If you’ve ever had to deal with an invasion of ants, you may know the meaning of exasperation. While the kids think ants are so cute because of the way they march in formation, stop to help one another and work hard to prepare for their life challenges ahead, it’s better to study these amazing creatures than to wake up and find a million or so feasting on that last piece of pie someone left out on the counter the night before. While commercial ant sprays work well, most brands are expensive, if not toxic.
Of course, there are dozens of homemade remedies for dealing with ants, from poisoning them with boric acid, to Borax, to ammonia, but even those ingredients can create toxic situations for crawling babies, pets and that salad you’re about to make on the counter where you just dealt with the ant attack.
All-natural option. Today, I want to tell you about an effective recipe for a DIY all-natural ant spray made from ingredients that are toxic to ants but perfectly safe for pets and people. (Note: If you have cats, please do your own research.)
This recipe is quick, highly effective and so handy. Just grab and go whenever you see a problem. You are going to love it.
Compared with the cost of an annual visit from an exterminator (around $200, depending on where you live and the severity of the problem), gathering the supplies to make this ant spray (initially about $20, depending on your source and what you have already) becomes a true bargain.
Ingredients. The ingredients are sensitive to light, which degrades their effectiveness in a big hurry. Keeping your ant spray in a dark glass container stored in a dark cupboard will extend its effectiveness for many months. Still, you want to make it in small batches of no more than 2 cups (16 ounces) at a time.
Never store pure essential oils in plastic bottles, as the oil can eat at the plastic and become ruined and ineffective in a short period of time.
Amber glass spray bottle. Because this ant spray has a bit of sediment to it, a regular household sprayer will quickly get clogged up, and that’s so annoying. You want to use a sprayer that is fitted with a small filter to prevent it from becoming clogged.
Ground cayenne pepper. This is in your spice cupboard or the spice aisle of any grocery store. It’s the exact same thing you use in the kitchen to make foods and drinks delightfully spicy.
Tea tree oil. You’re going to find a plethora of choices here, but make sure it is a 100% natural therapeutic grade of undiluted tea tree essential oil.
Peppermint oil. Essential oils come in all kinds of varieties and a wide range of strengths. Some are highly diluted and laced with perfume or other additives. For this ant spray, you want high-quality 100% pure peppermint oil with no pesticides, herbicides, GMOs or other additives.
Tap water. You’re on your own here.
Instructions. Fill a 16-ounce 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. Add more water if needed to fill the bottle. Apply the sprayer. Shake well to mix. Label the bottle, and store it in a dark place.
Use this ant spray indoors. This spray will kill ants on contact. That’s how much they loathe and cannot tolerate these ingredients. If it does not kill on contact, that’s your sign that your spray has lost its effectiveness because it’s old. Make a new batch.
Do not hesitate to use this ant spray any place in your home. The beauty is that it can be used on any surface without fear of harm — on appliances, fixtures, granite, quartz, painted surfaces and plastic, wood floors and laminate floors.
This ant spray is a powerful deterrent when sprayed along ant trails and inside cracks where ants are entering your home.
Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living. Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.