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If you happened to be around this blog in May 2014 you may remember this post, Me Verses the Ants. Verses Cinnamon. where I attempted to experiment on ants using cinnamon. Can I tell you a secret though? We STILL have ant issues at our house! 

What happens in SimAnt when the ants take over the human’s house.

We’ve tried it all. Heavy duty ant spray. Locking away all our food. We’ve even banished our trash can to outside since the ants couldn’t stay away from it. We’re basically living a real-life version of the 90s computer game SimAnt; the ants have taken over our house, and this is us —–>

Sometimes we get the ants to go away for a week or two. But they always come back. They always come back. 

Loooong Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh……..

Somewhere recently I read about a peppermint oil ant repellent trick using essential oils. Because essential oils are apparently the cure for everything, right? :) Any brand of oils is fine, but I often buy Eden’s Garden brand from Amazon. The original recipe called for: IMG_5502 (1024x683)
peppermint oil (7 drops)
tea tree oil (4 drops), and
tea tree oil (7 drops), and since I happened to have all on hand. I tried it. I also threw in some:
powered cinnamon (a couple teaspoons) for good measure. The original recipe called to mix it in a small spray bottle with water, but I didn’t have an extra spray bottle on hand, so I mixed it with:
coconut oil (a few tablespoons) and used a paintbrush to apply. 

And I decided to do some more ant experiments. Hold on to something guys – this is gonna be a fun ride of a post:

For bait, I mixed some water, powered sugar, and food coloring (for color). I also later used some actual food as additional bait which you might see in the pictures.IMG_5481 (1024x853)

At 7:40pm – I taped a piece of white paper to the counter and used a dropper to make bait droplets. While waiting for ant action, I started exploring other areas of my kitchen on the hunt for ants. PaperAntExperiment

By 7:45pm – I’d already found two stray ants crawling on our stove. I “captured” them by quickly painting a circle around them with my cinnamon oil mixture. They couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) escape! My guess is the scent of the oils throws off their pheromones and they get lost? I’m not positive, as I’m not an ant expert, but whatever happens to cause the ants to remain trapped in the tiny oil circle – pretty cool. IMG_5504 (1024x797) (2)

7:49pm – getting impatient. I add some pieces of turkey sandwich meat for additional bait.IMG_5510 (1024x697)

7:58pm – I’ve now got 4 ants trapped on the stove.IMG_5519 (1024x871) (2)

8:01pm – 7 ants on the stove.IMG_5523 (1024x807)

8:02pm – First ant on the white paper!! My daughter enjoyed doing these experiment with me before bed. IMG_5525 (1024x683)

8:04pm – an ant on the stove ventured into the boundary and perished. PerishedAnt1

8:08pm – while waiting, I decided to paint the inside rim of my kitchen compost bin and see if any more ants would get into it overnight like they had the previous night.IMG_5534 (908x1024)

8:15pm – oh no! I lost an ant from one of the “cages”!AnEscapee

8:17pm – oh ants…..where are you….?IMG_5544 (1024x753)

— Took a break to go watch some tv with KP —

9:08pm – I came back to discover that I’d now lost 3 more ants from their cages!! 2 more ants had attempted to escape and perished, and I still had 1 trapped. EscapedAnts
9:13pm – Meanwhile, I’ve still only got a measly 3 ants over on the white paper. AntAntAnt

— I dripped a little water on the bait to freshen things up and went back to watch more tv. —

10:06pm – FINALLY!!!! ANTS!!!! My experiment can begin! IMG_5586 (1024x778)

Ants are kind of cool.AntAreCool

10:14pm – not sure exactly what I’m doing, but planning to create some sort of…IMG_5606 (1024x683)

10:21pm – …ant maze.IMG_5611 (1024x675)

10:31pm – I decide to check on my last remaining stove ant. Perished next to his friend. RIP ants. I’m sorry. But not too sorry…can y’all please stay out of my house? IMG_5628 (1024x825)

10:47pm – the oil’s mostly seeped into the paper and I had fun and captured a bunch of ants that’d been after some of the deli meat to the side of the paper too.AntsBeforeBed

— it’s getting late. I wipe off the stove and go to bed. But I leave the white paper, curious to see what it will look like in the morning. I’m glad I have a husband willing to let me leave dying ants on the counter top overnight in pursuit of science. —

7:52am – I know it’s hard to see due to the granite counter top pattern – but many ants have perished here.IMG_5655 (1024x683)

Some ants crawled into the green goodness, never to crawl back out.IMG_5653 (1024x862)

Even the oil-soaked paper proved too much for this guy. IMG_5654 (1024x854)

dashedbar-300x23Moral of the story: I think there’s something to this peppermint oil ant repellent mixture after all!!dashedbar-300x23

Oh, and look at my compost bin! Even with newly-added banana peels! No ants!IMG_5650 (1024x835)

Over the next week, I experimented a bit more…with the mixture, not the ants. And I think I’ve discovered that the secret sauce must be the peppermint oil. I can find lots more diy repellent tricks using peppermint, but not as many using lemon or tea tree. Also, I cut out the cinnamon, preferring instead a clear repellent.

For the past several days, every time I see ants, I whip out my oil mixture and paintbrush and lightly brush the areas of baseboards, cupboards, the gap between the stove and counter, etc, or anywhere I think ants might be getting in. I don’t want to make any guarantees or promises just yet, but I think I’m noticing some significant difference in the number of invading ants! I’m going to keep using this. And hey, if anything, it makes our kitchen smell all Christmas-y, which is never really a bad thing!



4 Comments on Banish Them All! Experiments With Peppermint Oil Ant Repellent

  1. I stumbled upon this “method” a few days ago and ordered some peppermint oil. Received the oil today and was just googling to double check on what people say about this and saw your experiment. Hats off to your scientific approach. I hope your house has been as ant-free as we all hope ours to be. Thanks. =)

    • Kind of a side note, but I just checked out your Pompeii & Herculaneum post. My kids and I went to a Pompeii exhibit here earlier this week and we’re all into it right now, watching videos, reading books, etc. I hope we get to travel there one day!

  2. Did you make a mistake when you wrote tea tree oil twice as shown in your article as shown below? What is the third ingredient really supposed to be?

    peppermint oil (7 drops)
    – tea tree oil (4 drops), and
    – tea tree oil (7 drops), and since

    • oh, I never noticed that before! I must have meant lemon for one of the “tea trees’ but I can’t remember which one. I think whether or not you put in 4 or 7 drops would be fine though. It’s the peppermint that does the main trick!

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