I'm sure it has happened at your home -- maybe by a door, or in the driveway, or on your patio. You're outside, enjoying a sunny day in the yard, and, to your dismay, you notice one of those big, black, wriggling clusters of ants. Yuck.
Even now as the summer dwindles to a close, you're likely to still see ants everywhere, inside and out. It doesn't help, either, when you live with little kids who leave crumbs and bits of food in their wakes. I've been able to keep the occasional ants that make it into the house at bay, but until last summer, I hadn't found anything that worked really well on them outside.
I take that back. There is that blue can of aerosol ant spray my husband bought -- that always does the trick -- but I hate the fumes and chemicals, especially around my young kids. Plus, I always feel a little wary of killing insects for just being...well...insects. When they're in my house, I'm not so friendly, but outdoors is their turf, really.
Still, writhing clusters of ants around my house isn't something I want (especially when they start making their way indoors). For that reason, I've tried all sorts of natural ways keep them away from my house and outdoor living areas -- mint leaves, salt, baking soda, vinegar, etc. They've all worked okay, but not nearly as well as the stinky poison spray.
Back when I took my beekeeping class and the topic of pests came up, the instructor suggested using ground cinnamon to keep ants away from hives. Sure enough, last summer, while doing an inspection of our hives, my husband and I noticed that one of the hives had ants crawling around it, on the cover, and even a couple on top of some of the frames inside. So, as instructed, we sprinkled cinnamon around on the ground below the hives (since they're up on cinder-blocks) and dusted some on the cinder-blocks, too. A week later when we inspected again, there was no sign of ants. The cinnamon worked so well!
A couple weeks after we tried it with our beehives, my older son ran into the backyard shouting, "Mom! There are millions of ants going into the garage!" I went inside and grabbed my big cinnamon container.
I'm not sure there were millions, but there were a lot of ants on the ground by the open garage door and also crawling up bricks next to it. The second the cinnamon hit the ground and the backs of the ants, they all started freaking out. My son found this all pretty exciting. "Oooh, they hate that stuff!"
In no time, the ants were high-tailing it out of there and the corner by our garage door was ant-free!
The cinnamon doesn't kill them, it's just a deterrent. This allows the colony to go make a home somewhere else. I use this when I see big clusters of ants and I also sprinkle it in front of the entrances of my house as a barrier from time to time.
I bought my big bottle of cinnamon at Costco for less than $3, so I didn't mind using a generous amount on our ant invasion. (Sidenote: the Kirkland brand of cinnamon is my favorite! It has such a great flavor and smell.) Even with the generous sprinkling, I only used a few cents' worth. It's a much cheaper (and eco-friendlier) alternative to buying that can of ant spray (I checked Amazon -- a can of the stuff runs for around $5-10).
Not only is the cinnamon a non-toxic alternative, but it smells nice, too. After I used it on those ants, for the next day or so you could smell little notes of cinnamon in the garage! All in all, it's a pretty pleasant way to get rid of some not-so-pleasant invaders.