Ants

How to Get Rid of Ants

We all know that ants can be quite the nuisance in any household or dwelling. Though not all ants cause damage to your home, an infestation can be bothersome and unsightly. So how do we go about controlling, preventing and ridding ourselves of ants? As with anything, the best solution is usually prevention. When prevention fails, the next step is trapping or extermination. This can be done both naturally and with chemicals, professionally or by yourself. Read on for some ideas you can use to prevent, trap, and kill ants in your home. Get rid of your ants for good using these suggestions!

1. Keep your home clean.

You should always work to keep your home as clean as possible, at all times. And not just for aesthetic reasons! Put away food when you are done with it and clean up any crumbs and spills. Take out the garbage regularly and store it away from your house if possible. If ants don’t have any easy access to food sources, they will move on elsewhere!

2. Prevent access.

By ensuring that your windows and doors seal properly you can prevent ants from accessing your home. You can also prevent access by placing barriers around your home, which you can find more information on in suggestion. You may consider getting entirely new windows or doors at the same time as a preventative measure: this adds value to your home to boot, so it’s a win-win solution!

3. Destroy nests close to your home.

By killing the ants close to your home, you are less likely to get an infestation. Chances are fairly high that the ants aren’t nesting directly in your house, but if you have a consistent food source close at hand, chances are high that they will set up shop close by.

Look in your garden or lawn to try and find signs of an ant colony. Destroy the nests at the source to get rid of ants in your house!

There are many ways to destroy a colony of ants, both chemical and natural. To destroy a colony, you generally need to find the nest first, though some chemical products exist that are designed to be carried back to the colony by foraging ants. Once you have located the nest you can use natural and chemical strategies to destroy the nest.

Note: For natural strategies pour substance directly into nest. For chemical strategies, follow manufacturers directions on label. Natural strategies include soapy water, boiling water, salt water, and vinegar and water.

4. Set baits and traps.

Baits and traps prevent the ants that do enter your house from making it back to the colony, stopping them from communicating any possible food sources. Ants are highly intelligent insects, and the presence of a food source as indicated by one ant will have the entire colony buzzing in no time. Another use of baiting is to return poisons to the colony. Try commercial liquid ant killer or ant bait.

Baits and traps both use a sweet substance to lure the ants in. In the case of a bait, the idea is to kill the ant with a poison masked by the sweet lure, where a trap simply prevents the ants escape. Baits and traps can be purchased or easily made in the home.
You can also use natural traps to get rid of ants. Natural baits include borax and syrup mixture (kills ants when they consume the mixture) and borax, syrup and cornmeal mixture (kills larva when taken back to nest).

Natural traps also include corn syrup (placed on pads or in dishes) and sugar water in a bottle (ideal for counter tops).

To make a borax bait all you have to do is mix equal of borax into some corn syrup and add a drop or two of water. The ideal mixture will be a syrupy mixture that is not too runny. Place this mixture along the ants trail in a dish or on a piece of cardboard. Replace or rehydrate the bait when it starts to dry. When making a bait to be returned to the colony, a clumpier drier version is required. Use the same mixture above, only this time slowly stir in cornmeal until the mixture has a crumbly texture. This mixture can be placed along side the liquid bait on the ant trail.

To make a trap, you can simply place thick syrup in a dish and place it along the ant trail. Ensure that the dish has steep edges, this increases the chances of trapping the ants in the syrup. To make a bottle trap mix sugar into warm water and pour about an inch into an old water bottle. Make a hole in the bottle lid, then roll up a small piece of paper into a funnel. Place the funnel under the lid and secure the lid to the bottle. This trap can be placed on counter tops or in areas where pets might get at the traps.

5. Set up barriers.

One method of ridding yourself of these little pests is to set up ant barriers. Ants will avoid certain substances and these can be used to prevent the ants from accessing your home. In order for barriers to be effective it is important to find the ants access points into your home and place the barriers there: note that barriers are only effective against ants nesting outside of your home.

From here we have to choose between natural homemade barriers and chemical barriers. Chemical barriers can be purchased at most department stores.

