Dealing with any sort of insect infestation is frustrating and can also be off-putting for the squeamish. Ants are no exception. Actually, over 74,000 monthly searches are done for “how to get rid of ants.”
Why? Because ants often arrive in droves, infest your food – or worse – build homes inside the inner or outer walls of your house, costing you more than just time and/or exterminator’s fees. So, how do you get rid of ants?
As soon as you spot ants in or on your house, do not wait, get to work inspecting and, if necessary, repelling and exterminating those six-legged invaders.
Here’s a check list and some helpful tips to help you in your task.
Determine the type of ant you’re dealing with.
There are all kinds of ants here in the state of Georgia, and they all work, live and eat a little differently. How you attack an infestation of carpenter ants is totally different to how you deal with fire ants or dark rover ants. One way to figure out what type of ants you have is to simply take a picture – match the ants via close-up picture ID (just use your phone to take a pic). Feel free to email those photos to our team via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to help you idea your newly found ant residents.
Keep your house clean.
As with all insects, the best method of avoiding infestation is to not invite them in. Leaving dirty dishes, easily accessible garbage, food crumbs or pet food lying around is like turning on a “vacancy” sign for all types of insects, including many types of ants, which are looking for easy food sources. Another option is to wipe your countertops with a natural lemon/water solution or by applying a peppermint essential oil mixture. Ants hate the smell of both, and both also pleasant pleasing smells in the home for you.
That includes erasing ant trails.
Ants leave a pheromone (scent) trail for others to follow, wherever they go. You cannot erase these trails via water. Instead, create a concoction of 1-part vinegar and 3-parts water and spray it wherever you have witnessed ants crawling around. This will at least keep them from tracking to a food source. You can also pour used coffee grounds around any existing colonies you locate, as it confuses their sense of smell
Know your options for ant repellants.
Now that they’re not sure where to go inside, you’ll want to keep any more ants on the outside. There are a number of insecticides available for purchase at a local hardware store that will act as a barrier if applied around entrance ways and gaps. But there are also plenty of non-toxic, organic options as well that you may sprinkle/apply around doors and windows to discourage ants from being attracted to your house. Some of these include cinnamon, chalk, flour, pepper, peppermint oil, salt, talcum powder, vinegar, lemon juice and boric acid (though boric acid can be toxic if ingested by pets or children).
Mix up a bait.
If you want to try to kill them on your own, it’s certainly possible. For example, Borax will kill house ants, while powdered sugar will attract them. Make a homemade bait with one part borax and three parts powdered sugar. Fill tiny containers with the bait and place them near any possible entrance ways. And if you see ant trails, make sure to put the bait directly in their path. (NOTE: If you have kids or pets, you will want to make sure they do not ingest the borax, as it can be poisonous). Do not kill the ants that surround the bait. They will carry it back to the nest, where it will eventually kill off the colony. This doesn’t work for all types of ants. You may also consider calling a professional pest control company.
Find indoor ant nests.
If you have carpenter ants, you cannot just feed them bait and have them carry it back to the nest and the queen. They don’t behave that way. So, you will have to locate the nest and deal with the critters there. Carpenter ants tunnel through wood and can do serious damage to your home. They generally like damp areas, so be wary of any spots in your home afflicted by leaks, including framing and flooring. If you cannot find the area easily call an expert that can devote all of his time to locating the culprits. If you do find the colony, douse it with an insecticide that contains bifenthrin, permethrin or deltamethrin. Be careful with these chemicals, or if you’d prefer, call a professional.
Destroy outside ant colonies.
If it’s not carpenter ants, the colony spawning the invaders is likely outside. Check your lawn, but also be wary of loose bricks or siding on your house. If you find ants watch their movements and follow them to the nest. Once you discover it use insecticide to destroy the colony. You may also pour boiling water (3 quarts or more) over any hills and then, once it has dried, pour another mixture of orange rinds and water onto the hill. A mixture of liquid dish soap and water will also kill ants.
These insects, known as red imported fire ants (RIFAs) are aggressive and will dose out a painful round of bites (multiples) to anyone that disturbs their nest. They are also an unfortunate way of life in Georgia. The best way to remove them is to apply a heavy concentration of fire ant bait purchased from a local hardware store. The best time to apply bait is in early spring when ants begin to form new colonies and again in the fall. Give your entire lawn a treatment. If any mounds survive then give them a heavier dose – but not directly on the mound, sprinkle it uniformly in a 3-4 foot circle around the mound.
Get rid of easy access to your home.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of all the culprits, you need to focus on keeping them away for good. While you have already put out repellant on the ground you need to make sure that you also discourage any other methods for the ant to get across the yard and onto the house, thus avoiding the stuff they hate on the ground. The way to do this is make sure there are no plants, trees or, undergrowth touching the house. Trim any such contact back and try to keep a 6-inch clearance space between soil and your foundation. Also, remove any standing log piles or any other inviting piles of organic matter from within close reach of the house. You’ll also want to seal any cracks and crevices with caulk.
Tupperware and water can be your friends at the picnic.
If you want to keep ants off your backyard picnic table, try putting a plastic/Tuppwerware container underneath each leg of the table and fill it full of water. These mini-moats will keep the ants from being able to crawl up the table legs.
Keep ants out of your yard.
Yes, this is very tough to do, but there are pesticides (again, available at your local hardware store) that you can apply to your lawn on a regular basis that will help keep ants at bay. It also helps to keep your grass cut short during growth months so that you can see the appearance of any new hills as fast as possible.