Blog: Ants in the Mailbox

October 13, 2016
Country Mailbox

Temporary ant nursery

Heidi Stonehill

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A few weeks ago, I had a surprise one morning when I opened my mailbox to put in a letter. Inside were dozens of medium-sized black ants busily tending a nursery of a hundred or so cream-colored eggs.

Well, thank goodness for the Internet! I quickly scanned the Web to see if anyone else had this trouble, and sure enough, quite a few people did. They had recommended some courses of action and I tried several, just in case. Whether it was one method in particular or the combination of all that did the trick, the ants have not returned.

In case you ever have this happen to you, here is what worked for me:

  1. Clear out the ant nursery (Not a pleasant task. I felt sorry for the ants, but it had to be done).
  2. Wash the interior and outside of the mailbox, and upper part of post, with a liquid disinfectant.
  3. Wash with vinegar.
  4. Wash with soap and water (I used liquid hand soap).
  5. Place a fabric softener sheet inside the box, over any entrance holes (The mail certainly smelled fragrant the first day, but the scent faded after that).

Have you had an experience with ants in the mailbox? Share your tips with readers in the Reader Comments section below. Thank you!

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Your Old Farmer’s Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments!

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Ants in the mailbox

SImply sprinkled whole cloves in the mailbox & they were gone w/in 24 hours.

discourage ants in mailbox without killing!

every summer it happens at least once - that a colony of ants decides to make their 'nursery' in my mailbox. While I appreciate the diligence of some of the suggestions - most involve more time/work than necessary - and I refuse to use poison chemicals....or to needlessly kill ants when all I want is for them to move elsewhere. Solution? go to your kitchen! There you will find - salt (I use sea salt but it does not matter), chili powder, red pepper powder, cinnamon. Combine these in any amount you deem necessary - usually a teaspoon each will suffice (and no worries if you are lacking in one of the above - it will still work!) Place in a bowl and blend with a spoon...then off to your mailbox you go! open the door - sprinkle a goodly portion right ON the eggs etc...where the post joins the box, then around the inside edges of box. leave the door open overnight. Voila! they will LEAVE and not come back! (at least for this year) Much less work for you, not stinky and NO poison involved!!!!!!!!!

mailbox ants

I opened the box, left it open, they moved out. Put in a paper towel soaked in white vinegar for good measure. They're all gone. I'll wait to close the box until tomorrow morning. Don't expect they'll try that again.

Ants in the mail

I had the same problem. My reaction was to put one of those small plastic ant products that you can place around your house to attract the ants. They take it back to the colony and it sends them to their final farewell. I've had the same one in there for over a year and they have not returned. Just place it in the back of the box. Problem solved!


You may want to notice if they appear during a heavy rain. It rained hard last evening. Thousands ants were in the mail box 2 hours ago when I checked the mail. I went back a few minutes ago to clean up after reading about it. They are gone, just a few were left. They left on their own after the rain. It may take a few hours including overnight. I am glad no killing was involved.

Let the Ants do the Work

No need for you to clean out the nursery. Simply leave the mailbox open for an hour and the ants will relocate it themselves. (But they will try to move in again and again if other measures aren't taken to prevent them from doing so.)

my neighbor lady saw me

my neighbor lady saw me spraying poison in my mailbox and came over with a medicine cup with two mothballs in it, she said she had the same trouble with ants but just put the cup w/mothballs in the back of the mailbox, the ants won't colonize there. it worked!! they haven't come back, but the mail will be stinky. haven't tried a dryer sheet, good idea & less stinky! :)

I'm a retired mailman and

I'm a retired mailman and have written a post in my Butter Rum Cartoon blog on the easiest and best way to get ants out of your mailbox: http://oldelephantwings.blogsp...

So I've retrieved my mail,

So I've retrieved my mail, cleared out the ants, washed the mailbox with a disinfectant and now have left the mailbox open. Tomorrow, when George delivers my mail, will he then close my mailbox? Or, will my mail be visible to all passers by?


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