Note: For natural barriers, make a “wall” at access points. For chemical barriers follow manufacturers directions on label. Natural barriers include spices (cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric), powdered chalk, baby powder or talc, citrus oils, powdered charcoal, used coffee grinds, and Vaseline.

6. Get an exterminator.

Finally, if all else fails it might be time to call in a professional extermination team. This should be left as a last resort as this method can be costly and exterminator’s pesticides could have adverse effects on the environment.

If you are left with no other option then professional extermination, it is recommended that you research the company that you wish to hire. Some companies may have different methods of extermination varying in levels of evasiveness, from sprays that are applied to baseboards and floorboards to a whole house tenting and bug bombs.

Follow some or all of these steps and ants will no longer be guests in your home! Always be careful with chemical solutions for ants that small children or family pets do not have easy access to them. Ant bait is often designed to be accessible only to ants themselves, but you can never be too careful with the people (and animals!) that you love. In extreme cases it is sometimes necessary to call in professional help, such as exterminators. Use this as a last ditch effort, however, as ants usually are not that serious of a concern.

About the author

Nicole Harding

77 Comments

  • Equal (Artificial sweetener) works to get rif of ants.

    Sprinkle it around wherever you see them. They don’t eat it but it certainly makes them dissapear!

  • I’ve had success using instant grits around ant colonies for years.
    I live in the country with acreage, so I needed an environmentally friendly way to do battle with them and keep things safe for my children and animals. Just sprinkle a little around the mounds. Make sure the ground is dry, and no rain is forecast for a while to achieve the best results. Repeat as needed. (Make sure you buy INSTANT and not the Quick Cook grits).

  • I have read and found that ants hate red chili powder. I sprinkled some around my kitchen and they have disappeared. Also I found where they were coming in and squirted the crack with vinegar….NO MORE ANTS!!!!!!

  • I have always been told to use the peels of my cucumbers to fight ants. But now that I am seeing them where domestic animals also habitat, I am going to try the Instant Grit methods and the soapy water. Thanx for the tips.

  • The cinnamon really works. Had a problem this summer in my new home with ants coming in from the kitchen door. I put a line of cinnamon along the bottom of the door and I could see them turn around and go back towards the yard.

  • salt and pepper also works snd is safe to use around my cats. my grandma taught me this when i was little and i have used it ever since.

  • Try wiping everything down with vinegar…ants do not like crossing the vinegar for some reason. In mounds pour grits, it works! I used to live in GA and my lawn was infested. Grits are supposed to make them swell up and pop to thier death when they eat it. I also use Bleach it works like the vinegar. When they are around my door I pour a line of bleach in front and they do not cross. Also dilute some bleach with water and use on surfaces…however be carefull with children and bleach.

  • A local exterminator came over to my house a few weeks ago after finding an infestigation. He gave me a small robotic vaccum cleaner called the roomba for a week. It had a scheduler and a base charge unit that it automatically went to when the battery got low. The roomba dispatched to the room like 20 times a day. Mostly while I was at work. As worker ants came out behind the wall, the roomba rolled over them and swept them up. So every once in a while it would go off its charger, run for half an hour, and nuke 100+ ants coming out of the wall per session. After about 3 days, running unattended thoughout the day and night, it killed off all the foragers, leaving the queen to starve to death. It was a merciless killing machine. It also cleaned my floors.

  • I live in a neighborhood with lots of children and pets, so i don’t like to use chemicals to control pests. I use used coffee grounds. I save them over the winter (dry them out) and then sprinkle liberally around the foundation. Using a garden rake, i mix the coffee grounds into the soil. Haven’t seen an ant in my house for two years now! If you don’t drink coffee, you can go to Starbuck’s – they save them for gardeners to be used as a soil additive.

  • I use Ant-B-Gone powder, Ortho product. Oderless, lightly sprinkle a little on the first foot of the ant trial the then with an old four inch paint I brush the powder and the remaining ant trail into a pile. After about 10 minutes, clean the ant pile up with the brush so some powder trace remains. Ants will stay away.

