Homemade ant deterrents and poisons (natural, of course)

By Cat, June 12, 2016; updated June 25, 2017

Every spring I get an ant invasion. Most of the time it is those tiny black “sugar” ants. I usually find them in the cabinet under my sink, and don’t have a clue how they came inside, but they like the moisture under the sink. They are usually gone on their own by summer’s heat wave (after July 4), so I don’t go out of my way to kill them, other than to put a couple ant traps under the sink.

But this year it is carpenter ants (medium size ants with red middle segment), and they have me concerned.  I think they came from an old piece of wood for my wood stove that I left on my front porch through most of the winter.  See Wiki How for a great article on carpenter ants, with pictures (2).

See below for several homemade options for dealing with ants

See also: 1. Cleaning and Pest Control Menu;


2016: I’ve been thinking about calling an exterminator, but today I found a good article on Wellness Mama’s website (1) about getting rid of ants, so I might try her suggestions – in addition to the exterminator. Specifically I’ll try:

  • 50/50 mix of borax and corn syrup on an index card to eliminate the colony; and
  • spray 50/50 vinegar water around my front door entrance (near where that piece of wood was) to deter them from entering.

2017 update: Last year the homemade options and commercial extermination did the trick, but I do see evidence of carpenter ants trying to return this spring, as the exterminator predicted. Today, Dr. Mercola has a great article on ants (3) and offers several homemade options (see his article for details:

  • Scents: live mint plants; cayenne pepper, lemon water and cinnamon; bay leaves, apple cider vinegar and whole cloves;
  • Diatomaceous earth;
  • A homemade ant bait recipe using sugar and borax; I’ve copied his recipe below.

Mercola’s Homemade Ant Bait Recipe

This recipe is copied from Mercola’s blog (3). It is similar to that recommended by Wellness Mama (1). However, he recommends adding the artificial sweetener, aspartame, to the mix because one of its ingredients – aspartic acid – is “a well-documented excitotoxin that causes specific brain cells to become excessively excited to the point they quickly die.”

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar or aspartame, or a mix of each
  • 3 Tbsp Borax
  • Saucepan
  • Paper towel or cotton balls


  1. Warm 1 cup of water slightly in a saucepan; mix in sugar/aspartame and 3 borax.
  2. Soak the mixture into the cotton balls or paper towels.
  3. Place these in shallow dishes near where you’ve seen the ants.
  4. Do NOT kill the ants you do see. The objective is for the ants to eat from the cotton ball or paper towel and carry the product back to the nest where the borax will disrupt the entire colony.


  1. Wellness Mama: How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally (wellnessmama.com/121184/get-rid-of-ants)
  2. Wiki How: How to Kill Carpenter Ants (wikihow.com/Kill-Carpenter-Ants)
  3. Dr. Mercola: Homemade Ant Bait — Less Toxic and More Effective

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