Is an army of ants marching toward the cookie jar on your countertop or some sweet prize in your pantry? Create a "moat" around the object by surrounding it with adhesive tape placed sticky side up.
If you've had it with sharing your living quarters with roaches or ants, give them the heave-ho by sprinkling boric acid along any cracks or crevices where you've spotted the intruders. Use a baster to blow small amounts of the powder into hard-to-reach corners and any deep voids you come across. Note: Keep in mind that boric acid can be toxic if ingested by young children or pets.
Keep ants at bay by drawing a line around home entry points. The ants will be repelled by the calcium carbonate in the chalk, which is actually made up of ground-up and compressed shells of marine animals. Scatter powdered chalk around garden plants to repel ants and slugs. See more uses for Chalk.
Sprinkle a line of flour along the backs of pantry shelves and wherever you see ants entering the house. Repelled by the flour, ants won't cross over the line.
If fire ants plague your yard or patio and you're tired of getting stung by the tiny attackers, a flowerpot can help you quench the problem. Place the flowerpot upside down over the anthill. Pour boiling water through the drain hole and you'll be burning down their house.
You don't need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance. The ants will get the message that they aren't welcome. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas: Simply mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water and wash your floors with it; then watch the fleas and roaches flee. They hate the smell.
Travis Rathbone for Reader's Digest
Get rid of the ants in your garden, on your patio, and along the foundation of your home. In a blender, make a smooth puree of a few orange peels in 1 cup warm water. Slowly pour the solution over and into anthills to send the little pests packing.
Two or three of your annual summer visitors have invaded your kitchen. Those ants are looking for sugar. Give them some pepper instead. Cayenne pepper sprinkled in spots where the ants are looking, such as along the backs of your countertops or on your baseboards, will tell them that no sugar is ahead.
If you find the ants' home colony a little too close to yours and it is causing them to relocate to your kitchen, cayenne pepper can help get rid of it. Pour the pepper down the ant hole and say so long to ants.
You watch helplessly as the ants march up the picnic table leg, onto the tabletop, and into the picnic meal. Here's a foolproof way to stop them in their tracks: Place a plastic container on the bottom of each picnic table leg. Fill with water. The ants won't be able to crawl past.
If ants are beating a path to your home, intercept them by sprinkling salt across the door frame or directly on their paths. Ants will be discouraged from crossing this barrier.
Herbs and spices
Flour, sugar, and paprika can all fall prey to ants. Keep these cooking essentials safe by slipping a bay leaf inside your storage containers. If you're concerned about the flour or sugar picking up a bay leaf flavor, tape the leaf to the inside of the canister lid. This trick works inside cabinets, too, where sachets of sage, bay, stick cinnamon, or whole cloves will smell pleasant while discouraging ants.
For an effective organic ant repellent, scatter talcum powder liberally around house foundations and known points of entry, such as doors and windows. Other effective organic repellents include cream of tartar, borax, powdered sulfur, and oil of cloves. You can also try planting mint around the house foundations.
Serve the ants on your premises with an eviction notice. Pour equal parts water and white vinegar into a spray bottle. Then spray it on anthills and around areas where you see the insects. Ants hate the smell of vinegar. It won't take long for them to move on to better-smelling quarters. Also keep the spray bottle handy for outdoor trips or to keep ants away from picnic or children's play areas. If you have lots of anthills around your property, try pouring full-strength vinegar over them to hasten the bugs'