    If you ever remove baseboards for any reason, be sure to generously spread this powder behind the baseboard area before reinstalling and you will be guanteed zero ants or bugs crossing this perimiter.

  • If you are having Ant Problems in your kitchen is try to set some Bait that your Terminex or Pest Control Service gives you. I have this problem now and it seems to be working but it takes time or you can also try to wipe down the counter with Vinegar or you can put Sugr down that also helps but also keep an Ant Swatter around incase things get bad. Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • We had a terrible infestation of little black ants in the kitchen and fire ants in the yard that eventually infested our house. We were told to try malt-o-meal(it supposedly works by making them blow up when they eat it, this is probably why instant grits work). We found that chocolate flavored malt-o-meal works best, I’m assuming because it’s sweet. We poured a line around the base boards inside the house, the kitchen counters, and around(and inside) the ant beds. In a day or two, the ants were gone in the house and all the ant beds in the yard were gone in a week or two. We also had small children, so this was very safe and non toxic. Hope this helps. Good Luck!

  • I have small ants in my home and the way that I get rid of them is a mixture of one part pine sol to three parts water and spray everything down and even on the ants they are killed instantly and it makes you home smell good also.

  • Dampen a dryer sheet and wipe down your counters. For some reason this deters ants. You can also wipe down windowsills and doorways. Another amazing thing about dryer sheets…put a sheet in each pocket while you do yard work and the bugs won’t bite you.

  • For areas where bleach isn’t acceptable (ie, carpets,rugs, furniture), try resolve carpet cleaner. Whatever is in it kills the ants on the spot! I was amazed. And for entry ways and window sills, I lined them with dawn dish soap. Problem ants gone!

  • I had ants in my shed and the kitchen.I was told to use Boric acid and salt across the border.No more ants hace been seen.

  • buy a jar of honey and place it in a tree, the ants find it and will live off the honey instead of your home. This is used if you prefer not to kill the ants just to deter them away from your home.

  • Bought a small bottle of Peppermint extract from Watkins and placed it around the baseboards of the entire apartment with a q-tip. Have not seen one ant since then!

  • You should take any spray[LYSOL,CLOROX,WINDOW CLAENERS,ETC.]If they’re on your bathroom floor like me then spray them.Or what my brother does is run over them with die cast cars!LOL

  • We had ants in our kitchen and i would recommend an poison bait because it actually works but if you have children i wu=ould recommend a non toxic soloution..:)

  • I have found that if you wipe down counters in the kitchen with soapy water it works cause it removes their sents that they left. but we have them in the bathroom floor and sink and soapy water isnt working….any suggestions?!?!

  • im a a/c tech one day i was working in a japanese steak house watching the exterminator putting small pieces of straws about 2 inches long all over the place . when i asked him what he was doing he told me his company cut’s the straws down to about two or three inches. then mix a jar of 50% boric acid and 50% mint toothpaste. and fill the straws with the mix . he said it works every time . plus everything’s in the straw no mess

  • i am allergic to ants. all kinds, and the last time i used any of the spray it was like, anytime i walked in the hallway i got high (the ants were in my bedroom…and when i saw them i totally freaked out and went spray happy) well i was out of spray and i was cleaning my room and i lifted a small bag and there was an infestation of ants there…i lifted another bag and i found their little hill.

    i found that babypowder kills them baisically where they stand. that and paprika. and salt and pepper…

    my room has more spices on the carpet than my kitchen does in its cabnets.

  • ants in the garden annoys me so much!@!@! I can’t use poison because it will kill my plant so i spray dish-washing soap, mixed with some oil ( don’t forget to add water) it kills ant like a charm… it also kills aphids…spray every week and it should disappear in 3 weeks, WISH YOU LUCK!!@!!@!!

  • I used to put the dog’s food outside for her to have during the day, ants loved it. i started to draw a box around the dish with plain chalk this kept the ants out. they would not cross the chalk border.

