As a child, you may have seen many cartoons were an army of ants invades a picnic and humorously carries away the meal, much to the dismay of the characters. While you may have laughed then, you're probably not as fond of ants now that you're a homeowner.

Like boxelder bugs, ants don't pose many health threats. They also don't present as many dangers to your home as termites. However, like rats and roaches, they will snack on your food. Plus, they appear in large numbers, which doesn't provide for a pretty sight when numerous ants are crowding around a dropped piece of food. Keep in mind there are various types of these critters, and some can be more aggressive than others.

Not only can ants be a problem in your house, but they can also invade your lawn. This can present some obstacles for putting a stop to their invasion, as you don't want to use any solutions that harm the grass. The same goes for your children and pets.

Here are some ways you can tackle the problem:

  • Soapy water: This is one of many simple and low-cost solutions. Create a dish soap and water solution and put it into a spray bottle. Spray any crevices where ants are entering your home. For your lawn, pour the liquid into ant hills.
  • Distilled vinegar: Create a solution by combining the vinegar with water and wiping down your counters and other surfaces where you see ants. Not only will the liquid kill the ants, but it will also prevent them from returning.
  • Borax: Again, you can mix this item with water and put it in a spray bottle. Some homeowners also add sugar to the mixture. Although borax is a natural solution, you'll need to keep your kids and pets away from it, as it can be a skin irritant and is toxic if swallowed. You may want to consider only using borax outside.
  • Diatomaceous earth: This is a type of sediment that is formed from the fossils of small aquatic creatures called diatoms, and it is dangerous for any critters with an exoskeleton. The particles get between the insects' joints and dry them out. Diatomaceous earth is more of an exterior solution, and you can sprinkle it on ant hills. It's safe for your lawn and to eat - apparently, it has health benefits for humans.
  • Chalk: The particles that make up chalk are a natural deterrent for ants. You can draw a circle around an opening where they are entering your home or a straight line to create a barrier. They won't approach the chalk. 
  • Cucumber and orange peel: Both of these foodstuffs contain chemicals that harm ants' food supplies. If you sprinkle these peels around where the critters are coming from, they are unlikely to return.
  • Cayenne pepper or chili powder: Sprinkle some of these spices down ant hills. This solution kills existing ants and prevents others from settling in and around your home.
  • Lemon juice: Spread some of the juice by windows and doors where ants come into your house. Also, squirt some into any cracks and crevices. Lemon peel also acts as a deterrent.
  • Cinnamon: You can use ground cinnamon or cinnamon oil. This remedy isn't harmful to your kids or pets, and your house will have a nice fragrance.

Know when to call professionals

For extensive ant issues, consider scheduling a pest inspection. The expert will give your house a once-over and determine the extent of the invasion. Once you have the report, you'll get a recommendation regarding whether you need to call an exterminator.