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Get Rid of Ants, For Good

Updated on February 5, 2010
Worker Carpenter Ant
Worker Carpenter Ant

Shortly after we moved into our last house, we started occasionally seeing ants inside. They were the big black ones, which I found out later were carpenter ants. I also found the best way to get rid of them.

It was a little disconcerting. Your walking along in your house, when this big, fat, black ant zips on by like he owns the place. And beside that, he was fast. I lost him the first time, but killed the 2nd one I saw.

Side note: As I starting putting this together, I thought "hey, I'll find a bunch of pictures so people know what I'm talking about". But I want to be a good boy, so I looked for free, non-copyrighted, public domain photos. Unfortunately, 99.9% of the good photos I found of carpenter ants were not free (or I wasn't sure). And for reasons I can't really understand, people like to get as much detail as possible when photographing insects. So, yer on your own as far as googling for photos, 'cause if I have look at one more nasty-ass photo of an insect that's so close-up you can see the little hairs on their legs and torso, I'm gonna throw up all over myself.

So, every once in a while I would still see one of these ants. I had no idea where they were coming from, and it was only one at a time. I was used to seeing ants in groups, like when you walk by that ice cream cone some little kid dropped on the sidewalk 3 minutes ago and is now covered in ants! Nope, this was just one at a time. Zippin' around the house like no body's business.

Nobody likes to think that there are creepy-crawlies in their house, especially when it's their first new house they just moved in to! I bought some of those ant traps that look like they have peanut butter inside, but that did precisely ZIP. I was a first-time home owner, so I wasn't really sure what else to do.

The Last Straw

One night, I was woken up by the sensation of something small crawling over my face.

Need I say more?

I leapt out of bed, tore the sheets away from the bed (and my confused wife), looked all over the floor, in the hall, under the dogs' beds, all with a vengeance. But, the damn thing was already gone.

That was it!

I looked at a bunch of different products, but they all seemed just like the one I'd already tried that didn't work.


Fortunately for me, some one at work overheard me talking about it, and made a recommendation. I was called "Terro". I'd never heard of it. Sounded like a weird name. But it made perfect sense.

Terro is a liquid ant bait with Borax. It's basically poisoned sugar-water. And it works perfectly: the ants slurp it up, take it back to their nest, feed the queen, and BAM!, no more ants.

It's just a dropper, and you put a couple drops of it on a piece of paper or something that comes with it and put it somewhere where ants might be.

The original wouldn't work for us. We have cats and dogs, and I can see them lapping that up in about 5 seconds and killing themselves.

But when I found it in the store, it wasn't the little dropper, it was self-contained little bait containers. Perfect!

I still wasn't sure where the ants were coming from, so I just put a bunch of them around the house, under the baseboard heaters, behind the entertainment center, etc.

What was so great, was that I ended up just forgetting about them. Know what that means? The ants weren't coming through anymore to remind me! I checked on them later, and they still had stuff in them, so I just left them for the summer. But the ants were gone.

The Following Year

That house was old, built sometime in the '50s, I think. It had an attached deck that had not been properly weather treated, and was rotting. But it was a nice little deck, it still stood, and I wasn't really that picky.

But the next spring, I noticed something weird in one of the side boards. In a spot where there was some exposed (mostly rotting) wood, there was what looked like a little bit of sawdust.

I watched that spot for a couple days and finally saw something fly out of a small hole in the wood! I watched some more, and watched when it came back. Every once in a while, it would pop out with a grain of wood dust and add it to the pile. It was digging! Setting up camp!  That little F-er!  The NERVE! 

I looked around a bit more, and low-and-behold, there in the shadows, under the deck, on the post right under that spot, was one of the big guys.

Finally, I took the time to learn a little about carpenter ants:

  • the big black guys are the workers
  • there is the queen, who has wings
  • drones are smaller and also have wings

So, I was seeing either a drone or a queen (I was guessing queen, since it was so early in the season, but, it was smaller, so maybe a drone.  Then again, don't really give flying crap, because their toast)

I put one (and only one) Terro bait at the base of that post. I checked back in a couple days, and all activity had stopped. No more "sawdust".

Awesome stuff.

Ants? No problem...

I haven't used any other ant control product since. It has worked for every kind of ant I've used it for.

As a preventative measure, I've occasionally used their "shaker" bags of granules, spreading them around the perimeter of the house. This is harder to measure for success, since it's preventative, but it seemed to me that I had to use fewer of the baits when I did that.

If you have a problem with ants, get Terro. I'll be amazed if it doesn't work.


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    • jamiesweeney profile image


      7 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Great information about ants. They are such wonderful and unique creatures.

    • daisyjae profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      Useful and entertaining hub. I have to get rid of some ants, they are taking over my yard, eating my strawberries and crawling on the kids. I will try those ant traps.

    • profile image

      Pest Inspection Gold Coast 

      8 years ago

      Ants move in groups and can be quite dangerous if enter into the ear or nose. Its always best to keep them at bay with a good repellent.

    • droj profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from CNY

      Good luck, Relica! Lemme know how it goes.

    • relica profile image


      8 years ago from California

      Great hub! I never knew ants could be so entertaining. I have always just waited until I find a stream of ants moving their nest to obliterate them all, but I'm going to have to try the little traps out and see how they work. Thanks!

    • droj profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from CNY

      All bugs are seasonal (AFAIK); especially here in the northeast US. These ants were always the most active and bold in the spring, when they were building there new nests and setting up camp where they shouldn't be.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines


      Are ants seasonal? I mean in the summer time, I notice that they're everywhere - marching here and there. But during the cold months they seem to be reticent or off to warmer climes. Anyway, another practical and informative hub! :D

    • droj profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from CNY

      I had a carpenter bee in that same porch! (man, that thing was a piece of crap) Similar symptom too: sawdust on the ground under the hole, which was on the underside of the side floorboard. The hole was perfectly round and about 1/4 inch wide! I think there was only one bee, 'cause again it was early in the season. I didn't know what the proper fix was, so I just duct-taped over the hole, since there was no risk of driving him into the house. But the little bugger just ate through the tape!! So, I taped a quarter to the hole; that did it. Cheap fix too. :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Good to know! We had some carpenter bees at our last house. They are very difficult to get rid of since they can fly away. And they leave these large holes behind them! Used to attack our wooden fence that was older and also a lattice sunscreen built over one of our patios.

      We've moved away from that problem. Left behind a new fence so the lady that bought our house should only have the lattice problem now. She can take over the battle!

      Will remember your ant remedy if we ever need help. Thanks!


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