  • to get rid of ants in your yard if you want something that isn’t a poison and is safe for kids, pets, and other wild life, there is an organic solution. when you find an ant hill (colony) you can sprinkle some grits, for those that don’t know what that is, it is a type of breakfast food that is kind of like oat meal. the ants will take it back to their home and feed it to everyone. the killing part will happen when the ants drink water, the grits swell up and the ants explode, kind of like birds when they eat rice and then drink water. it will kill the entire colony even the queen. the only catch is that not all places have grits, because not everyone eats them. it is a safe and effective way of getting rid of unwanted ant hills (colonies).

  • call an exterminator as food particles attract roaches. other types of insects will also become attracted to your house. identifying what species of ants are infesting your house is the first step in taking care of the problem

  • Carol – Never heard about a chalk circle around the pet bowl but I’m going to try it. I put the cat food bowls inside low, shallow containers like a pie pan and fill the pan with water. The ants can’t cross the water to get to the bowl. I do it inside and outside.

  • To kill them where they stand I use Febreeze the kind you have to squirt not the airisol ones. I works good but I am still working on finding where they live…..we just found some in the iron…..need new iron. But I am gonna try the boric acid and sugar.

  • hi, i was in my bathroon and i thought i was seeing things, im looking, and low an behold, these little tiny ants, walking on the carpet, so the first thing came to mind, was ozium air sanitizer, couple of sprays, and be gone. but i think ill try the red pepper, i have 150 lb. dog and dont want him sick, so i have to be carefull, thank , bunnie march 2, 2008

  • I tried using paprika and they definitely stopped coming in from that crack. But now they come in from a different one nearby. I’m a new yorker, and clearly these ants are coming in from my neighbor’s apartment…filthy *******. My cat seems to like pawing at the ants, but even though they are pests I don’t want them to suffer to death. I’m going to try baby powder and salt on the new crack. Will caulk if need be and will report back for you all! Luckily the little buggers are coming in through my bathroom, away from my kitchen and living area. I find the best thing to do when they are in a group is to dust bust them. Then I spray lysol on the group and dust bust the lysol to fumigate the ants to death inside the vacuum. I’m so sweet eh?

  • Laundry Detergent Powder – undiluted.
    (Originally a Hints from Heloise tip).
    I broadcast laundry detergent lightly on my entire yard and get rid of fire ants for 3 months or more. MUST be watered in to prevent damage to your lawn, so I broadcast detergent before a good rain. Has worked for many years. (Rids the soil of food/insects the ants like to eat). If individual mounds should pop up, sprinkle detergent atop and around. Ants disappear within a day or so.

  • Since the warmer weather started to come, I have been noticing ants in my house. They started in the kitchen and bathroom and now they seem to travel all over the house. I am going to try some of the tips listed above like the chili powder, but my problem is the only place I can see them getting in, is through the drains. My bathtub and sinks always seem to have a lot more. How do I stop them if they are coming through the pipes?

  • To Jenn,
    Unless your ants have snorkles, they are probably coming from around your drains. You might look to see if new plumber’s putty might help.

  • mix half borax and half powered sugar and leave it where pets and kids can’t get into it and presto within a few days the ants are gone….

  • -Sugar that contains aspertame (Sweet-N-Low, Equal, NutraSweet, Splenda) – internet rumors says it kills, but from my experience, ants just avoid it, makes a good firewall.

    -Lysol bowl cleaner with Bleach – kills ants instantly, a mere drop waved in the presence ants will frighten them.

    -Follow the ants trail, they’ll make there way back to where they came in, revealing the exposed pathway into your home, usually a crack in the wall. Buy some Stucco crack repair and fill in the crack then voila, no more ants!

  • Last yr i had black and red ants…Both in different areas of my yard. Now they are no longer in my flower areas thanks to tide laundry detergent….But now they have decided to reside in my lawn…It looks horrible…What do i do??? Im on the verge of ripping my lawn up roto tilling the entire yard!! And re- seed…

  • last year i had ants and used baby powder. it worked great. problem is this year we have a puppy. she is 11 months old and eats anything on the ground. i read that corn meal or oatmeal kills the ants also but my puppy was eating up for herself. i am afraid to use the baby powder as it may be harmful to her.

    please help with any ideas. i cannot take this pests anymore . they are all over my kitchen floor and yesterday i found a gazillion of them in my cupboard where i keep my cooking oil.

