Here is something kind of random but I was dealing with this the other day and thought some of you might be interested as well.
If you have any of those pesky little ants wandering around the house or yard you might try this little trick to get rid of them.
My Dad taught me this a few years ago when we had a trail of ants marching across the front stoop of the house. Call me a terrible person, but any sort of rodent, bug, snake comes along and I am ready to put the house up for sale.
In California, ants can really be a problem and I absolutely can not stand them for even a second and this tip has worked like magic for me many times.
Even better you don’t need to buy expensive products, dump all sorts of chemicals around the house or mix up complicated DIY recipes.
Just grab a standard box of corn starch- my box was $1.00 at Walmart so you can certainly be generous in applying this.
And dump it all over the ants. You want to be sure the corn starch is in the path they walk because you want them picking it up and carrying it back home with them.
I just went out side two days ago and found a bunch of ants crawling around the garbage can (BLECH!).
Now I wasn’t that interested in becoming close friend with these things so it is hard to see but we had a bunch of them climbing all over in the trash and just under the trash.
So I followed the crack in the pavement and dumped the cornstarch generously over the path they made, where they came from and the spot on the ground under the trash.
If this is in your home you can just put the cornstarch in a measuring cup and pour it right over the path they are marching in.
I had a pretty good size patch so I just used about 1/3 of the box and dumped it everywhere. You need a bit of patience to allow them ample time to carry the cornstarch back. So I would wait at least 24 hours.
Next get the ants wet. The cornstarch will become like a cement mixture and will kill the ants. If this is outdoors- turn on sprinklers or use a watering can to get the cornstarch piles nice and very damp. If this is indoors, you might try a spritzing bottle or something.
I spread this on Monday and we were actually not home yesterday. I did check it out this morning (Wednesday) and we still have a little pile of corn starch to be rinsed away but not an ant in sight!
So this is worth a shot- just note they will still slug around in the corn starch for awhile but they should be gone within a day or two.
UPDATE: This has worked many times for me since posting a few years ago. This year we actually had a MOUNTAIN of ants that suddenly popped up in the backyard. Like I initially though there was an oil spill or something because the pavement was totally black. I put down a box of Cornstarch and allowed the sprinklers to come on as usual. I repeated with a second box of cornstarch the next day and again the sprinklers just hit the spot to get the cornstarch wet. Every single ant was gone within a few days. Booyah!
Check out my DIY Pinterest board for more easy tips and tricks.
I just wanted to say that your post cracked me up. And thanks for the info. I laughed so hard at the picture with the “get em!”. I have fire ants in my vegetable garden and every time I go out to get some mustard greens they are on me, but I didn’t want poison for obvious reasons in the vegetables. Thanks again!
Ha ha- so glad Tiffany! I wouldn’t want fire ants on me or my tomatoes either. I hope this works for you!
Hi, thanks for this advice. We have a vegetable patch and have a real red ant (fire ant?) problem. I’m allergic to ant bites and even one bite makes me swell up like a balloon, lol. We also have three little children, and the rather aggressive red ants made it almost impossible for them to be around the vegetable patch last summer.
Since it’s a vegetable patch AND we have kids running all over the place I don’t really want to put down ant poison. I tried the little sealed boxes where you pop the corners off and the ants are supposed to go in and collect the poison. I don’t think they worked at all – either the ants were just not interested in the poison or else they were too big to fit through the openings.
I also tried putting down polenta (is that the coarse version of corn flour?!). Although it worked somewhat it didn’t get rid of our ant problem. Is the stuff you are using the really fine corn flour (white and powdery?). I’m really hoping it will do the trick!
Oh gosh that sounds awful! I don’t have experience with fire ants but I used cornstarch for regular ants and it always works. It is not the same as Cornmeal which is what Americans use for making cornbread. I did some googling and I believe both cornmeal and cornstarch are both called cornflour in the UK. The one I used is the soft and very fine white powder. It looks almost like chalk dust- finer than baking powder. Cornmeal is closer to what you use for polenta. The course, yellowish consistency and that is not what I used. Good luck!
Hmmmmm. Ants can be beneficial but most of us don’t want bugs of any kind in the house. Borax is tried and true for ants, roaches, box elder bugs and book weevils/carpet weevils. I like the corn starch idea but not the wetting part
Another great idea is to sprinkle borax liberally in light carpets as a preventive and to seriously caulk all cracks and crevices along door jambs, windows, baseboards and countertops.
