How To Get Rid of Ants
How can I control ants?
Ants are a social insect that live in colonies. Treatment plans should include killing the entire colony. Just spraying an ant with a typical ant spray, particularly a repellent spray will only kill a few at best.
Ants may enter your house foraging for food or seeking shelter. Understanding the behavior of ants will help you with the recommended pest control procedures outlined here. They enter through the smallest openings, foraging for water or food. They are in search of either sweet based food or protein/grease based foods. Once they find a food source, ants will leave a pheromone trail for other ants to follow.
Do I have Ants or Termites?
Many people can't tell the difference between ants and termites.
Ants have segmented waists, and termites are approximately the same width along their entire bodies, without pinched waists. Ant antennas are bent whereas Termite antennae are straight.
To get your Ant problem under control, inspection is an important first step.
To find Ant nests, follow their trails. Ants lay down a chemical pheromone trail along their established routes to and from a food source so other Ants can easily find the food.
Inside a house, inspect along the carpet edges, doors, windows, and all areas of the kitchen. The easiest way to find a trail to the nest is to watch where ants go after reaching the food source. If you are targeting Carpenter Ants, inspection at night is more effective since the larger Carpenter Ant is nocturnal. You can spot Carpenter Ants emerging from damaged wood inside the house, or foraging outside in woodpiles, rotted or water-damaged wood, and tree stumps.
Outside the house, inspect around foundation walls, areas of vegetation, and mulch. Any vegetation found near patios and walls may hide some Ant nests or their trails. Check under any item that is on the ground. Some ant nests are well hidden.
- Follow the trail to find the nest.
- Treat the nest directly if possible or use bait or non-repellent insecticide around the perimeter of the house and on the ant trails.
There are two main types of ant problems that are commonly encountered with an ant problem.
- Ants that live outside and forage inside
- Ants that already have a nest built inside
Your Ant control strategy should depend on the type of infestation and the type of ant that is responsible. Identifying which type of Ant you have is helpful, but may be difficult without a magnifying glass. It is also helpful to use a magnifying glass to inspect Ant trails and nests.
Ants that live outside will travel inside your home to search for food. Some species ultimately reside and actually nest inside houses. Follow these steps to help prevent either type of infestation:
- Caulk and seal cracks and crevices to eliminate passages into the home. Since Ants are extremely industrious in finding entry points, you may not be able to seal them all.
- Clean around entry points with a detergent to remove the chemical trail pheromone, then spray a non-repellent residual insecticide such as Taurus SC around the perimeter and entry points. Refer to Ant Control Outside for more in-depth information.
There are some Ants that don't just enter and exit your home foraging for food, but actually establish a colony inside. Refer to Ant Control Inside for more in-depth information. Indoor colonization occurs year-round, especially in warmer climates. Ant species that live in homes include Argentine Ants, Crazy Ants, Odorous House Ants, Pavement Ants, Pharaoh Ants, Thief Ants, and Carpenter Ants. All of these Ants may infest food products. Ant Baits are a very successful method of controlling Ants. They are safe to use around pets and children when you follow directions. Ant baits come in gels, granules, or stations. The active ingredients in these baits may be sugar-based or protein/grease-based, to lure a variety of Ant species and target their dietary needs.
Carpenter Ants are most active in the evening hours when foraging for food, both inside the house and outside. By observing Ants at night, you may be able to tell where to spray or bait. Treating the nest itself is the last resort for Carpenter Ant control. Unless the entire nest is effectively treated, the colony may simply scatter. Use a non-repellent insecticide to minimize this risk.
The best way to treat Carpenter Ants inside the house:
- Place recommended Carpenter Ant Baits on the Ant trails.
- Use a non-repellent insecticide aerosol such as Alpine Aerosol or Phantom Aerosol. Non-repellent aerosols are superior to repellent aerosols because the Ants do not detect them and can't avoid them. A typical Ant spray will kill only a few Ants and scatter the rest.
Prevention of Carpenter Ants
To prevent further Carpenter Ant infestations:
- Trim all trees and bushes so branches do not touch the house.
- Correct moisture problems such as leaky roofs and plumbing.
- Paint and/or seal exposed wood construction before it becomes wet.
- Replace rotted, water-damaged, and previously Ant-infested wooden parts of the structure.
- Eliminate wood/soil contacts.
- Remove dead stumps on the property and store firewood off the ground and away from the structure.