If your house has ever been infested by ants, you know what a nuisance they can be – and how hard to get out of your house. And if you haven't had any visiting ants (yet) then consider yourself lucky. Whatever your situation, we’ve got helpful tips for you: both how to get rid of ants and how to prevent them entering your house in the future.
How to Get Rid of Ants
- Pay attention if you see even a single ant in your home. Chances are excellent that it has a whole colony of relatives waiting in the wings. Get rid of ants before they launch a full-scale invasion.
- Resist the impulse to stomp one – or ten – of these tiny critters to death. Ants are not at all opposed to cannibalism and will happily show up to feast on their fallen comrades.
- Head ants off with soap and water. When you spy a few ants lurking around your home, watch to find the crack or hole they use to enter and leave your home. Spray it (as well as the ants’ trail) liberally with a dish soap solution.
- Seal openings. Caulk all the floor- and countertop-level crevices that the ants have been using as their own personal entryways.
- Prep a batch of DIY ant poison: 1 tsp. boric acid (from the drugstore) to 1 cup of an ant treat like jam or peanut butter. Divide among 20 or so bait stations, scattered through your home. Replace every 3-4 days and be patient; it'll take several weeks till the colony is eliminated. WARNING: Ensure kids and pets can’t get at it.
- Call a pro. A licensed exterminator is the best solution to get rid of ants if you have a major infestation, especially one involving carpenter ants, which will attack the very structure of your home.
Ant Prevention Tips
- Don’t offer to feed an ant colony. Clear your counters and do your dishes (or at least stash them inside the dishwasher), so there are no “delicious” leftovers to attract ants.
- Store any food that you leave out in well-sealed glass, ceramic, or plastic containers. The ants won't be able to smell it, which means they (probably) won't come that way.
- Clean spills immediately. I once left some spilled chicken grease on the counter while I ran out for a quick errand. Just 10 minutes later, I returned to hundreds of ants crawling all over the chicken-y puddle.
- Make sure the bottom of your garbage can stays dirt-free, as dirt can attract ants. During ant season, it is especially important to take the garbage out every day and rinse the can, if necessary.
- Set out only as much food as your dog or cat will eat at one time. Keep pet dishes clean and check to make sure small ants haven't invaded the bowl. Store dry kibble in a sealed container.
- Experiment with natural ant repellents. Some people claim sprinkling the floor and counter with cinnamon, cayenne, or lemon, and planting fragrant herbs like eucalyptus around your home’s exterior are effective natural ant repellents; others scoff. Go ahead and see what works – or doesn’t work -- for you.