DIY and Tips0
by Michael Williams
A Guide for Your Yard and Home
Even though ants play a critical role in the environment, they are annoying pests in your yard. It’s even worse when they move indoors. If this happens, you know it’s time to learn how to get rid of ants.
The Importance of Ant Control for a Comfortable Living Space
Ants move about ten times more dirt than earthworms, but the worms get all the credit. That’s probably because worms are much easier to live with than ants.
As garden helpers, ants are amazing, but when you’re trying to enjoy time outdoors, they make it tough to relax.
Besides their biting and stinging, there are several reasons to get rid of ants in your home and yard.
Ants can damage your house, carry diseases, and contaminate your food supply. If you have an ant infestation, you can take back your home with these effective ant removal tips.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Your House
Ants are known for their hard work and persistence. It can be difficult to get rid of ants in your house, but if you exhibit just a fraction of their tenacity, you’ll be successful.
Chemical Methods for Indoor Ant Control
There are several chemical products available for indoor ant control. Since not all insecticides work to control all types of insects, be sure to find one that targets the type of ant you have.
Method 1: Ant Baits and Traps
Ant baits work by attracting worker ants, who take the bait and carry it back to their nest. The poison is mixed with an attractant, usually sugars or carbohydrates.
At first, it brings in more ants, which means the bait works.
Ant bait stations, called traps, come in different forms, including granules, liquids, gels, and solids, and they contain various poisons. Among these, sodium borate decahydrate, derived from borax, is one of the most common. They may also contain chemicals like fipronil or avermectin .
Find ant bait with an attractant and poison that attracts and kills the type of ants you have, then set up several traps in the area where ants are a problem. The most important thing is to let the ant bait do its job by letting them return to the nest.
The poison can take 3-4 weeks to kill the entire colony, including the queen.
Method 2: Insecticidal Sprays
Commercial insecticide sprays work by killing ants on contact. Unfortunately, while these insecticides are more effective at killing the ants you see, they are less effective at killing the ones you don’t.
To apply, follow the directions on the packaging. Ants have a powerful sense of smell and will avoid insecticidal sprays by trying to go around them. You can make that harder by spraying directly into cracks where you’ve noticed ant activity, creating a perimeter around the problem areas.
Method 3: Boric Acid Solutions
Boric acid is the chemical compound that is extracted from borax , a powdery, alkaline mineral that is also a well-known laundry detergent. It kills ants in about 24-48 hours, allowing them enough time to return to the colony and share the boric acid with their queen.
Borax doesn’t kill ants unless they ingest it, so when it is marketed as an ant killer, it is mixed with an attractant. The powdered forms are more finely ground than laundry products, making them more easily ingested, and they can be mixed into a solution and placed in refillable bait stations.
Try these simple homemade ant solutions:
- Mix ½ cup sugar, one tablespoon of borax, and 1.5 cups of water. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them in areas where ants are a problem.
- Some ants are more attracted to carbohydrates and proteins than sugar, so try mixing borax with peanut butter or grease instead of sugar. Make a paste and spread it on a piece of cardboard or heavy paper.
- Mix ½ cup of honey with two tablespoons of borax and spread it on a piece of cardboard.
Change the bait every few days to keep it fresh, and pay attention to the ant activity. If your ant bait is too strong, you will notice dead ants near the traps, but it won’t be effective if it’s not strong enough.
You should notice a decrease in the number of ants within a few days.
Natural Methods for Indoor Ant Control
If you’re interested in learning how to get rid of ants naturally, there are a few chemical-free methods that are very effective at controlling ants.
Method 4: Diatomaceous Earth
When it comes to annoying insects, diatomaceous earth (DE) is a gardener’s best friend. It kills several types of insects, so it’s an excellent product to have in the garden shed.
DE is a sedimentary rock that is crushed into a powder, and it comes from fossilized algae.
Under a microscope, the particles look like tiny pieces of glass, and it works by cutting through the exoskeletons of ants when they walk through or ingest it. Unfortunately, even though DE is highly effective at killing ants, they don’t consider it a food source, so they don’t take it back to the nest.
Method 5: Vinegar and Water Solution
A 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water will kill ants in less than an hour. You can spray it safely indoors directly on ants to kill them, and it is an excellent deterrent when sprayed near doorways, windowsills, or anywhere ants enter your home.
