Simple Ways to Control Little Ants

What is the most effective way to kill ants that are making their way into your home? To answer this question, it is important to first know the ant species that are invading, then to consider a few key points of ant control:

Know Your Ants

The first step in controlling ants in and around your home is to know what type of ant it is. This is important because baits are generally the best option for control, but different ants have different food preferences. Additionally, some ants rarely enter homes or only do so singly, so placing bait inside will do little to get rid of ants that are living outdoors.

In addition to several articles linked below, the University of Wisconsin has created a comprehensive, easy-to-read table, know your ants, that provides identification and specific control strategies for some of the most common ants, including:

Ant Prevention and Control

Ants are best controlled through an integrated program of prevention, exclusion, and control:

The main reason that ants enter homes is in search of food or water. Once an ant finds either―or both―of these, it carries it back to its nest while leaving a scent trail for other ants from its colony to follow to get more. Thus, eliminating these sources of food or water is the first step in eliminating ants from your home.

  • If you recycle, always rinse items before storing and keep them in lidded, pest-resistant bins. Whenever possible, store the containers outdoors, and away from the home.
  • Do not leave pet foods out after the animals have finished eating. While pets do need water to be available, you should limit water sources as much as possible―particularly if you suspect you have an ant problem, and until you get it under control.
  • Clean spilled food and crumbs from floors, cupboards, and pantries, getting into corners and along baseboards.
  • Empty trash and clean trash areas regularly to prevent buildup and odors.
  • Keep grass mowed, and trees and shrubs trimmed so they do not touch the house.
  • Keep gutters, porches, and perimeters clean and clear of debris.
  • Sweep and mop floors regularly.

Ant baits are made up of food to attract the ants along with a slow-acting insecticide, so that the workers can carry the poisoned food back to the nest and feed the other colony members, before being killed by the bait they carry. Additionally, in this way, the bait kills the entire colony, including the breeding queen, instead of just killing a few worker ants with a spray, who would simply be replaced with another troop of ants.

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