How To Get Rid Of Ants | Best Ant Killer & Natural Options


Do You Like This Article? Share It!

 

Pests. You don’t have to live in a full-size single-family home to cringe at the term.

Whether you rent an apartment or own your own space, odds are you’ve come to face one if not more of the varmints that fall in this category.

Above all others, one certain pest has become synonymous with the term: ants.

These little insects have been deemed the #1 nuisance pest in the US by the National Pest Management Association.

Unfortunately, ants are more than just a nuisance— they can cause a variety of problems in your home, such as contaminating your food or damaging your property.

These little miscreants love to invade. Whether it’s your home, your yard, or your outings, ants are everywhere.

But you don’t have to put up with their presence.

Dealing with ants is a multi-stage process.

The worse the infestation, the more steps.

If you do not have ants and do not wish to get them, you can take steps to repel and prevent the invaders before they sniff out that first crumb.

picture of a woman looking through magnifying glass for ants

How to Identify You Have a Problem with Ants

 

The first stage in dealing with ants is finding out if you have an infestation— and just how bad that infestation is.

You need to recognize if you have an ant problem and what type of ants with which you are dealing.

Signs You Have an Ant Problem

picture of a man with ants all around him

The most identifiable sign of an infestation is if you have ants swarming around any exposed food or walking a trail to and from somewhere.

Don’t panic if you see the odd ant here and there— these are simply scouts searching for a source, not a sign of infestation.

While you may make it a habit to cover all of your food —as well you should— ants are quick to find even the smallest crumb that escaped notice.

Next, take a tour of your yard.

Do you see any ant colonies? Where there is a colony, there is a risk for infestation.

Ants will travel incredibly long distances to find a source of food or water, and then they leave a small scent trail for the rest of their fellows to follow.

Since carpenter ants are one of the worst species with which to deal, due mostly to the amount of damage they can cause your home, these next two steps deal specifically with them: listen to your walls and look for wood shavings.

Carpenter ants are primarily nocturnal, so if you place your ear against your walls at night, you may hear a soft rustling as they work on their nests.

If you are familiar with the woodwork of your home, you can also occasionally knock over areas of solid wood and make sure they aren’t starting to sound hollow.

When it comes to the wood shavings, you are looking for deposits where the carpenter ants have started burrowing.

They will leave a small trail of sawdust in their wake because unlike termites, they do not eat the wood.

Many ants love wet spaces.

Whether they want a water source or a humid environment, damp areas are at risk of catching a colony’s attention.

Keep an eye out in your yard for signs of rotting wood or damp areas to ensure they haven’t gained new tenants.

picture of common species of ants

Common Species of Ants

 
 
 
Over 700 species of ants have been identified in the US alone, so knowing just what kind have graced you with their unwanted presence can be a daunting task.

picture of common ant types

Luckily, most nuisance ants belong to the top 18 species, which we’ll discuss below.

Top 18 Species of Ants Found In Homes

Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ants

If you’ve ever crushed an ant and been assaulted by the smell of rotten coconuts, then you discovered an odorous house ant. These minuscule ants can be brown or black in color and range from one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch.

  • Location
    • Found throughout the US;
    • Love moisture areas: can be found near hot water pipes, in heaters, beneath leaky fixtures, and inside wood damaged by termites.
  • Habits
    • Have a massive sweet tooth; favor honeydew
    • Move their colonies every three or so months because of rain
  • Threats
    • Food contamination
Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants

Ever been out for a walk and seen a steady line of ants trailing in and out of a crack in the sidewalk? Meet the pavement ant. With carapaces ranging from brown to black, these ants typically stop growing at an eighth of an inch.

  • Location
    • Found throughout the US
    • Infest structures
    • Shelter colony entrances under cracks in pavement such as sidewalks, driveways, and other areas.
  • Habits
    • Omnivores will eat generally anything they can find.
    • Forage in trails as far as 30 feet away from their colony.
    • Will climb anything, including masonry walls, to reach occupied areas with food.
  • Threats
    • Food contamination
Ghost Ants

Ghost Ants

Tiny and pale, these ants can be hard to see at first— hence the name. Ghost ants have a brown head and thorax, while their abdomen and legs are a pale yellow-like color. Their workers tend to be one-sixteenth of an inch long.

