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DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Anyone know a humane way to get rid of tiny ants?

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11205 points ) April 1st, 2011

My house is being overrun with small ants. I have tried all the natural ways I know…peppermint, cinnamon, cayenne pepper to deter them. Nothing. I have tried carrying them out….and putting them outside one at a time. (Time-consuming, if you can catch them.) I don’t have a messy, crumb-filled house, either. I clean things up after I cook. I noticed them coming inside now that it is getting warmer and with the arrival of spring.

Anyone know of a humane way to trap them and set them free? Or any way to just get rid of them (without resorting to spraying them with insecticide?) Or does anyone know of a product that is non-pesticidal that could do this?

Thank you!

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32 Answers

josie's avatar

What is wrong with killing the little pests?

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
marinelife's avatar

Here is a list of the top 21 ways to get rid of ants naturally. Some of the methods it suggests that you did not mention trying:

1. Spray ants with soapy water from a squirt bottle.
2. Place cucumber (especially bitter cucumber) across their entry point and they wil not cross it.
3.cayenne pepper or citrus oil at the pint of entry.

syz's avatar

You could always add a new pet to the household. They’re considered good luck to have in your house in Asia.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’m sorry to say, that though I try always to be as humane as is possible, once in your home, tiny ants are best killed. Why? These are the scout ants. Once they find any sort of food source, they get back up so they can carry the food back to the colony. Once that happens, the rest of the ants just keep coming.

Your best bet if you don’t want to kill inside is to use Terro outside.

And even better is for you to do both outside & inside treatment. Here is the Terro we use inside.

We usually only have to treat for about a week. It seems as though once the weather heats up, they look for their food sources in our home…then I treat…then they remain outside.

You can also use boric acid at all of your entries/windowsills outdoors to make certain outdoor bugs remain outdoors.

Sunshine1245_1190's avatar

Sweep them up into a dust pan and then take them outside, after that mop up the area they come in with clorox/bleach water or something where they dont get the scent they can in for in the first place.

auntydeb's avatar

Honestly and actually, you only have to ask them. Take a few minutes to observe one or more of them as closely as you can. Tiddle about with a bit of stick, divert one of them, look closely, see how they move about; generally pay as much attention as you can – like a child would.

Take a deep breath and whisper something like ‘hey guys’, or ‘excuse me ant’, depending on your preferred mode of speech… Then politely ask them to move on. As you do so, think about the foods they prefer, imagine them finding it elsewhere. Tell them you think they are beautiful, wonderful, whatever you think of them that is positive, but that they won’t find food in your home so they will die. They would be better off elsewhere and you wish them well. Make sure you do this absolutely seriously… Or repeat it a few times until you can! I can’t make a promise that it will work, but it does hereabouts. Really.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@auntydeb: Really? I’ve always found talking to insects to be a massive waste of time.

@DarlingRhadamanthus: it’s lovely that you don’t want to hurt individual ants. However, ants are a a paradigmatic social organism, in my opinion, so by killing the scouts, you aren’t really killing individuals, you’re putting an effectively immortal bastard off eating your stuff.

auntydeb's avatar

@the100thmonkey – yes. Something to do with tuning in to their morphic fields and making a definite suggestion that they move on. Not just ‘talking to them’, actively asking them to shove off, but politely. Works with greenfly, bees, wasps…

Rarebear's avatar

Ants don’t have much of a nervous system, and most of them are foreign invaders anyway. Kill them with poison. Be merciless.

Meredith's avatar

Someone said to me once that ants tend to come into the house more when it’s hot and dry outside. Said they were ‘looking for water’. (This was when I was living in Queensland, Australia). Do you have a garden anywhere near where they’re coming in from? Maybe you could make a point of watering it more often during warmer/dryer times.

bunnygrl's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus <hugs> I love you for not wanting to harm the little things. I couldn’t bear the idea either. I had ants coming into the kitchen, and like you, I keep a clean house, too clean I’ve been told but i’m a neat freak, and there are worse things I could do with my time I suppose lol. Anyhoo an elderly neighbour suggested I find out how they are coming in, which we knew, then she said lay a thick unbroken line of unperfumed, talcum powder, every few days vacum up and replace. They won’t cross it. I did it, only had Johnson’s baby talc in the house so used that, and I haven’t had them back since, and that was over 3 years ago now. Best part is it doesn’t hurt them, they just don’t like it is all.
huggles honey for being the lovely person I knew you were xx

RocketGuy's avatar

Resistance is Futile. Your food will be assimilated. (I am convinced that the creators of the Borg had serious ant problems.)

