5 tips to get rid of ants in the house

July 19, 2020

So, you’ve got ants. First, it was one or two crawling across the kitchen floor, but now everywhere you look there’s a line of little, black ants marching around your home. How did they get there? What do they want? And, most importantly, how can you get rid of ants in the house?

5 tips to get rid of ants in the house

Photo Credit: iStock.com/New Africa

If you think you’re seeing an unusual number of ants in and around your home, you’re probably right. The summer of 2020 is shaping up to be a bumper year for ants. The harsh winter and late spring created ideal conditions for a summertime ant population explosion.

Before you start stomping on them, it’s important to remember that ants aren’t all bad. They help aerate your lawn and are a food source for birds. The common house ant doesn’t transmit disease and is unlikely to cause damage to your home. Carpenter ants are a different story. These much larger species feed on rotten or damp wood, potentially damaging the structure of your home.

Ants usually come inside looking for food, water, or a place to nest. The first ants you encounter are scout ants. When they find what they’re looking for, they leave a chemical trail of pheromones for the rest of the colony to follow. That’s when the real trouble begins. Try these tips to get rid of ants in the house:

1. Clean the house

Clean up any spills or crumbs right away and keep all food in airtight containers, including pet food. Be especially careful with sweet liquids, a house ant’s favourite meal. Use cleaning vinegar or bleach to destroy the scented trails left behind by scout ants. Ants are said to hate the fragrance of mint, lemon, and cinnamon and dusting or spraying entry points with essential oils or powder can send them away. Pepper and coffee grounds may have a similar effect.

2. Keep it dry

Ants like damp environments, so ensure that bathrooms, attics and unfinished basements are dry and leak-free. Water-logged wood is also a favourite habitat. Maintain outdoor decking with a water sealant to prevent rot and infestation.

3. Bait and trap

Set out a few different types of ant baits anywhere you’ve seen ants, to see which works best with your ant population. They’ll soon show up in large numbers. Ants feed on the sugary bait and take it back to the nest, where it kills off larvae and helps control the overall population. Always read the label and be cautious about chemical ingredients if you have children or pets at home.

4. Find the nest

Pour boiling water into any ant hills you see, which kills ants on contact. Seal any cracks between windows, doors and bricks to close off access points. Remove climbing vines or other dense vegetation around your home that ants can use as a bridge to enter. Check the soil of tropical houseplants and throw out any that are populated by ants.

5. Call the exterminator

If you’ve tried these tips to get rid of ants and are still finding ants in the house, it’s time to call a professional exterminator. Look for an exterminator who uses the least toxic insecticide products. Be sure to ask what kind of follow-up treatments are included in the service fees, in the event the ants return.

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