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How to Get Rid of Ants

Updated on July 1, 2011

So you're looking for some tips and tricks of how to get rid of ants? My psychic powers have led me to this conclusion because what are the odds you actually want to learn ants and their natural tendencies. I'll go one step further and say that you or someone you know is trying to deal with an ant problem. Are they in your house? Are they in your garden? Are they in your garage? It's common to find ants in any or all of these places, so don't be too alarmed. It's not just you - this is a natural phenomenon. Read on to find out exactly what you're looking for: how to get rid of ants.

Understanding Ants

Ants are one of the most resilient pests you will ever come up against.  Did you know that scientists believe that 15 - 25% of the animal biomass on earth is believed to consist of ants?  Did you know that there are indigenous ant species on every continent of the world (with the exception of Antarctica, but can you blame them?)?  There is a reason for all of this.

Ants tend to be very well organized and have a keen ability to be able to adapt to virtually any environment.  They effectively team to glean every bit of value from natural resources, and they are strong, willing and able to fight and defend their territory.  Ants excrete chemical hormones to effectively communicate to their fellow ants:  food is this way, danger is nearby... with their effective communication they are able to solve complex problems that more simple minded creatures would have no idea how to approach.

The way I'm talking, you'd think I'm describing the human race.  We have learned to adapt to our surroundings, and so have the ants.  You could almost argue that ants may have done a better job because they seem to be everywhere... your house, your lawn, your garden.  You name it, I bet you can find ants living there.  Some we can coexist with, others aren't so forgiving of the human invasion on their territory, and of course we are often time unforgiving of the ant invasion of our territory.  So we should probably address the age old question of how do we get rid of ants?

Getting Rid of Ants

You can't live with them, but you can't live without them. Unfortunately dealing with an ant infestation is not a simple problem to resolve. There is quick way to dispatch the problem. Ants are a resilient species that have learned to adapt in all sorts of hostile environments. Your kitchen is not really that hostile in comparison to what they've been up against. Actually it's probably a dream vacation in the ant world.

As varied are the number of ants in the world, so varies the best treatment method to get rid of them. Sometimes you are faced with the nasty red ants that will sting and swarm you if you accidentally stumble upon their nest. Getting rid of fire ants can be an adventure. Your best bet is to read about the method called the Texas Two Step described at the website linked above. To summarize, it's a two phase treatment. First you broadcast a bait insecticide around the affected region. This will wipe out the majority of the ants, but if you don't kill all of the ants you will have done yourself no favors. They will simply continue to breed and re-multiply and you're back to square one. The second phase is what finishes them off. After a few months, you apply an organic liquid insecticide. It's imperative that you thoroughly and liberally apply the treatment chemicals. The natural instinct of ants is to contract their nests when they are under seige, but once they realize that the treatment has stopped they will multiply and expand.

Another common question is how to get rid of flying ants like the one pictured above. What you're most likely facing is carpenter ants. Flying ants don't tend to stray far from their nest. If you notice a couple flying ants in your homes, then you are very likely in close proximity to their ant nest. A sighting of one or two should be more than enough to start sending up red flags. A common breeding ground for carpenter ants is in a firewood pile that may be situated next to your home, especially after it has rained. This type of ant can be dealt with by using common household insecticides that you find at your local home and garden store. This ant can be a destructive species if you allow them to continue breeding unchecked. They can burrow into wood which includes the framework of your house if you're not careful. Heed my advice - if you notice a couple flying ants, look for the nest and treat it immediately.

You may find yourself trying to get rid of pharaoh ants, as this is another common household pest. This is probably one of the most resilient and difficult ants to treat against. You will likely require professional help if the problem is mildly severe. It seems that this ant usually affects larger office buildings, hospitals, apartments, etc... but they can be found just about anywhere. These ants organize in mini-colonies that are geographically dispersed. They don't concentrate themselves in one area. Treatment for this ant is to use a sweet bait tactic, preferably containing boric acid. Do NOT use a repellant bait as this will only fracture the colonies and cause your problems to significantly worsen. When you think all of the ants are gone, continue treatment. Pharaoh ants will contract their colonies to be almost unnoticeable and once the treatment subsides, they will grow and multiply.

Preventing Ants

The best way to get rid of ants is to stop them from invading your home in the first place - a revolutionary new concept.  Here are some simple steps you can follow to rid your home of mice:

1. Maintain a clean household, especially in the kitchen or where possible food sources are located.  Wipe counters with a cleaning chemical - water is nice, but will not disinfect.  Don't leave dirty dishes in the sink.  All containers with food most be properly sealed or you risk ants picking up on a scent or a trail to the food source.  If they can't get to the food, the ants will obviously not swarm it.

2. Cut off access to your home by sealing entry points.  Cracks in your seals are a perfect thoroughfare for your ant friends to join your house party.  Inspect your home at the beginning of each warm season, as the cold may have caused some cracking to occur.  Don't delay sealing cracks because it won't take long for an ant or a bunch of ants to find it.

3. This is my favorite tip that you may not have considered.  If you see a single ant wandering in your home, kill it immediately.  Don't let it go because it's one ant and it's no big deal.  It is a big deal.  Remember what I said earlier about ants and their ability to effectively communicate?  This ant is a scout looking for food.  If he finds food (which he shouldn't if you followed the first step), but if he does he will return to his base secreting a chemical that lets all of his ant friends know that food is nearby.  Another ant will follow it and find the food and it too will secrete a chemical along the same path.  Eventually more and more ants will find the food and strengthen the path.  This is why it appears ants are marching along a straight line - they are following the chemical trail to food.


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    • StephenSMcmillan profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for this useful hub, jm0199. Ants are definitely annoying.

    • Kathy Rimel profile image

      Kathy Rimel 

      9 years ago

      Interesting article. When we lived on the east coast we had ants whenever it rained and believe it that was a lot of the time. Wish I had seen this article then, maybe those ants wouldn't have driven us crazy


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