Method 6: Essential Oils
Essential oils are effective natural ant remedies that can also make your home smell better. Ants use pheromones to communicate with each other about how to find food and return to the nest.
Effective for ant control, the potent smells of essential oils mask these chemical scent trails and cause confusion. Some essential oils also contain substances that are toxic to ants.
The best essential oils for ants are peppermint, tea tree, clove, lemon, and orange. Citrus oils, which contain d-limonene, and clove oil, which contains eugenol, kill ants on contact.
You can make an effective DIY ant spray that will also make your home smell better with this recipe:
- 15 drops each of peppermint, clove, and citrus oil
- 14 ounces witch hazel (helps water mix with oils)
- 2 ounces dish soap or Castile soap
Add these ingredients to a 32-ounce spray bottle, and top it off with water. Apply wherever you see ants. The essential oils will deter and kill the ants, while the soap will help erase their trails.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Yard
Controlling ants in your yard can help get rid of ants in the house, too. It also makes the time you spend in your backyard more enjoyable.
Chemical Methods for Outdoor Ant Control
Keep children and small pets away from these chemicals, and be aware that chemical ant treatments can be long-lasting.
Method 1: Granular Ant Bait
Knowing the difference between granular ant bait and granular insecticide is important. Both are available for outdoor use, but granular ant bait contains food particles that ants will take back to the nest.
Spread the pellets around your home’s foundation and in other affected areas.
Method 2: Liquid Insecticides
There are several types of liquid insecticides for outdoor ant control. Choose from concentrated liquid and ready-to-use liquid ant traps.
Refillable ant bait stations work best because liquids are easier for ants to digest, and the traps can be refilled to stay moist.
Method 3: Ant Mound Treatments
Finding where ants live is impossible, so if you find an ant mound, consider yourself lucky. Treat the mounds directly to get rid of ants quickly by opening them up and applying liquid, granular, or powdered ant killers.
Liquid ant bait is best to ensure the poison reaches the queen.
Natural Methods for Outdoor Ant Control
Want to know how to get rid of ants naturally outside? There are a number of effective ways to control ants outdoors without using chemicals.
Method 4: Boiling Water
Treating an ant hill with boiling water is effective and doesn’t cost anything. Be aware that boiling water can kill surrounding vegetation, however. Add liquid dish soap or Castile soap to kill more ants for best results.
Method 5: Nematodes
Nematodes , or roundworms, occur in soils all over the world. They feed on bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms and are an essential part of the nutrient cycling that occurs in your soil.
They help control pests like ants, fleas, ticks, grubs, and weevils, but they are safe for children, pets, and wildlife.
The most effective nematode for killing ants is Steinernma carpocapsae . They already exist in your soil, but you can add more of these soldier bugs to control ants in your yard.
Liquid and granular disbursal methods can be applied directly on your lawn and in ant mounds.
Method 6: Organic Repellents
There are many organic repellents to use that deter ants from making a home in your yard. Vinegar works just as well outdoors as it does inside your home to kill and repel ants, and you can also plant mint outside your home to keep ants away.
Natural products like cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and cinnamon deter ants.
Keeping Ants Away From Your Home and Yard
Ants are opportunistic pests and will move in if your yard is a suitable habitat.
Sealing Entry Points and Cracks
Keep ants out of your house by sealing all entry points and cracks. Ants can get through tiny fissures in your foundation, window sills, and doorways, so seal them up as best you can and regularly spray these areas with natural or chemical insecticides and repellents.
Maintaining a Clean Home Environment
Ants are attracted to food, water, and decaying wood, so if your home environment provides these, then you’re likely to find ants in your home. Maintain a clean home and wipe down your countertops with citrus solutions, which are toxic to ants.
Proper Yard Care and Landscaping
Your yard provides everything these pests need to thrive, but taking proper ant prevention measures in your lawn and landscaping can help keep them from taking over.
Eliminate piles of debris and remove tree stumps to avoid attracting carpenter ants. And be aware that many types of plants, like clematis, peonies, and roses, attract ants.
If you’re going to grow any of these, try to keep them as far away from your house as possible.
FAQ: Common Questions About Getting Rid of Ants
What is the most effective way to get rid of ants?
The most effective way to get rid of ants is by using ant bait. You can use many different types of ant bait to get rid of ants inside and outside.
Ants ingest the bait containing a slow-acting poison and take it back to the nest.
How long does it take to get rid of ants?