  • Location
    • Found throughout the US and Puerto Rico
    • Also found in Canada and the Caribbean Isles
    • Outdoors, nest in the ground, cavities or crevices in dead branches, under stones, inside logs, and inside piles of leaves or debris
    • Interior nests within wall voids, behind baseboards, in the foundation, between cabinets, and in potted plants
  • Habits
    • Highly adaptable
    • Colonies span multiple nests with several queens and thousands of inhabitants
    • Fond of honeydew and sweets
    • Will eat dead and living insects
  • Threats
    • Give off a rotten odor when crushed
    • Food contamination
    • Heavy infestations
Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants

As mentioned above, carpenter ants will dig into your walls and other wooden structures to build nests for their colonies. They do not eat the wood. Most colonies will have one queen and thousands of other ants. A colony will not put out swarmers until the nest is a couple of years old. Carpenter ants can be black, red, or a combination of both colors and grow to five-eighths of an inch.

  • Location
    • Found throughout the US
    • Most commonly found in the Northern US
    • Outdoors: will nest in tree stumps, rotting fences and fence posts, old firewood, under stones, and more
    • Indoors: inside walls and other wooden structures
  • Habits
    • Prefer wood that is wet or damaged by mold
    • Will excavate dry, undamaged wood to expand
    • Feed on honeydew and other insects, plant juices, and fruit juices
    • Forage up to 300 feet from the nest
  • Threats
    • Structural Damage
    • Food Contamination
    • Painful Bites
Rover Ants

Rover Ants

Rover ants are a fairly new addition to ants in the United States, having migrated from South America with reports growing more frequent during the early 2000s. They range from a pale yellow-like color to deep brown and grow to approximately one-eighth of an inch. Rover ants bear two distinctions: their antennae are only in nine segments (as opposed to the standard twelve), and their thorax has a hump-like shape to the front.

  • Location
    • Primarily in the southern US, in Georgia and all states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Nevada
    • Will nest anywhere outdoors and in
    • Particularly found in wall voids and moist soil areas
  • Habits
    • Smaller colonies with a few hundred inhabitants
    • Love sweet foods
    • Found mostly in urban areas with lots of human activity
  • Threats
    • Massive infestations
    • Food contamination
    • Can be considered public health risk in sensitive areas of hospitals
Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants

Argentine ant colonies can be massive, stretching under entire yards and habits in an intricate network of tunnels. These ants are a shiny dark brown or black and grow up to a quarter of an inch.

  • Location
    • Southeastern US
    • Fond of wet environments near food sources
    • Outside, typically nest in shallow colonies under boards, stones, or plants
    • Will seek shelter indoors when outside is too wet or dry
  • Habits
    • Prefer sweets, but are omnivorous
    • Continuously deposit food trails to avoid wasting time revisiting areas
  • Threats
    • Give off a musty odor when crushed
    • Food contamination
Red Imported Fire Ants

Red Imported Fire Ants

Often referred to as ‘RIFA’ for short, these ants are one of the more painful varieties. They have a prominent reddish brown color and grow between one and three-eighths of an inch.

  • Location
    • Can be found from Maryland to Texas, California, and New Mexico
    • Most common in southern states
    • Build flattened mound nests outside, which have an irregular shape and can spread two to four square feet
    • Typically nest near foundations and within landscaping
    • Rarely come indoors, but it does happen
  • Habits
    • Commonly introduced to areas through potted plants, shrubs, and trees
    • Incredibly territorial and defensive of nests
  • Threats
    • Painful bites and stings
    • Often multiple stings delivered
    • Those allergic to insect stings will have a more powerful reaction to RIFAs
Crazy Ants

Crazy Ants

These little invaders earned their name from their erratic and jerky running style. Ranging from one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch, these ants are a dark brown or black color with a grey shine.

