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How to Get Rid of Ants:  3 Easy Steps To Success

There is nothing more annoying than an ant invasion in your kitchen or bathroom.  To make things worse, ants can quickly contaminate food supplies and even destroy your property.  And, with more than 22,000 species of ants, it could take a lifetime to learn how to get rid of them.

So, how do you get rid of them?

I’m going to show you exactly which ants to focus on and how to combat these annoying insects fast to saving you time and money.

Let’s dive right into three easy steps to follow:

Three Easy Steps to Get Rid of Ants:

    1. Identify the type of ants to effectively get rid of them.
    2. Place the best ant trap or poison in the correct location.
    3. Take prevention methods by spraying poison and sealing cracks around your home.

About Ants

red ant
Ants hard exoskeleton consists of elbowed antennas and three distinct body parts.

Ants are closely related to wasps and bees.  As with many insects, they have a hard exoskeleton made up of three distinct body parts.  They also have elbowed antennas making them easily identifiable.

It has been found that ants use chemicals to communicate with each other.  If you’re interested in how they communicate, read this article posted on ScienceDaily.com, where scientists from Kobe University have identified chemosensory proteins (CSPs) that play important roles in communications between worker ants.

Ants Trailing Behavior

If you have ants, you probably have seen them following each other in a trail along a wall or counter-top.  This hiking trail behavior is attributed to their mode of communication.  More specifically, ants will excrete chemicals and use their antennas to pass information about food supplies along to other worker ants from their colony.

Common Ants That Are Pests

Ant species commonly categorized as pests include the Argentine ant, Pavement ant, Crazy ant, Ghost ant, Carpenter ants, Odorous House ants, and Fire ants.  Let’s break down each species further to figure out what is the best way to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Argentine Ants

Argentine Ant
Argentine Ant

Argentine ants are 2-3 mm.  These ants are a light to dark brown color.  They usually live in very large colonies outside in the soil, under mulch, wood piles or under flower pots. They prefer sweet foods, such as honeydew, and even suck the sweet juices secreted by aphids.

Treating Argentine Ants:

The best way to treat Argentine ants is with a liquid bait trap. My favorite brand is TERRO® Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits Traps, which you can conveniently find on Amazon.com.  These types of traps are great to place near the ant colony and have a covered top that shields the bait from the rain.

How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants

Pavement Ant
Pavement Ant

Pavement ants like to nest under stones, along sidewalks or curbs, and especially in pavement cracks.  You will often find a mound surrounding the nest where they dig out the soil.

They are about 1/4 inch and are light brown to black.  They like to feed on a variety of sweet and greasy foods.  Pavement ants are usually found outside.  However, when searching for food, they might invade your home in large numbers to bring food back to their nest.

Treating Pavement Ants:

It is best to put down bait to kill pavement ants outside, closest to the nest, since they have multiple queens and spread quickly.  To get rid of your pavement ant problem, use TERRO® Ant Dust.  Spread it into cracks near the mound to kill the colony.  TERRO® Ant Dust is also waterproof so it will not wash away easily, making it last a bit longer.

If the Pavement Ants are raiding your home for food, you should treat the outside perimeter with non-repellent ant spray.  As the ants leave your home they will pick up traces of the poison bringing it back to the nest. For best results, try using a professional grade product such as Tempo SC Ultra Concentrate on Amazon.com.  You only need one bottle of Tempo SC per 2 gallons of water in a pump sprayer, so a little bit of this stuff goes a long way.

How to Get Rid of Crazy Ants

Crazy Ants
Crazy Ants

Crazy ants get their name from their erratic movements and their odd attraction to electrical equipment.

According to an article published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)  website, “colonies have been reported to affect homeowners because their foraging and nesting behavior can cause short circuits in electrical equipment”.

In effect, these crazy ants seem to be living on the edge, as they nest inside electrical boxes and will often become electrocuted. When they do, they will release a strong scent that will attract other Crazy ants to the scene to “fend off” the attack.  As a result, a domino effect will be initiated as more and more ants will get electrocuted, which in turn, might literally cause crazy effects to your electrical system.  More specifically, Crazy ants may shorten out electrical equipment or even your entire electrical system.