How long it takes to get rid of ants depends on your method. In any case, you should see the number of ants decrease in a few days, but it might take up to a month to get rid of the ants completely.
Are there any natural remedies to kill ants?
There are many natural remedies to kill ants, like boiling water, vinegar solutions, diatomaceous earth, and essential oils. However, one of the most effective chemical agents for killing ants is sodium borate, a naturally occurring sedimentary rock commonly known as borax.
What attracts ants to my home?
Ants are attracted to moisture and food, so damp areas or standing water caused by leaking hoses and plumbing will attract ants to your home.
They are also more likely to show up when they find sweets or carbohydrates like pet food and bread.
Can ants cause damage to my home or yard?
Ants can cause considerable damage, especially if they get inside your home and build a nest in the walls. They can chew through wires, drywall, and insulation.
In your yard, ant mounds can smother your grass and destroy your lawn’s root structure.
Should I hire a professional exterminator to get rid of ants?
If you have an extensive ant infestation, it might be time to hire a professional exterminator.
Exterminators know how to get rid of ants fast, and they can help you find ways to prevent ants in the future.
Make a solution of 1/2 teaspoon borax, 8 teaspoons sugar, and 1 cup warm water. Stir until the sugar and borax are dissolved. Saturate cotton balls and place them around your home in areas where you commonly see ants. After use, wash containers thoroughly or discard.How do I completely get rid of ants? ›
Make a solution of 1/2 teaspoon borax, 8 teaspoons sugar, and 1 cup warm water. Stir until the sugar and borax are dissolved. Saturate cotton balls and place them around your home in areas where you commonly see ants. After use, wash containers thoroughly or discard.Will ants stop coming if you kill enough? ›
Killing ants will, definitely, attract more ants because the dead ants release pheromones that attract or rather alert, nearby ants. If you want more information about what happens when you kill ants, keep reading through this article.What's the fastest way to get rid of ants? ›
Straight white vinegar makes a great ant spray. You can saturate ant trails to kill on contact, or spray counters and other areas and either wipe up after a few minutes or allow the treatment to dry in place.What is one thing ants hate? ›
Cayenne Pepper or Black Pepper
Both cayenne and black pepper repel ants. Ants hate cayenne pepper. Black pepper will work just as well too. Locate the source of the ant infestation problem, sprinkle some pepper around that area and if possible, create a wall that will stop the ants from accessing your household.
Ants will not stay in places in which there is no available food or water. Keep all food put away and crumbs and spills cleaned up. Seal left over food and pantry foods in pest proof containers. Look for even the slightest leak under faucets and drains and repair as needed.How long will vinegar keep ants away? ›
The good news is that ants can still smell Vinegar after it is dried. Always remember that Vinegar is not a permanent solution to remove an ant infestation. It is reasonable to spread the solution thrice a week over the affected areas to remove ants slowly.What will ants not cross? ›
Flour. Wondering how to get rid of ants without dangerous pesticides? Sprinkle a line of flour along the backs of pantry shelves and wherever you see ants entering the house. Repelled by the flour, ants won't cross over the line. This is the best way to get rid of ants at home.What happens if you kill an ant queen? ›
So, what happens when a queen ant dies? The answer is straightforward, the colony will eventually die as well. Ants don't flee to another territory or nest if their queen passes away. Instead, they continue bringing resources back to their settlement until they die of old age or external causes.How do I get rid of ants in an hour? ›
Boiling water is an easy, effective way to kill ants immediately. If you see ants emerging from a crack in the concrete or a hole in the ground, pour boiling water into the area. This will kill many of the ants within it.
- Vinegar-apply via spray bottle. ...
- Chalk-simply draw a line across the area where the ants are entering. ...
- Cinnamon-same usage as a chalk line. ...
- Lemon Juice-half lemon juice and half water sprayed around your home will make it smell nice and keep pests out.
Mix Borax with equal parts water and sugar to make a syrup, and leave it in the corners where you've noticed ants. This method will work to kill the entire colony in roughly 24 to 48 hours, as the worker ants will bring the liquid back to the nest.What is an ants worst enemy? ›
The female moth butterfly will lay its eggs inside the ant colony or nest, and once the larvae hatch, they will feast on the ants. Unfortunately for the ants, moth butterfly eggs are oval and have a hard exterior, making them too heavy and impenetrable for the soldier ants.
