Ants are everywhere. And by extension, so are ant problems. From Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, you can bet there’s a kindred spirit who is at this very moment hatching a plan to get rid of ants in their home.
In fact, the only places on earth that can safely say “I got 99 problems but ants aren’t one” are the likes of Antarctica and Greenland. Even Iceland, which has been touted as being ant-free, is now discovering that ants have indeed moved onto their island as well.
Yup, there’s no doubt about it. Ants are everywhere. And there are a lot of them. Which is exactly what makes them such a persistent problem.
Facts About Ants
Sure, in a world full of bloodsucking and often dangerous pests, being faced with an ant problem in your home doesn’t seem like the biggest deal. To put it in context, there are people with bed bug infestations who would kill to be in your shoes right now.
But whereas a couple of ants probably wouldn’t bother the vast majority of us, the story changes very quickly when that handful of ants becomes an entire army of ants marching through your property like they own the place and shamelessly stealing your food.
And when it comes to ants, it can go from “Look, a cute little ant!” to “ARGH! We have an ant infestation!” very quickly.
So how do you stop an ant problem in its tracks? We’re going to show you exactly how. But first, you’ll want to know a couple facts about ants that that will help you defeat them.
5 Interesting Facts About Ants to Help You Win the War
One of the most important things you have to understand about ants is that they can talk. Not to us, of course, but they can communicate with each other and they do so through the use of pheromones.
It goes something like this: when a foraging ant discovers a sugar spill on your kitchen counter, it will not only carry the granules back to its colony but it will also leave a breadcrumb of pheromones to mark that trail.
That’s why you rarely see just one ant gathered around crumbs and spills. It’s also the reason why ant infestations can get out of hand so quickly.
But this sort of social behavior in ants is also something you can use against them. And that’s exactly what you’re going to learn to do.
Types of Ants
You may think all ants look alike but they are an amazingly diverse species. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation states that there are more than 12,000 species of ants currently living amongst us.
But don’t worry – the ones roaming around your kitchen cabinets most likely fall into just a handful of the most common species.
Why does it even matter, you ask? Well, knowing the type of ant you’re dealing with means you can fine-tune your strategy to get rid of them.
And here are more in-depth guides to getting rid of specific types of ants. Click the relevant button(s) below for a detailed how-to guide.
These ants are named for their sweet tooth but they’ll make off with pretty much any food you may have lying around.
The giants of the ant world, carpenter ants may not eat wood but they won’t hesitate to damage it.
These aren’t the ghosts of murdered ants but they do breed a little differently so you’ll need a good strategy.
These ants don’t just steal your food. When threatened, they can seriously hurt you with bites that hurt like fire.
Do You Have Termites or Ants?
There’s one more variety of ant that’s important to mention because they have all the annoying habits of other ants plus the ability to fly.
Yes, we’re talking about the dreaded flying ant.
The good news about flying ants is that they’re a seasonal pest. The bad news? They’re often mistaken for termites – or the other way around – which can be unfortunate since you need to use very different strategies to deal with each.
So if you’re plagued with little creatures that swarm and fly, you’ll want to check out our identification guide to find out exactly which one you’re dealing with.
Termites vs Ants? 5 Surefire Ways To Tell The Difference
What Causes Ants?
Ants are a lot like us in that they need food, water, and shelter. And when you look at it that way, pretty much any home looks inviting for an ant. So let’s go through a quick checklist of what may have caused ants in your house.
A food source is a primary cause of ants. So what do ants eat?
Ants aren’t picky eaters. Like us, they’re omnivorous, which means they can eat everything we eat as well as a lot of things we won’t.
Most ants love sugary foods such as sugar, syrup, fruits, jam, candy and so on. Some ants love greasy food. They also like seeds, grains, nuts, and even vegetables. And the meat lovers will happily munch on other insects (and their eggs), worms, and even dead animals.
Like every other creature, ants need water to live. Lucky for them, most homes always have enough moisture lying around.
This is why ants usually lurk in areas of the home with ready access to standing water – kitchens and bathrooms.
Ants don’t do well in extreme cold. They prefer to be warm and cozy – you know, exactly how you keep your home.
Of course, if your home also has cracks and crevices – wall cavities, gaps under floorboards – to use as nesting places, well, that’s even better.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to attract ants in your home.
Here’s how the whole process works in a nutshell: A forager ant will set out in search of food. If they locate a food source in your home, it’ll set up a pheromone trail to let all his ant buddies know that everyone is invited. Kind of like your foodie friend who Instagrams pictures of the food at every restaurant they visit.
Once those pheromone trails are in place, ants from far and wide will find their way to your home. Lucky for you, the very thing that attracts ants will play a key component in getting rid of them.
How to Get Rid of Ants
Ants may seem harmless but if you’re harboring colonies of ants in or near your home, it’s wise to get rid of them.
