If you don't want to use a macro lens, you can try extension tubes, although a macro lens with auto-focus will be easier to use.
A tripod and remote shutter won't be much help if you want to get close to the level of a single ant. At that size, the depth of field will be so small that you will need to react on the fly to the ant's movement. You'll be lying down on your belly trying to get one in proper focus, being surprised how fast those buggers move at that scale.
If you are willing to focus on a small part of a ant hill or something and wait for a ant to stumble along just at the right spot, then the tripod will work. If you don't really want down to 1:1 magnification and want a wider field to catch a bunch of ants doing something, then the tripod may again be useful. However, that's not really "macro" then, although it may be too close for your existing lens. Extension tubes can be a reasonable option at that range.
It will also help if you can arrange for the scene to be as bright as possible. If this is outdoors, do it with sunlight if possible. Otherwise, add lighting if possible. You will need a small aperture to get reasonable depth of field, and you're already 2 f-stops down at 1:1 magnification. As much light as you can get will be useful to allow for as fast a shutter speed as possible.