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How to Make a Natural Ant Insecticide & Repellent

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017
Ants can be a real nuisance.
ants treasure 1. image by mdb from Fotolia.com

Ants can be annoying creatures, especially when they invade your home. In the garden, they don’t cause damage, but they do carry other, harmful insects such as aphids to plants and tend them like little farmers, feeding off their sweet excretion, which is called honeydew. If you control the insects ants like, you’ll control the ants. But they will return with more of their favorite bugs, so you’ll need to keep up with your natural control methods and remedies. Whether your ant problem is indoors or outside, you can keep them under control without using poisons.

Controlling Ants Indoors

Mix 1 tbsp. of non-ultra dishwashing detergent with 1 qt. of water in a spray bottle. Spray this safe mixture on ants and on their trails, which contain chemicals that guide other ants to the area where their food source is located.

Spread a line of cayenne pepper and black pepper as a repellent across an area where you know ants are entering your home. As soon as you are able, repair holes in your siding, screens and other areas after you discover the ants’ entry point(s).

Scatter cornmeal around the outside of your house. Ants like to eat this grain, but it will make them crave water; then when they drink they will literally explode.

Mix 1 tsp. of 99 percent pure boric acid with 1/3 cup of apple-mint jelly. The jelly attracts ants while the boric acid kills them. Drop 1 to 3 dabs of this mixture at 6-foot intervals along ant trails. Check your traps every day or two and replenish them when they dry up or disappear.

Controlling Ants Outdoors

Spray plants on which you see ants with insecticidal soap. If you control aphids, scale, mealybugs and other insects that ants “farm,” you will also be controlling the ants.

Scatter diatomaceous earth on the soil around plants where you have noticed ants. Repeat your application of this natural product after it rains or after you water your garden.

Mulch your garden with cedar chips, which are a natural ant repellent.

Combine 1 tbsp. of dish soap with about 1 qt. of boiling water, then pour it into ant nests after dark. Repeat this application three nights in a row.


Things You Will Need

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Boric acid
  • Apple-mint jelly
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Cedar chips


  • Prevention is the best remedy in controlling indoor ants. Keep food safely tucked away in tightly sealed bags and jars and do not leave food out on your countertops or tables. Repair holes in screens and any other entry points.


  • Keep boric acid away from children and pets.
  • Wear a dust mask when you work with diatomaceous earth.

About the Author


Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.