How to Get Rid of Ants
Ant Treatment Guide
By DoMyOwnPestControl.com staff
Getting rid of ants can be tough because of their opportunistic nature. Most species are able to nest indoors and outdoors in a wide variety of places and they can survive on a wide variety of food sources. To effectively get rid of ants you usually need to include proper indoor and outdoor sanitation as well as an actual pesticide treatment which includes a mixture of baiting and spraying.
Sanitation is definitely one of the most important steps to getting rid of ants, and most ant treatment programs will fail if this step is skipped or poorly implemented. You must eliminate what attracts ants, including as many food sources and water sources as possible. Finding and sealing areas that the ants are using to gain entrance into the structure is also important.
Getting rid of food sources is one of the most important parts of an Ant control program
. Sanitation of your kitchen and other areas of your home require dedication and hard work, but are necessary for an Ant-free living space.
- Clean Kitchen Appliances. Ants in your kitchen can live off grease and food spills under and behind your appliances. Clean under and behind the stove, refrigerator, microwave, toaster, dishwasher, and around and underneath the sink.
- Empty and Clean Cabinets. Crumbs and food spills from stored food products provide a buffet for Ants. Clean to eliminate this food source.
- Keep Food in Sealed Containers. Ants are small enough to get into the cardboard packaging or loosely closed boxes and bags. Store food in metal, glass, or hard plastic sealable containers.
- Limit food consumption to one room of the house. Keeping all food and eating in one area of the home will eliminate crumbs and food spills and limits your infestation to one area of the house.
- Clean the kitchen thoroughly each night before bed. Ants come out to feed at night, so cleaning the kitchen each night will leave nothing for foraging ants to eat. Wipe down kitchen countertops, wash all dishes, clean floors well, and put away all food.
- Vacuum or sweep all other non-food areas of the home every few days. Picking up stray crumbs and Ant feces, skins, body parts, and egg sacs, which contain pheromones that attract other Ants to the same areas, will help keep your home clean.
- Empty pet food containers overnight, or cover tightly.
- Keep garbage cans clean and covered.
Ants drink water and while it is difficult to get rid of all water sources, you need to eliminate as many as possible.
- Fix leaky plumbing and sweating pipes.
- Before bed, dry all sinks, tubs, and showers completely and plug the drains.
- Place wet dish rags and sponges in an airtight plastic storage bag overnight, place them directly in the washing machine, or hang outdoors to dry.
- Pet water dishes should emptied and dried at night and refilled in the morning.
- Empty drip tray from under refrigerator.
By eliminating potential hiding and nesting spots ants will find your home or structure less favorable. You should note that ant colonies can number from a couple of hundred to many thousand ants per colony. That means failure to seal entry points can allow new ant colonies or ant sub colonies to re-infest your home.
- Seal cracks and crevices around window frames and door frames, around baseboards and other places where you have noticed ants entering the structure with caulk or other suitable material.
- Seal holes around cables pipes and wires with copper mesh or other suitable material.
Now that you have completed the sanitation and preparation, you can start the process of applying products to eliminate the current ant infestation. We recommend using three
key products to effectively get rid of ants:
- A non-repellent aerosol ant spray insecticide for use around doors, windows and baseboards.
- Two kinds of ant baits for use in cabinets, on counters, near sinks and other places where sprays would not be appropriate:
- a protein based bait, and
- a carbohydrate based bait
This combination of products will help get the ant infestation under control much more quickly than using any one product alone. We include these key products in our indoor ant control kit
to make product selection easier for you.
Products needed for Step 2
You should place bait in areas where ant activity has been noticed. It is important to avoid purposefully putting the bait in the middle of an ant trail or on to the ants themselves: this will make the ants avoid the bait and make the baiting ineffective. Instead, put the bait near ant activity or next to ant trails. To help keep ant bait fresh and off of surfaces we recommend placing the bait in the bait plate stations provided in the kit. Some examples of places where the bait can be placed are:
- In kitchen cabinets and on counter tops.
- Behind, next to, and under the stove.
- Near sinks or drains
- Around pipes, cords, and cables that come out of the wall.
- Behind and under bathroom fixtures.
- Around the medicine cabinet and vanity.
You should check the bait placements once a week and replenish as needed until ant activity has ceased.
Products needed for Step 2A
We recommend using a non-repellent ant spray to supplement baiting. We make this recommendation because there are times that ants may be more in a nesting cycle or they may already have a steady, safe food source and they will ignore baits. We put a non-repellent ant spray in our ant kits
because the ants will not be able to detect the spray and it is picked up on their bodies and carried back to the nesting areas. Non-repellent ant sprays do take several days to start killing but that gives the product time to start spreading through the colony, infecting more ants.
