The Kitchen Staple That'll Keep Ants Out Of The House

"The Ants Go Marching" song is adorable when your kids are belting it out on the way to day care, but when the lyrics become the soundtrack to your life as a homeowner, you know you've got problems. In the children's ditty, the six-legged insects trudge along one by one, but multiply to double digits in no time flat. If the scenario sounds similar to what you find on your counters every morning, stop singing the blues. Fortunately, there's a kitchen staple that will put an end to your aggravating ant parade: pepper.

There is a level of poetic justice knowing one of the most common insects on the planet can be deterred by one of the most common spices in the world. This is especially true for environmental warriors looking for eco-friendly means to eliminate pests from their homes. In addition, being able to use natural repellants, like pepper, rather than toxic commercial insecticides is also comforting to homeowners with family members with respiratory issues.

Granted, in general, ants are more of an annoyance than a serious health hazard; however, they can contaminate food, spread bacteria, and cause skin irritations and possible allergic reactions in those they bite. Bottom line: Ants are gross, and the sooner you can evict them from your home the better off your entire family will be.

How to use pepper to keep ants out of your home

One way to get rid of ants in your kitchen is to eliminate their food supply, which is why many homeowners are shocked to learn that a pantry staple is an effective ant blocker. You likely have black and cayenne pepper on hand to add seasoning to salads and deviled eggs, but now you can also employ the everyday spice as a go-to weapon in the war against ants — but not in the way you might think. The wingless insects won't initiate a retreat from your home by consuming the spice; rather, the peppers' powerful aroma is enough to irritate ants' sense of smell and send them scurrying in the opposite direction.

When laying a pepper trap for ants, it helps to be strategic. Start by identifying the areas of your home where you've seen the insects congregating or marching in a line. Typically, these include windowsills, doorways, vents, cracks or gaps in walls and floors, near outlets and pipes, and behind appliances. Once you locate the concerning spots, liberally sprinkle pepper to form a definitive barrier. You want to apply enough pepper so the scent is undeniably offensive to the creepy crawlers. Another option is to add black or cayenne pepper to water in a spray bottle, give it a good shake, and spritz the mixture directly on the ants or along detected entry points.

Tips to consider when using pepper as an ant deterrent

Ants possess a very acute sense of smell and walk in a line because they're following the scent left by the leader. In dousing these scent trails with pepper, you essentially disrupt the ants' foraging patterns and force them to find a new home. However, when pouring pepper barriers, be mindful of your home's other occupants. It's important to keep pets and young children away from areas you've treated with pepper so they don't inadvertently consume the spice.

Once you've erected the pepper obstacles, carefully monitor them for at least 24 hours. You should notice a decrease in ant activity; however, don't let your guard down completely. Keep an eye out in case the crawling pests decide to invade new locations while they're still under your roof. To prevent this from happening, keep your kitchen extra clean, especially during the summer months by wiping up food spills right away, washing dirty dishes immediately (rather than allowing them to sit in the sink overnight), emptying trash cans before they overflow, and vacuuming any crumbs or moisture near your pet's food bowls.

Finally, using pepper as an ant deterrent is effective if your home hasn't been hit with a major infestation. If you notice piles of sawdust near window ledges or baseboards, or you hear a hollow sound when you knock on wooden beams or floorboards in your home, consider calling a professional.