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Got an Ant Problem? 10 Tips for Getting Rid of Ants Indoors and Out

Red ants march along steel blue pipe with brown grass

Ants are perhaps one of the most frustrating types of pest to manage. They always seem to re-appear, whether it’s a line marching into your kitchen or a nest in the yard. If you can relate to this problem, don’t worry. Here are our top 10 tips for how to get rid of ants indoors and outdoors.

1. Identify the type of ant:

Identifying the type of ant that you’re dealing with will really help you to properly exterminate them. Did you know that there are over 700 species of ant in the U.S.? You don’t need to become an expert. Just make sure you know in general what ants you have, and most importantly if they are dangerous.

If the ants are indoors then they are likely the small black ants that are often called “sugar ants”. These include pavement ants and odorous house ants. You may also see carpenter ants, which are found indoors and outside. Carpenter ants earned their name because of their wood burrowing. Keep an eye out for these reddish black ants because they can cause serious structural damage and their bite can pack a painful punch.

Outdoors it is more common to see larger varieties of ants, including the dangerous fire ants. Fire ant nests can become quite large, and their painful sting can be dangerous, especially for anyone with allergies. As mentioned, carpenter ants are another species that will build colonies outdoors. These should be taken seriously because of both their potential to cause damage and their painful bite.

2. Keep a clean kitchen to avoid baiting ants:  

We often call the little black ants most common in the house “sugar ants” precisely because they love sweets! Even a tiny spill can tempt them. That is when you find yourself waking up to a sight no one wants to see, a whole line marching down your counter. The first step is to keep your kitchen as clean as possible. Wipe down all surfaces and seal all containers tightly. Transfer sweet items like sugar and honey to fully ant-proof containers. Make sure all spills are cleaned up so that you don’t accidentally tempt the ants inside.

3. Seal up all points of entry:

The next big step you can take is to seal up your house. If you actually see ants coming in from some point, a crack in the wall or a window, start there. Otherwise, think about all the other ways they could be invading. Common spots are gaps under doors and through windows, tears in window and door screens, and cracks in walls and doorways.

Adding or repairing all window and door screens will help. You can also use caulk to seal up any cracks that could be an entry point. Look for these around windows and doorways. Remember to seal up points of entry from the outside and the inside. It is worth taking a look around your exterior to see if there are any vulnerable spots.

4. Bait the ants:

Both indoor and outdoor ants can be baited and trapped. This can be especially helpful if you have an outdoor colony that’s working towards your patio or garage. Essentially baits work by enticing the ant to pick up the bait and take it back to the colony. This will deliver the deadly poison to the rest of the colony.

You can buy ant bait or make it yourself. While store-bought is more reliable for extermination, a natural solution can be better if you want to avoid chemicals. You can mix borax and syrup together to make a mixture that will attract and poison the ants. Keep in mind that borax is still toxic!

5. Erase the ant scent trails:

Ants navigate by leaving a scent trail so that others can follow. If we remove this scent trail, then the following ants won’t be able to make it into our homes. While keeping a clean kitchen was the first step, it won’t be enough to fully erase their trail. To do so, use a mixture of 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water to wipe down all surfaces where you have seen ants. This won’t kill ants, but it can absolutely help keep them out!

6. Kill the colony with insecticide:

For a serious outdoor infestation, it may be time to bring in the big guns. Begin by spot treating if you know where the ant nests are. You can use either liquid or granule insecticide. There are many different types, so consider what toxicity level you are comfortable with and how bad the infestation is. Always be careful when tackling red ants especially. Fire ants are notoriously aggressive!

7. Spray your lawn for ants:

If the problem is bigger than just a nest or two then consider spraying the whole lawn with insecticide. This is a better strategy for large-scale infestations. Keep in mind that any treatment like this will also kill other insects. This could be a pro or a con depending on your goals.

Mow your grass before you spray and spray early in the morning or late in the evening when ants are most active. Always spray on a calm day so that the chemicals don’t get blown around. It may take repeated sprays to really get all the ants, so stay persistent.

8. Use a granule spreader:

Granule insecticide is an alternative to spray, and often more effective for fire ants. On a single nest you would use granules to bait them. They will pick these up thinking they are food and take them back to the nest. If you have a larger problem, then use a granule spreader to get these all over your yard.

9. Use the two-step method for fire ants:

As mentioned above, fire ants are best treated with granule bait. That’s only step one to truly getting rid of these dangerous pests. The granule fire ant bait will take a few weeks to really work, allowing the ants to carry them back and share with the colony. That is why a second step – drenching – is encouraged. To drench a nest, you will use a fast-acting insecticide directly on the mound. This will drench the mound and kill off many of the dangerous ants. Keep using that bait though! Drenching will only get the visible mound, so keep using bait to tackle any invisible colonies.

10. Use an ant barrier:

Once you have killed the existing colonies and removed any temptation you should use a barrier treatment to keep the ants out once and for all. There are many options, but the general idea is to spray a barrier around any points of entry. These won’t kill the ants, but they will deter them from crossing over into your house or onto your porch. You can even spray around your yard.

Ants can be a very challenging problem. If you are struggling with ant control, please contact us! We will answer all your pest questions and provide a free quote for our professional pest removal services.