Hey folks, back again for some more Essential Oil action and life-saving guides?
It’s always nice to see some of our favorite guests and repeat offenders back here for the latest segment. That means so much to me and that my previous article and sound advice worked just as expected in curing those stubborn ailments.
Today, you’re here because you’ve got a few tireless, bothersome and efficient guests that just won’t leave for nothing; and I don’t mean your in-laws (out-laws as some would call them)…I’ll be looking at what is hands-down one of the smallest and seemingly harmless pests with the ability to wreak incredible havoc on your body, your family, your home and your entire neighborhood.
What am I talking about? It could only be the largest, most diverse, most resilient and all-out don’t care army in the entire Milky Way – ANTS!!!
What Are Ants?
Now, you may know what ants are, but there’s a child somewhere googling ants for the first time and as always, Olivia’s here for everyone. Ants are incredibly social insects of the family Formicidae that resemble thin, wingless wasps or bees.
They can be easily identified by their elbowed antennae and highly distinctive nodular structures that make up a slender waist and a bulging abdomen. With over 22,000 different species of ants, a single colony could be hosting hundreds to millions to billions when several colonies combine.
I don’t think you guys understand just how widespread and organized ants are. These little fellas thrive in almost all ecosystems and make up well over 20 percent of all terrestrial animal biomass. And all this success can be attributed to their 1. ability to adapt, 2. social organization, 3. smart use of available resources and 4. an array of defense mechanisms.
Apart from Antarctica and some remote, inhospitable islands that lack indigenous species, ants have literally colonized every landmass on the planet. So if you’re dealing with an infestation, suffice to say that it was only a matter of time till they found their way to your compound and into your home. Now, I’m sure most of you consider ants to be ideally harmless. So, why would you want to get rid of them in the first place? I mean, can’t we live and let live?
Why Should You Get Rid Of Ants?
Great question guys! As an animal lover, I would never condone unnecessary harm of any life whatsoever. Most ant species are quite harmless, especially when compared to pests like fleas and lice.
As a matter of fact, some ants are actually beneficial and highly useful to humans such as in the case of soil aeration and biological control of other pests. Other parts of the world such as South America and Africa use large army ants as effective surgical sutures by getting the ants to bite down and clamp the wound together, then cutting off the bodies so the mandibles remain in place.
Similarly, ants and their larvae are also used as food in different parts of the world. Mexican and Indian dishes consider certain ant larvae a form of insect caviar that can sell for as high as $4 per pound. And let’s not forget the hours of endless fun that ant farms bring us. So you see, some species of ants are nothing but helpful and full of benefits.
But if you’re not interested in using ants for any of the above purposes, then chances are that you’re dealing with one-soon-to-be-massive ant infestation. Most of the ant species that occur in or near human habitations can be considered as pests since their presence is often problematic.
Some of these species include the banded sugar ant, yellow crazy ant, Argentine ant, Pharaoh ant, carpenter ants, red imported fire ant, odorous house ant, and European fire ant. Some of these ants will raid and steal stored food, damage agricultural crops, and gardens, wreak havoc on indoor structures and even sting or bite all inhabitants. What’s more, the adaptive nature of ants makes it extremely difficult to eliminate entire colonies.
So you see why it’s of the utmost importance to get rid of ants at the first sighting, don’t you? But before we get to all the different approaches for eliminating and repelling this six legged army from hell, just how do you know that you’ve got ants?
Signs Of An Ant Infestation
Did you know that for every single human on earth, there are about a million ants? Just a quick fact for you there! And when these ants are looking for food or shelter, they’re not particularly picky about where they find it. They’ll search through houses, warehouses, restaurants, skyscrapers, and any other building or compound. Now, they may look tiny, but ants can carry loads that are multiple times their body weight. So if they raid your pantry, you’re going to feel it. But before you get a million strong in your house, there are a few signs that an infestation is quickly approaching.
1. Live Insects
This is without question the first sign of an ant infestation. Like humans and a myriad of other animals, ants send scouts out get a lay of the land and report back if there are resources to be plundered. So before things get out of hand, you’re likely to see a few ants scattering around your kitchen counter or pantry. Depending on the species, they’ll either be brown, red or black with three segmented body parts. They’ll be typically found in areas where you prepare food.
2. Ant Pathways
If you didn’t do something about the first few stragglers scouting your kitchen, then this will be most likely the next sign of an infestation. You’ll see long pathways and highways of ants going in and out of your house or other premises. This means that the ants have already laid down a pheromone for all their friends to trace the food source. So even if you wipe out entire pathways, the pheromone trail will still be wide open for business.
3. Wood Shavings
If you notice any wood shavings around most of your wood furniture and items, then you’ve either got termites or the widely revered carpenter ants. Not only do these insects make some faint rustling noises as they work on your home, but they also burrow deep into the wood making it almost impossible to get rid of them. Later on, the ants may emerge from the woodwork as winged insects.
4. Ant Nest
By the time you’re noticing an ant nest inside your home or around the compound, then it goes without saying that you’re already neighbors and roommates with a massive ant colony. A nest site can look like a tiny pile of dirt or a huge lump of soil with a hole at the top. Other ants make their nest in walls, ceilings, and other dark, quiet places that are impossible to spot.
