I am not sure this question should be in Buddism exchange or this exchange. I do not want to kill the ants. Recently I saw a lot of ants coming to my table on the plain tissues with nothing on it. I am wondering how to get rid of these ants without killing them.


4 Answers 4


It is difficult to argue with ants. We don't speak the same language; but, we do think alike. Not only do we think alike, we are motivated by choice.

The easy general answer is find something that your ant colony prefers instead of your residence. The difficult part is discovering what that is specifically.

Most individuals will look to remove 'household pests' using force (mechanical removal, entombment, poison, natural predation, and dehydration.)

If you have the time and dogged determination, you can try to:

  • Identify the species and variety of your 'guests.'
  • Identify what your 'guests' prefer to eat to survive such as some kinds of honey or sugar (cheaper).
  • Locate the source of the population and their routes from their location to yours.
  • Place the supply of desirable foodstuff away from your location with a 'cookie-crumb' trail to lead your 'guests' to your alternate location.
  • Continue to evacuate stragglers and explorers that you find wandering around as gently as possible.
  • Block existing routes with material that your 'guests' find objectionable. When you find things that your 'guests' enjoy, there will be an opposing list of things that repel them such as black pepper.

Good Luck.


My hack is to:

  • Stand each leg of the table in an empty can

  • Stand each of those in a larger can

  • Fill the outer can with oily water

The inner cans are to keep the table legs dry, so they don't soak up water. The liquid forms a sort of moat so the ants can't reach the table.

Now huff the ants off the table, or carry away the tissues they are on, or another harmless method.

  • I see, but my desk is really heavy and my room is on the second floor so it is pretty challenge to do so. Aug 12, 2021 at 9:04
  • Not sure what the floor has to do with it? Lift one end of the desk at once?
    – Caius Jard
    Aug 17, 2021 at 6:12

Someone taught me long ago (pre-Internet) that ants are "allergic" to chalk (or maybe it messes with their pheromone trails?). It has definitely worked well for me over the years with various species of ants in several countries (and these days is even listed among the first google results):

  1. locate all entry points where the ants are coming from
  2. acquire some sticks of chalk (used for writing on blackboards)
  3. use a fine strainer or sandpaper (or any other slightly abrasive object) to grate a fine layer of chalk powder near the entry points and/or to draw lines/borders where the ants should not cross. Alternately you could also just draw lines with the chalk on the floor - if you're feeling creative write something such as "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" ala Lord of the Rings ;)

You shouldn't need a lot of chalk - I personally stop as soon as the chalk powder becomes visible and wiping excess away with a wet cloth if I put down too much (purely for aesthetic reasons).

Ants being ants (i.e. absolutely tenacious), they will likely find alternative routes to your table, so you might have to repeat the process when they find a new entryway until they finally give up and go to your neighbors house instead.

  • I will give the chalk a go , but I need to buy it first... Aug 12, 2021 at 23:48
  • What kind of chalk? Blackboard chalk isn't 'chalk.' todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/05/…
    – Stan
    Aug 14, 2021 at 0:24
  • @Stan but glenneroo said "acquire some sticks of chalk (used for writing on blackboards)" ? Aug 14, 2021 at 4:50
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    Yes. I mention it because blackboard chalk is now manufactured and is different from what it was several years ago (before internet). If the hack doesn't seem to work now it may be due to a different kind of 'chalk.' Don't give up without trying a different type. Some of the different uses of chalk and their types include blackboard chalk which is made from gypsum, sidewalk chalk, agriculture chalk made from calcium carbonate and calcium oxide. It kills the pests by shredding their exoskeleton protection like diatomaceous earth does.
    – Stan
    Aug 14, 2021 at 15:43
  • @Stan Good point, but I'm pretty sure the chalk I've been buying for my blackboard is also the cheap stuff (i.e. not calcium carbonate) and seems to be just as effective as the "real" chalk that was the standard in the 90s.
    – glenneroo
    Sep 11, 2021 at 16:21

Those are the steps I'd take:

  1. Carefully lift the tissue paper with one or more ants on it, holding it so they're far from your fingers.
  2. Walk outside, with the paper held firmly. The ants will cling to the paper and won't fall, but switch the location of the fingers from time to time to avoid the ants climbing on the fingers as it would make it harder to get rid of them.
  3. When outside, place the paper on the ground and let the ants go away. Seeing actual earth/dirt/bushes they'll surely prefer going there over staying on the paper.
  4. Get back inside with the paper, if there are still ants place it on the infected area again, wait for ants to get on it, and repeat steps 1-3.

Good luck!

The above is for taking the ants away, after they already arrived. To prevent them from arriving in the first place, I found some useful tips in the Canadian Wildlife Federation:

  • Vinegar – using a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water, wipe down cupboards, countertops or other places you’ve noticed ant activity. Ants don’t like the smell of vinegar and it also works to remove the ants scent trails.
  • Borax – Place a mixture of borax and syrup or jelly (equal parts of each) and place where you’ve noticed ant activity. The borax damages the ant’s digestive system resulting in death.
  • Sprinkle garlic, black pepper, chili pepper, cloves, mint or cinnamon where you’ve noticed ants and around your house foundation. Ants reportedly don’t like the smell of these herbs and spices.
  • Placing bay leaves in your cupboards and drawers helps to repel ants because they don’t like the smell.
  • Leave cucumber and orange peels where you’ve noticed ant activity. These peels are said to be toxic to the fungi ants feed on.
  • Ants don’t like the smell of coffee grounds. Sprinkle your used coffee grounds in your garden and other areas.
  • 1
    I mean, how to prevent them not coming anymore tho? Aug 12, 2021 at 9:03
  • 1
    @NoviceMindset Stan mentioned something in his answer, I added some more possible actions, see edited answer. Good luck! Aug 13, 2021 at 11:12
  • Borax and other toxic compounds probably don't qualify as non-lethal repellants.
    – Stan
    Aug 14, 2021 at 0:27
  • @Stan well, I copied the whole relevant part, OP can take the non-lethal parts. Aug 14, 2021 at 7:16
  • Yes, Jus' sayin'
    – Stan
    Aug 14, 2021 at 13:17

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