Creatures That Eat Ants
Other insects such as beetles, caterpillars and flies. Spiders, such as black widow spiders and jumping spiders. Snails and other hard-shelled organisms. Snakes.
Ants hate the smell of strong citrus fruits. Save your orange, lemon and grapefruit peels and scatter them around entry points. It's a natural way to deter ants without harming them.How do I stop ants from returning? ›
- Seal cracks with silicone caulk.
- Repair holes in window and door screens.
- Replace weather-stripping.
- Fix loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
- Keep tree branches trimmed back and away from the house.
If you cannot find the nest, call an exterminator. Make sure to take care of the water damaged area as well to prevent further infestations. If you're wondering how to get rid of anthills, mow the lawn and then apply an insect killer that contains bifenthrin to the entire lawn.Does spraying vinegar get rid of ants? ›
Vinegar is often a common home remedy for insects and ants are no exception. To use vinegar as a homemade ant spray, simply fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Spray the solution directly on the ants and then wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel.How do I get rid of ants if vinegar doesn't work? ›
Mix one part powdered sugar with one part baking powder, and leave the mixture in corners of your kitchen where ants are located. The ants will be drawn to the sweetness of the sugar, but it's the baking soda that will kill them when ingested.Why not to crush ants? ›
It is advised not to squash ants, doing so will only release pheromones and trigger more ants to come to the location and cause more trouble to you and your family. Ants are known to pack a deadly bite that causes excruciating pain for a short time.
The most commonly used natural ant repellents are peppermint essential oil, eucalyptus oil, lemon juice, black pepper, cinnamon, orange, and white vinegar. There are also non-toxic substances that you can buy in stores such as boric acid and diatomaceous earth.What color do ants hate? ›
The study involved pair choice trials, in which workers were digging and removing colored glass beads. The beads were blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Based on the count of removed beads, S. invicta workers do have color vision and have a preference for green, orange and red and least prefer blue.Why am I seeing more ants after spraying? ›
Don't Panic! From the first few days to the first couple of weeks, you can also expect to see a great many more ants than you are used to seeing because the treatment has flushed them from their hiding areas and their trails. This is quite common since the ants are trying to escape the treatment.Why do ants keep coming back? ›
Ants are attracted to two common things found in every house: food and moisture. Offer up these elements with an open entryway and you'll find ants returning year after year. Let's look at three conditions you can correct to keep ants out of your house: food, moisture, and entry points.Why do ants suddenly appear? ›
Why Do Ants Suddenly Appear In Kitchens? A sudden ant infestation in your kitchen means there is a food source somewhere. The food can be honey, sugar, syrup, meat, fats, breadcrumbs, etc. Once the ants determine these food sources, they form long trails to connect their colonies to the food source.Does a queen ant ever come out? ›
You will rarely spot a queen ant outside of the nest because she spends most of her life laying eggs. If the queen is out of the nest, that means it is mating season, and she's on the prowl for a mate.Is there a king ant? ›
Ant colonies have a caste system, where responsibilities are divided in a systemic hierarchical order. As with human society, the typical ant hierarchy system comprises a queen, males, and workers with specific roles. But in contrast, there is no such thing as the king ant, as is mostly the case in human royal setups.Which is better to kill ants borax or boric acid? ›
Both borax and boric acid may be used interchangeably for killing ants. In fact, it is advisable that you substitute borax for boric acid if you notice that the ants are not attracted to the borax bait. Studies show that some ant species are more likely to reject borax baits than boric acid baits and vice-versa.What time are ants most active? ›
They are most active at night. Workers emerge from the nest about 15 minutes after sundown.What attracts ants the fastest? ›
The number one food that attracts ants is sugar. Unfortunately, sugar is found in most foods and beverages. They love to feast on drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup and other sweet-smelling foods. Food crumbs and spills are especially productive for the ants' well-being.
Worker ants can be awake and active at any time, they don't have a day or night cycle, and the breaks of these tireless creatures last about a minute, making for about 4 or 5 hours of rest at the end of the day. The queens' rest time is up to 9 minutes. It remains a mystery how sleep works in these little creatures.What do ants hate the most? ›
- Cayenne Pepper Or Black Pepper. Ants hate cayenne pepper. ...
- Vinegar. Mix equal parts of vinegar + water in a spray bottle; use this solution directly on the ants to kill them, then clean up and discard them. ...
- Peppermint. ...
- Cinnamon. ...
- Diatomaceous Earth.