The best way I have heard to get rid of them is to set up a compost bin near their nest. It’s like setting up a Las Vegas buffet at their doorstep. My boss had a similar ant problem, which went away overnight as soon as he set up his compost bin. And all he wanted to do was make compost for his garden.

sakura's avatar

I can’t think of any natural ways of solving your problem I’m afraid, but you did ask for non pesticide solutions too… so here goes…

Watch where they travel in and out of the house..fill a kettle with boling water and pour over the area out side with a small amount of bleach… do this 1st thing in the morning mid day and last thing at night… this got rid of the ants in my kitchen and garden…I didn’t see any again for the following tens years I lived there… but my neighbours suddenly got an infestation ooops!!

KateTheGreat's avatar

Kill them. There are 1 million ants for every human on Earth, so it’ll be quite alright.

FluffyChicken's avatar

if these are tiny dark brown ants, they are probably Argentinian ants. Unless you live in Argentina, these are an invasive species that is responsible for the population reduction, of their larger native cousins, and other non-ant species. they are upsetting the ecosystems that we’ve accidentally introduced them into and several lizard species are also dying as a result of having their food source (the larger ants) reduced. If you think they are Argentinian ants, please kill them with soapy water. Don’t use ant poison because they just lay more eggs if you do.

auntydeb's avatar

Ants were here long before humans. They know the old ways. Treat ‘em with respect I say. Just ask nicely, they’ll go.

Plone3000's avatar

Squish um, it’s natural and fast. No chemicals.

FluffyChicken's avatar

@auntydeb Ants were in their native habitats before humans. We’ve moved them around, and they don’t belong in the places we’ve transported them to. Find out if it’s a native species, and if not, kill. If so, make friends with it and ask it to play outside. :)

MissAusten's avatar

We get the same problem, and with kids around the house I avoid any kind of chemical spray. What I usually do is buy a few Ant Bait thingies to place wherever I see the ants most often. In our house, the ants seem to come from someplace near the couch so the bait goes under the living room furniture. The ants collect it, take it home, and it kills them all.

Not very humane, but effective.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Have you tried diatomaceous earth?

lemming's avatar

Your obviously very kind, but I think if an intruder (in insect form) comes into your home you have a right to kill them. That’s like not taking anti-biotics because you don’t want to kill the bacteria. Go on, be bad…you can do it ;)

Nullo's avatar

Kill the things. They sell little ant-motel poison dispensers that you can put where they’ll find them – preferably out of the reach of any pets – that will fix the problem. Unlike flour, cayenne, peppermint, and the rest, it was actually made for the job.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t like using poisons or killing things but when they invade my house and bite me, it is war. They started it but I will finish it. I buy some stuff from the asian grocery store, looks like bread crumbs and comes in a little box, there are 4 0r 5 tubes of the stuff. You just put a tiny bit out, the little buggers haul it back to their nest (somewhere in the bowels of MY house) and eat it and it wipes out the entire colony. If they stay out of my house, I will avoid walking on them or disturbing them in any way.

auntydeb's avatar

@FluffyChicken – true enough, but we too are part of the processes of evolution. When we move species, if they interact with native ones, that too is part of the selection process. We aren’t yet geared up to predict the outcomes of such hybridisation, the Uber Super-Ant of science fiction may yet catch us out… All the more reason to be nice to them I say. And, @incendiary_dan‘s suggestion of diatomaceous earth might be worth a go. It is a natural repellent.

This attitude of ‘kill them, kill them…’ is not helpful. There may be plenty of ants, they can certainly be a nuisance, but we do not have more ‘rights’ than them. Sorry, but care and respect will get us further than slash and burn. I don’t just believe, I know.

FluffyChicken's avatar

@auntydeb I can’t see introducing and allowing an invasive species to destroy an already established habitat as careful or respectful.

Oh! and I forgot about diatomacous earth. that stuff is rad, but if you have pets, make sure they don’t get into it. it can cause lung problems if they breathe it. The way it works is by being very sharp on a very tiny scale. if it gets on the insect’s exoskeleton it shreds it to ribbons. Since insects breathe through their thorax and abdomen, they suffocate. In the case of ants, they see it coming and know to stay out of that area and then find another entrance. to us it just feels like powder. comet works the same way, except it’s toxic.

rooeytoo's avatar

When they invade, I kill. Surface spray works on the visible ones just not the hidden relatives.

josie's avatar

I don’t crawl into their space, they should stay out of mine. Kill em. Kill em all.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@rooeytoo – what’s the product?

rooeytoo's avatar

@the100thmonkey – If you mean the little crumbs they carry back to their nests, I am embarrassed to say I am traveling at the moment and can’t tell you the name. I think it is in Chinese on the packaging. I can only describe a small box, about the size of a pack of matches has 4 little green vials inside. It really does work well. If there is an Asian grocery near you, look there, they all seem to have it. I have a brain like a sieve so if you can’t find it, pm me next week when I am home and I will get you the name.

auntydeb's avatar

Nippon, that’s what it’s called in Britain, and it works.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Holy Toledo!!! I cannot believe the number of responses! I had not checked…..I will get to reading all of them and responding later…....promise! And thank you!

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