If you have the large carpenter ants you do need the big guns because they do not go away.. they live in a different eat the wood in your home and are worse than termites… you may get them to leave where you can see them but they will still be in your floors and n walls destroying your house..
Before caulking, clean areas with a borax or bleach solution and let dry…I had ants one year and never had the invasion again. 5 years later… they still have not returned.
Ants after reading beneficial to lawns and help keep destroying other bugs like silverfish and pill bugs.
As long as they are outside, we should respect their right to exist because they have after rend role to play. When humans upset the natural balance of ecosystems we end up with much worse problems than our original challenge.
But our houses are our domain and our natural environment so can be ant free.
Hello, can anyone tell me, If i sprinkle cornflower on the soil of my bonsai to kill ants, will effect/kill my bonsai’s.
If they are nesting in your bonsai, you are better off putting the whole thing in a bucket of water so that the water fully covers the top of the soil and leaving it for a couple of hours. It will drown them and not hurt your bonsai. The cornflour won’t hurt your bonsai but once it has set like concrete, you may find the soil becomes more difficult to hold water.
Cathy T. says
I wasn’t aware that ants ate silverfish. Silverfish love cornstarch, any starch (like you iron on clothes). They also eat paper (books, paper in files,) cardboard, and anything with glue (books, furniture, wallpaper). After a dozen moves, I now pack in heavy plastic bins. Can’t wait to try the ant solution outdoors. Thanks
Could you clarify when to spray cornstarch Do u spray it after you sprinkle it or wait 24 hours?
Genevia Cook says
Just so you know cornmeal works too. It’s easier. Just takes s little. They eat it but can’t digest it. Gone in a day or two. Days out the colony. Doesn’t hurt anything else & it’s cheap.i use it inside and out. Inside it takes just a pinch. Sweep remainder up after a day or two or when you stop seeing ants.
And salt works for killing fleas in your yard. Good box of table salt and reapply if it rains.
Amy, You want them to eat the cornstarch so I would say 24 hours. 🙂
If you want to keep fire ants out of your yard you should have a healthy ant
Population to keep them out. I’m not saying in the HOUSE but to kill every
Ant in your yard…..
Yes I think it would be crazy to kill every ant too. In eating areas or children’s play areas or I prefer not to have them all over the trash cans… That is not unreasonable 🙂
Hi I am in Australia – the home of ants! To keep them out of the house put bay leaves in all your cupboards. I live in a motor-home and travelling around Australia I picked up plenty of ants from time to time.
Motor-homer’s have lots of tips to share:-). One lady told me that I should spray with vinegar. When I returned half an hour after spraying my table – it was covered in ants!!
I found this tip to be the best way to keep them out. They seem to hate bay leaves. Haven’t had any since – touch wood. Best wishes, Carol
Thanks for the tip Carol!
What about Texan Ants? I have a big ant hill and the large half inch ants are all around the hill. Their sting is awful. i do not want to use poison. Thnx.
This article is referring to the house ant or piss ant if you prefer. It does NOT and should not be listed under CONTROL FOR FIRE ANTS!!! FIRE ANTS have a bite you will not soon forget! Please relocate this article to
be listed under “normal” house ants.
I don’t believe it is listed anywhere as control for fire ants.
Never tried cornstarch.but I do use Borax any time I see them around doors or windows. I also spread it under hummingbird feeders where the nectar drips. It’s cheap and very effective. It’s biodegradable and safe for pets, and always works immediately. If it gets washed or rained away, simply reapply. Love it.
Will it be safe to use on my Lemon tree??
I have the tiny ants in my kitchen, does this work with them as the ant baits dont work for the really small ones?
I think it is worth a shot. 🙂
Only a few years late to read your post but your quest to get rid of the ants really cracked me up….we had no problem with ants until last year when our wall outside turned black with ants. I washed them down then served them coffee grains along the wall with baking soda and corn starch. Something worked because the ants disappeared until this year. All of a sudden they came marching into the house!! When I saw a piece of dog food dancing across the floor, I knew there were some invaders in the house. Because it was in the house, and we are taking care of a dog, I sprayed Fabreeze on them. While hubby was spraying – I made a mix of vinegar and water and practically flooded my entrance with it!!! Needlessly I might add as they don’t like Fabreeze!! I put coffee grains in cheese cloth and decorated the corners. Nice smell – Fabreeze with coffee and vinegar!! but the visitors are gone! BTW coffee grains in your compost and garbage can works wonders! Our house is built on sand so we are trying every trick in the book without pesticides!!
