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5 Ways to Get Rid Of Ants in the House: Natural and Conventional Methods

June 3, 2016

Ants. They’re not exactly the cutest of creatures, are they? You don’t mind when they’re outside – that’s where they belong. But in the kitchen? That’s the last straw.

When you see a trail of ants marching across your kitchen counter, it’s time to get up and do something.

But how do you get rid of ants in the house? What about in the kitchen?

We’re going to share 5 tips, but first, it’s important to identify the type of ant that has infiltrated your home.

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Carpenter Ants, or Odorous House Ants?

There are two types of ants that are commonly found in homes: odorous and carpenter.

Odorous House Ants

Known simply as “house ants,” these guys are commonly found in the kitchen. Why? Because they love sweets.

Like its name suggests, these ants leave a chemical pheromone trail wherever they go. That’s how their buddies find them – and your stash of sweets.

The problem with these ants is that killing them doesn’t solve the problem. Their nest mates will find the scent, pick up the trail and finish where the not-so-lucky guy left off.

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5 Tips for Getting Rid of House Ants

Here are four simple ways to get rid of house ants:

1. Soapy WaterCartoon picture of Red plastic bowl with soapy water.

If you’re just starting to see ants, you can use soapy water to kill them. Make sure that you wipe down the area where they came from to destroy the pheromone trail. But do try to figure out where the ants are coming from, so you can destroy the entire trail.

While this may work temporarily, you’ll likely need to try a more aggressive measure to kill the entire colony.

Otherwise, you’ll just have a continuous trail of ants coming in and out of your kitchen until winter.

2. Borax and Powdered Sugar

Borax is an efficient killer of odorous house ants, but getting them to walk through the powder can be a bit tricky.

Sweets are what house ants crave, but it’s also their kryptonite.

  • Mix 1 part borax with 3 parts powdered sugar.
  • Place the bait in a bottle cap or another tiny container.
  • Place the bait as close to the entry point as possible.

If you’re seeing a trail of ants, you can place the bait right along the trail, so they don’t miss it.

Refrain from killing any straggler ants you see. The goal is to have the ants bring the bait back to their nest and share it with their colony. This is what will kill the entire colony.

A Tip for Pet-Friendly, Child-Friendly Homes

Do be careful if you have pets or children as borax can be dangerous. Try mixing 3 tablespoons borax and a 1/2 cup sugar with one cup of water. Dip cotton balls in the mixture, and place them in shallow dishes along the trail of ants.

3. Vinegar

Simple distilled white vinegar is a great ant deterrent. Simply spray the mixture near countertops or any cracks you see around the house.

The vinegar also destroys the pheromone trail, so other ants don’t find their way into your home.

Feel free to wipe the vinegar clean, or allow it to dry.

You’ll need to repeat this process several times a day.

4. Conventional BaitA man is checking and filling ant bait in house.

If the methods above don’t work, conventional ant bait (or traps) will typically resolve the problem. But keep in mind that most of these baits are simply a mixture of borax and liquid (something sweet) to attract the ants.

So, if the homemade borax solution doesn’t work, a conventional trap may not work either.

It may just be that you’re dealing with a different type of ant.

Carpenter Ants

If you live in a wooded area, carpenter ants may be a big problem for you. The problem with carpenter ants is that they don’t actually take anything back to the nest. This means that you’ll need to kill them directly from their source.

To find the source, you’ll need to do a little hunting to locate the nest.

Tip: Most carpenter ants live close to homes, and usually only enter homes to search for food and water.

To find the nest, you need to understand how these guys work. Carpenter ants live in wood, and they tunnel their way through it.

If you find a pile of what looks like fine sawdust, the nest is probably nearby. These ants love living in moist wood that’s usually found in decks, foundations, and piles of wood near your home (or trees).

5. Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants in Your Home: Diatomaceous Earth

One of the most effective, natural ways to get rid of carpenter ants is Diatomaceous Earth, or DE.

DE is actually a natural substance made from the skeletal remains of algae plants. But it’s lethal to insects.

The dust contains tiny sharp edges that slice right through the ant’s body. This causes the ant’s body to dry out, leading to death.

And if carpenter ants actually eat this powder, it will shred their insides – not a pretty thought.

There are two different types of DE: one is made for swimming pools, and one is food-grade. You want the food-grade type for pest control.

The great thing about food-grade DE is that it’s completely safe for kids and pets, so you can sprinkle it around the house and in the yard.

To destroy a carpenter ant nest, you need to inject the DE right into the nest. A medicine dropper will do the trick.

Keep an eye on the ants. They may move their nests and find new ways into your home.

One Last Tip: Keep It Clean

While it’s more difficult to keep carpenter ants at bay, you can help prevent odorous house ants from entering your home by keeping your kitchen clean.

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be spotless, but make sure that any sweets or other food that may attract ants is either put away or thrown away. Keep sweets in containers or sealed up in a bag, so ants can’t get to them – or even know they’re there.

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