Causes Of An Ant Infestation
What if I told y’all that you were the direct and indirect cause of an ant infestation in your home or premises? Consider yourself told. Sure, ants can move into your home to eke out a living and get protection from predators.
Similarly, your home might have just been too close to where a new queen decided to set up shop. However, you can be damn sure that the ants scouted a plethora of areas before settling on yours. So why’s that? Well, there could be more than a few reasons.
1. Inviting Landscape
Like all animals, ants also have specific conditions that they find predominantly inviting. This includes food accessibility, moisture, and adequate shelter. So if your landscaping provides this proverbial welcome mat, the ants might just enter the house on a whim. Landscapes that seem irresistible to ants include those with vegetable gardens close to the house. Ants use vegetation for food, water, and shelter as well.
2. Improper Food Storage
If a hungry ant detects any new food source, it is obligated to seek it out and report back. Since most ants are really good at this job, they will detect food with extreme efficiency. Sugary foods seem to carry the strongest scent for ants and they will seek it out if they get a whiff. The worst thing you could do is leave food out in the open. Try to store it in high cabinets, sealable plastic containers, and fridges.
3. Dirty Kitchen
Being the one place in the entire house that you prepare food, you can imagine how delicious the kitchen smells to nearby ants. So if you don’t clean the counters properly and mop up after cooking, then you can bet it’s only an issue of time until you have uninvited guests. Similarly, allowing dirty dishes to pile up and keeping garbage in the house will attract ants roaches and all sorts of pests.
Preventing, Eliminating And Repelling Ants For Good
When it comes to killing or repelling ants, it’s always advisable to move from the simplest, cheapest and least harmful approach to more taxing and harmful approaches. Not only is this better for your health and well-being but also kinder to your home and environment too.
Usually, the first instinct most people have is to pick up a fogger and douse the entire house with chemicals. I really don’t advocate for the use of toxins to get rid of any pest in your home. After all, why go for such hazardous measures when there are simple, more effective, and all-natural solutions?
If the ants have not made it inside your home or premises, then you’ll want to start with preventative measures. But if they’ve already made it in, then elimination and continued deterrence will work just fine. I’ll start with some of the most effective ant killers and repellents before moving on to some home remedies that you can try.
Essential Oils For Repelling And Eliminating Ants
As you already know, commercial bug sprays are packed with toxins and harmful chemicals. This means that they are not an option for households with children, pets, and people with allergies and respiratory issues. Similarly, leaving your home to be fumigated can be quite an inconvenience.
This is where essential oils come in to save the day. Not only do they offer a convenient and efficient way to get rid of ants and other bugs, but they also do it safely and without endangering the health of the inhabitants. Some of these oils contain incredibly potent antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties that help repel ants while others contain botanical scents that wipe out ant scent trails.
There are literally hundreds of oils that can be used to keep your home clean, kill and repel ants, but I only chose the best and also included a few recipes to put these oils to good use.
6 Best Essential Oils For Ants
1. Tea Tree Essential Oil
When it comes to ants, Tea Tree essential oil is one of the most effective oils for controlling and repelling these little suckers. This miracle oil contains terpinene and cineole which are both used in some insecticides. But apart from its killing properties, Tea Tree oil contains antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, insecticide and sudorific properties. This means that it will not only help repel ants, but can also be used to alleviate any biting and itching from ant bites.
2. Lemon or Orange Essential Oils
Typically, most citrus oils contain a substance known as d-limonene which is highly toxic to ants and some other insects. So not only does this make Lemon essential oil a natural ant repellent, but it also allows you to kill any ants on sight. Similarly, orange or lemon oil contains unrivalled anti-septic and detoxing qualities that make it the ideal oil to clean the house, kitchen, and utensils. And as the final piece de resistance, citrus oils contain incredibly potent sweet smells that completely wipe out any leftover pheromone scent trails.
3. Cedar Essential Oil
According to a recent study done back in 2014, researchers looked into the potentially insecticidal benefits of cedarwood. Turns out that even the wood itself is enough to significantly repel even the widely feared red fire ants. But apart from these repelling benefits, cedarood essential oil has been found to kill ants right there and then. However, cedar oil is quite potent and should be used in moderation, especially for those going for a body repellent as opposed to an insecticidal spray.
4. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
If you’ve ever used Eucalyptus extracts, then you know that they are some of the best substances to use for bugs, pests, and other insects. Thanks to the oil’s antiseptic, diuretic, detoxing, cicatrizant and insecticide properties, Eucalyptus essential oil makes for an ideal weapon against this six-legged army from hell. Spraying the oil directly on ants will kill them, but it works better if you use the oil as a repellent on both your home and yourself. However, do keep Eucalyptus oil away from young kids.
5. Lavender Essential Oil
I’ve said it time and time again; there’s always a good reason for any oil collector worth his salt to keep a dozen or so bottles in their med cabinet. Packed with anti-inflammatory, antiviral, bactericide, sedative and nerving properties, Lavender essential oil is quite the powerful ant repellant. Similarly, this oil contains a throng of components that actively prevent ant larvae from hatching when used directly on their nests. What’s more, the sweet scent of lavender is more than enough remedy for odorous ants.