I have fire ants everywhere I live. I dug deep in their nest,,fast you could while jumping around so they couldn’t bite me. Then I put 1/2 box of baking soda down and followed with vinegar. The b soda messes their way back home. This works good or you can put dried leaves or kindling on nest and lite it on fire. Let it shoulder. Smoke kills along being burned
Are you sure this works? I put it on the ant trail, but I don’t see them picking the cornstarch up. They seem to be going around it.
Does this really work? I ask because I put the cornstarch on the ant trail and do not see them picking it up. They seem to be going around the cornstarch.
It has always worked for me. If they are walking around the trail, just sprinkle it on the new path they create. 🙂
I use 2 parts water, one part baking soda, 1 part sugar. Heat in microwave till all is melted. Dip a cotton ball into cooled liquid. Set in jar lid or soda bottle lid and set into path where ants walk. It won’t be long and they will be hauling the sweet mixture to their nest. By the next day or so no more ants. They go for the sugar but can’t handle the baking soda. They virtually can’t Burp and die. If you have an ant hill pour some of the liquid down the entrance and voila! Dead ants! This is super easy but can’t hurt your pets or kids.
We recently had this discussion in a locat FB gardening group.
Several people had suggested cornmeal until someone else found a scientific report that states that while it works for ants it will actually feed their larva which can digest it.
Ok thanks Meike- but cornstarch is not an issue? Thats what I use. Not cornmeal. Seems like cornmeal is almost like feeding them.
HUMAN, CHILD & PETSAFE‼️
“DIATOMACEOUS EARTH” (Food-Grade)
Can be bought on Amazon, be sure to get the Food Grade! It’s used in Kennels and Restaurant Kitchens to keep insects out. Google to read exactly what it is and why it works. It works on insects that have exoskeletons.
This comment is for Irises Post, she had children who are allergic to fire ant stings…Another option completely safe is a product called “Diatomaceous Earth” it is…milled or micronized diatomaceous earth is especially fine (10 µm to 50 µm) and used for insecticides. The food grade version is completely safe for humans, and pets. It’s frequently used in veterinary hospitals, kennels & restaurants to prevent & repel insects. Please research it!
I always use corn meal and don’t have to use water. They carry it back to their den and eat it and it swells up inside them killing them. They are gone in a day. Just a light sprinkling will do, no big piles.
Fran Jeffery says
Hi…My treatment for years has been washing the floor with vinegar & water and dumping the used mixture around the outside of the patio door (where they are coming in.) At first sighting, I wash my kitchen floor daily with this solution, but once the ants seem gone, I only use it twice a week. Downsize to this treatment: the vinegar smell is reminiscent of french fries..craving is strong! LOL! I will try the corn starch…seems quicker.!
Vinegar sounds like a great idea too. Thanks for sharing Fran!
Rex Fuller says
Cornstarch is great. But you can also use Cornmeal and kill them as well. I have used this. And it kills them deader in a door knob. As they eat the Cornmeal and they can’t digest it and kills them instantly. Just like Corn Starch does. Shouldn’t take 2 days to kill them. Should kill them in and around 30 minutes. I killed around a million of them in that time.
Thanks for the tip Rex.
Cinnamon worked for me . I sprinkled some around the door frame on the floor. It worked for me and gives a good smell .
You can also use grits if you want a solution that doesn’t require water. Sprinkle the grits around the ant hill or wheee you see them. They will carry them back to the colony for food. The grits will kill them. Cheap, nontoxic and not messy.
Thanks Ginger! I live in CA and grits aren’t common here so I wouldn’t think to try them.
I had a problem with fire ants in my kitchen in an old farmhouse. Cinnamon did the trick after trying everything else. If I remember it only took one day of leaving a solid trail around my kitchen sink. Nothing to harm kids or animals.
Donna White says
I have heard that aspartame works very well. Has anyone tried it?