20 Easy Methods for Getting Rid of Ants Outside Naturally 

Allegheny mound ants build the largest ant mounds
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Written by Priyanka Paul

Published: December 3, 2023

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With a staggering population of at least 20 quadrillion, ants are by far the most common insects on the planet today. They can be found almost everywhere and come in different shapes and sizes. While ants have the honor of being beneficial in the garden, they can sometimes be bothersome pests too. Find a few in your yard and it is quite likely that hundreds more will follow. They love the sweet sap of nectar-producing plants especially and will make a beeline for it.

If you find pesky ants invading your beautiful garden, one of the biggest problems you are going to encounter is damage to your plants and property. But it doesn’t stop at that! Ants pose health risks with their bites and stings too. So then, how do you get rid of ants? Here are some natural ant-repellent solutions that can take care of ants outside. But before we get to that, let’s try and understand why and when we need to defend our garden from ants.

Why Are There So Many Ants in My Garden? Will They Damage My Plants?

Ants running around in your garden, are not always a terrible thing. In fact, ants can be useful scavengers and pollinators. Their tunneling and burrowing activities can aerate and enrich the soil. With the exception of leaf-cutter ants, they also rarely cause any direct damage to your plants. Maybe not in the case of nut crops! They love feeding on nut meats and a sizable colony can cause significant damage to these crops.

Otherwise, ants only really pose a significant problem when they start protecting honeydew-producing aphids. Ants protect these leaf-feeding aphids, primarily because they secrete a sugar-rich liquid called honeydew. Large populations of aphids can stunt shoots and turn leaves yellow. Apart from that, the tunneling activity of ants can sometimes weaken root systems. Of course, if you have experienced the pain of an ant bite, there’s another reason you do not want them to stick around in your garden. But, as much as ants are a nuisance, banishing them from your garden or yard completely can trigger a dangerous imbalance. Repel rather than kill is probably the best way to manage these pests.

Easy and Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants Outside

1. Vinegar

white vinegar on the wooden table top

Vinegar is a natural all-purpose cleaner that can deter ants.

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If you are worried about ants in your garden, just reach for the bottle of vinegar in your kitchen cupboard. Ants despise vinegar and it helps remove their pheromone trails. Dilute white vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio and spray this natural ant spray on high-traffic areas. This will safely deter both outdoor and indoor ants.

2. Chalk

Sidewalk Chalk

Chalk is a handy remedy to take care of ants outside.

©Jeremy from Sydney, Australia / CC BY 2.0 – Original / License

If you know ants well, you would know that they rely on a scent left by their companions to find their way to specific food sources. This trail is made of natural chemicals called pheromones. One way you can deter ants is by using these pheromone trails to your advantage. Use chalk to draw over the ant’s trail. This will interfere with their ability to find their way back into your home or garden.

3. Cornmeal or Flour

Backgroung of dry cornmeal polenta from above.

A sprinkle of cornmeal or flour along the path of ants is a widely recommended natural solution to get rid of ants.

©etienne voss/iStock via Getty Images

There is a popular belief that when ants ingest cornmeal or flour, their stomachs will expand and explode. There are, however, no scientific studies to back up this ‘exploding phenomenon’. What you could do rather, is to mix an active insecticidal ingredient such as boric acid or diatomaceous earth with cornmeal and use it as a bait to attract ants.

4. Citrus Peel

The benefits of citrus peel. clean stainless steel. remove coffee stains. deodorize

Citrus Peels are an all-time favorite natural ant repellent.

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Ants dislike citrus. They are repelled by the acidic oil, d-Limonene found in the rind of citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruit. Peel the rind of any citrus fruit and scatter them in areas known to ants. This will prevent them from coming back. Alternatively, you can boil a few rings of orange and lemon in some water and spray this solution all along the outside of your house.

5. Dishwasher Liquid

A woman holding a bottle of dish detergent in her hand

A few drops of dishwasher soap can banish ants from your garden naturally.

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A soap solution is another natural ant repellant that you can easily make at home. Mix a teaspoon of liquid soap in a pint of water and spray this solution around ant-infested areas. The soapy solution will block the spiracles ( tiny holes located on the sides of ants’ bodies) and will suffocate them to death.

6. Borax

Borax

This is a time-tested remedy to get rid of ants.

©sulit.photos/Shutterstock.com

Borax is an age-old solution that can effectively get rid of ants outside. The powdery white substance which is a popular household cleaner is toxic to ants and can disrupt their digestive systems. To destroy ants using borax, simply combine some borax powder with sugar to create a gel-like solution and drop this directly into the ant’s nest.

7. Cinnamon

closeup saigon cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon is a classic DIY solution to take care of the pesky ants in your garden.

©iStock.com/Marat Musabirov

The varied uses of cinnamon never fail to impress. Here is yet another uncommon use for this versatile spice- it can apparently tackle your ant problem! It is believed that ants can’t stand the smell of cinnamon and they usually won’t crawl past an area sprinkled with the spice. 

8. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint essential oil in a small bottle. Selective focus. nature.

Peppermint oil is a natural fumigant that can repel ants effectively.

©Tatevosian Yana/Shutterstock.com

When your annual summer visitors invade your garden, peppermint oil is another natural ant repellent that can come in handy. The potent smell of peppermint oil can interfere with an ant’s ability to communicate by masking their trail pheromones.

