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Natural Ways to Help Control Pests this Spring and Summer

May 28, 2021 ● By Rick Moskovitz

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As spring arrives, so do the ants, and for many homeowners they are a nuisance. But the ants were here first and are part of a balanced ecosystem. We don’t have to kill them, just keep them outside. Instead of purchasing a toxic insecticide spray or trap, there are safer, more humane alternatives.

Research shows that perhaps the most effective and safest product to keep ants out is natural cedar oil, usually sprayed on in a solution outside the home. It is naturally repelling and smells good, too. Mix one ounce of cedar oil in one quart of water, or four ounces per gallon. Treat the perimeter of the house three feet up and six feet out, making an effective barrier to keep them outside. Do not spray inside.

Eliminating the problem before it starts is the best way to keep ants outdoors. Make sure there are no readily available food sources to attract them, especially in kitchen and pantry areas. Then focus on deterring these beneficial insects from entering, as keeping them out of the house is one goal, while keeping our families and pets safe is another.

As worker ants travel from their nest, they leave a sex hormone (pheromone) scent when foraging for food, and use it to find their way back to the queen. Some commercial products may break the scent trail, but winged ants (swarmers, or reproductives) can then become new queens and create new colonies. Commercial products also are used to kill ants, not just repel them.

A mixture of glass cleaner and dish soap will also remove the pheromone trail, but will not kill, and may also repel some ants. Soapy water, pepper, peppermint oil, tea tree oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, corn starch, cinnamon leaf essential oil, white vinegar, neem oil, garlic, powdered cinnamon and coffee grounds all have varying degrees of success as repellents. Although these products are considered natural, safer alternatives, always use caution and read label directions before using. Remember, any product that is a repellant, chemical or natural, should only be used outside for ants.

Rick Moskovitz is vice president of A-Plus Natural Solutions Worldwide, Inc., and former president of A-Plus Pest Control, both in Skokie. For more information, call 312-521-0466 or visit