Ask LH: How Can I Get Rid Of These Ants?

Ask LH: How Can I Get Rid Of These Ants?

Dear Lifehacker, We’ve been having an ant problem. For a couple of months, we’ve been spraying the blighters, creating a perimeter around the house with ant-sand and laying bait traps. Nothing’s worked so far. Do you have any non-conventional solutions before we call an exterminator? Thanks, Anti-Ant

Ant picture from Shutterstock

Dear AA,

Have you tried nuking the infestation from its source? It sounds like you’re engaging in a war of attrition at the perimeter of your home when you need to be targeting the nest or colony: the enemy ‘spawn point’, if you will.

The whereabouts of the nest will depend on the ant species you’re dealing with — try following the ants as they retreat with food scraps to see where they end up. It could be a hole in your outer wall, a stack of garden mulch or a crack in the pavement. If you manage to locate the nest, pour a few litres of boiling water into it to end the problem.

However, you should really only do this as a last resort: eradicating an entire ant nest it isn’t particularly friendly to the environment (not to mention the ants) and may also affect the ecology of your garden.

For a more humane approach, you could try using natural repellents, like cucumber. Apparently, cucumber is anathema to ants who avoid the fruit at all costs — place a few sliced discs near floorboard cracks, under doors and any other suspected entry points. Other natural repellents include garlic powder, peppermint oil and ground pepper.


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  • The real question is why the person wants to be rid of the ants.We share our environment with ants and they serve a purpose. Mostly they are pretty harmless and the desire to control and conquer everything in our world can only lead to grief.
    Try ignoring them for 3 months!

    • @charleskane
      Hey charleskane. This article was a response to my question. The reason we want to get rid of them is because they’ve been getting into our pantry and ruining our food, and (even more worryingly) getting inside our computers. I’ve lived with ants, (and cockroaches and even rats) before but this is a proper infestation.

    • Ants are filthy, germ breeding creatures – they eat poo and dead animal carcasses. And then they see fit to infiltrate my kitchen and eating areas. I’d prefer not to let them near where my children dine.

  • 2 cups sugar, 1 cup hot/warm water, 2 tablespoons of Borax. Mix it all together, dip in a cotton ball and put where the ants are. They will eat it and take it back to the nest. Might take a day or two, but it will work. I have used this myself and can confirm it works. You can buy Borax in the cleaning product area at Bunnings.

    • +1 for the borax formula. I put the mixture in used milk bottle lids and space them every 20 meters or so. I went thermonuclear and did the entire block (it’s a small block, no Neighbour behind me). Haven’t seen the blighters for a few years 🙂

  • Singapore ants are in some places of Australia – they are small and brownish red and like linen closets and electrical circuits. I had to replace a fusebox in a falcon from ants infesting it. Also they bite like all bejesus. A granular poison suitable for these ants is called Amdro. Normally i’ld lurk but when you mentioned computers it could be this species since they have something for wires.

  • Quick fix is a bayleef pack in the Kitchen. Place one on an entry point and they generally refrain from coming back through it. They may linger for a couple of minutes but it tends to keep them away (you also got to get rid of the ones already through the entry point…)

  • Try ant raid liquid form. I had a sudden infestation and the next day they were gone! Once you put the liquid onto the floor, you’ll see heaps of them coming to drink it but leave them. The next day, they’ll all be dead.

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