Natural Ways To Get Rid of Sugar Ants

There is a lot of confusion of what a sugar ant really is. The “real sugar ant” is native to Australia and really does not exist in North America. When speaking of an ant that is typically found in homes, most people refer to them “sugar ants” or “tiny black ants”. That’s because they are very small and attracted to sweet foods. Their color can range from light tan to dark brown and even black.

Most often your little house guests are either “Pharaoh Ants” or “Pavement Ants” which combined represent the most abundant ants in America and across North America in general. Sometimes they are “Argentine Ants” which are very common in the Southern states and California.

But for this discussion, let’s simply call them all sugar ants. After all, they eat the same things and are naturally controlled, killed and eliminated in the same ways. You can get rid of these little black ants with natural management methods using organic and some ordinary things found in the kitchen. You can avoid using toxic chemical insecticides unless natural ways of prevention fail.

Getting Rid of Sugar Ants Inside

There are two primary reasons these tiny ants will come into a home. They are enticed by food scraps and food residue and will enter to escape cold weather. They make their way in through the tiniest of cracks and crevices. So, preventing an infestation of ants or getting rid of ants is a matter of closing entry points, repelling them, and practicing daily routines of cleanliness.

  • Follow them. Find ant entry points.
  • Close gaps and/or apply natural repellents those entry ways.
  • Practice cleanliness and routine maintenance.

The things to control ant infestation are much the same as you would do to naturally control cockroaches. Clean counter tops, tightly seal food into secure containers, don’t leave dirty dishes in sinks, use strong garbage bags, empty trash every night, don’t eat anywhere except in dining areas,  mop floors, and vacuum carpets frequently. Just use common sense to avoid enticing sugar ants or any of their little, tiny black ant cousins.

Natural and Organic Ant Repellents

There are many natural and organic elements that will repel sugar ants. Some will even kill them upon contact. These can be used both inside and outside near spots that ants travel. An added benefit of many organics is a nice aroma.

Cloves. Ants, like many insects do not like the smell of cloves. Crush the cloves or use them whole. Squeeze them into crevices in baseboards and along ant travel patterns under cabinets, sinks, and under counter tops. If you have sliding windows, put them near the drainage slots in the sliding tracks and where screens insert.

Bay Leaves. They perform similarly to cloves. Being thin, they slip easily into very thin cracks around windows and under counters. Wrap some bay leaves in cheese cloth, tie the ends and place them in drawers and on pantry shelves.

Crushed Mint Leaves and Ground Cinnamon. These repel ants very well. The crushed consistency makes it easy to apply in many places. Spread along ant travel routes or where they are likely to enter the home. Cinnamon can be “dusted” into small cracks and crevices.

Diluted White Vinegar. Vinegar is repulsive to ants. Mix one-to-one water and white vinegar and wipe down counters including tops, bottoms and edges. Besides being an ant repellent, white vinegar is a great cleaning agent to remove food residue that ordinarily may not be seen.

Oil of Clove or Camphor Oil. Using a cloth, wipe the oils on areas where ants can easily enter the home such as around window sills and bottoms of doors. It will stop ants from using those entrances. Repeat this process every few weeks.

Garbage Disposals Must Be Kept Clean. Rotting food will attract ants. Keep them clear. Throw over-ripened citrus and citrus peels into disposals, particularly lemons. Pour a little bleach into garbage disposals every few days. Ants deposit pheromones, a scent that other ants will follow. Bleach will break-down those pheromones that leave a scent trail that ants follow to food sources.

Natural Ways of Controlling Sugar Ants Outside

Sugar ants will nest inside. The best way to prevent infestation in the house is to stop them from making their way inside by creating a perimeter barrier. If you want to avoid using toxic chemicals to stop ants from getting inside, there are organic natural ways to get rid of those pesky tiny ants.

Used Coffee Grounds. Coffee grounds naturally repel ants. Rather than dumping grounds into the trash, put them to use. Spread them in the soil around the foundation, particularly in areas under windows near the kitchen. Sprinkle coffee grounds along ant trails that you’ve noticed and under bushes. There’s an added benefit. Generally, cats do not like the smell of coffee grounds and will avoid using those areas as a bathroom.

Mint Plants. Ants will avoid areas where mint grows. Mint spreads rather quickly, so planting them directly in the soil in areas where ants are likely to nest will generally repel them. Mint will also repel some other types insects. Chili Pepper plants will accomplish the same affect as mint. Termites will also avoid areas where Chili plants exist.

Build A Moat of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. Make sure you use FOOD GRADE DE which is safe, non-toxic and actually exists in nature. DE is used as a food preservative and even exists in cake mix. It is also incorporated into toothpaste as an abrasive agent. Do not use Pool Filter Grade DE.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is sold in a talc-like powder. DE contains microscopic silica. The tiny silica in DE cuts through the lipid layer coating of the exoskeleton of ants creating microscopic lacerations which causes ants to die of dehydration. DE also kills other insects in the same manner such as cockroaches, ticks, mites, termites and bed bugs.

Spread food grade diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the home or building extending a few feet from the foundation. Put a ring of DE around ant hills. Follow the trail of ants to where they may be entering the home and sprinkle the DE along that trail.

You can also “dust” cracks and crevices that ants may use to enter the structure.  When ants walk through the DE, they take it back to the nest to infect other ants in the colony, therefore potentially killing the entire nest. NOTE: even though DE is non-toxic, avoid breathing the powder.