How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants In Your Home

Sugar ants are probably the most ubiquitous insects in the entire world. These tiny ants seemingly appear out of nowhere whenever there is something sweet for them to feast on. Although relatively harmless, these sugar ants, or as some call them, piss ants, are quite an eyesore and if left untreated, can invade your home. But don’t worry; this article will provide you with some of the best ways to get rid of sugar ants naturally as well as with chemicals.

In this how-to article, you will learn about:

  • What do sugar ants like to eat
  • How to get rid of sugar ants naturally
  • Chemical ingredients that repel and kill sugar ants
  • Types of chemical sugar ant killers
  • How to prevent ants from invading your home in the first place
  • FAQs

What Do Sugar Ants Like To Eat?

It is very obvious that ants have a huge sweet tooth and they will attack any sugary food present in your house. This is because carbohydrates are an essential part of ant’s diet, which enables them to remain active in their colony. While they are foraging for food, ants will keep a sharp lookout for liquid sugary foods like honeydew, nectar and fruit juices, which they can store in their abdomen and take back to their nest. Once there, the ants feed the liquid in their abdomen in the form of drops directly from their mouth to other members of the colony.

If the sugar ants find some solid food, they would hold it in their pincers and bring it back to their colony to share with other members.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants Naturally

Getting rid of sugar ants naturally keeps you safe from harmful chemicals, even though natural remedies may have limited effectiveness. Even so, they are great if you have a small to moderate sugar ant infestations.

Vinegar solution for repelling ants

Vinegar Solution

For a quick and natural way to kill sugar ants, mix equal part water and vinegar, pour it into a spray bottle and blitz any ants or ant trail you see. The vinegar will instantly kill the ants it comes in contact with while removing the scent of the trail they left behind, so other members of the colony can’t follow them. The sharp, acidic scent of vinegar will keep ants at bay; however, the vinegar will only serve as a repellant until its scent lingers. Once the smell dissipates, ants may come crawling back to your house. Still, it is a cheap way to get an immediate fix of your ant problem.

Boric Acid

Another messy but quite effective way to keep out ants is to use boric acid. The substance is used by humans for washing out their eyes, but it can be deadly for tiny ants. Mix it with some baking soda, and it will be twice as efficient.

To make a deterrent out of it, mix lots of sugary syrup, honey or anything sweet with boric acid and baking soda. The ants will be attracted to the smell and ingest the substance. The abrasive substances destroy the ants’ metabolism, poison their stomach and even cause harm to their exoskeleton.

You can also make boric acid ant baits by spreading some cardboard pieces with syrup, lacing it with the deadly mixture and placing it where ants are active.

 coffee repels ants

Coffee Grounds

Ants hate the smell of roasted coffee grounds; the acidity of coffee also burns them, so they tend to stay away from such places. If you want to keep ants away from your pantry or pet bowls, spread some coffee grounds around the area. You can also spread coffee grounds on your door step to stop ants from entering your home.

Essential Oil

For an all-natural and yummy-smelling ant deterrent, make a mixture of peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and citrus essential oils and pour it into a spray bottle. Spritz the solution anywhere you see ants. The tiny ants will suffer paralysis and die on contact, and the smell of the oils will keep other sugar ants away. Spray the solution in your pantry, kitchen table tops or anywhere near food.

Cloves repel ants

Cloves/ Bay Leaf

Coffee Grounds

Ants hate the smell of roasted coffee grounds; the acidity of coffee also burns them, so they tend to stay away from such places. If you want to keep ants away from your pantry or pet bowls, spread some coffee grounds around the area. You can also spread coffee grounds on your door step to stop ants from entering your home.

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Essential Oil

For an all-natural and yummy-smelling ant deterrent, make a mixture of peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and citrus essential oils and pour it into a spray bottle. Spritz the solution anywhere you see ants. The tiny ants will suffer paralysis and die on contact, and the smell of the oils will keep other sugar ants away. Spray the solution in your pantry, kitchen table tops or anywhere near food.