  • Location
    • Found in all regions
    • Only found indoors in the northern states
  • Habits
    • Will feed on insects (alive or dead), fruits, honeydew, and seeds
    • The farther north you go, the less likely these ants can live outside— especially during the winter
  • Threats
    • Food contamination
    • Nuisance
Field Ants

Field Ants

Field ants gained their name for their preference to nest outdoors. They are the largest genus of ants north of Mexico. Other common names are red ants, wood ants, and thatching ants. They range in color from pale yellow to dark red or brown (or a combination therein), and grow between one to three-eighths of an inch.

  • Location
    • Throughout the US
    • They construct mounds from plant materials like twigs, leaves, and pine needles
    • Typically nest around small trees, shrubs, or rocks
    • Some species build in sidewalk cracks and wall foundations
  • Habits
    • Primarily feed on honeydew
    • Some species are scavengers and prefer meats
    • Some field ants will gather and maintain a small farm of aphids for a constant supply of honeydew
  • Threats
    • Painful Bites
    • Can cause aphid infestations
Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat ants can raise their abdomen up and over their heads; this yoga-like stance earned them the nickname. They are primarily a nuisance, but they will bite when disturbed. These light brown to black ants grow to an average of one-eighth of an inch.

  • Location
    • Found in all regions
    • Outside, will nest under rocks, in logs, in and around firewood, and inside decayed trees
    • Inside, nest in wall voids or wood with moisture damage or fungal decay
  • Habits
    • These opportunistic ants will nest in wood that has been cleared out by other insects like carpenter ants and termites.
    • Will feed on live or dead insects and honeydew
    • Drawn to sweets and high-protein foods
  • Threats
    • Property damage like stripped insulation
    • Bites when threatened
    • Foul odors when disturbed
Harvest Ants

Harvest Ants

Harvester ants like to collect seeds, thus the name. 22 species of harvester ant inhabit the US, including the California, Florida, red, black, and Western harvester ants. They are typically orange to red or brownish black in color and grow between a quarter to a half of an inch. They often have one pair of spines along the top of their midsection, with more spines growing in a ‘beard’ on their head.

  • Location
    • West of the Mississippi River and Florida
    • Build moderate to large mounds
    • Will not come inside to nest, but will invade the home for food/water
  • Habits
    • Periodically move their nests due to microclimate changes
    • Will feed on other insects
  • Threats
    • Property threats in urban areas
    • Sting when disturbed
    • Stingers break off in wounds, can cause severe allergic reactions
Leafcutting Ants

Leafcutting Ants

These ants earned their name from their habit of cutting leaves into small pieces to be carried back to the nest. Their colors range from rust brown to a dull, dark brown, though their legs and abdomen are typically paler. They range in size from one-sixteenth of an inch to half of an inch.

  • Location
    • Arizona, Texas, western Louisiana, and southern California
    • Prefer to nest in the soil in warm agricultural areas
    • Do nest in urban areas, though they rarely nest inside the home
  • Habits
    • Spend the hottest time of the day in their nest, blocking exits to preserve moisture
    • Travel up to 600 fr away from the nest to gather leaves
    • They use leaves to raise fungus for food
  • Threats
    • Rapid defoliation and agricultural damage
    • Workers have large mandibles; bites can draw blood
Little Black Ants

Little Black Ants

These ants were named for their appearance, though they can also be brown. These ants are typically jet black and don’t grow over one-sixteenth of an inch.

  • Location
    • Found throughout the US, particularly in eastern regions
    • They are common in wooded areas
    • In yards, they nest in rotting logs, under rocks, and within piles of bricks or lumber
    • In homes, they nest in woodwork, wall voids, decaying wood, and masonry or behind facades
  • Habits
    • Swarm from June to August
    • Feed on fruits, grease, meats, oil, and vegetables; love sweets
    • Workers will feed on honeydew, other insects, and plant secretions
  • Threats
    • Food contamination
    • Swarms
    • Small, weak stingers
Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh Ants

Native to Africa, these ants were once mistakenly related to the plagues in Egypt. They boast pale bodies, typically a yellow to red with darker abdomens. Length-wise, they average one-sixteenth of an inch.

