Farming Advice and Folklore: How to Get Rid of Ants

How to get rid of ants: A compendium of farming advice for dealing with the ant invasion indoors and at outdoor summer activities.

| July/August 1988

  • 112-014-01
    To chase ants from inside the house, lots of folks employ vinegar.
    ILLUSTRATION: ELAINE A. CARDELLA

  • 112-014-01

How to get rid of ants: A compendium of successful strategies to rid your home and outdoor areas of invasive ants without using chemicals. 

Farming Advice and Folklore: How to Get Rid of Ants

Have drugs, AIDS, the nuclear threat, crime and the troubled economy stopped jockeying for position as the primary threat to the American way of life? You might think so, judging from the content of much of MOTHER'S recent mail. And what's the major menace confronting our readers? Ants.

We must admit this flood of mail on a single subject was prompted by a "Dear Mother" letter published in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 107, in which Sandy Hawley of Marshall, Texas, asked for help—suggestions on how to control an invasion of ants; a method that didn't involve the use of harmful chemicals. Readers rushed to Sandy's aid with an array of artillery on how to get rid of ants.

To chase ants from inside the house, lots of folks employ vinegar. Used full strength, it can be wiped on counter tops, shelves, base cabinet floors and thresholds—any surface the ants traverse that can't be harmed by the acidic liquid. Or put vinegar into a spray container and spritz wherever ants are likely to hide. If the soil outdoors is dry, you can spray the stuff around entrances to the interior.



Cinnamon sticks placed four feet apart around the perimeter of the house, both indoors and out, as well as sprinklings of ground cinnamon in cracks, have kept ants from a Canadian reader's house for 14 years. Cinnamon is a popular repellent, but so is pepper. There must be quite a turnover on grocery shelves of cayenne pepper, because our mail indicates that it's used extensively on ant invaders. Just dust it along their paths, and they'll soon opt for a detour. One reader grows an extra supply of Capsicum frutescens for this very purpose; she minces the dried peppers and challenges the ants to their own version of walking on hot coals. Then again, the proponents of ground black pepper feel it's every bit as powerful as the red.

Cucumber peelings are another favorite. They're thought to be toxic to ants, and one user said that by regularly replacing the slivers of peel as they dried up, her house was cleared of ants in a week.






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