Boiling Water

Here’s a great remedy to kill off an entire sugar ant nest. A nest will look like a tiny hill with a small hole at the top, through which ants come and go. If sugar ants are building a nest outside of your home, you can flood their home by running water over the mound for 5-10 minutes and drowning the ants inside. You can also pour a pot of boiling water down the hole. Wear protective clothing since you have to approach the nest.

Honey ant bait

Honey Bait

Place some honey or thick sugary syrup in a bowl and place it wherever there is ant activity. Ants love honey and will attack it by the number; However, once inside the bowl, the tiny insects will get stuck in the viscous substance and die a gooey death.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is fossilized remains of diatoms, a group of marine microalgae, that can be crushed into a fine powder. Proponents of the substance say food-grade diatomaceous earth is totally non-toxic for humans; however, it is deadly for insects as it is a strong dehydrating agent and can dry out the ants from the inside out.

Garlic

Garlic is not just used to ward off vampires but tiny ants as well. The strong and lingering smell of garlic masks the scent of the ant’s trail, making the other ants following the trail lose their way. You can hang garlic in your pantry; be warned though, that if you place crushed garlic in other rooms of your house, the unpleasant odor may get too much, even for you.

Bleach

You can also dump a bottle of corrosive bleach down the hole to kill off an entire sugar ant colony.

Organic Commercial Repellants

Repellants that contain all-natural products like EcoSMART and Aunt Fannie’s products contain non-toxic ingredients, like plant extracts, orange peels or essential oils, which can repel sugar ants as well as other insects.

Chemical Ingredients That Repel and Kill Sugar Ants

Although chemicals can be harmful to children and pets, if applied with some precaution, they are extremely effective in getting rid of sugar ants from your home. Here are some of the active ingredients found in commercial chemical ant killer products.

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Borax

As mentioned above, boric acid or borax is a weak acid of boron with antisepcticde and insecticidal. The dry powder is abrasive and cuts open sugar ants’ exoskeleton while poisoning the insects’ metabolic system.

Acephate

Acephate can kill sugar ants if they come into contact with it or ingest it. Once eaten, acephate turns into a chemical called methamidophos, another strong insecticide. It affects the insects’ neurons, causing hyperactivity of the muscles, nerves, and brain and results in death.

Fipronil

Fipronil is a very potent but slow-acting neurotoxin that attacks a sugar ants’ nervous systems. The good thing about the insecticide is that it allows ants time to take the poison back to the colony where they share it with other members, including the queen, leading to the annihilation of the entire nest.

Zeta-Cypermethrin

This synthetic pyrethroid acts as a fast-acting poison, disrupting the nervous system of insects, including sugar ants. It is also very deadly to bees and aquatic animals; however, if used with caution, there is little danger of it harming aquatic life.

Hydramethylnon

This poison is a metabolic inhibitor in insects and results in stopping the oxidization of enzymes and production of energy in sugar ants.

Pyriproxyfen

Pyriproxyfen is an insect growth regulator that retards the growth of ant eggs and larvae by overloading them with the juvenile hormone. This will prevent larvae from molting, leading to its death and thus disrupting the lifecycle of ants.

Lambda-Cyhalothrin

Lambda-cyhalothrin acts as a nerve agent to kill ants upon contact or ingestion. The fast-acting poison over-activates the nervous systems of the ants, causing paralysis and death.

Abamectin

Found in ant mound killer granules and ant baits, this delayed action chemical is used to control not just sugar ants, but fire ants, mites, ticks, and nematodes.

Indoxacarb

Indoxacarb is usually found in ant baits and is a non-repellant to ants, meaning they cannot sense the poison in the bait. The sugar ants carry it back to their mound, where it is spread and kills off the entire colony.

Bifenthrin

Bifenthrin kills sugar ants by affecting their nervous system. The poison is also highly effective in killing fire ants and mosquitoes, among other pests.

2-Phenylethyl Propionate

This chemical is derived from peanuts and is a “natural” insecticide for killing sugar ants, as well as other pests. The U.S. has deemed it a “minimal-risk” pesticide.

Types of Chemical Sugar Ant Killers

Chemical sugar ant killers come in a wide variety of forms, based on their usage. They can be categorized for indoor and outdoor use; however, some of them can be used in both settings.

