The Natural Garden Staple That'll Become Your Secret To Controlling Ants

If you have spent any length of time in the garden, you have likely heard of diatomaceous earth, the natural pest control powder. Made from the fossilized remains of diatoms (incredibly small organisms which are found in aquatic settings, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans), this substance seems like an innocuous fine powder to humans, but to small pests (such as fleas and cockroaches), it spells destruction. While you may be accustomed to using diatomaceous earth in the garden to keep aphids from your precious produce, this powder may also be one of the best ways to get rid of ants.

When insects traverse through the diatomaceous earth, the sharp edges of the fossilized diatoms have an abrasive effect, thus damaging the pests' normally protective exoskeletons. It does not take long for the diatomaceous earth to cause the complete dehydration of the insects' inner bodies, wiping them out for good. In order to use this powdery substance to get rid of ants that have been invading your home or garage, simply sprinkle the powder in line with the trails of ants you have seen. 

If there is currently a grouping of ants, you can fence them in with a circle of the powder, forcing them to come into contact with it. Do the same with any suspected points of entry: If the ants have no choice but to walk in the diatomaceous earth, they won't last long. And remember to look for the reasons the ants are entering (such as access to food and water).

Tips for successful ant control with diatomaceous earth

Applying diatomaceous earth is quite simple and can be done in a number of ways, depending on your preference. Fill an old spice jar with the powder, which will make it easy to shake the substance onto a surface. You can also convert the powder into a sprayable form by filling a dedicated spray bottle with diatomaceous earth and water (half a cup of diatomaceous earth for every two cups of water), which will expedite applying it to a larger surface (although its bug-annihilating properties will not kick in until the spray has dried). 

When using diatomaceous earth, avoid irritation by employing gloves (the powder can cause the drying of skin) and a face mask (to prevent inhalation, which can lead to respiratory discomfort). In order to avoid any adverse reactions, always use food grade diatomaceous earth when inside, as well as around animals and children. Finally, while diatomaceous earth can be helpful when it comes to eliminating a small number of ants, it cannot be expected to decimate an entire colony. If you have applied diatomaceous earth and are still seeing a sizable quantity of ants in the house, you may be dealing with a larger issue that requires professional help.