    PLEASE HELP

    ANNETTE

  • Try useing baking soda. Just pour some one the area. I here the ants will care it back to their hole and it works as a bomb. Kills all in that hole. It doesn’t blow up your house, just their hole.

  • I have the same problem with ants in the cupboard under my kitchen sink and in my dishwasher. How do I find where they’re coming in? Is it from around the pipes? I don’t think my pipe comes in from outside though. I use the terro poison, but I want to stop them for good!

  • This is so easy I couldn,t beleive it,Buy a box of moth balls,crush 1 at time and put it around the hole of the nest, or were you see them.

  • Anyone ever heard of using cloves? I just places some near the little nasty things point of entry.I guess we will see.

  • Anyone know how to get rid of Harvester ants? I have BIG bare patches in my pastures and one behind the house that is almost 50 ft across!!! The bad part it is is about 20 ft from my water well……..help!

  • Chili Powder works great if you have no pets……But could someone tell me how to get rid of big black ants in my flower leaves ? It looks like they have eggs under some of the leaves and they are dying????????HELP………..

  • Two different people from Texas have told me to sprinkle DRY OATMEAL around. The ants take it back to the queen, and ingest it, where it expands in their stomachs, making them explode.

  • In the past I’ve used a bottle of Diatect Results Ant Killer. Their products are supposedly all-natural and safe around kids and plants. I found it to be extremely effective in eliminating my ant problem and it was only $20 for a bottle. I read lots of their testimonials and that’s what hooked me and I feel the need to pass it along to others.

  • For me I find the best way to get rid of ants is smushing them. Simple and cost free,just have a lot of time on ur hands..

  • Huge problem, we have a new home being built next door and since the hot weather and the digging next door, I believe that is why our house is full of ants. Everyday, we wake up to tons of ants in our kitchen and sometimes even in our rooms. We clean our kitchen and mop it every night with some bleach and also our counters (that’s how bad its gotten) and no luck. Any suggestions?

  • Sadly, here in Los Angeles where they claim an entire unbroken colony stretches hundreds of miles nothing works.

    Best I’ve been able to do is keep food off floors and counters.

    Caulk cracks in window sills and floor boards.

    Use expanding foam around pipes and in places where there are big gaps.

    Around the house wet down the ants to give ’em hell.

    An undisturbed colony is more efficient than one that’s under constant attack.

    The Terro baits don’t work. The ant stakes don’t work.

    There is supposedly a poison from China that makes the ants confuse their own scent with an invading ant and kill each other.

    Apparently they eat themselves to death.

    I didn’t believe it or want to wait so long for the poison, but then I saw on the news that some US scientist was claiming credit for designing a poison that did the exact same thing.

    Obviously they stole the formula from the Chinese stuff.

    You can find it online if you search.

    There are a lot who try sell different versions.

    Only one is the original.

    It’s a poorly designed website with crappy text and no photos.

    They ship from China and I think they might lie on the customs forms to get it here. I will try to find it again.

    I’m going to try the borax, however I’ve heard aspartame works on carpenter ants as powder and also fire ants when wet.

    Ants=pain in the but

  • We have ants living under our house, or at least we think thats where they are. We have laminate flooring, and they just come out from under the skirting board. We’ve tried tracking them, but they come from everywhere! So we’ve tried baby powder, but it doesn’t seem to help. Problem is, we also have a pet marmoset, who has a penchant for eating EVERYTHING he can. Hes only just recovered after eating an ant which had eaten ant poison, so we need to try something else. Is there anything we can use which will be harmful to the nts but not my monkey?
    I live in the UK if that helps. 🙂

  • well i know all about the chinese chalk stuff but i cant find the website anywhere!!! we used to buy it at soo kim in peoria illinois but kim had to stop selling it or the government was going to close down her shop… can you find the web address for me and email it??? i know when we did use that product it killed all insects, spiders, cockroaches, ants, and the like. it never harmed our pets, or myself or my family members, and i would like to get my hands on more. if you could be of any assistance that would be terrific. thanks so much, and your website has been very helpful. i have also found out that cloves and oatmeal make sufficient ant repellants if used in conjunction with each other. thanks again

  • I mix a little 20 mule team borax with sugar or syrup & put it wherever I’ve seen ants. They take it back home & it kills the colony.

