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Comprehensive Guide to Killing Sugar Ants

Updated on December 17, 2010

I've had a lot of bad experiences with the little black sugar ants. I've had them go through my food in the pantry as well as the rotting food in my kitchen garbage can. I've tried tracing them back to their origin and plugging up the holes with caulk. But no matter how many times I'd squash and wipe them away, they always seem to come back in greater numbers. Their population seem to be endless. I didn't really understand how or why they kept coming back into my kitchen. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that if I kill enough of them (squash enough of them), then they will be scared of coming back. Obviously, this was not a rational way to think about ants. They just go where they smell food. When I truly understood this and also what were offensive to them, I started being much more successful in dealing with these little critters. So, here are some tips on how to deal with sugar ants from someone who has dealt with the issue first hand, and learned from mistakes...

The first rule of thumb in dealing with sugar ants (and a lot of other pests) is to clean your kitchen. This means don't leave any food lying around (e.g., on countertops) and don't leave dishes in the sink. Any food in the sink as well as the smell in the garbage disposal can be enticing to ants. So, wash all the dishes and use some chlorox to help remove the smell of rotting foot in the garbage disposal as well as the drains in general.

In addition to not leavng any food out, clean the kitchen counters with some disinfectants or some white vinegar (if you want to use organic methods). Make sure you vacuum and mop the floors. It doesn't help much if you remove open food from countertops but leave food particles on the ground. Also, make sure you take out the garbage regularly. Any smells from the garbage can will be enticing to ants. With no food, the ants will have no reason to enter your kitchen and could naturally die off.

But to kill ants directly, one of the best ways is to use a bait such as the Terro liquid ant baits. The active ingredient for these baits is boric acid (borax). Usually 5% of a sweet liquid mixture, the boric acid will kill ants over a few days. The sugar ants will ingest the liquids on Terro strips and take the poison back to their queen. Therefore, one of the keys to using such baits is to wait and see. When you see the ants conglomerating over the bait, you will be tempted to squash and wipe them away. Don't give into this temptation as you need to let the strategy take its course (i.e., let the ants take the poison back to their queen).

Some organic methods of deterring ants include the use of bay and mint leaves as well as whole cloves. These ingredients apparently give off pungent odors that are offensive to ants. This is why some chefs swear by their use in driving away ants. Similarly, cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, baby powder, and other similar products seem to serve as effective deterrants. Sugar ants will not cross a line made by such products.

Terro Ant Bait Explained

Terro at work


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    • WillSteinmetz profile image

      WillSteinmetz 6 years ago

      Thanks for the information.