If you've ever had to deal with an invasion of ants, you know the meaning of frustration. While the kids think they're so cute marching in formation, stopping to help one another and working hard to prepare for life challenges ahead, its better to study these amazing creatures than to face the day when you wake up to find a million or so feasting on that piece of bread someone left out on the counter last night.
While there are dozens of homemade remedies for dealing with ants, including poisoning them with boric acid, Borax or ammonia, the ingredients can create toxic situations for crawling babies, pets and that sandwich you're about to make on the counter. Other methods like blowing up their digestive systems with cornmeal, though more effective and safe than harsh chemicals, can create a new challenge because they're messy to clean up.
Today I want to tell you about a recipe for an ant spray you can make yourself from natural products that are toxic to ants but perfectly safe for pets and people. This recipe is safe, quick, natural and highly effective. You are going to love it.
Compared with the cost of an annual visit from an exterminator (which costs around $200 depending on where you live and the severity of the problem), the supplies to make this ant spray ($20 to $30 depending on your source) are a true bargain. Whenever it's appropriate and effective, I always prefer to do things myself rather than calling in the pros.
Here's what you will need to get started:
1) Dark glass spray bottle fitted with a filtered sprayer. The ingredients in this ant spray are sensitive to light, which degrades its effectiveness in a big hurry. Keeping your ant spray in a dark glass container in a dark cupboard will extend its effectiveness for up to a few months, or even longer. Still, you want to make this spray in small batches of no more than about 2 cups (16 ounces) at a time. Because this ant spray will have a bit of sediment in it, a regular household sprayer will become clogged up quickly. You will want to use a sprayer that is fitted with a small filter to prevent it from becoming clogged.
2) Ground cayenne pepper. This is in the spice aisle of any grocery store. It's the exact same ingredient you use in the kitchen to make foods and drinks delightfully spicy.
3) 100 percent natural therapeutic-grade undiluted tea tree essential oil.
4) 100 percent natural therapeutic-grade undiluted peppermint essential oil.
5) Tap water.
Note: Essential oils come in all different strengths. Some are highly diluted or laced with perfume and or other additives. For this ant spray, you want pure high-quality essential oils with no pesticides, herbicides, GMOs or other additives.
To make the ant spray: Fill a 16-oz. amber spray bottle up to about 1 inch from the top with tap water. Add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 20 drops pure tea tree essential oil and 20 drops pure peppermint essential oil. Apply the sprayer top, and shake well to mix. Label the bottle and store it in a dark place.
To use this ant spray inside the home: This spray will kill ants on contact. That's how much they cannot tolerate these ingredients. If it does not kill on contact, that's your sign that your spray has lost its effectiveness and its old. Make a new batch. Do not hesitate to use this ant spray any place in your home. The beauty of this spray is that it can be used on any surface without fear of harm to appliances, fixtures, granite, quartz, painted surfaces, wood and laminate floors and appliances.
This ant spray is a powerful deterrent when sprayed along ant trails and inside cracks through which ants are entering your home.
To use this ant spray outside the home: You can spray this along outside walls and other places you see ants congregating in their little planning sessions.
Your most effective use of this recipe can be in the anthill or nest if you can locate it. Here is how to make and deliver the mother of all ant bombs.
Start with a tea kettle of boiling water. Add 2 or 3 teaspoons of ground cayenne pepper, 20 drops of your pure tea tree essential oil and 20 drop of the peppermint essential oil.
Using a stake, a pipe or other such device, drive it deep into the nest -- at least 18 inches into the ground -- to create a hole. Remove the stake carefully so the hole doesn't refill with dirt.
Carefully pour the contents of the tea kettle into the hole. It will be very hot, so be careful. The heat from boiling water alone will kill ants on contact. But the pepper and oils in this cocktail will leach into the areas surrounding that deep hole, making it totally unsuitable for an ant colony.
Mary Hunt's column, "Everyday Cheapskate," can be found at creators.com.