Don't DIY That: Ant Control
Thanks to the Internet and easy access to information these days, home remedies and routine household maintenance have made a comeback. This do-it-yourself culture has extended to the realm of pest control. An online search for “how to get rid of ants" or “DIY ant repellent" will yield page after page of results.
However, ant control is best left to the professionals. Why? Read on to find out more about how ant infestations can affect your home and the reasons you should leave treatment to a professional.
Problems That Ants Can Cause
There are more than 700 known species of ants living in the United States, though there are only a handful that will invade your home. The issues caused by ants will depend on what species has infested your house. In many cases, ants don't cause any problems other than being a nuisance.
However, there are some ants that can cause trouble. Pharaoh ants, for example, are irritated by many aerosol and liquid treatments, which causes the colony to split up into many different colonies. This is called budding, and can cause different infestations in many areas of the home.
Effectiveness Issues When It Comes to DIY Ant Control
Is it possible for DIY ant repellents ("ant repellants," to some) to be effective? Sure, in the perfect combination of scenarios. However, there are several issues you could easily encounter that present DIY challenges. Here are a few:
- There are different species of ants that can invade your home, and each may only respond to a certain type of bait or repellent. It can be hard to properly identify the ant and know which product to use if you're not trained to do so. The species identification helps you know which measure to use so you don't split a colony or create a problem in a different area.
- There are some people who would put money on ant control home remedies and hacks, such as utilizing cinnamon or white vinegar. While these methods may seem to work from time to time, their effectiveness is typically short-lived or mere coincidence.
- DIY ant control remedies only tend to address ants you can see, not the hundreds to thousands that may be nesting in hidden areas of your home.
- More often than not, people try to control the problem using home remedies and DIY ant repellent first. But the issue with most of these solutions is that they aren't consistently effective and often lead to ants sneaking their way back into your home. And misapplication can also be an issue. It's not uncommon for homeowners to over-apply pesticides in their homes, which can be a hazard for people and pets.
- It's very important to follow label instructions when applying pesticides, whether you're a professional or DIY'ing.
Homemade Ant Sprays and Repellents
So which home remedies and DIY ant repellent can you use for ants? Let's find out.
Cinnamon is often looked to as an effective ant deterrent DIY option. One prevailing myth involves soaking a cotton ball in essential oils like cinnamon and using it to swab areas where ants congregate (such as around doors and windows).
A 2014 study recorded in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications noted that cinnamon essential oil can help to repel ants.
However, the efficacy of this DIY solution depends upon the concentration of the cinnamon oil and where it's placed. For it to work, a high concentration of cinnamon oil needs to be used, and it should be placed at the places where ants are entering your home. Without proper expertise, it can be difficult to pinpoint the precise location of where ants are making their way into your home. That's where a pest control professional can help.
Another common DIY ant control method is to use vinegar as a home remedy for ants. One solution is to fill a spray bottle and apply vinegar to areas where ants are entering your home, as well as places where food is stored — specifically sweet and sugary snacks that may attract ants.
Vinegar's pungent aroma masks the ants' trail of pheromones, preventing an ant or its colony from finding food. While vinegar might temporarily stop ants from tracking down food in your home, it will have little to no impact on any ant infestation already in your home. Contrary to popular belief, vinegar will not kill ants. Also, vinegar can attract fruit flies.
Lemon has also been viewed as another homemade ant deterrent for insects. For many of the same reasons previously mentioned — such as the public's lack of training in pinpointing ant entry points — and the potential for the solution to evaporate, lemon is not a long-lasting DIY solution for repelling ants. While it may work for a short time, it's best to call in a professional exterminator to help eliminate your ant problem.
Does DIY Ant Control Save Money?
In the short-term, DIY ant control methods might save you money. However, in the long run, you may wind up not saving a thing. You'll find that you buy the ingredients, use the spray or dust, the ants leave, and then they return. You may find yourself in a cycle of treating the ant infestation, only to see them return over and over again.
It can be difficult to determine what type of ant has invaded your home, and there's no universal ant treatment. If you're unsure of which ant or pest you're dealing with, you may have to keep ruling out different baits or treatments, all of which cost money and can eat up your time. And in some cases, using the wrong ant control method could even make the problem worse. For instance, if Pharaoh ants aren't controlled with the proper baits, you could cause them to split into new colonies through a process called "budding."
You'll find yourself constantly adding the products to control ants to your shopping list. In the long run, you'll likely save time, money and hassle by hiring an exterminator at the first sign of an ant infestation.
Effectiveness of DIY Ant Control
For a short period of time, some DIY ant repellents may stave off an infestation. However, they aren't a permanent solution. DIY ant control methods can create a mess and unpleasant odors in your home.
If you find ants on a weekend or over a holiday, you might consider one of these homemade ant deterrents until you can call in a professional. For more effective and long-term control, though, you need a solution that only comes from a professional exterminator.
The Best Way to Get Rid of Ants Yourself
There's really not a great way to fully get rid of ants yourself, but there are some things you can do at home to try to prevent them from getting in and forming a colony.
Ant prevention techniques are a good DIY solution, as they help make your home less appealing to ants and reduce the potential for an infestation to occur in the first place.
How to help prevent ants:
- Regularly mop and sweep floors to get rid of crumbs or spilled liquids that may attract ants.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Have a professional block off any and all entry points by sealing cracks and crevices around your property.
- Limit exterior moisture sources and indoor leaks. Some types of ants, such as carpenter ants, may be attracted to water-damaged wood and establish a nest in it.
- Keep vegetation from touching the structure as it can create a bridge for ants.
- Promptly remove fruit and vegetables from the ground as they can serve as a food source for ants and other pests.
- Keep your yard free of debris, like fallen limbs.
Pesticides Need to be Used Correctly
When using pesticides, read and follow all directions that came with the product before performing any treatment. Most homeowners have not been trained on how to properly use these products, including how much to use them and where to (and not to) apply them. When these pesticides are used incorrectly, they can result in ineffective pest control and potentially a multitude of problems, like: food or surface contamination, exposure concerns, skin problems, respiratory issues and more.
Trust Professional Ant Control Services
The most effective solution to get rid of ants is to enlist the help of an ant control professional. Although some DIY ant control solutions and home remedies may give the impression they are working (especially in the short term), they are often ineffective.
Begin an effective solution to stop ants today, with Terminix®. We will treat your home with exactly what it needs and give you expert advice to help you focus on what will prevent ants. And it starts with identifying the species of ant and likely nesting sites, which will result in targeting not only entry points, but also the colony.
Let us know about your ant problem, so we can eliminate these pests for you as soon as possible.