  • Location
    • Found in all regions
    • Often found in commercial food handling businesses like grocery stores, hospitals, and hotels
    • When outside, they prefer shaded areas and debris piles
    • Inside, they will hide in hard-to-reach areas like wall voids, baseboards, furniture, and floors
  • Habits
    • Eat a variety of materials such as oils, proteins, and sweets
    • Will feed on dead insects
    • Members of the colony may ‘bud’ out into new nests if disturbed
  • Threats
    • Food contamination
    • Major nuisance
    • Implicated in the spread of disease pathogens, including salmonella
Pyramid Ants

Pyramid Ants

So named for the pyramid-like protrusion on their thorax, pyramid ants have a reddish black head and thorax and a pure black abdomen. They average one-eighth of an inch in length. These ants are actually fairly beneficial, as they eat invasive and aggressive fire ants, but their presence means that something nastier lives nearby.

  • Location
    • Thrive in southern states
    • Build volcano-shaped mounds in yards.
  • Habits
    • Preferred foods are honeydew and other insects
    • They will eat aggressive fire ants
  • Threats
    • Rotten odor when crushed
    • Unsightly, cone-shaped mounds
    • Can bite, but not aggressive
Thief Ants

Thief Ants

These ants will nest near other colonies in order to steal their food and brood. They share the pale yellow to dark brown of Pharaoh ants and grow to approximately one-sixteenth of an inch.

  • Location
    • Throughout the US
    • Exposed soil, under objects and debris, in trash or in rotten wood
    • Small crevices, woodwork, and masonry, traveling through wall voids
  • Habits
    • Swarms in July and early fall
    • Attracted to animal fats, bread, dairy products, fruits, meats, nuts, and oils
    • Also feed on anything organic like other insects, seeds, and mealybugs
  • Threats
    • Carry disease-inducing organisms
    • Intermediate hosts for poultry tapeworm
White Footed Ants

White Footed Ants

While white-footed ants are typically a black to dark brown in color, their tarsi (or feet) are a pale yellowish-white. They grow to around one-eighth of an inch long.

  • Location
    • Throughout the US in both rural and urban areas
    • Outdoors, they look for moist environments, such as under loose bark or rocks, within decaying trees or branches, and in abandoned termite galleries.
    • Inside, nest in wall voids, attics, roof shingles, skylights, bathrooms, and kitchens.
  • Habits
    • Nocturnal
    • Prefer honeydew and nectar, will invade homes for water and sweet liquids
    • Do not share their food with other ants
  • Threats
    • Small stinger
    • Nuisance infestations
    • Food contamination
Yellow Ants

Yellow Ants

Yellow ants are named for their color. They grow between two- and three-sixteenths of an inch. Other common names for yellow ants are citronella ants due to the odor they give off when crushed.

  • Location
    • Throughout the US near areas of high moisture
    • Outside, nests in soil beside structures, along foundations, or under rotten logs.
    • Inside, nests in damp wood (such as behind tub tile walls) or in damp crawl spaces.
  • Habits
    • Swarms during June and July
    • Nocturnal
    • Feed on honeydew almost exclusively
  • Threats
    • Food contamination
    • Nuisance pest

picture of an ant killer

Best Ways to Kill Ants and Get Them Out of Your Home

 

Now that you know what ants are becoming an issue, it’s time to get rid of them.

You need to eliminate any nests within your walls— taking out the outdoor nests is a bonus.

You have three options:

  1. Chemical-based Ant Killer
  2. Natural-based Ant Killer
  3. Extermination Services

In this section, we’ll look at the chemical-based and natural-based.

Extermination services will be covered in a later section.

Best Ant Killer – Chemical-Based

With chemical-based ant killers, you have four major product types: liquid ant baits, sprays, gels, and granules.

Consumers have had success with each, though the uses and results vary by product.

When it comes to any product, read all the labels carefully.

The below is general information, and the product of your choice may have variations.

Best Liquid Ant Baits & Traps

Ant baits & traps can be used for ant infestations inside the home as well as outdoors, just be sure to buy the correct type.

They typically contain borax or a similar ingredient as the active ingredient with several others.

