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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55 thoughts on “Tip of the Week: This Common Spice Is Your Secret Weapon Against Ants”

  • Vietnam_Vet66
    Vietnam_Vet66 May 22, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    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....

    Reply
    • John Carter

      Finally, a use for GMO corn.

      Reply
    • hookerpie

      Works great. I been killing ants for years with corn meal. I get joy watching them scramble to carry it back to their nest knowing that soon they are going to die.

      Reply
    • Marc Rubben

      Yes, it is effective, but only with cornmeal made from GMO corn. Aunt Jemima brand works great. It should be on the pesticide isle, but our bought and paid for FDA says it's safe for human consumption and our lawmakers can't even pass a law that requires labeling.

      Reply
    • moderationpreferred
      moderationpreferred August 14, 2016 at 4:30 am

      Does it work on those damned ghost ants as well?

      Reply
      • Vietnam_Vet66

        Don't know....

        Reply
        • Elise Negrin

          We call them crazy ants. My condo is full of them. I am relentless, I have sealed all floor wall trims. I have watched them carry their dead back into the holes. Poor old cat has to jump from chair to counter just to eat. Cant leave one crumb on the floor.

          Reply
      • Japazon69

        What are ghost ants?!

        Reply
        • moderationpreferred
          moderationpreferred August 18, 2016 at 5:03 am

          They are very tiny ants that we have here in Florida so small they are almost invisible unless there are several of them. No matter how clean your house is they will be there. You can't leave out any food or they will be swarming it. I put all of my things like flour, pasta, etc into plastic ziplock bags to keep them and other bugs out. I don't have much trouble with them but every once in a while I see the little buggers when I get careless and leave a dirty plate on the counter or the cat food for too long (they get half an hour and then it is gone).

          Reply
  • Mary Lynne Walton
    Mary Lynne Walton May 26, 2016 at 3:50 am

    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!

    Reply
    • hookerpie

      Garlic works great to repel fleas. Ask your vet about it. I use garlic tablets for my dog. Mix some in her food and she never knows a thing.

      Reply
      • Tanya Kintz

        What about cat's?

        Reply
        • Tracy

          This year the fleas are horrible in my area (Ohio). They are resistant to frontline, other meds and the essential oils do not repel them. We have had to soap up and bathe cats a few times. I mix organic aloe vera powder and they come out flea free, fluffy and their skin is soothed. One takes it and our new rescue acted as if we were gonna drown her! lol She is doing better. Glad I have teens! We use a flea comb and a jar of soapy water to shake them in to de-flea. Vacuum every other day. diatomaceous earth rubbed on cats (sometimes as it is drying) and on carpet. Hopefully we will have it under control by winter and the cats can go back outside to play. I feel really bad they are stuck inside but the fleas or out of control! They are laying eggs too fast.

          Reply
      • Marlene L Kowalkowski
        Marlene L Kowalkowski August 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm

        Garlic, just like onions are bad for dogs.
        I use Young Living Essential Oils for my dog. I get the Animal Scents, Repel Aroma. I have a small dog so it takes very little oil, I mix 1 to 2 drops in 2 ounces of distilled water,then pour into a clean spray bottle and spray on the dog, being careful not to get in their eyes. This works great! And it won't harm your dog. You don't have to apply every day, maybe once every week to week and a half depending on if you have a bad problem with ticks and fleas in your area. Another great thing about Young Living Essential Oils is they are the best oils you can buy, they are all therapeutic grade oils. You could even spray you're self with this same oil to keep bugs away.

        Reply
    • Mandy Gillespie
      Mandy Gillespie June 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Peppermint oil, and clove extract is good for fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. It can be applied on non lick zones for both dogs, and cats.

      Reply
    • eileenwright

      Essential oils are toxic to cats, do not use oil on them or around them.

      Reply
    • Cindy Lou Simone
      Cindy Lou Simone August 19, 2016 at 4:45 am

      I was looking online and it said Vinegar is good for flea's. You could put it in a spray bottle and spray a little on them or try putting some on a washcloth and rub the washcloth on their body. I was looking for something non - toxic also but for cats & dogs.

      Reply
  • Lizbet

    Does the cinnamon kill the ants?

    Reply
  • Karen

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

    Reply
  • Bill Kratzer

    german roaches ? anything work or kill them ?

    Reply
  • Leslie Elkan

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

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • merlinvoodoo

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • moderationpreferred
      moderationpreferred August 14, 2016 at 4:34 am

      Diatomaceous Earth works so well. I've been using it for years on ant nests when I lived in Michigan. Found it works decently with fire ants now that I'm in Florida. I keep a big bag of it in my shed at all times. Love it because is is safe around my pets.