Ants transport their dead there in order to protect themselves and their queen from contamination. This behavior has to do with the way ants communicate with each other via chemicals. When an ant dies, its body releases a chemical called oleic acid.What makes ants worse? ›
You're Leaving Out Food
This is one of the main causes of ant infestations, but luckily, it's also one of the easiest to remedy! What you can do: To avoid ant infestations, regularly clean up kitchen spills, store food in airtight containers, and keep fruits in the fridge when possible.
Pain Level 4 is the highest level in the Schmidt sting pain index. Schmidt's original index rated only one such example, the sting of the bullet ant, as a 4. Schmidt described the sting as "pure, intense, brilliant pain...Will ants cross baking soda? ›
To use it for infestation prevention, you just need some baking soda. Ants know to avoid pure baking soda, so you can sprinkle it around doorways, window sills, and other entry points to keep them out of your home.What animal kills ants? ›
- Anteater. As their name implies, these medium-sized mammals feed almost entirely on ants. ...
- Aardvark. Though it may look like an anteater, the aardvark is actually distantly related. ...
- Pangolin. ...
- Sloth Bears. ...
- Antbirds. ...
- Antpittas. ...
- Flickers. ...
Intriguing Ant Eating Animals
Anteaters live in Central and South America and are voracious eaters. Anteaters have tongues made for eating ants. In addition to being two feet long, tiny spikes and sticky saliva cover their tongues. They consume upwards of 35,000 ants and termites in a day.
Of all the ant species, carpenter ants are one of the most problematic. They can cause serious property damage to homes and other buildings. Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests. Their excavation results in smooth tunnels inside the wood.
Cayenne pepper or black pepper are hated by ants. You can also make a solution of pepper and water and spray it near the entrant areas. The pepper wouldn't kill the ants but definitely deter them from returning to your house. Make sure you clean the area where you want to spray the pepper solution.What can you sprinkle on the ground to keep ants away? ›
Step 1: Surround anthills in your yard or indoor ant nests with a layer of chili powder. Step 2: Sprinkle more chili powder along ant trails and anywhere ants congregate, inside or outside. Step 3: Spread chili powder around your outdoor living spaces and potential entry points into your home.
It dehydrates them. On the other hand, plain table salt does not. It is only effective in intercepting the ants. This should not be applied on heavy ant-infestation.How do I get rid of ants permanently in my kitchen? ›
Simply create a 50-50 water and vinegar solution and spray it around your kitchen. You can also use vinegar alone, and it works by killings ants and also by repeling them. Unlike humans, ants can smell vinegar even after it dries, making a great remedy.How do I permanently get rid of ants in my yard? ›
- Boiling water. Rake open the nest and pour in boiling water (add liquid soap for extra killing power). ...
- Vinegar. Mix equal parts vinegar and water. ...
- Water. Soak the nest for 15 to 30 minutes with water from a hose, saturating soil. ...
- Boric acid. ...
- Chemical ant killers.
Why Do Ants Suddenly Appear In Kitchens? A sudden ant infestation in your kitchen means there is a food source somewhere. The food can be honey, sugar, syrup, meat, fats, breadcrumbs, etc. Once the ants determine these food sources, they form long trails to connect their colonies to the food source.Why do I suddenly have ants in my house? ›
Ants usually come indoors in search of food or nesting habitat. Even small amounts of food, like pet food crumbs, can attract hordes of industrious ants. Ants are one of Earth's most successful animals, and comprise more than 13,000 species.Where do ants nest in a house? ›
Little black ants will hide in wall voids while crazy ants like to nest under carpet. Ants may also hide under wood flooring, behind baseboards and molding, and even between cabinets. Ants are often found in kitchens and bathrooms since these areas provide plenty of sources of food and moisture.What does ant infestation look like? ›
Signs of Carpenter Ant Damage and Infestations
Spotting large black ants in your house. Finding piles of wood shavings or sawdust beneath wooden areas like baseboards, door jambs, and window sills. Seeing long ant trails or ant paths on your lawn.
Ants become dwellers inside walls and other voids simply as the result of finding a more preferred site for food, moisture and protection than what is available to them outdoors.
Make a DIY ant killer.
Mix sugar water (equal parts sugar and water) with boric acid, and leave it out for the ants to feed on. “The ants will be attracted to the sugar water, and it will destroy them,” he says. “That's a safe way to go.”