Ant foragers will be attracted to the sweet liquid.

Ant bait stations work as a “slow kill,” so the worker will transmit the location to other ants and have pieces carried back to the colony.

Terro T300 Ant Killer Liquid Ant Baits Hot Shot Ultra Liquid Ant Bait Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits
picture of Terro T300 Ant Killer Liquid Ant Baits picture of Hot Shot Ultra Liquid Ant Bait picture of Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits
Our Rating
Price

 

Which Ants: Liquid ant baits work best for Argentine, Carpenter, Ghost, Odorous, Pharaoh, and Pavement Ants.
Indoor/outdoor use: Some are made for indoors, others for outdoors. Pay attention to packaging recommendations, as outside baits are more powerful than indoor.
How much is needed: These baits often come in small plastic tabs that you set around your house anywhere you have seen ants. For the rare liquid needing to be dispersed, generally, one to two small dabs will suffice.
How long: Results should be seen within a few days, but you want to allow up to two weeks for full eradication.
Active ingredients: Borax
Safety precautions: Not safe for pets to eat— keep them away from any baits
 
Pros
  • High success rate
  • Consistently kills a variety of ant species
  • Fast-acting
Cons
  • Liquids are sweet, and may not work as well against ants preferring grease
  • Ants may avoid if other food is available

Best Ant Spray

Raid Ant & Roach Aero-Unscented Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray Raid Max Roach & Ant
picture of Raid Ant & Roach Aero-Unscented picture of Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray for Indoor and Home Perimeter, 24-Ounce picture of raid max ant and roach spray
Our Rating
Price
 

Which Ants: This varies by spray, so read labels carefully
Indoor/outdoor use: Most sprays can be used for both, though some will specify
How much is needed: This will depend on the size of your treatment area; generally a thorough coating of lawns or around the edges and openings in your home.
How long: You will typically see results within the first few days, but you must reapply sprays on a monthly basis to keep ants under control.
Active ingredients: Contains pyrethroids, piperonyl butoxide, and permethrin; other products contain tetramethrin, cypermethrin and imiprothrin
Safety precautions: Skin irritants, eye irritants, keep pets and children away during application and for a few hours after.
 
Pros
  • Fast and effective
  • Repels new ants
  • Many varieties to cover a range of needs
Cons
  • Monthly reapplication
  • Pungent

Best Ant Gel

Dupont Advion Ant Gel Bait Raid Precision Placement Ant Bait Gel Bayer Maxforce FC Killer Gel Ant Bait
picture of Dupont Advion Ant Gel Bait picture of Raid Precision Placement Ant Bait Gel picture of Bayer 10069 Maxforce FC Killer Gel Ant Bait
Our Rating
Price
 

Which Ants: Sugar lovers— Acrobatic, Argentine, Field, Ghose, little black, Odorous House, Pavement, Pharaoh, and thief ants included
Indoor/outdoor use: Indoor use
How much is needed: Apply in cracks and crevices where you see ants; several dabs
How long: You will typically see results within 3-5 days
Active ingredients: Fipronil
Safety precautions: Harmful if swallowed, keep away from children and pets until hardened
 

Pros
  • A strong attractant to sugar-loving ants
  • Active for up to two weeks after application
  • Hardens to seal holes
Cons
  • Grease-preferring ants like fire ants will avoid these
  • Can attract pets, which is unsafe
  • Can turn rubbery and lose moisture too quickly

Best Ant Granules

AMDRO Ant Block Home Perimeter Ant Bait Granules TERRO Ant Killer Plus 3lb. Shaker Bag Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Granules
picture of AMDRO Ant Block Home Perimeter Ant Bait Granules - Outdoor Ant Killer picture of TERRO T901-6 Ant Killer Plus 3lb. Shaker Bag picture of Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Granules, 2.5-Pound (Ant, Spider, and Centipede Killer)
Our Rating
Price
 

Which Ants: Up to fifteen species, including fire ants and pharaoh ants (also kills other pests like cockroaches)
Indoor/outdoor use: Outdoor use only
How much is needed: How much is needed: use either as a band treatment around your home or all over your yard. These products have a conversion chart for you to take the area of treatment and determine how much to use. (typically 2-3 pounds per 1,000 square feet)
How long: Results within 24 hours
Active ingredients: Fipronil
Safety precautions: After the treated area has been watered and then dried, these are safe around children and pets; toxic to fish and aquatic life; harmful if swallowed; eye irritant.
 