Since these chemicals often contain harmful toxins, you should take a few basic precautions:

  • Keep ant poisons out of reach of children and pet
  • If ant poison contains dangerous toxins, evacuate the area after applying
  • If a child or pet ingest the chemical, get them to a doctor or vet immediately

Ant Bait Stations

If you think making DIY ant baits is a chore for you, you can also buy some effective ant bait stations. They come in a sort of box with an opening on one end so that ants can access the liquid inside, so they are mess-free.

There are many different types of ant baits but since we are fighting sugar ants, make sure your bait has a sweet base. The smell will attract foraging ants, and they will come and store the liquid in their stomachs. These baits come with a slow-acting, undetectable poison that allows the ants to go back to their mound and spread the lethal toxin in their entire colony, up till the queen. These are the best kind of ant baits because they not just kill the ants, but provide a long term solution to eliminate the entire colony in just a few days.

Pros

  • Kills effectively
  • Mess free
  • Eliminate entire colony, right up to the queen
  • Long-lasting solution

Cons

  • Toxic for humans and animals
  • The number of ants will increase before eliminating
  • May contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life

Ant Killer Sprays

Aerosol-based ant killer sprays are one of the go-to ways to kill ants on sight. These sprays come in a lot of variety and can be used both indoors and outdoors, depending on their active ingredients.

Ant killer sprays come in two types: contact sprays or residual sprays. Contact sprays kill sugar ants instantaneously. Residual sprays come with an added function, that is, they also act as ant repellants for a long period of time, up to several weeks. Both these types of spray issue toxic fumes, so keep all humans and pets away when you are applying them and vent out your home later.

Outdoor ant killer sprays are more toxic than indoor ones but come with enhanced features. They are absorbed in the ground and can affect underground sugar ants. For external use, you can get a spray that will not be washed away by the rain or lose its effectiveness because of water or temperature change.

Pros

  • Fast acting
  • Repels ants for several weeks
  • External sugar ant sprays get absorbed in the ground and kill hidden ants
  • Many brands are not affected by rain

Cons

  • Toxic for humans and animals
  • May contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life

Ant Killer Powder

A large variety of ant killers come in powdered or dust form. Many of these ant killer powders include boric acid, acephate, zeta-cypermethrin, pyriproxyfen, abamectin and indoxacarb which work on different principles but yield the same end result: dead ants. Ant killer powders can be slow-acting or fast-acting.

Some of the best ant killer powders can be sprinkled directly on an ant hill. The powder will be absorbed by the ground and can lead to devastation underground. These powders are usually water-proof as well and cannot be washed away by the rain.

Pros

  • Kills ants effectively
  • Fast -acting
  • Outside ant killer powders can also destroy ant mounds
  • Not washed away by rain

Cons

  • Toxic to humans and animals
  • Toxic to aquatic creatures
  • Powder can be dispersed by wind and hurt non-target creatures

Granular Ant Nest Destroyer

Granular ant mound killers come in the form of small granules or pellets that you can spread directly on ant hills. For best effect, water the granules a little. The poison often contains the active ingredient lambda-cyhalothrin or Bifenthrin, which both act as nerve agents and quickly and effectively kill ants. The chemical seeps into the ground and kills out all the worker ants, the queen, her eggs and larvae in 24-48 hours, effectively destroying the entire colony.

Some of the best granular ant destroyers have a long-lasting effect that prevents ants from making nests not just on the affected site but any areas near it as well.

Pros

  • Kills ants effectively
  • Fast –acting
  • Seeps into the ground
  • Repels ants from making mounds of nearby sites
  • Destroy ant mounds
  • Not washed away by rain

Cons

  • Toxic to humans and animals
  • Toxic to aquatic creatures
  • Need to get close to a potentially dangerous sugar anthill

Ant Gel

Ant gels function on the same principles as ant baits; however, they are a lot messier. Ant gels come in tubes with a syringe. You can use it to spread the sweet gel on any place that allows in ants like your doorstep and windows. Since the gel is not contained in a box, its application is much messier. On the plus side, the syringe can access tiny holes and cracks where the ants reside, that cannot be accessed by ant sprays or powders. The gel creates a barrier by trapping ants inside and slowly killing those who consume it.

