How to Repel Ants with Essential Oils 

By Dr. Killigan
How to Repel Ants with Essential Oils 

With so much information available on essential oils and their uses, it can be difficult to know where to turn for knowledge and truth. I hope that you find this article informative, interesting, and insightful. I hope that you walk away feeling thankful for natural DIY options for pest control and better aware of what to do when ants go thieving in your home.

When those ants—identified as the top pest in the United States—gain entrance into your house, you want to know how to naturally get rid of them, as the wellbeing and safety of your family is of utmost importance. Here we’ll discuss if three essential oils—cinnamon, peppermint, and clove—are true ant repellers, provide a DIY ant-repelling-and-killing recipe, and discuss the benefits of the non-toxic ant killing spray—Six Feet Under. Together, let's permanently get rid of those ants.

Does Ground Cinnamon Kill Ants?

Cinnamon will kill ants, but not the cinnamon that you’re sprinkling on your warm and buttery baked apples. You’ll need highly concentrated cinnamon oil and you’d have to know exactly where the ants are coming from. If you’re unable to discover the crack or crevice that’s allowing them in, they’ll simply go around your spray of cinnamon oil. It’s kind of like encountering a boulder in the road when you’re headed to the beach. You just figure out a way around it because you really want to have a splash in the waves. Well, these ants are wired very much the same way; they’ve tasted the food, they’ve smelled the smells, and they know about that water leak in your bathroom. They’re persistent little buggers that keep on keeping.

Studies have proven that cinnamon essential oil, as opposed to your ground baking cinnamon, shows positive results in both repellency and insecticidal activity of ants at certain concentrations, the highest concentrations giving the highest mortality and repellency percentages. Its major component, trans-cinnamaldehyde, plays a key role in controlling the red imported fire ant.

Will Peppermint Oil Kill Ants?

Peppermint oil will indeed kill ants. One consideration here is to ensure that the ants aren’t able to create a bridge over where the oil mixture has been sprayed. For example, if you spray peppermint oil around the foundation of your home, you’ll want to ensure that the ants aren’t able to get in through climbing up trees or shrubs that touch your home’s siding or roofline.

I personally would ensure that there is at least 18 inches of separation between your home and any wayward branches or creeping tendrils. Once, when I was traversing through a lesser known jungle in Brazil—with my ears listening to the varied intensity of creation that swallowed up my own ability think and my feet making their way through rich, wet, arid soil that formed part of the womb in which this creation was able to be nurtured—I stopped as I saw the most interesting feat. Pulling out my magnifying glass to better observe this phenomenon, I got into a crouching position. At least three feet up from the canopy floor, fire ants were creating a bridge. Tiny ant bodies, stacked one on top of one another. Those on the lowest levels remained stationary, while the tower-bridge grew heavier and higher. At last, one ant reached its destination and, as though the floodgates had opened, an army of ants made their way across this ant bridge. Creation’s architecture at work, this was an incredible feat to behold.

Please pardon my rabbit—or, rather, ant—trail there. Now, back to the topic of peppermint oil.

Peppermint oil has a potent smell that will mask the pheromones that ants use to communicate, thus confusing these pheromone-leaving-and-following insects and disrupting their navigational ability. This disruption will cause the foragers to leave the path.

Peppermint oil is also a strong irritant. The major chemical components in peppermint oil include terpene, alcohol, and menthol. These components are natural fumigants, producing fumes that both repel and kill ants when their smell receptors pick up these compounds.

A second consideration in using peppermint oil (in addition to making sure that the ants can’t create a bridge over it) is your thoroughness. When an ant encounters an obstacle to his destination, he will explore alternative routes. This was one of the issues discussed with cinnamon oil. If an ant is successful in discovering a new route, he will mark it (using pheromones) and this new route will be followed.

Thus, it’s extremely important that all potential entry points are sprayed. It’s also hugely important that the peppermint oil, with a concentration of at least 1%, is reapplied every week. Essential oils are volatile, meaning that they evaporate quickly. For your ant spray to be continuously effective and to permanently rid your home and your life of ants, it must be reapplied weekly until the ant population diminishes.

Will Clove Oil Kill Ants?

Clove oil contains eugenol. Eugenol is a fast-acting on-contact natural insecticide that is indeed effective against ants. Although the exact mechanism of how-it-kills is still up for debate, it is believed that eugenol is neurotoxic, meaning that it kills insects by targeting their nervous system. In a test study using eugenol, alpha-terpineol (found in tea tree oil and several other essential oils), and cinnamic alcohol, (found in the bark of cinnamon trees and the leaves of the tea tree) ants showed fast immobilization and knockdown followed by mortality.

What Other Natural Methods Will Repel and Kill Ants?

Some ant species are harder to kill off than others. The argentine ants, for example, have an unusual biology. Deborah Gordon, author of Ants at Work: How Insect Society Is Organized, writes "Unlike other species, Argentine ants have many queens, and the workers can go back to any nest, so it's impossible to kill off a colony by killing off one queen." For this species and other hard-to-kill species, she recommends:

Six Feet Under Non-Toxic Insect Killer on cabinet shelf

Six Feet Under is my personal go-to ant-killing product. With cinnamon oil and clove oil as two of its active ingredients, it’s a potent formula for ridding your home and your life of marauding ants. With a quick wipe, it eliminates the pheromone-rich path of ants, thus bringing confusion and disorder to their ranks. As with all of our products, it is toxic-free and poison-free. Pesticides, filled with pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and permethrins, are harmful. They’re toxic to our ground, to our drinking water, to our pets, and to our families. When we purchase products that contain toxic pesticides, we’re harming our ourselves and our environment.

With my recommendation of Six Feet Under, I also feel the urge to recommend using the Insect Buster with diatomaceous earth or another non-toxic insect powder. By dispersing diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of your home or your property, you can prevent ants from entering your sacred abode in the first place.

For a better understanding of diatomaceous earth, its powerful effect against ants, and how to rid yourself of ants using DE powder, I would read Will Diatomaceous Earth Kill Ants.


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