When people use the expression “natural control”, they can mean several different things. Some people use the term “natural control” when they mean non-chemical methods. (Non-chemical control is part of a program called Integrated Pest management, or IPM.) Non-chemical methods include cleaning up food and drink spills, keeping food in sealed containers, and storing recycling bins outdoors.
There are many other non-chemical methods that help to control ants. Installing weather-stripping or door sweeps on exterior doors helps keep ants out of buildings. Inserting plastic screen into weep holes also helps keep ants out of buildings that have brick exteriors. Trimming trees and shrubs that touch the building can prevent ants from “bridging” into the building. Mowing grass and raking mulch away from the foundation can make the area less attractive to the ants.
Some people use the term “natural control” to describe a pest control program that uses “natural” insecticides. There are a variety of these products available. There are products that have extracts of citrus, peppers, spices, or other food-type ingredients. There are several insecticides made from flowers. Pyrethrum is an extract of chrysanthemums. (Pyrethroids are insecticides made from synthetic Pyrethrum.) These ingredients are available in liquid, dust, and aerosol insecticides. The effectiveness can depend on the product that is used and the surface where it is applied.
Some people say “natural” when they mean products extracted from the earth. There are several insecticides made from minerals. The material is mined from the earth. Then, depending on the way it will be used, it is crushed into powder, refined, or processed. Boric acid is an effective insecticide. It is used as a dust and it is often mixed into ant baits. Silica gel and diatomaceous earth are also effective insecticides that are made from mineral ingredients. They are usually used as dusts. These insecticides are useful in controlling ants and many other insects.
Many people use the term “natural ant control” to describe the use of insecticidal bait to control ants. Ant colonies send a few workers out to find food. The workers bring the food back to the colony and share it with all of the other ants. In a baiting program, ant bait is placed near the ant trail. The workers bring the bait back to the nest and share it with the rest of the colony. By this process, the ants assist in their own control. When the workers deliver the bait to the queen, she dies. This is the key part of an ant control program. When the queen stops producing eggs, the colony will die and the infestation will end.