Sugar ants – you know, those pesky tiny ants that take over your kitchen – are a hassle to get rid of properly. And you might not want to spend the extra money to hire an exterminator if you can get rid of sugar ants naturally – or on your own.
I’ve had my fair share of these pests before, and I know how to kill sugar ants quickly and effectively.
A few methods work well to eradicate most infestations, but the question is do you really have a sugar ant infestation?
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Signs of Sugar Ants in Your House
Baiting in ants that may not be in your house doesn’t seem like the smartest choice. You may also have a different type of ant present that will require another method to kill properly. To the untrained eye, sugar ants look just like ants, but one key factor in identifying these ants is their love for sugar.
Sugar ants are attracted to sugar, hence their name.
One or two rampant ants isn’t sign of an infestation. Look for ant trails and for clusters of ants. If an infestation has been identified, it’s time to kick into action and start on the path of destruction.
Since most ants are attracted to sugar, it’s very difficult to tell a sugar ant from another ant. In fact, a lot of people use this name for a variety of different ant species.
Sugar ants are often small and black in color, and the methods we’re going to discuss to get rid of them will also get rid of other ant species.
General Measures Before Baiting
Think smart. It doesn’t make sense to place bait out if the root cause (sugary food) is still in abundance. A sure-fire way to at least slow the amount of ants you’re experiencing is:
- Clean all food and debris from counters, floors and rooms.
- Mop or vacuum the floors.
- Throw the garbage out in a waste bin.
Ants are after one thing: food. Eliminate the food, and those little suckers will go find another home to invade, or they’ll starve to death in the process.
Even tiny morsels of food can be a feast for an ant, so clean, clean and clean some more before baiting.
The kitchen sink is also a food haven for ants, so clean dishes as quickly as possible, and don’t let them pile up. Only after all of these measures have been taken can you move on to getting rid of sugar ants.
6 Ways to Get Rid of Sugar Ants
Dust off your gloves and get ready to start killing a few sugar ants. The best methods are always combined with repellents and baits to cover all of your bases.
Ant traps are commercial products that contain some type of poison. These traps need to be out of reach of children and animals. No one wants to poison their own loved ones to kill a few ants.
Strategically place the ant traps across the house.
If you see trails where ants frequent or line up to eat juicy sugar, place a trap in the way. Traps are a bit more sophisticated than they once were. Traps for sugar ants often include sugar or a sweetener to attract the ant into the trap before slowly killing them.
Note: Hundreds or thousands of ants will be drawn to traps.
Don’t put them on your desk – I did, and I still have nightmares of the ants.
A key factor is to not kill the ants with your shoe. It’s pertinent that the ant is allowed to return back to the nest to kill the others.
Borax and Sugar
Ants are pests. Period. They invade your home, eating all of your food along the way, and they’re not paying rent. Mix a bit of borax acid with sugar, and place the mixture out in a place where the ants frequent.
Keep the precautions about kids and pets in mind.
Borax is toxic to ants and will cause them to die over a short period of time. The ants need to make it back to their next to spread the borax further, so don’t go stepping on them or causing a premature genocide just yet.
Boric Acid and Mint Jelly
Is the previous tip not working? It’s time to switch gears and go with a boric acid and mint jelly mix. Boric acid can be mixed with mint jelly to eradicate ant colonies. Boric acid can be found in hardware stores and many grocery stores, too.
Time to get to the mixing part of the process.
- Add 2 tablespoon of boric into a bowl
- Add 8 ounces of mint jelly into the bowl
- Mix the two together
- Place the mixture on some good old masking tape
The ants will go to the mixture, chow down and be on their way to kill all of their friends and family without even knowing it.
If you have pets (especially cats, which are worse than acrobatic ninjas), place the mixture under a box with holes that only small ants can enter. Weigh the box down if needed to protect your pet from the mixture.
The goal is for the ants to eat, exit through the holes and die in their nest to spread the acid to others. There will be a few ants dead under the box, too, but this is fine as long as some escape.
Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a key method of killing sugar ants. And I like this method because it can be used in homes that have children or pets running around. It’s a safe method of ant removal, and it’s one of the methods that I recommend most often to homeowners.
Deadly to insects, this substance is actually fossilized algae.
What you’ll do is sprinkle this substance in cracks or crevices in your home, or choose to put it around or on top of any ant mounds you see. Sprinkle the diatomaceous earth in these areas multiple times a month when you have a large infestation.
When ants come in contact with it, it will pierce their exoskeleton.
Once pierced, the ant will start to lose their body fluid causing them to dry out and die. It’s death from the inside out, and it works on a variety of insects. Since the substance will only kill on contact, you have to place a lot of it around the nest in hopes that one of the worker ants will return to the queen.
The colony will not die as long as the queen lives and continues to reproduce.
Flood the Colony
If you’ve located the nest, it’s time to kill the nest. The colony can be killed using poison or some form of bait, or it can be killed with water. A lot of people recommend boiling water, but this will more likely burn you and poses too much of a risk of injury.
A method that is much better is to flood the colony with a garden hose.
You’ll want to place the hose on the middle of the nest and turn on the water. Allow the water to run for 5 to 10 minutes to clear out the nest. It’s an effective way to kill off a colony and it doesn’t pose risk of injury to you in the process.
Note: There’s a right way and a wrong way to get rid of ants. Some people suggest pouring bleach on the mound and others recommend gasoline. You never want to use these substances on your lawn. Gasoline will kill everything from foliage to insects and damage the ground in the process. Bleach will be equally as destructive, so never use one of these drastic recommendations.
Call an Exterminator
Still have sugar ants crawling all over your home, taking it over? An exterminator is an option, too. The last resort, an exterminator will use poisons to kill the ants and will look for the nest to kill all of those suckers dead.
Keep in mind that most people learn how to get rid of sugar ants on their own.
But you might have an exceptional case where the ants won’t back down, and seem to keep coming back for more. There is no shame in calling an exterminator if you need help killing the ants and have had enough of trying to kill them on your own.
My own experience has shown me that killing ants is a long process.
Stepping on them may kill one or hundreds, but until the nest is eradicated, the ants will keep coming back relentlessly until you take appropriate action.
You’ll want to try all of the methods outlined above to get rid of your sugar ant problem first. Oftentimes, it’s best to combine the methods so that you can successfully kill off a colony.
An exterminator may be your best option for some ant species, but with sugar ants, the exterminator will often use baits and poisons that you can find readily available online or in stores.