Especially when you consider that contrary to popular belief, some ants can carry bacteria. One study found that Monomorium ants can pathogenic bacteria that is potentially dangerous to people. Another, older study identified the pharaoh ant as a cause of respiratory allergies.
Even when they’re not spreading bacteria and aggravating allergies, you still have to wonder where their little legs have been before they arrived at your home to crawl over your kitchen counters and cupboards. Shudder.
So it’s time to send them packing. But what if you genuinely appreciate the crucial work that these little guys do and you don’t want to actually kill them?
As for the rest of you who want to wage war, the first thing you need to know is that ants are very easy to kill. I mean, look at them. They’re tiny. You can squash them with your pinkie finger.
What is difficult, however, is to wipe out every last ant in your house. And if you don’t do that, you’ll be fighting them forever – and you’ll have a very sore pinkie finger.
The good news is that there are incredibly effective ant killers that allow you to wipe out the entire ant infestation while barely lifting a finger to do so. Our favorite? It’s got to be ant bait.
Ant baits are a testament to modern pest control science. They’re cleverly designed to use the ant’s social nature against itself – and the entire colony.
The pre-filled liquid baits are delicious to ants and being liquid, easy to digest. It’s designed to be slow-acting so that there’s plenty of time for the forager ants to call all the other worker ants to come and enjoy the feast.
You may see more ants in the beginning but that is a good thing. Pretty soon, the poison spreads to the entire colony and bam, that’s the end of your ant problem.
TERRO INDOOR ANT BAIT
Possibly the most effective ready-made ant baits on the market, these pre-filled bait stations are tamper-proof and safe for indoor use.
TERRO OUTDOOR ANT BAIT
Designed to keep the elements out and protect the bait from wildlife and other creatures, these outdoor ant baits are top of their class.
The above are the most popular ant baits but they’re certainly not the only ones that work.
DIY Ant Baits
DIY ant baits work via the same principle as the bait stations above – except you have to make them.
While they do require a bit more work, they do allow you to save some money. You can also tailor your bait to suit the type of ant you’re dealing with and use all natural ant killers while you’re at it.
3 All Natural Ant Killers that are Tough on Ants But Safe for You
Check out the above article to find out exactly which natural ant killers you can use to set your own DIY ant traps.
More Ways to Kill Ants
Ant traps and baits are our favorite method for killing ants but they aren’t your only options. If you want a run down of the most effective ant killers for both indoor and outdoor use, check out the article below.
Also remember that getting rid of ants for good requires a two-pronged approach. The first is actually killing the ants and the colonies they hail from.
The second is making sure you wipe out the pheromone trails they’ve left behind to make sure no other ants can trace their way into your home.
Are Ant Killers Safe for Pets?
Going nuclear on the ants plaguing your home is easier said than done when you have furry roommates who are curious about and willing to lick pretty much anything.
It’s not like you can convince Groucho Barks that the peanut butter ant bait is for the ants, not for him. You know he’s going to sneak a bite anyway.
So how do you get rid of ants while keeping your four-legged family members safe from harm? You’ll want to stick to pet safe ant killers.
What’s the Best Pet Safe Ant Killer? 3 Pet Friendly Ant Killers that Work
What About Home Remedies for Ants?
You’ve just added some of the most effective ant killers to your shopping basket but your ant problem is driving you crazy NOW. You want to get rid of them NOW.
We got you.
There are home remedies for ants you can whip up using things you most likely have in your cupboard this very moment. But don’t go trying them all – many of them simply don’t work.
12 Home Remedies for Ants Put to the Test: What Works?
Check out the above article to see which home remedies for ants are actually worthwhile.
There are also a lot of ant killers you can make right in the comfort of your home. Some are sprays that you can use to both kill ants and wipe out their pheromone trails, some are ant baits, and some are ant traps.
How Do I Get Rid of Ant Hills?
You might’ve wiped out the ants in your home but if there is a thriving ant hill situated close to your house, it’s only a matter of time before the cycle repeats itself.
And getting rid of ant hills isn’t just about keeping them out of your home.
Maybe you have children and pets who enjoy being in the backyard but don’t enjoy being bitten by the fire ants. The logical conclusion is to rid your yard of the ant hills that plague your loved ones.
Check out our full guide on how to eliminate ant hills for good.
How to Get Rid of Ant Hills: Top 10 Best Ways to Destroy an Ant Hill
How to Prevent Ants
You’ve won the war. The ants are gone.
But before you begin your victory lap, take a moment to remember how easy it was to end up with an ant problem in the first place.
The last thing you want to do now is to get complacent. If you let them, the ants will return and you’ll be back where you started.
Which is why you’ll want to take the necessary steps to ant-proof your home. Yes, that means plugging up all the gaps that made your home an inviting space for ants in the first place.
And then, it’s time for a victory lap.