Now that it's Spring some ants have decided to let me know that we share the same home. They're very large, have a knack for climbing up walls and they even happen to jump. My family's first reaction was to set out ant traps. This resulted in a very large argument; I found myself alone trying to defend the ants who were now being sentenced to death because one had accidentally crawled up my mother's arm earlier that day. I was told that if I could find a way to get rid of them they'd remove the traps. After struggling through dozens of appalling, speciest, and disrespectful internet articles about how to get rid of ants I decided to write my own about how to get rid of ants without killing them.
I found out not too long ago that I knew basically nothing about ants, even though I've known about them since I was a little kid. In lieu of this I think to start some ant appreciation would definitely set us off on the right foot. Perhaps you may find them a little scary, startling, and even creepy like I do - but that doesn't mean we can't marvel at how interesting they are and how worthy of our respect they are. Ants evolved roughly 110-130 million years ago. We have documented 12,500 species of ants, but think there might be 22,000 or so in total. They can be found almost everywhere on Earth, except for Antartica and a few remote islands. Where they do live they can make up from 15-25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. That's a big bundle of numbers, but essentially what it means to me is that ants are much more complex, adaptable, and interesting than we often give them credit for. We are not the only interesting animals species out there. They also have a nervous system, hearts, and lungs just like humans do. They can feel pain, and that alone means we shouldn't kill or harm them in any way.
The first step to removing ants from the home is to hide their tracks. I did some research and found a few ant friendly sites that gave me a good head start. Use white or apple cider vinegar to wipe down the surface of anywhere you've seen the ants go, that way they can't follow each other there. This might get a few ants lost at first, but it will help deter them in general.
Next clean the entire area. Put all food in enclosed containers and sweep the floor. Clean up all crumbs after you've eaten. Consider having a garbage can with a lid or keeping your compost bin far away from the house if possible. I also temporarily put away my scented candles, ants are attracted to sweet smelling food so I didn't want to take a chance. If you use any air fresheners or house oils consider removing them until the ants are gone.
Now you need to set out food that will repel the ants peacefully. I read online that bay leaf, pepper and cinnamon all work and that strong smelling herbs should also do the trick. I sprinkled pepper in clumps along my counter tops. Since I have a dog in the house I didn't want her to lick up pepper I sprinkled on the floor so I took some organza I had lying around (a very breathable fabric, I'm sure others would do as well or stop off to the dollar store to buy some) and I made little anti ant sachets. I opened the organza and dumped some pepper and bay leaf inside, pinched it at the top, and closed it with a twist tie. I put these anywhere I had seen the ants on the floor near and by all the entrances and doorways on my first floor. I made at least 10 since they only took a few minutes to make and all came from things I had lying around the house so it wasn't expensive at all.
Your ants won't disappear immediately, but they won't with any other method either. There is probably a whole nest somewhere that you can't see and it will take some time for them to find a new food source and move on. Make sure to have a little patience and trust that they'll go away. If they're still around after a few days try to check where they are coming from and consider blocking off entrances (without hurting any ants in the process). Always politely trap and remove ants outside (I use a drinking glass and paper). While they will get lost and might not survive without the other ants, it's definitely better than poisoning them all. Try to release ants far away from the home, but always make sure when you release them that you do so gently. Don't turn glasses upside down or knock them out. Let the ants leave the traps on their own.
Best of luck with your future ant endeavors!