  • I don’t know about customs etc, but Chinese Chalk is still sold in Canada – usually in China Town or any Chinese/Vietnamese corner store.

    I’m using Borax now…so far it’s successful. I’m going to try the homemade ant bait this weekend.
    Thanks for the how-to all-natural tips!

  • Yeah i have fire ants too but i find them everywhere and i don’t know where they are but i found some in my sister’s bedroom,my brothers computer desk, my staircase, the floor, the kitchen, bathroom, and i am even scared to get bitten by these ants everywhere and my parents don’t know what to do and i am looking online to search for solutions. But i did a test and i found out that hot water doesn’t always work. It depends on how much you pour, and how hot it is because the hotter it is it will kill the ants easier. and i am going to try the vinegar. and sugar with borax and water. and i am going crazy. and my brother is telling me to tell my mom to hire a professional to do it. Red ants are really annoying -_-

  • Dumb Question…where can one purchase borax? I have only found Boraxo which has soap mixed in…I’ve been overrun and need some soon.
    Thanks

  • You can purchase borax at any Wal-Mart. The last time I checked it was in the cleaning supplies department and the brand they carried was 20 Mule Team Borax. You can also sometimes buy it in the pest control section in the form of boric acid. However, it is more expensive per ounce than the 20 Mule Team and it is the exact same thing.

    Your grandma probably knows all about the stuff. They used to use it in washing clothes. They didn’t mess around with stains back in the day. Just throw a low grade acid on it. 🙂

  • We have ants coming out of our ceiling, around
    our skylight. These ants have wings and last
    July and August they flew from the ceiling all
    over me. We purchased an ant killing liquid to
    spray on them and the wooden ceiling cracks but
    they are still around. They show up dead on top
    of my window sill. Tonight I heard some kind of
    munching over our kitchen light. Are these
    carpenter ants? They look just like regular ants
    with segmented bodies, but have wings. Most are
    small, a few are large. Help! What can we do to
    get rid of them?

  • Boric acid can be found in most dollar stores for only a few dollars. I’m going to try it outdoor, where we have a huge red ant mount.

  • I noticed large black ants on my patio,and garage door sprinkle the hottest red pepper you can find, get an big bag,or jar crushed or powdered,is fine as long as its dry,I did this 6:00 this morning, it is now 8:32 not an single ant or anything, Ive gone out to check an few time,if the peppers set your mouth on fire think what it will do to them.try it,

  • I have used Terro ant killer it is sold in stores. Its a plastic tray of some form of ant killer, they come into the plastic thing and die. There is also another one that you put some liquid on a dot and they eat it or something like that. My family has used it for years and years and it is what I am currently using. I have a huge infestation and am trying to figure out where they are coming from and this is atleast attracting them so I can try to find where they are coming from.

  • My sister is having trouble with ants in her kitchen and I will tell her about the Borax. Thanks for the tip.

  • Here is a CHEAP, environmentally friendly, non toxic, safe for children and pets,way to rid your home and yard of ants. mix equal parts of ordinary table sugar and baking soda. Use a container such as a styrofoam egg carton. Fill the egg cups with the mixture, close the carton, poke a few holes along the side big enough for the ants to enter. Place the container near the ant infestation. The sugar attracts the ants and the soda explodes their stomachs. Problem solved. A Health Inspector gave me this solution. It’s great. For outdoor use simply place a few rocks inside to weigh the container down and hide it at the back of your flower bed or put the mixture in a suitable sized container and place an empty flower pot upside down over it to keep the rain or sprinkler water out. Good luck. It’s so easy and really works.

  • Equal amounts of sugar and baking soda mixed together. Place in styro egg container. :Poke holes for ants to enter and place near ant infestations. CHEAP, enviro-friendly, child and pet safe, non-toxic. Use indoors or outdoors. Really works.

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