      Reply
    • Animal Abuse War

      please be sure it is pure food grade diatomaceous earth.
      they sell diatomaceous earth for use in pools & sold in major stores but most sold there have other chemicals or pesticides mixed in & can kill your pets.
      so please buy food grade only

      Reply
  • Angel Campos

    does anyone have any suggestions to get rid of bed bugs

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • Virginia Daugherty
      Virginia Daugherty August 16, 2016 at 10:13 am

      set small container of a little water 1/4 cup and 1 T dawn dish liquid and they go right to it. if you have any kind of fruit sitting around and this includes tomatoes they are coming for that.

      Reply
    • nardly

      for fruit fly or fungus gnat I used Hypoaspis miles... it worked great,,, sprinkle those bastards in the soil and a few weeks later they were gone,,, not sure how it works from outside contamination but it killed the issue I had with them in my place

      Reply
      • Lisa Millar

        Aparently you are about the only one who replied correctly to my question. Everyone else got on the ant kick. Thanks for the info but I never heard of
        pHypoaspis miles. What is it and where can I get it. Didn't understand what you meant by 'in the soil'. These fruit flies are the tiny bugs flying around, mostly in the kitchen. Sometimes unclean restaurants get them. Thanks

        Reply
        • nardly

          they are super tiny predator mites that attack young fungus gnats & larvae in the soil before they grow to maturity and buzz around your house... organic growers use them so they can avoid pesticides... garden centres often have them... google them for better info than I can give here

          Reply
    • WRS

      Very easy solution for fruit flies: Put a bit of overripe banana or other fruit in the bottom of a clear glass container. Cover the top with foil or plastic wrap, and poke small holes in it. The tines of a fork work well, if you're careful to use only the tips, so as not to make the holes too large. Put it in the area where the flies are a problem. The flies will go in through the holes but it's harder for them to get back out, so you'll very quickly have a bowl full of little flies, which you can then safely release outdoors. We had an issue with them where I work. The boss wanted to poison them. I put one of these traps in, and within half an hour had maybe a hundred in it. The next catch was smaller. By the end of the day, there wasn't a fruit fly to be found in the building, and I hadn't been forced to kill them.

      Reply
      • Lisa Millar

        Thanks for the info on fruit flies. I used a small wine bottle with 1/2 inch wine in it; worked great for a while but I guess those that didn't die didn't like the hangovers.
        Will try what you suggest. I did put an overripe banana in a bowl, didn't kill or attract many but with your suggestion, it might work. Thanks again. If it works, I'll let you know if I can get back to you.

        Reply
        • WRS

          Hope it works for you! I don't like to use liquid because the flies can drown in it. Which I know is the idea for a lot of folks, but I prefer to release them. The first bait I used was a little bit of the microwaveable apple crisp they were hanging around trying to steal from me at lunch. They LOVED that. The bananas I've used since are poor second, but they do the job if you don't have time to bake for the little rascals ;-)

          Reply
  • Japazon69

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

    Reply
    • C Wass

      Safer Pantry Pest Traps work for pantry moths. I had an awful invasion of pantry moths brought in with a purchased bag of sunflower seeds. You will need to go through your pantry and check all food items for the moths. Get rid of everything you suspect may contain the moths or larvae. Vacuum well, paying close attention to any crevices where they can hide (around baseboards and shelves). Wipe everything down, twice. That includes, shelves, floor, ceiling, walls, boxes and containers you decide to keep. Put all pest free and new flours, cereals, grains, pasta, crackers, and nuts in zip bags or good quality, tightly sealed containers or zip bags inside good quality, tightly sealed containers...really, you can't overdo it here. It may take a while to get rid of all the moths as any hidden larvae go through their life cycle, but as they are trapped their numbers will diminish because they can't reproduce. I keep a trap in my pantry at all times, even though I haven't seen a moth in over a year. I never want to go through that again! The traps are easy to use and safe. Good luck!

      Reply
  • Jennifer Garrett
    Jennifer Garrett August 22, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    DOES CORNMEAL WORK ON FIRE ANTS?

    Reply
  • Sandra Short

    Will it work on cockcroaches? Anyone know what does?

    Reply
  • 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....

    Reply
    • Laurie McCabe

      except that my cats LOVE being outside and come in every night. I used to have my kitties inside only and it was so sad to watch their 2 little faces wanting to be in the sunshine outside, chew on the grass, chase a butterfly. I am scared to have them outside, but they were meant to be there, and they are happier to come in.

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
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