Crazy ants are small (about 1/8 of an inch) and usually reddish-brown, but some can be black with long coarse hair on the lower body part.  They also may or may not have wings as they tend to shed them off.

Treating Crazy Ants:

Since they do not follow each other in hiking trails, getting rid of crazy ants might be more challenging.  Also, they will travel long distances from their colony to find food,  making it difficult to eliminate them at the source.

Therefore, you may have to use multiple treatment options to get rid of them.  If inside your home, try using  TERRO® Liquid Ant Bait near windows or floors where ants are coming into the home.

Pro Tip:  A good strategy when using a liquid ant bait is to place test drops on the outside of your home near window sills, doors or other cracks to find entry points and get the ants before they enter your home.

If you’re really having a tough time with Crazy ants,  you may want to use Advion Ant Bait Gel, which is considered professional grade bait to feed ants during their sugar cycle.  If you find this ineffective, it is most likely because the ants are in their protein feeding cycle and need a different type of bait.  Try using a granular bait such as In Vict Blitz during the protein cycle.

In addition, to get rid of your ant problem, you will have to spray the outside perimeter to create a barrier against them.  Use a non-repellent spray that is undetectable to them and that they will unwittingly carry back to the colony, such as  Tempo SC Ultra Concentrate.  This will help to ensure getting rid of the invaders at the source.

To use Tempo SC Concentrate, add the product to 2 gallon of water in a spray bottle. Spray the entire perimeter of your home, going up the wall at least 18 inches, and ensuring coverage around all electrical boxes, window frames, and outdoor AC units.

How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

As you may have suspected, Ghost Ants get their name from their ghost-like appearance. They are very tiny, about 1/16 of an inch, and their bodies are almost all transparent.

Although Ghost ants are generally considered a tropical species,  they can be found nesting indoors in northern climates. In southern climates, Ghost ants prefer nesting outdoors in the ground or under structures, such as flower pots, logs or wood piles.  Indoors, they will usually be found in kitchens or bathrooms, searching for food and water.  They can be traced back to their nest by following their trail since they have a strong hiking behavior.

Ghost Ants Feeding on  TERRO® Liquid Ant Bait near window sill on Catchpiece.com
Ghost Ants Feeding on  TERRO® Liquid Ant Bait near window sill.

Treating Ghost Ants:

When indoors, Ghost ants prefer sweet food, especially in the spring and summer seasons.  A sweet food that they will like and that is used as a deterrent is TERRO® Liquid Ant Bait.  In my experience, it is the best inexpensive product that you can use to get rid of sugar-feeding ants and best of all, you can conveniently get it on Amazon.com.

Intuitively, many people will start by placing some drops of the liquid bait where they see the ants, usually on a kitchen counter.  However, it is a much better practice to place the bait closer to the entry points, such as the window sill, since stopping the ants from reaching your kitchen is your first goal.  It will then be much easier and quicker to get rid of the ants.

If you find that you are having trouble locating the entry points, try walking around the outside of your home placing a few test drops near each outside window sill, door or crack.  After 15 minutes, examine all of the test locations. Entry points will be trivial, as ants will be feeding in these spots.  Focus on the entry points and keep feeding the ants TERRO® Liquid Ant Bait for a few days until the ants are all gone.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant Worker
Carpenter Ant Worker

The Carpenter ants are larger, usually, 1/2 inch, and are mostly black or reddish-brown.

As you probably already know, Carpenter ants get their name because they prefer to build nests inside wooden structures or logs.  They do not eat the wood, as termites do, but instead like to hollow out caverns for the colony to live.

The Carpenter ant may commonly be found all around houses in areas such as door frames, window sills and around garage doors.  When Carpenter ants make their nest in one of these areas, you will commonly find wood shaving piles similar to saw-dust.

Carpenter ants huddled together is another tell-tale sign that they are nesting.  Be sure to treat them as a threat to prevent costly repairs as they can be quite destructive.

The Carpenter ant mostly feeds on sweet foods.  It is also known to farm aphids by protecting the aphids from other predators and then feeding on the sweet honeydew liquid that they produce.

