It's hard to escape ants in spring.
And that's not a bad thing: Ants are important. They help decompose soil, can keep other insect populations down, and assist in the pollination process.
But when they get into your home, that can be a big problem. While they don't spread disease, sugar ants will gather around bits of food left lying around, and others -- like carpenter ants -- can cause structural damage to wooden homes.
Here are five natural ways to keep ants out of your home.
5. USE MINT
You can deter ants from entering your homes by growing mint outside your door or by spraying entryways with a mixture of peppermint essential oil and water. This may help keep other insects away as well, like fruit flies.
4. TRY VINEGAR
Ants don't like the smell of vinegar and wiping down surfaces with a 50-50 mixture of water and vinegar will help keep them away. As a bonus, this also works as a good cleaner.
One thing to keep in mind: Vinegar isn't safe to use on all surfaces, especially natural stone countertops. If that's what you have in your home, you may want to consider using ...
3. CITRUS AND TEA TREE OILS
Ants follow a scent trail, and spraying a mixture of citrus and/or tea tree oil around will eliminate throw them off track. Citrus oil also contains d-limonene, which is toxic to ants. But here's something to keep in mind: d-limonene is also toxic to cats, so you may want to consider something else if your home has feline occupants.
2. CLEAN FREQUENTLY
Ants love sticky surfaces and crumbs, so make sure to keep surfaces clean.
Once you've spotted one ant in your home, it's a good sign to start cleaning. Other tips include:
Storing produce in the fridge.
Throwing out overripe fruits and veggies right away.
Taking out the garbage regularly.
File photo/Getty Images.
1. TRY CORNMEAL
There are a few articles on the web suggesting that cornmeal will kill ants because they can't digest it. Try sprinkling it near entry points or any areas ants may be congregating.