How to Get Rid of Ants

Ants can sneak up on you. One day you spot something small running across your kitchen floor out of the corner of your eye, and the next day you see an army of ants marching into your pasta cabinet. But you are much bigger than these little buggers, that you can probably get rid of them on your own without calling pest controllers, right? In most cases you can, and we’re here to tell you how.

Identify the ant

Start by identifying the type of ants in your home so you can learn how they nest and better understand where they live (they may nest outdoors). There are several ways to do this. First you need to take a close-up shot of the ant. Then search Google Image for “ants” and see if you are familiar with any of the critters that appear.

For a more accurate (but time-consuming) answer, Family Handyman suggests emailing a photo of an ant to a local university support team. They should be able to tell you which ant you are dealing with and where it nests.

Find out where they come from

Instead of just crushing the ants as soon as you see them, take the time to figure out where they are from. Maybe you accidentally spilled maple syrup in the cupboard while the ants are feasting. They can also cook drips and spilled grease under your microwave . If you find a clear source, purify it. Once their food source is eliminated, the ants can actually lose interest and leave on their own.

Cover their tracks

Ants tend to travel in packs (which is why you usually don’t see a single ant) ​​and leave a trail of their pheromones for friends to follow and find their food source. Country Living’s Marybeth Jones recommends using a solution of one part vinegar and three parts water and spray it wherever you spot ants.

Close their entry points

You also need to make sure they cannot get inside from the outside. According to DoMyOwn employees, here’s what to do:

Cover cracks and crevices around window and door frames, around baseboards, and other places where you notice ants infiltrating the structure with sealant or other suitable material.

Cover openings around cable pipes and wires with copper mesh or other suitable material.

Push and kill

Now it’s time to use something that will scare and kill the ants at the same time, driving them out of your home. You have several options for this. There are many chemical based ant control sprays available at your local hardware store or large store if you want to go that route. In this case, look for a product that contains boric acid, and if it bothers you, check the label to see if the spray is toxic to pets and / or children. Also pay attention to whether the spray is for indoor or outdoor use and use it accordingly. If you’re looking for product recommendations, The Spruce has a few favorites.

But not everyone has access to chemical sprays. Consumer Reports Senior Research Fellow Michael Hansen, Ph.D. , biologist and ecologist who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Integrated Pest Management, recommends avoiding them:

“I would say that insect repellent sprays are ineffective against ants and completely kill them,” says CR’s Hansen. “To make matters worse, some of these sprays contain chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system and can alter our hormones. Similar compounds have been linked to neurobehavioral effects in children, including lower IQ and increased ADHD, even at the low levels you would be exposed to when spraying at home. ”

As a result, you may prefer a more natural approach, and you’re in luck because there are several. In fact, it’s a topic we’ve discussed extensively in the past, including the use of baby powder , coffee grounds , mint , cornmeal , diatomaceous earth , chalk, and spices . Country Living offers two other options: Prepare a solution of peppermint or rosemary oil and water and spray it on various entry points such as window sills and doorways. Sure, Consumer Reports’ Hansen can point out that natural barrier sprays aren’t effective either, but at least you’re not spraying harmful chemicals in your home.

Instead, Consumer Reports experts recommend using ant bait . This sweet, sweet syrup lures the ants, allowing them to track the liquid back to the ant colony to kill the larvae and control the population. Wirecutter recommends using the Terro T300 liquid ant bait because “they are easy to use, widely available, and their effective, slow-acting poisons kill the entire colony.”

Don’t let them come in

Of course, the best way to deal with ants is to make sure they don’t get inside at all. The most obvious way to do this is to keep your home, especially your kitchen, clean. Country Living also recommends patching up any cracks or potential entry points, stash away any sweets (and keep them well packed), clean countertops regularly, and take out the trash regularly.

Likewise, remove damp spots or rotten wood in your home, Consumer Reports said . Pay special attention to showers, windows, wet areas in the basement, and wherever there are leaks. (And be sure to fix this leak.)

Call professionals if necessary

If none of this works and you really can’t get rid of the ants, it’s probably time to call a pest control officer. You shouldn’t live with these pests in your home.

This story was originally published on 5/16/13 and was updated on 10/9/19 to provide more complete and up-to-date information.


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