"The ants go marching one by one." If only this were true. When dealing with an ant infestation, it can seem that your whole house is under attack by swarms of these pesky creatures. But certain foods naturally repel ants. When determining which foods ants don't like to eat, you must first look at which foods attract ants. According to the University of California's Pest Management Program, ants prefer protein-rich, sweet foods, as well as insect corpses and certain plants. Additionally, some ants seek out household water, found in the sink and in pet's bowls.
While spicy cinnamon is a regular breakfast staple for humans, ants tend to avoid this spicy food. Because of this, cinnamon makes a great barrier under doorways and around windows. Additionally, some gardeners sprinkle cinnamon throughout the unplanted areas of their gardens.
Other spicy foods used in ant control include black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves and bay leaves. When creating a repellent for ants, place a few cloves or bay leaves inside sugar jars or inside a picnic basket. Sprinkle cayenne pepper around doorways.
Many forms of ants do not eat cucumbers. In fact, they are so averse to this vegetable, you can use cucumber to rid yourself of an ant infestation. To use cucumber to rid yourself of pests, soak sliced cucumber in water for a few days. Squeeze the remaining juice out of the cucumber into the infusion. Then spray the mixture around your garden and around doorways.
While some ants love fruit -- oranges and apples, for instance -- many ants seem to have a distaste for highly acidic citrus with little sugar. Because of this, citrus oil and lemon juice make effective repellents in ant-prone areas.
To use citrus to prevent ant infestation, spread diluted lemon juice or citrus oil around doorways and in front of food storage areas. Show caution, however, when using citrus in gardens, as it can change the pH balance of the soil, causing plant death.
When deciding which foods are safe from local ant attack, identify the specific ant breeds that plague your house or your community. For example, if you find that the trails of ants from your back door to the kitchen are thief ants, then you don't need to worry about granulated sugar. And while some ants hate crushed mint, some foraging sugar ants love mint jelly.
- Energy Savings and Sustainability Committee: Who Is Your Pest Control Really Hurting?
- UC Integrated Pest Management Program: Southern Fire Ant: Preferred Food
- Department of Housing and Urban Development: Maintenance Guidebook
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Ant Baits: A Least Toxic Control; Barb Ogg, PhD; 2011.
- Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images