6. Peppermint Essential Oil
Now, peppermint plays a very vital role in dealing with certain aspects of ants. These include ant trails and ant bites. The menthol compound in peppermint is great for clearing even the largest pheromone ant trails while also disinfecting your home. Secondly, the anti-inflammatory, antifungal, cooling and sedative properties found in peppermint makes it the best oil for treating ant bites and stings.
You can get most of the above essential oils in an organic version in the L’orpur Set and you get a complimentary carry bag to store them in.
4 Simple DIY Essential Oil Recipes For Ants
Recipe 1: Essential Oil Ant Away Spray
- 16 drops Peppermint EO
- 12 drops Tea Tree EO
- 10 drops Lemon or Orange EO
- Half cup purified water
- Quarter cup vodka (get the cheapest one you can)
Mix all the oils thoroughly in a dark colored glass spray bottle and top up with the purified water and vodka. Shake the bottle well and spray around baseboards, kitchen counters, ant entry points and just about anywhere you can see ants.
Recipe 2: Peppermint Hazel Ant Repellent
- 25 drops Peppermint EO
- 2 Tablespoons of Witch Hazel
- Glass Spray Bottle with distilled water (8oz)
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and shake the spray bottle well. Spray around the insides of doors, windows, and other entry points. You can also use this spray as a topical mister.
Recipe 3: Citrus Kitchen Cleaner For Ants
- 25 drops Lemon EO
- 20 drops Orange EO
- 15 drops Eucalyptus EO
- Warm water
- 16 oz. glass spray bottle
Combine all the above ingredients in warm water and mix thoroughly. The citrus oils will act as antiseptics while the eucalyptus helps wipe out any pheromone scents that could lead to trails. Use as a spray or as water for washing kitchen countertops and utensils.
Recipe 4: Concentrated Essential Oil Pantry Guard
- 5 drops Tea Tree EO
- 5 drops Peppermint EO
- 5 drops Cedar EO
- Cotton Balls
Place all the concentrated essential oils on a large cotton ball or small piece of cloth and use it to wipe down entry points, shelves and any area with ants. Likewise, you can also leave a few cotton balls drenched with the essential oils in the pantry, cabinets, kitchen shelves and other areas with food.
7 Home Remedies For Ants
If you’ve just woken up only to be greeted by an army of invading guests, then you’ll want to eliminate them immediately. So if you don’t have some lifesaving essential oils handy and definitely don’t want to use toxic, commercial insecticides, then there are a few home remedies that will work just as well. However, they may be a little messier and less effective compared to essential oils. They include:
Vinegar, especially white is an incredibly strong natural ant deterrent that works immediately. Most insects cannot stand the potent smell of vinegar and will quickly run away from it. Likewise, vinegar disrupts the scent trails that ants leave behind and ensures that they can’t find their way back into your premises.
2. Baking Soda
Here’s one of our favorite natural household products that seems to treat so many of life’s little grievances. But while we love the stuff, baking soda wreaks havoc on ants by completely disrupting their natural chemistry. By mixing a bit of powder with sugar, you’ll be able to create an irresistible trap that ants can take back to their nest, eat it and rapidly dwindle in numbers.
Much like baking soda, cornmeal is among the most efficient ant pesticides on this list. While the ants can eat the cornmeal, they won’t be able to digest it which eventually kills them off. But while effective in the long run, this method really takes a lot of time and can take up a substantial amount of cornmeal.
Here’s where you literally draw the line between you and the ant trail. As silly as it may seem, ants will not cross a chalk line. It turns out that chalk disrupts the ant’s pheromone trail as well as any other scent markings. Drawing lines around the entry points and near food sources might work, but pouring lines of grounded chalk powder works best.
5. Adhesive Tape
Are you tired of seeing trails and trails of ants moving in and out of your kitchen or pantry? What if I told you that you could create a most around virtually anything by surrounding it with adhesive tape? Simply position the sticky side up and watch as some ants get stuck while others tuck tail and run away.
6. Diatomaceous Earth
If you have diatomaceous soil in your home, then you’ve got all the weapons you need to brutally murder ants and other bugs. This off-white talc like powder comprises of fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on ants and their trails, the earth compromises and dissolves the waxy coating and gradually causes them to dehydrate and dry out.
7. Boiling Water
If you’ve tried all the above measures without any reprieve, it might be time to try a direct attack on the colony. If you can find the ants nest, simply bring some water to a boil and pour it all over and in the mound. Although you’ll have to repeat the process a few times, adding essential oils or other natural insecticides might help make this method more efficient.
There you have it my loyal readers; everything you need to know about ants and all the wonderful ways that you can use to get rid of them. While it’s normal to dismiss just two or three ants walking about, those could be the first few scouts having a look. So make sure you have your oils and other remedies at the ready.
And if you do manage to get rid of the ants, don’t forget to seal up any openings in your home and close up compromise spots in your yard. I wish you all the best as you try to make your home bug, insect and ant free.