Carpenter Ant Queen
Carpenter Ant Queen

Treating Carpenter Ants:

As with other sweet eating ants, Carpenter ants can be treated with a liquid bait.  Once the worker ants feed on the bait, they will carry it back to the colony and feed it to the queen.

The best way to treat Carpenter ants is with Maxforce Fleet Ant Bait Gel.  It is a gel-based bait that can be squeezed into cracks where the ants are nesting.  It works fast and usually kills the colony in 4 to 8 days.

In addition,  use TERRO® Carpenter Ant Killer Aerosol to kill the ants on contact.  This spray comes with a long straw that allows it to reach deep inside the cracks and caverns, maximizing its effectiveness.  Spray daily until the ants are gone.  Please be advised that it is best practice to wear a hat and safety glasses when spraying in areas above your head.

How to Get Rid of Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ants Farming Aphids
Odorous House Ants Farming Aphids

The Odorous house ants get their name from the rotten coconut smell emitted from their bodies when smashed.  Their color varies from brown to black and they are very small ants (2-3 mm).

Odorous ants like to travel in trails and will invade homes in search of sweet or greasy foods.  Sometimes, they will nest inside walls of a home, as well as outside under logs or flower pots.  Odorous ants are also considered a sugar eating ant and like to farm aphids for honeydew.

Due to their ability to reproduce in large numbers, Odorous ants can quickly overwhelm your home.

Treating Odorous House Ants:

As with other sugar ants, the best method for getting rid of them is to use TERRO® Liquid Ant Bait.   If you are baiting them outdoors, use the  TERRO® Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits Traps instead.

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

Fire Ants
Fire Ants

Red Imported Fire ants and the European fire ants are ones of the most aggressive ants.

When disturbed, fire ants will attack to protect their turf.  They will rush out of their nest in large numbers to repeatedly bite and sting their victims.  This results in an immediate burning feeling, hence the name Fire ants.

Fire ants problems are not to be taken lightly, as some people are allergic to their venom.  In very rare occasions, they might cause life-threatening reactions, especially in younger children.  Most commonly, Fire ant bites will cause mild swellings, lasting for a few days. In more intense encounters, severe swellings, lasting up to several weeks, might occur.  This is something that  I have experienced first-hand with fire ants.  I once got stung on my foot by a dozen fire ants and was unable to wear a shoe for two weeks.

The good news, if any, is that they rarely come inside for food.  However, on occasion, they may wander into your home, when a scout finds some crumbs.

Outside is a different story!

ant mound
Fire Ants will displace dirt to a mound.

The tell-tale signs of a Fire ant nest are the mounds created by soil displacement.  Sometimes, they nest inside wooden structures as well.  If untreated, they will multiply by the thousands.

So how do you treat Fire Ants effectively?

I use a three-step approach:

Treating Fir Ants:

First, treat the entire yard with Ortho Fire Ant Killer Granules.  This is a whole yard treatment that lasts up to six months. Just spread with a granule spreader.

Second, use Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer powder to treat Fire ant mounds.  Any time a mound pops up in the yard, just sprinkle this powder over the top of it.  Within a few days, the ant mound will be destroyed.

Third, spray the entire outside perimeter of your home using Tempo SC Ultra Concentrate and a spray bottle.  This will both help with correcting the present problem and preventing future fire ant issues from arising.

Conclusion (Get Rid of Ants)

Many people remember to mow their lawn but forget the importance of pest control.  To prevent Ant issues from arising, it is best practice to add pest control to your lawn care routine.

Remember to follow the three easy steps:

  • First, identify the type of ants
  • Second, use the correct baiting method for each species
  • Third, implement a regular maintenance schedule.

Prevention goes a long way when dealing with pests.  Set up a schedule to spray the perimeter of your home every few weeks or months.  If you do see ants entering your home in between spraying schedules, you may have to spray more often.

Another easy thing to do is to fix cracks around windows and door frames.  This will help to keep ants from coming into your home.  A little caulk goes a long way!

With these tips, you will be successful in solving your ant problems and saving money in the process.

If you have any questions or just want to share advice, please leave a comment!

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