Pros
  • Long shelf-life
  • Waterproof, will not need to reapply because of rain
  • Visible results in 24 hours
Cons
  • Not as effective as baits
  • Can be ignored and avoided by smarter ants
 

Natural Ant Killer

Many households are taking more natural approaches to pest control, hoping to avoid cons like skin and eye irritation or toxicity to pets and children.

Others just like keeping chemicals to a minimum.

Make Deadly Treat with Borax

picture of borax powderRemember reading that borax was an active ingredient in baits?

This substance is actually a naturally occurring mineral and can be purchased.

You can make a sweet treat with any liquid or jelly-based foods and mix in a little borax.

You still need to keep these away from your children and pets, but it’s all-natural and still attracts sugar-loving ants.

You could also make a grease-based variety with similar results.

Our Recommendation: You can shop for Borax Powder on Amazon here.

Flower Pot and Boiling Water

A flower pot sounds innocent enough, right?

This tactic works best for outside colonies when you’ve located an entrance or mound.

You will need the terracotta-style flower pot with a drainage hole in the bottom.

Simply place the flowerpot upside-down over the top of the anthill or colony.

Then, take a pot of boiling water and pour it through the hole.

You are quite literally burning down the ant-hill.

A word of caution: if you are dealing with biting ants, be sure to wear protection in case any stragglers catch you at work!

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

picture of Food Grade Diatomaceous EarthThis option is non-toxic for animals and people and remains effective as long as it is present and dry.

You will want to read the package to ensure the food-grade diatomaceous earth of your choosing is rated for controlling ants and other pests.

So, how does this work?

The sharp, microscopic particles that make up FGDE pierce through the waxy outer layer on the ants’ bodies and disrupt the internal water balance.

In essence, it dehydrates ants so that they die.

Ready to learn how this is all-natural?

FGDE is an off-white powder similar to talk that is made from fossilized marine plankton.

Plankton jerky which in turn causes bug jerky.

Our Recommendation: You can shop for Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth on Amazon here.

Eco Friendly Sprays

More companies are starting to head consumers’ calls for eco-friendly, natural pest controls.

These products are specially formulated with all-natural, non-toxic ingredients.

The only downside?

They tend to cost more.

These sprays kill on contact like their chemical cousins, but they rely on ingredients like botanical oils to get the job done.

These sprays can also deal with other insects and some varieties of spider.

Our Recommendation: You can shop for Eco Friendly Ant Sprays on Amazon here.

picture of ant repellant

Best Ways to Repel Ants and Prevent Future Infestations

 

You don’t have to eliminate entire colonies of ants to protect your home.

You may not have a choice if a full infestation is under way, but a variety of preventative measures and natural repellants can help repel ants from your home.

If you manage to repel and prevent, you can safe yourself a lot of headache and hassle in the future.

Eliminating an infestation is always more work, even if your preventative measures occasionally feel like an extra hassle.

Keep a Clean Home and Eliminate Food & Water Sources

picture of a clean and ant free home

Ants invade when they find a stable supply of food, water, and shelter.

The easiest way to keep them out is to keep them away from any sources of food or water.

Ants also like moist, humid environments, so keep an eye on any areas in your home where moisture can buildup.

Let’s take a look at steps you can take in the most commonly infested rooms of a house:

Kitchen

  • Store sweet foods like sugar, syrup, and honey in snap-shut airtight plastic containers. Wipe them down to remove sticky residue.
  • Place a bay leaf inside containers for dry goods such as flour; the pungent scent keeps ants away (and other pantry pests!)
  • Clean up grease spills from all counters and floors immediately after they occur
  • Rinse out soda and juice containers before recycling or tossing.
  • Take out trash regularly; bonus points for cans that close!
  • If you keep an open-air fruit bowl, toss out overripe fruits asap
  • Watch for water buildup around your sink and any leaks in the facets and pipes.
  • Pick up any leftover pet food and wash pet dishes regularly.

