There are many varieties of ants, but if you want to send these pests packing, follow our tips for how to get rid of sugar ants and other common varieties that sneak into your home.
Let's take a look at how to get rid of ants in the kitchen and elsewhere around your house.
Sugar ants are a common name that people ascribe to most small ants that come marching into the house, hot on the trail of something to eat. And, as you might suspect, sweets rank high on their shopping list as do greasy foods, which is why they often appear in the kitchen.
Like any good scout, the first few ants leave a trail for their buddies to follow. But rather than dropping bread crumbs, ants use pheromones. Once their ant friends catch the pheromone scent, they're drawn to whatever tasty morsels the scouts found in your house. That's why, if you catch the initial trespassers early on, you may get lucky. Squash them and then use soapy water or vinegar to wipe away the scented route you think they followed to get inside.
If you think you know where they came in, you can strategically locate some homemade bait where they made their entrance. The ants carry the tainted bait back to the nest and wipe out the colony.
One of the most popular homemade concoctions for killing ants includes Borax, which has stirred up some controversy about whether it's natural and safe. You can relax in knowing that the EPA says Borax is sodium tetraborate, a mineral that occurs naturally in the ground, and it would take a significant amount to harm an adult. However, it's wise to keep this mixture out of reach of children and pets.
Mix 1 tablespoon Borax with 1 cup sugar and 1/2-cup water. Put some of it in low-sided containers, such as plastic lids from cream cheese, or use plastic caps from a milk jug or soda bottle. You also can use small plastic baby food containers and poke holes in the lids for ants to enter and carry out the mixture.
Place the homemade Borax ant killer wherever you believe the ants are entering the house. Ants congregate around this lethal brew and carry it back to the colony, so don't stomp on them now but allow them to do the work. In several days, the numbers will dwindle then disappear.
So how do you keep ants out of your house in the first place? One of the best solutions is to keep floors and counters as clean as possible and make tempting items inaccessible, such as storing honey and peanut butter containers inside plastic food storage containers or resealable storage bags.
Also, don't leave dirty dishes out, and keep a lid on the garbage and take it out of the house every day. You can make your home interiors less appealing to ants by spritzing countertops and baseboards with white vinegar, a scent that deters ants.
Before deciding to kill ants outside, consider this: Most ants are beneficial to the ecosystem, providing food for other insects and animals, while also playing a role in aerating the soil, distributing seeds, and protecting your flowers and plants from other insects that may cause damage. The exceptions to this "do no harm" philosophy are fire ants and carpenter ants, which require different methods to eliminate.
If you still want to get rid of a sugar ant colony near your house, find the small mounds of pelleted dirt and pour hot water down the hole.