How to Get Rid of Ants in the House
Ants are social insects, so when one ant enters your home, others follow. Discover a few tips to help make sure ants get out and stay out of your house.
FAQs on ant control
Once ants get into your home, there's little chance that they're going to go away on their own. You either have to learn how to get rid of ants in the house yourself, or let the professionals take care of your ant problem for you. To help you decide which course of action is best, here are some frequently asked questions on how to get rid of ants.
Why do you have an ant problem?
Ants can enter your home for any number of reasons, but more than likely, they are searching for food. Your home just happens to be close to where a queen decided to set up her colony. Just like humans, ants have to eat to survive. They also have to feed their young. It's not that they want to bother you or cause distress.
They are simply trying to eke out a living just like any other animal, insect, bug or plant on Earth. Your home represents a possible food and water source. It can also provide protection from predators and the elements, thus serving as a potential site for new colonies when they're ready to expand. Obviously you'll want to prevent this invasion and colonization from happening whenever you can.
Is it easy to learn how to get rid of ants?
Unfortunately, ant control isn't always a simple fix. Some ant infestations have nothing to do with how clean or dirty your home is. Your property could simply be a haven for ants. This can create problems for homeowners as the late spring and early summer nuptial flights take place. Large swarms of winged ants set out to start new colonies, sometimes right in the voids of your walls.
Other scenarios can be as easy to fix as getting rid of any ants that you see crawling around. Wipe down the area where the ants traveled with a regular kitchen disinfectant wipe. This will erase the scented trails they leave behind. Ants that have never been in your home can follow this trail directly to the food sources previous visitors have found.
Do you need to know what type of ants you have in order to get rid of them?
Knowing the species of ant you are dealing with is important. If you know your enemy, you will know where to find the nest, what sources of food are attracting them and which management methods will be the most effective.
For example, tiny black ants generally reside in their colony outdoors. They enter structures in order to scavenge for food such as sugar, starches and meat. A tiny black ant infestation is best treated by following the ant's trail back to the colony and treating the problem at the source. The next step would be sealing off all entry points so any remaining or future ants cannot get into your house.
On the other hand, carpenter ants require a much more dedicated approach. Carpenter ants are very hard to control, especially since they prefer to nest in moist wood. These nests can cause wood damage, and since moist wood is typically found in previously damaged locations (e.g., places with leaks, foundations that were exposed to the elements, etc.), this can potentially create a bigger nuisance than just having a few ants walking across your counter. Carpenter ant nests are difficult to find since they can nest in a variety of locations both inside and outside your home. A more thorough investigation will have to be conducted by a pest management professional before they help you draw up the most effective pest control plan for battling carpenter ants.
What's the best way to get rid of ants?
The best way to learn how to get rid of ants in the house is to learn how to prevent them. Having an ongoing service plan with a pest management professional is the key to managing pest problems in your home. Your service technician will work with your specific scenario and profile to create the best approach for getting rid of ants and keeping them out of your house in the future. This can include interior and exterior treatments, sealing up entry points around the home and placing insect growth regulators around the property.
For your part, it's important to practice proper sanitation techniques if you want to keep ants at bay. Most species of ants are simply in your home looking for food, so the harder you make it for them, the less time they are going to spend looking. In other words, if they aren't finding what they're looking for, they're going to look somewhere else (which is good news for you, but might be bad news for your neighbors).
Unfortunately, achieving a spotless home can be difficult. What looks like a clean kitchen at first glance might include a few granules of sugar on the countertop, or a couple of crumbs that fell behind the stove, upon closer inspection. This seemingly insignificant portion of food is a feast fit for a king - or an ant queen once the workers bring it back. To avoid this, don't just wipe down surfaces. Vacuum every day, paying close attention to the baseboards, behind furniture and appliances as well as other areas you might typically miss.
Additionally, ants will get in your trash, so waste management is vital to ant control. Remove garbage from the premises immediately. Use the garbage disposal rather than leaving food sitting around in a trash can.