As with ant baits, they also have a sweet toxic-laced based that ant from outside your house take back to their nests and spread among the other members.

Pros

  • Kills ants effectively
  • Slow-acting
  • Destroy entire mounds
  • Gets into tiny nook and crannies

Cons

  • Messy application
  • Toxic to pets and children
  • Since it uses an attractant, the number of ants may increase before they die out

How to Prevent Ants from Invading Your Home in the First Place

Since ants, being cold-blooded animals, are more active in the warmer season between March and September, you can take several countermeasures so that they never get access inside your home.

Keep the Place Clean

This is a no-brainer. If you wipe down your kitchen and dining room tables, dispose of your garbage, don’t leave out leftover food and seal your food containers tightly, it can be a huge deterrent for ants. The tiniest crumb of candy can attracts hundreds of ants to your home, vying for a minuscule portion of the goods.

Soapy Water

The scent of soap is also a repellant for ants. You may have noticed that it takes longer for ants to appear if you scrub your counters and table with soap and water. That is because of the soap. The soap also erases traces of the chemical trail left by ants so that other members can follow them to the food.

Store Food in Air-Tight Containers

Have you ever had the misfortune of opening your cereal box, only to find it filled with ants? That’s because the cardboard box does not provide a strong enough barrier for ants, which can easily sneak their way into the loose flaps. Make sure once you open your cereal box, you transfer its content to an air-tight container where ants can’t get at it.

Also, keep all your fruit locked into your refrigerator as ants love the smell of overripe peaches, bananas, and oranges.

Dispose of the Garbage

Sugar ants can also be attracted to the sickly-sweet smell of garbage rotting in your bin. Make sure your garbage can has a tight lid, and there are no holes in your garbage bag. Take care to dispose off your garbage every day.

Keep your Sink Clean

Make sure all your dishes and sink are dry, as ants also come foraging for water. Once you have done the dishes, scrub your sink with soapy water and dry it with some paper towels. You can also pour some bleach into the garbage disposal to destroy the scent of any ant attractants.

fixing entry holes

Seal Entry Holes

Check all your windows and doors for any cracks. Even the tiniest fissure can help not just ants, but all manner of pests to get into your home. If you find any gap into your home, fill them up with some caulk or sealant.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know the ant in my home is a sugar ant?

A: Ants that are attracted to sugary products are referred to as sugar ants. These ants have loads of subspecies, differing from each other in different aspects, but all are attracted to sweet things. These ants are usually tiny with brown bodies. A subspecies of the sugar ant called the banded sugar ant lives in Australia and has a particularly acute sweet tooth.

Q: How did sugar ants get into my home?

A: Ants have extremely keen odor receptors that are up to five times more acute than other insects. A foraging ant can smell sugary food up to 200 meters. Even a spot of honey left on the counter can attract hundreds of tiny ants, all waiting for their turn o dip into the nectar.

Q: What method should I use to get rid of sugar ants in my home?

A: If you have pets and animals at home, it is best to use natural products. However, if the ant infestation is large and localized, you can use chemical pesticides as well.  Figuring out what type of ant poison to use can be a huge challenge. You need to make sure your loved ones aren’t harmed by the toxin. That’s why it is important to follow the safety instruction on the insecticide with care.

You can decide whether you need to use an ant spray, powder, bait station or granules, determining how the ants are infesting your home.

Q: What’s the best method for a long-lasting sugar ant control?

A: For a longer-lasting effect, you need to destroy the sugar ant nest as well.  Your best option is to use an ant bait station or ant granules that work to destroy the entire ant hill. Both ant baits and granules can poison the queen, upon whose death, the entire mound will die out.

Getting rid of ants can be a very trying task. You may have to experiment with a number of options to see which type of pesticide works for you best. Personally, we believe that ant baits work the best for eliminating the insects for a long time. You will see your whole house will be completely ant-free in just a couple of days.

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