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Uninvited Guests: How to Get Rid of Ants and Keep Them Out

get rid of ants

We all loved Ants the movies and its cool to see them on documentaries about insects in the Amazons.

However, we could really do without seeing them in the kitchen, bedroom, car, or just about anywhere else we reside day to day. Sometimes, they seem to come out of nowhere and you have to deal with them every day.

Are you seeing ants so frequently you’re starting to get to know them and give them names? There are solutions for your unwanted guests. Read ahead to how to get rid of ants once and for all.

A Primer on Ants

Ants are an extremely numerous type of insect belonging to the Formidaciae family. This family is closely related to the bees and wasps that make up the rest of the Hymenoptera order.

You have to give them credit where it is due. Ants have existed the planet for over 140,000,000 years. They have had to adapt to countless environments and situations. In fact, there are well over 10,000 identified species but it is believed that there may be thousands more.

They are found just about everywhere except for Antarctica and a few remote islands.

Know Your Enemy

“If you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

-Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu probably wasn’t thinking about ants when he wrote The Art of War but the concept still applies.

Ants are eusocial creatures, meaning they form highly organized communities that work together to promote the well being of the group and not just the individual. They even have labor divisions and, as a group, can analyze and solve problems.

That’s all great but it still doesn’t mean you want to find them in your sugar bowl.

Common Ants To Watch Out For

So, you’ve noticed some critters and want to do something about it. Ants are distinguishable from other insects by their three distinct body segments and elbowed antennae. 

As we mentioned before, there literally thousands of different kinds of ants. However, most ants that infest homes can be classified into certain groups.

How to kill ants in house may vary depending on the type of ant so it is best to try and identify them.

Odorous House Ants

Tapinoma sessile is the scientific name for odorous house ants, also known as stink ants. They are native to North America and can inhabit homes. 

They are named such for the characteristic odor they release when crushed.

Carpenter Ants

These are probably the worst kind of ant to have because of the potential for structural damage.

They create holes in wood for their colonies but, unlike termites, they do not actually eat the wood. They leave behind a sawdust-like material you can use to identify them.

Pavement Ants

These ants are native to Europe but have spread to North America where they are often called sugar ants.

They invade other colonies and take part in massive battles that can leave thousands dead.

They are responsible for the kicked up sand between in pavement and sidewalks. They do this to ventilate their nests in the summer.

How to Get Rid of Ants 

How can I get rid of ants? The good news is that you don’t always have to call pest control every time you see an ant.

You can usually take care of it yourself.

Find The Nest!

You need to get rid of ants in house as soon as possible. This is especially true of carpenter ants because they can cause structural damage to the building.

They are more likely to affect walls that have suffered some rot through water damage, for example. Rotting wood presents a significant risk by itself but you should cut away holes in it to look for ants.

This is particularly common where water leaks occur so start looking in bathrooms, under kitchen sinks, and in basements.

Reconnaissance Mission

Believe or not, ants have specific tastes. Some colonies are attracted to sweets while others might prefer greasy food. This can change throughout the seasons depending on the needs of the colony.

The type of bait might depend on this so you can leave out a few types of food to see what kind your ants go after.

You can leave a tablespoon of honey and some leftover fries, for example, on a paper plate and wait to see what happens.

How To Get Rid of Ants in House

Once you know what they want, you can lay the bait.

The bait contains toxins that kill the ants, but not before they go back to the colony and share it with the rest of them. Hopefully, they will take out the queen as well and the colony will fail.

However, there could be thousands of ants with multiple queens and nests. If the problem persists, you will have to try and locate the nest.

Getting Rid of Ants’ Nests Outside

If they are outside you might see anthills but they could be widespread throughout your back yard.

You can use a spray to spot treat certain areas. However, widespread infestations require you to get your grass low and apply lawn and garden insect killer all over.

You’ll want to use a bifenthrin-containing agent an apply evenly. The best time to do it early morning or late afternoon. Also, avoid applying insect killer on windy days to make sure it sure it doesn’t drift all over.

Preventing Ant Infestations

The most surefire way of getting rid of ants is to prevent them from getting into the house and multiplying, to begin with. It’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Cleanliness is next to godliness so keep your kitchen and other areas clean and free of food crumbs or messes. Tidy up any overgrown shrubs outside that come in contact with the house.

Finally, consider spraying any possible entry point, such as windows and other thresholds, with insecticide and fill up any holes with caulk. An outdoor insecticide can be applied around the house to create a lasting chemical barrier. 

When to Call a Pro

Sometimes, it is best not to do it alone. If you have tried the above but are still frustrated with the results. It’s probably time to call a certified pest control specialist.

Also, if you have significant wood rot we recommend calling one sooner rather than later to prevent serious structural damage.

Kick Them To The Curb

Ants are a very noble and intelligent type of insect. However, they don’t belong in your house and, besides being annoying, they can cause serious structural damage.

Don’t let these critters live in your house rent-free. Take the steps necessary to prevent them from colonizing your home and get rid of ants in and around your house.

Check the blog for more articles on dealing with ants and other infestations.