Bathrooms

  • Inspect sinks, toilets, tubs, and all plumbing for any leaks or water buildup.
  • Clean thoroughly with disinfectants and cleaners; wipe down the insides of drawers, as well.
  • Check your shampoos, lotions, soaps, and other items for leaks, wipe off container surfaces, and wash away any buildup that occurs.

Overall Home

Ants can slip in through the smallest of cracks and crevices. The NMPA conducted a survey and found that ants can also be found inside walls, bedrooms, living rooms, basements, and HVAC units.

Pest Proof the Perimeter of Your Home

You can help prevent pests inside your home by finding most of the areas they can access. A small tube of silicone caulk will be your friend as you walk the perimeter of your house to seal any cracks and crevices.

Holes in windows and door screens can provide access, as can worn down weather stripping. Trim away any tree branches that stretch towards your home, and place repellants in the small holes that allow utility wires into your home.

Natural settling can cause cracks and crevices in your foundation, which you can seal with the silicone or hire a contractor to handle.

Natural Ant Repellant

picture of natural and organic ant repellant
A number of household items, many of them organic, can help keep ants away from your home. Here are 14 natural ant repellants for you to consider.

1) Vinegar

Ants absolutely detest the smell of vinegar. It won’t kill them, but it will create an invisible barrier to keep them away. You can also take a small syringe of vinegar to their nests and mounds to chase off the colony.

2) Citrus Fruits (Lemon, Limes, Oranges)

Make a puree of peels and warm water and pour it in and around anthills and access points. Not only will the ants go marching on, but your house will smell amazing!

3) Salt or Pepper

You can spread salt around nooks and crannies where ants enter your home. Ordinary table salt, nothing fancy! You can do the same with any granulated pepper.

4) Cinnamon

You can use ground cinnamon or spray the essential oil. Either way, ants avoid the smell! Your house smells nice, and cleanup is a breeze. More and more homeowners are leaning towards the oil, as you can spray it along access points and then forget it. Get some cinnamon essential oil spray on Amazon here.

5) Peppermint

Spraying peppermint oil around access points can help prevent ants, but there’s more! If you have an essential oil diffuser, you can diffuse peppermint oil anywhere you see ants starting a trail to immediately chase them away. This gives you time to clean up whatever attracted them in the first place. Get some peppermint essential oil spray on Amazon here.

6) Baking soda

Baking soda cuts right through an ant’s protective acidic barrier, eliminating their defenses. Whether the baking soda itself causes them pain or the ants don’t like being defenseless, they’ll stop coming around.

7) Vicks Vapo Rub

Vick’s contains a mix of strong vapors. They cut through our congestion, but did you know they give ants a major headache? Simply dab Vick’s Vapo Rub around access points in your home to chase off any scouts.

8) Flour

Flour can repel ants, though you’ll have a little more cleanup than with other options. Sprinkle a line around pantry shelves and across entry points to repel the invaders.

9) Sugar Substitutes like Equal

Equal acts like a neurotoxin to ants. Mix packets with something like apple juice to attract the ants and lead them to their own demise.

10) Coffee Grounds

Yet another granular repellant that overpowers an ant’s sense of smell, spreading coffee grounds around access points can chase off invaders. You can also spread these over anthills to get a colony to move.

11) Tape

You can spread tape stick-side up around the edges of your counters or around ‘prize’ items like sweets. The tape acts as a miniature moat.

12) Chalk

Chalk contains calcium carbonate, which deters ants. Draw a line of chalk that ants won’t cross, or let the kids decorate the foundations of your home. You can also scatter powdered chalk around your home and in your gardens.

13) Cucumbers

The scent from cucumbers can overpower the scent trail left by ants for their fellows to follow; it also repels ants. You’ll want to use the skin of the cucumber, wiping it along the path of any ant trails or placing it in entrance points.

