Human beings share the world with many other animal species, including ants. However, if ants make their way into a person’s home, they can sometimes cause health problems.

In this article, we list 10 ways of getting rid of invasive ants. We also provide some information about the potential health effects of ants.

Ants gather against a wall and floor tile.Share on Pinterest
Image credit: jmalov/Getty Images

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are many ways to get rid of ants. Here is a list of 10 tips and tricks that people can try.

1. Glass cleaner and liquid detergent

When an ant is roaming about, it can leave a pheromone trail. This trail allows other ants to move along the same route and to find their way back to the colony. Disrupting this pheromone trail is, therefore, incredibly disruptive to the ants.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that spraying a mixture of liquid detergent and glass cleaner onto the ants’ usual route can remove the trail effectively.

Some people have also claimed that hand soap alone can have the same effect.

2. Natural oils

Some people have observed that certain natural oils can help get rid of ants. These oils include:

  • tea tree oil
  • lemon eucalyptus oil
  • neem oil
  • peppermint essential oil
  • cinnamon leaf essential oil

To use this trick, people should add a few drops of natural oil to a liter of water and mix them in.

Some scientific research backs up this technique. For example, one study has found that cinnamon leaf oil is effective against red fire ants.

3. Pepper

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that black and red pepper repels ants. People can sprinkle this pepper along the ants’ usual routes and around the insects’ entry points into the home.

4. White vinegar

Many people have reported that white vinegar is an effective ant repellent. People can spray white vinegar either onto the affected surfaces or onto the ants themselves, which it kills.

Alternatively, an individual may wish to use a solution of one part white vinegar to one part water. This diluted solution has a less powerful odor than white vinegar alone.

5. Cornstarch

If someone’s home has become overrun with ants, they may wish to pour cornstarch over them. This technique is especially effective if the ant colony is based there.

Pouring cornstarch over the ants immobilizes them, which can make their removal easier.

6. Coffee grounds

Anecdotal evidence suggests that grounds from brewed coffee can act as an ant repellent. People can place the coffee grounds near the ants’ entry points into the home.

7. Boric acid

Scientific research has shown that exposing ants to boric acid can destroy an entire colony within a few weeks. This trick involves creating a food source for the ants and lacing it with boric acid.

For instance, an individual can dissolve 8 teaspoons of sugar and one-half of a teaspoon of boric acid into 1 cup of warm water. They can then saturate cotton balls with this solution and place them near the ants’ usual routes.

8. Boiling water

Ants live in large colonies. If a person has located an ant hole, they can kill large numbers of ants instantly by pouring boiling water into the hole.

9. Removing food

Ants are often drawn to a person’s home because they can detect easily accessible sources of food there. Crumbs and other food residues that are easy pickings for ants can accumulate in a person’s home.

Keeping the home clean and tidy can make it less likely that ants will try to enter it. Areas to pay particular attention to include the kitchen, especially near the trash.

10. Pesticides and artificial ant repellents

If all else fails, people can use pesticides and other non-natural ant repellents. These are readily available for purchase online and at home stores.

There are two main reasons why ants can have negative health effects.

The first is that some ant species can carry harmful substances, such as allergens and bacteria. The second is that some ant species are venomous.

However, it is important to remember that most ants are perfectly harmless. They are also an important part of the wider eco-system.

There is some evidence that the pharaoh ant can cause bronchial asthma and respiratory allergies. The pharaoh ant is a common species of house ant.

Both bronchial asthma and respiratory allergies can have serious health implications. The symptoms of asthma attacks include:

Some ant species can also carry bacteria. For example, scientists know that Monomorium ants carry several species of bacteria that are either definitely or potentially pathogenic. Pathogenic bacteria are those that can cause disease.

Other ant species are venomous, which means that they can inject venom into a person’s body.

One well-known species of venomous ant is the fire ant. Fire ants are native to South America, although they are also present in the United States.

In most cases, fire ant stings lead to fairly mild skin irritation, which often begins with a sharp burning or pinching sensation. After a while, an itching feeling will replace this sensation, possibly lasting for several days. A person’s skin may also become marked or blistered.

However, some people have reported more serious symptoms, such as hallucinations and other psychological symptoms, following multiple fire ant stings. Scientific analyses of fire ant venom suggest that this effect could be due to neurotoxins, which are toxins that affect the nervous system.

Additionally, some people may have a severe allergic reaction to fire ant stings. In some cases, anaphylaxis may result from these stings. The symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • confusion and dizziness
  • difficulty breathing
  • a swollen tongue or throat
  • loss of consciousness
  • shock

Severe asthma attacks and anaphylaxis are life threatening.

Anybody who suspects that they might have severe or long lasting symptoms should immediately seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

Although many ant species are not harmful, some can lead to unwanted health effects.

People looking to remove ants from their home can try some of the tips and tricks in this article.

Anyone who experiences severe or persistent symptoms following an ant sting should see a doctor.