 quart of water (0.946 kilograms or 2.08 lbs or 33.38 ounces). Once the mixture is ready, pour some into a spray bottle to take care of ants outside the nest and then pour the rest directly into the nest.

3. Boric acid and sugar.

This is possibly the most effective home remedy for getting rid of ants. Mix boric acid with sugar until it turns into a paste and then place small amounts of the paste around the entrances to the ant nest. Ants love sweet things and so they will be drawn to the paste, they will eat some and carry the rest back to the nest for the queen. Shortly after eating the sweet paste, the queen and other ants will begin to die due to the boric acid.

4. White Vinegar

Ants on green plant stem with babies. Pouring around 1 quart of white vinegar directly into the nest can work wonders. It is not harmful to the ground or your plants, but it will kill the ants on contact.

5. Nematodes

Nematodes microscopic worms are the natural nemesis of ants. The tiny worms will hunt and devour the ants whereas the ants will most likely search for a new nest as they cannot tolerate having their natural predator nearby.

6. Diatomaceous earth (DE)

Diatomaceous earth (food-grade, mind that!) is effective against a variety of critters, both at home and in the garden. You’d better sprinkle the ants’ path or around the plants, you don’t want the ants to get to. DE works well if the soil is dry. The wetter the surface is, the more time it will take to do its magic.

Further Information on Garden Pests:

 Groundhog Facts and Control
 YIKES! Jumping Worms
 All About Aphids and Their Control
 Voles - Both the Good and the Bad

Beneficial Species
Fertilize & Mulch
Garden Plans
Garden Pests
Lawn Management
Quick Tips
Soil Management
Specialty Gardens
Bees flying footer graphic