Tip of the Week: This Common Spice Is Your Secret Weapon Against Ants

May 12, 2016
by Annalise Mantz for Thrive Market
Tip of the Week: This Common Spice Is Your Secret Weapon Against Ants

Ants may be tiny, but they’re mighty. With a global population of more than 10 quadrillion, they vastly outnumber humans.

Colonies work as “superorganisms,” thinking with one hive mind and acting as an organized group. When you put it that way, that ant invasion in the kitchen seems a little scarier.

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Thankfully, there’s an easy way to keep ants out of your house—and it doesn’t require any harsh chemicals—cinnamon!

Just sprinkle ground cinnamon or use a Q-tip or cotton ball to apply cinnamon essential oil anywhere you’ve seen the little guys. If you’re not sure where they’re coming from, cover the perimeter of the room. You can dilute the oil in water, but stronger solutions are more effective.

While there isn't much scientific research into why it works, some believe cinnamon's strong scent is the key. Ants communicate by smell, leaving a trail of pheromones for the colony to follow. Introducing a fragrant spice may cover it up.

So ditch the chemical insecticide—not only is this method clean, safe, and inexpensive, but it also has a much more pleasant scent.

Illustration by Foley Wu

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  • Vietnam_Vet66

    Something that works even better, and is natural. For years, we've been using a little corn meal wherever we find ants in the house. What happens is that the ants carry the corn meal, as food, back to their nest. Since they can't digest the corn meal, it kills them all, starting with the queen, since the workers "feed" her, and it kills the rest of them as well....

  • Mary Lynne Walton

    Will definitely try this! Ants come in through my 'greenhouse window' in my kitchen every time it rains. Just out of curiosity - would this cinnamon treatment also repel fleas on pets? Or is there another spice or herb that would work on fleas? We lost a pet years ago to neurological reactions from the over-the-counter name-brand pet treatment. Just got new kittens at Christmas and am scared to try anything other than shampoos - and these cats HATE baths!

  • Lizbet

    Does the cinnamon kill the ants?

  • Karen

    I've tried this several times, but the ants just walked right through the cinnamon. Perhaps this only works with certain breeds?

  • Bill Kratzer

    german roaches ? anything work or kill them ?

  • Leslie Elkan

    Cinnamon is poisonous to dogs, so I like the cornmeal idea better.

  • http://iodtiger.blogspot.com/ Lisa Johnson

    tried this once and it didn't work! poured a whole bottle right on top of an ant hill just to see and they just kept walking all over it!

  • Ben

    I tried corn meal once. The ants ignored it almost completely. I don't know if it was something about that particular bag of corn meal, that particular species of ant, or what, but in that instance it failed completely.

  • merlinvoodoo

    Baby powder works as well. Find where their path, sprinkle baby powder to block their path and they will do an about face.

  • Jacqui Odell

    Diatomaceous Earth for ants and other bugs. Sprinkle everywhere, but keep it dry or is dissolves. For the furbabies, a little splash of ACV- with the mother in their drinking water- freshen every day or it turns rancid. Also use DE on the furbabies to repel fleas. Take a cotton ball, soak in 1/2 ACV, 1/2 water, rub behind their head, shoulder blades for further help repelling bugs.

  • Angel Campos

    does anyone have any suggestions to get rid of bed bugs

  • Lisa Millar

    Anybody have a suggestion on how to get rid of the fruit flies? I think they are coming over from my dirty neighbors whose house is a pig pen. Small bottle of red wine worked for a while but not now. Would like to know what you use.

  • Japazon69

    Does anyone know how to get rid of pantry moths and cow ants???

  • Jennifer Garrett


  • Sandra Short

    Will it work on cockcroaches? Anyone know what does?

  • nardly

    Hmm.. I keep my cats indoors and have never had an issue with flees or ticks or any other pest.. they also don't get attacked by other animals... funny how that works... and they don't miss the freedom of a yard... my 900 square foot condo does 2 cats well.... so anyone with a house has no excuse if they value the lives of their cats
    no pests, no worms, no infections from fights... and one is almost 17 years old now... so you can't say the indoor life is bad for cats....

  • Tk

    I've heard salt works to kill them. Also other essential oils like peppermint or frankensence to deter them . I'm willing to try cinnamon to get rid of them, but I can't bring myself to knowingly kill them.