9. Coffee Grounds

Throwing Away Used Coffee Ground

While the smell of coffee is probably irresistible to you, ants don’t particularly like the smell.

©Larisa Stefanuyk/iStock via Getty Images

Coffee grounds to get rid of ants outside is the genius solution most people swear by. No one quite knows how this works. But the big claim is that ants are repelled by the strong smell put out by coffee grounds.

10. Dried Mint Tea

Warm green tea on a wooden table.

Bury a few tea bags in your garden to keep ants at bay.

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A few sprigs of mint or some dried mint tea is an extremely effective ant-repelling tactic. Mint is considered a strong irritant that can cause ants to flee.

11. Diatomaceous Earth

food grade diatomaceous earth supplement - scoop of powder

Diatomaceous earth is a wonder ingredient that can get rid of ants outside naturally.

©marekuliasz/Shutterstock.com

The practice of applying diatomaceous earth as a natural ant repellant is thought to be incredibly effective. This natural pesticide sprinkled across your lawn will dehydrate ants and kill them.

12. Baking Soda

Ants

This staple ingredient may just be the solution for those stubborn ants is what most people claim.

©A-Z-Animals.com/

The Internet has mixed reviews about using baking soda as a non-toxic repellent for ants. Some articles claim that it works, while others dismiss it as a not-so-effective solution. Anecdotal evidence, however, indicates that it is in fact effective.

Mix equal parts of baking soda and powdered sugar and sprinkle them over ant mounds. The general claim is that, as ants ingest this homemade mixture, the baking soda will react with the chemicals in their stomach and cause them to rupture.

13. Salt

Table salt can effectively intercept ants.

©HandmadePictures/Shutterstock.com

Salt is another natural ant repellant that can help in destroying ant piles. While there is no concrete evidence, the common belief is that when ants ingest salt, it will draw all the moisture from their body and dehydrate them.

14. Cayenne Pepper

cayenne pepper spice

Something in the chemistry of cayenne pepper repels ants.

©iStock.com/Amarita

Cayenne pepper is a simple trick to wipe out the pheromone trails of ants. Generously sprinkle some cayenne pepper or black pepper around any ant hills that you see in your yard. While this won’t kill them, you probably won’t see them coming back,

15. Flower Pots

Pottery pots have the holes for drainage for planting trees in the market of Thailand

Come ant season and you want to keep some extra pots on hand.

©Zulashai/Shutterstock.com

Flower pots can seem like an odd remedy for ant infestations. But here’s how it works. Place the flower pot upside down over the anthill or ant mound and pour boiling water through the pot’s drain hole. The anthill will immediately cave in and kill any ants living inside.

16. Plastic Containers

Many clean plastic boxes for food packaging. Pile of disposable plastic containers for take away food.

Plastic containers filled with water are a tried and true trick to get rid of ants.

©Konektus Photo/Shutterstock.com

If you have some empty to-go boxes or plastic containers stacked up in your cupboard, now is the time to use them. Fill the containers with water and place them anywhere in your yard, where you see high ant activity. Ants trying to cross over will fall into the water and drown.

17. Sticky Tape

Set of black tapes on white background. Torn horizontal and different size black sticky tape, adhesive pieces.

A few strips of sticky tape can easily stamp out those annoying ants lingering around your trees and plants.

©OoddySmile Studio/Shutterstock.com

Who knew sticky tape could be a quick solution to your ant problems? If you’re tired of watching ants marching up your trees and shrubs, sticky tape or duct tape could be just the solution you need to eliminate these insects. Wrap the tree or plant ants typically feed on, with duct tape. Make sure you place the sticky side up. Ants don’t like walking across sticky surfaces; the duct tape adhesive will make them retract.

18. Talcum Powder

Talcum powder on black background

Making a natural ant deterrent with talcum powder is pretty straightforward.

©SewCreamStudio/Shutterstock.com

If there are ants plaguing your garden, baby powder or talcum powder is a natural ant repellant that you could consider. Most talcum powders contain some amount of cornstarch because it is especially useful in sucking up moisture. This means that a generous sprinkle of talcum powder could literally dry up ants.

19. Garlic

Closeup of Garlic bulbs on wooden table with garlics blur background.A set of fresh garlic on the chest wooden background.

Ants absolutely hate the smell of garlic!

©IURII BUKHTA/iStock via Getty Images

Good old garlic is another natural way to get rid of ants outside. The sulfur compounds in garlic are known to give off a strong smell that can repel not just ants but most flying and crawling insects. If you don’t mind the smell of garlic, place a few cloves of this culinary staple in your garden and watch the ants flee.

20. Sweet Flag (Acorus Calamus)

Sweet Flag is a simple and non-toxic ingredient that can get rid of ants outside.

©Volodymyr Nikitenko/Shutterstock.com

Calamus or sweet flag is a hairless herb that is found across North America. Scientific research shows that these plants have important insecticidal properties and can kill ant colonies in as little as 24 hours.


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About the Author

Priyanka Paul is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on plants, geography, and insects. Priyanka has been working as a writer for over 5 years and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. A resident of Buffalo, New York, Priyanka enjoys gardening, hiking, and spending time observing nature’s little creatures.

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