Using the included straw applicator, apply the spray directly into cracks and crevices along baseboards, under appliances, around door frames, window frames and in areas where utilities (cables, pipes, wires) enter into the structure and other areas where ants have been entering your structure.
Products needed for Step 2B
If you find that you have ants crawling around the exterior of your home or structure you should also consider treating outdoors to avoid a new infestation indoors. Just like treating indoors, you must eliminate or change the environment around your home which made the ants find your property attractive to start with.
Sanitation means more than cleaning up food that has been left out or sweeping up certain areas. In terms of ant control, sanitation means changing or removing the things ants need to live. All pests, including ants, need three main things to exist on your property:
- Water or sufficient moisture
Pests seek these things when looking for a place to live, and by removing or limiting one or more of these aspects, you will help make your property less attractive to pests, including ants.
- To prevent ants from using trees and foliage to reach your home and gain access to it, trim back trees and shrubs so that the branches and foliage do not touch your home. This will also help avoid the need for pesticide applications.
- Eliminate moist shady areas where ants like to nest by trimming bushes and shrubs up from the ground so you can see beneath them.
- Create a "dry zone" or an area devoid of any landscape material, that ants are likely to avoid by raking mulch, pine straw or other landscape bedding at least 6 inches from the foundation.
- To reduce moisture retention and discourage nest building, turn mulch or other bedding material every couple of weeks.
- Insects and other household pests are known to live in gutters and downspouts, so clean these out frequently.
- Keep lawn short, mowing as often as necessary.
- To eliminate potential harborages for a wide variety of insects and pests, remove grass clippings, leaf piles, stacked wood, and other lawn debris.
- If fruit trees are on the property, pick fruit from trees when ripe and pick up fallen fruit from the ground.
- Outdoor trash cans and dumpsters provide food and shelter for pests, so store them as far away from structure as possible and check for tight fitting lids.
- Wash out trash cans and dumpsters with an ammonia solution when needed.
Products needed for Step 3
Having some ants in your yard or near your home is normal and is actually needed to keep other pest populations under control. When the ants become so numerous that they start to move indoors you will usually need to kill them outdoors around the perimeter of the structure. By using a mixture of ant baits and non repellent ant spray you can eliminate the ant colonies near the structure. We have put together an Outdoor Ant Kit
to help make selecting the right products for your needs easy for you.
Products needed for Step 4
There are many concentrated insecticide sprays on the market that are labeled for killing ants. We strongly recommend you use a non-repellent spray such as Termidor SC
. Most ant sprays will only kill the ants that actually crawl over the treated surfaces. Since only about 20% of an ant colony is likely to venture out to forage for food these sprays will not adequately control the colony. The other downside of using other ant sprays is that ants are sensitive to most insecticides and will try to avoid the treated area, further lessening the effectiveness of the spray. Termidor SC, and other non-repellent products, are undetectable by ants and other insects so they readily cross over treated surfaces. Once the ants contact the surface the product sticks to their bodies, causing them to carry it back to the colony. Once the infected ants are back at the colony, they spread the Termidor around through social interaction with the other ants, eventually leading to colony elimination.
You will need a hand pump sprayer or a backpack sprayer to apply Termidor. You will mix 0.8 fl oz of product with each gallon of water. Most folks will need 1-2 gallons of finished solution to complete the perimeter application. You will need to apply the Termidor solution one ft up the foundation and one foot out onto the ground to build a barrier. You can also apply the solution around window frames, door frames, places where cables, pipes or wires enter the structure and any other place where you have noticed ants crawling or trailing on the structure. You cannot spray Termidor out in the yard as a broadcast spray, and you must limit applications to once every 6 months.
You should note that Termidor is formulated to have a slow kill time to allow the ants to spread the product around the colony, and it can take several weeks to see the full results.
Products needed for Step 4A
Using an ant bait outdoors will allow you to exterminate ants that are further away from your structure. We recommend you use both a liquid ant bait and a granular ant bait
because ants can be picky and will sometimes only accept the liquid bait sometimes only accept the granules bait depending on what nutritional needs they are trying to meet. You can use both bait formulations in each station at one time. You should place the stations near areas where you are seeing high levels of ant activity. Check the stations once a week and replenish the bait as needed until the ant population has been eliminated.
Products needed for Step 4B