14) Talcum Powder

Talcum powder is another substance that ants actively avoid. Sprinkling it can repel them from access points and chase them away from a scouted prize.

picture of ants in a house

Importance of Keeping Ants Out of Your Home

 

You may be wondering just why it’s so important to keep ants out of your home. Sure, they’re a nuisance, but are they really causing any harm?

Short answer: yes. Ants cause a variety of issues within your home, from causing property and structural damage to putting your home at risk. Some ants also have painful bites and stings, the worst of which can cause allergic reactions or create large welts on your skin.

  • Spreading Food Borne Disease Organisms— ants carry and transmit bacterial and fungal organisms that carry diseases. An example is the pharaoh ant, which carries clostridium, salmonella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus.
  • Ant Bites & Stings — no one likes being in pain. Some ants have particularly potent venoms that also react with our skin to cause welts or create serious, and sometimes life-threatening, reactions. Lesions, pain, swelling, itching, and anaphylaxis are all potential reactions.
  • Home Damage — from the wood-chewing habits of carpenter ants to insulation stripping to make room for nests, ants can cause a lot of damage in our homes.
  • Food Infestation — from E. coli to Shigella and Salmonella, ants can contaminate our food with more than just germs and standard bacteria. Let’s not forget that ants aren’t exactly hygienic.

picture of an ant exterminator working

When to Seek Professional Help

 
 

No shame comes with admitting you need help. And with ants, it’s likely you will. Colonies carry hundreds to thousands of members, often with several queens. They reproduce quickly, and smart ants won’t take to baits.

You can eliminate a lot of hassle by calling an exterminator. These technicians are trained to recognize types of ants and know what solution works best to chase off the colonies. They also know how to reach those hard-to-get places like wall voids to chase out ant nests.

You can still DIY the occasional ant visit, but constant visits and larger problems like infestations need a professional touch.

How Much Does an Ant Exterminator Cost?

Calling an exterminator is often less expensive then trial-and-error with multiple potential solutions—not to mention all the food you may end up throwing out due to contamination or any home repairs.

One-time treatments

The price for a single visit will vary based on the size of the property being treated, but a safe average is between $90-$250. However, treatment for carpenter ants will always cost more, as there is far more effort involved.

Reoccurring contract treatments

Annual contracts can provide continuous protection to your home, ensuring that ants will never become a problem. Visits can take place by the month or by quarter. Contracts typically range between $600-$1500, once more dependent on the size of your treatment area and also the number of visits per year.

Additional costs

Depending on the type and range of your infestation, you may come across extra costs. Having an exterminator pest proof your perimeter, for instance, will ensure a thorough seal but cost a little extra (around $60-90 in labor charges).

You also need to repair any damage the ants caused and replace any contaminated food, which can all add up.
 

picture of woman thinking

Final Thoughts

 
 

It’s pretty easy to tell why ants have been branded as the #1 nuisance pest.

They reproduce quickly, spread like wildfire, contaminate any food they touch, and can spread dangerous diseases.

Preventing and repelling ants from the beginning is always the best approach, but don’t be afraid to call an exterminator if you’ve discovered an infestation.

The sooner you act, the better you will protect your home— and everyone within.

Additional Pest Control Reading: Check out our other guides to the keeping all types of pests out of your home. Click the links below to read these detailed guides!

Do you have an ant problem or did you solve one? Tell us about your experience or drop any questions you may have for us in the comments below!

Do You Like This Article? Share It!

2
Leave a Reply

avatar
2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
John MiltonElisabeth Southgate Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Elisabeth Southgate
Guest
Elisabeth Southgate

Thank you for helping me learn more about recognizing if I have an ant problem. I am a new homeowner so I don’t know much about these types of things. I like how you mentioned to look to see if you have ant colonies around your yard.

John Milton
Guest
John Milton

I used a simple way to get rid of them. Just by making a spray 🙂

You can see here –
Pouring water, garlic, and onion into a 1-quart jar. Allow steeping for 1 hour.
Next mix in the liquid soap.
Then strain through a sieve.
Finally, pour into a spray bottle.

It works good for me. What do you think? Isn’t it a good way?