Killing ants: How to kill ants in and around your home
Killing ants in your home
Ants have colonized nearly every piece of land throughout the entire earth (the only exception being Antartica... no pun intended... and a few remote islands), so what are the chances that these insects are going to leave your home alone?
There are nearly 12,000 different species of ants, and while a long article distinguishing the differences between these ants may be interesting (although, really probably not...), this article was designed for people trying to keep the ants out of their homes... or at the very least, try to figure out a way to charge them rent while they are staying there (I promise this was my last terrible joke).
Ants are a naturally invasive species, and have been call superorganisms based on their ability to take over and thrive in new and unknown areas/eco-systems, their strength (it is well-documented that ants can carry over 25 times their own body weight), and their ability to create and hold colonies by working together where most other animals, insects, and others are not able to survive. Naturally, this puts us humans at a disadvantage. However, there is hope, so please don't just accept that having ants in your home is going to be the way that it is from now on...
Killing the household ant
Where to buy your insecticide/ant killer
There is a wide variety of different brands and products available out there, but I have found that large home improvement stores generally carry the most different lines at the best prices (Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowes).
What to buy
As I mentioned above there is a wide variety of ant killers available, and while the exact brand you buy is totally up to you, I would recommend getting the following variations in order to stop the ants from coming back year after year (generally you will notice them in the Spring, but if you don't kill them all in the springtime, they will just increase their colony size over the fall and winter and come back even stronger the following spring).
Bait Traps: Liquid ant bait traps by companies like Terro, HotShot, and Raid, kill ants by providing a sugary solution that ants are naturally attracted to eat. Inside the solution is a slow acting insecticide which theoretically will be brought back to the nest and poison the colony. Unfortunately, nobody has the ability to determine exatly how big the colony is, or for that matter how far away it is located (so, the bait traps may only kill a small percentage of the colony, or the carrier ants could feel the effects of the poison and die before ever getting back to the colony). Regardless, this is a good first step to take when you notice ants in your home. Basically, all you have to do is open the trap (usually an easy peel sticker), and place where you see ants or have seen ants in the past. Be sure to replace ever few months if you are still having the ant problem.
Outdoor Granules: Outdoor granules allows you to create a defensive perimeter against these invasive pests. These will come in a large bag which you distribute evenly around the perimeter of your house. The idea is that any scout ants looking for new territory will come upon these poisonous granules and die. Generally, you want to cover the areas around the foundation of your house, with about two to four feet of coverage. I like the Terro product for this because they have an easy-shake bag that allows you to siply flip the bag over and distribute without necessarily having to use gloves or fill up your walk behind spreader (plus you have to remember to clean it out before the next time you use it to fertilize or re-seed...).
- Barrier Spray Bottles: Barrier spray is an ant killer similar to the granules except that it comes in a powerful propellant spray form that lets you reach areas you probably could not otherwise reach (the top of the roof which has tree limbs touching for instance). It also covers areas where granules won't stick. Having a nearby bush or tree or even the edge of a fence coming into contact with your home provides ants easy access to slip under a piece of siding and enter your home. Spraying areas that come into contact with trees, bushes, etc... makes sure that they are not getting into your house above the ground level.
Eco-Friendly: Vinegar will kill an ant. It is slow and it will be a tedious process picking them out one by one. Sticky traps also provide an eco-friendly solution by setting down duct-tape where the ants work. Corn-meal can also be used as perimeter defense, supposedly, ants can not digest corn-meal and it will eventually kill them. (authors note: I am a pretty eco-friendly individual, but unless you only have a very very minor ant issue, I don't think these solutions will work as well as the methods listed above...)
Professional Help: Terminix and similar pest-control companies are expensive and generally will try to have you set up an on-going pest-maintenance schedule... but they do get the job done. Large-scale problems with ants (when they inhabit the majority of the rooms in your home), should probably be left to the pros.
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