What are some quick ways to starve ants out?
In addition to wiping down surfaces and vacuuming the floors, proper food storage is important. An ant can easily climb inside an open box of cookies, even if you've rolled the inside bag tightly and used the tabbed closing function on the box top. When in doubt, always remember that the average manufacturer's packaging is rarely made to withstand ant invasions.
Instead, take it upon yourself to purchase airtight containers in order to store your food. The lids should lock tightly, providing no means for an ant or any other scavenger to gain entry. Wipe down the outside of storage bins and other containers after every use. Ants can feed on the "invisible" residue you leave behind, such as the outside of a sticky jelly jar or excess film from a spill you thought you had cleaned up. It goes without saying that you should keep as much food as possible stored in places that are harder to access (e.g., freezers, refrigerators, resealable plastic bags, mason jars, etc.).
Do over-the-counter ant sprays work?
Ant control that can be purchased at your local hardware store comes in many forms. It's important to remember that these substances may be harmful if the product label directions are not followed. Unfortunately, they usually won't solve an ant infestation. Sprays are meant to kill the ants you see and act as a deterrent. Most over-the-counter products have no residual (or lasting) effect. If the ants are still able to enter your home, they will simply find a way around the spray. Plus, their colony will still be intact, producing more and more ants, all of which will be hungry and headed for you.
Additionally, some colonies are nearly impossible to reach without special equipment. If a colony or nest is located within your walls, a simple spray that anyone can buy will not be sufficient to properly treat the colony. Similarly, outdoor colonies can extend far below the surface, which is where most over-the-counter treatments stop working.
Why do some colonies still survive after treatment?
In addition to inadequate delivery of treatment, colonies can continue to thrive for one other simple reason: the queen ant survives. Ant problems don't start in your home, they start in the nest. You only recognize the problem once the ants have invaded your living space. And while you might think that the more ants you see, the more chance they'll be breeding, this is not the case.
The one sole ant in charge of populating the entire nest is the queen. As long as she is unharmed, she can produce more ants to enter your home. The more she makes, the more they need to eat. Complicating the matter is that the queen ant never leaves the nest after she has established her colony, so there's no chance you'll get to her when you kill those ants in your kitchen.
She creates worker ants to feed the young inside the nest, which she is continually populating. The worker ants are the ones you see in your house. Other ants in the colony include queens, soldiers and drones. So even if you learn how to get rid of ants in the kitchen, they'll soon be replaced with new workers by the queen. The only way to get rid of an ant colony that's causing problems in your home is to get rid of the queen.
Can an ant problem ever fully be solved?
While it's nice to imagine a world without pests, the truth is there are more of them than there are of us. The fight against ants and other bugs or insects is ongoing. Some of the problems with ant control rest within the ant's capabilities. For example, the aforementioned "scent trail" doesn't just run between colonies and food sources. These pheromone trails can lead ants to satellite colonies, giving them sanctuary from a nest that has been treated.
The only true solution for ant infestations are treatments delivered by pest management professionals, followed by a strict adherence and dedication to prevention. Ants will always come back. It’s just a matter of how difficult you make it for them to enter your home, and how prepared you are for them once they get there.
To make sure that your home and property are uninviting to ants, you only need to make one call. Terminix® knows how to get rid of ants and will turn your ant problem into an ant solution. Get started today and save $50¹ on a pest control plan².
1 Offer valid only at participating locations. Single-family dwelling units only. Requires purchase of a new annual residential pest control plan. Offer may not be combined with other offers, bundled service offerings or discounts. Offer not valid for Cockroach Treatment Plan. Additional limitations apply. Not valid for existing pest control customers. 2 Standard Covered Pests: cockroaches, mice, rats, silverfish, “house” ants (excluding carpenter ants, fire ants, pharaoh ants and tawny crazy ants), clothes moths, spiders (excluding black widow and brown recluse spiders), scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, earwigs, house crickets and paper wasps. Other pests not specified as Standard Covered Pests may be covered for an additional charge or under other plans.