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How to Do Your Own Ant Extermination

Updated on July 6, 2011
Australian sugar ants. Not the kind of ants I'm fighting. I just thought it was a pretty picture!
Australian sugar ants. Not the kind of ants I'm fighting. I just thought it was a pretty picture! | Source

The Invasion Begins

It’s spring, and the ants are out. And because the condo association decided to spray the lawns with some kind of chemical to improve the condition of the grass, the ants are running into all our condos! The association’s not going to pay to have them removed, so it’s up to us to find our own way to get rid of the ants.

Pest control companies in our neck of the woods charge anywhere from $50-200 to come out for a one-time visit. I have two small children now and money is tight, so I wanted a cheaper alternative to professional pest control. I headed to Meijer.

There was, naturally, a whole aisle of pest control products, but a store associate recommended the Ferro brand as being the best. And, since the Ferro products didn't cost that much more than the other brands, I decided to give them a try. I got the ant killer spray, the liquid ant killer, and the liquid ant baits.

Ant Facts

Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, along with both wasps and bees. There are 22,000 known species of ants living all around the world, but only 12,500 have actually been classified.

My home state, Kentucky, houses hundreds - if not thousands - of ant species. Carpenter ants are the most commonly found type of ant in the state. These little pests live in wood, but they're not like termites, who actually damage the wood they call home.

First Line of Defense: Ant Killer Spray

The easiest first step is take the Terro ant spray and look for any long lines of scouts/worker ants moving back and forth into your home.

The first place we noticed ants coming into our home was under the patio door, so we sprayed along the base of the door and along the baseboad of the wall, killing the ants we saw and providing a barrier against new ants coming in. The Terro Ant Killer spray prevents new ants from coming in at the same time it kills the ants that are already there. This protection only lasts up to 14 days, though, and it might not last very long at all if you spray outside and it rains, for example. So, be prepared to spray the same spot more than once, if you have a particularly large ant problem.

Why Ants Are Everywhere

A story adapted from a Burmese myth.

One day, all the animals of the forest were summoned to a birthday feast for King Lion. The little worker ant ambassador who was going to be sent to the party was delayed because there was too much work to be done within the colony. The queen ant told him he didn't have to go.

The lion king went to see the ant queen and complained about the snub. He told her that, from that day on, he would punish her and all her ants. They would not be allowed to expand their territory beyond its existing borders.

But the ant queen was sly. She sent her servant, the worm, to go and crawl into the lion king's ear. The worm did as he was told and crawled slowly and carefully up the lion's body so that the large beast did not notice until he had already returned home.

The lion was a proud creature, though, and did not say anything about the pest in his ear until days later, when he just couldn't stand it anymore. He begged the ant queen to come and help him, and she did.

She smiled sweetly and whispered into the lion's ear, telling her servant worm to go home. The lion king was so happy, he retracted his earlier statement and promised the ant queen that she and her drones could expand and populate anywhere they wished. And so they did.

Moral of the story: don't underestimate the cunning of an ant.

But There Were Some Ants We Missed

Because I have a two-year-old, there is a large amount of food and candy that gets thrown around on my floors and pushed under furniture, since our living room has hardwood floors. I didn't even realize how much food got left on the floor until the ants started their invasion.

The ants that we didn't kill with the spray found their way into our living room and set up small colonies under one armchair and our couch, both of which had gotten sticky Tootsie Rolls smushed under them by little hands and feet.

In my research on ants, I've found that there are two kinds - those that are attracted to protein and those that are attracted to sugar. These ants in our house are definitely attracted to sugar. Besides the Tootsie Rolls, I found peanuts under the couch that the ants were completely ignoring.

Since they were under the couch and I couldn't spray them easily with spray (the couch is a sleeper sofa and way too heavy to move), I decided to try the liquid ant killer I'd previously added to my arsenal. I poured a little of the solution onto the cardboard provided in the package and set the squares down on the floor in front of the couch. Within minutes, I had about 20 ants swarming around the liquid.

Note: the main ingredients in this solution are Borax and some unnamed substance that attracts the sugar-loving ants. If you have protein lovers, you're going to have to use something else. Borax is what actually kills the ants once they take the solution back to their colonies. I wish I had known this sooner. I already had Borax in the house. I would've taken it and tried to mix it with something sweet to attract the ants and kill them that way.

Another note: This is not a quick fix, like the ant killer spray. The solution takes up to 48 hours to kill the ants who ingest it, and you want to make sure the solution stays in liquid form. It will gel up within a few days, and the ants won't be attracted to this at all. Total ant control using this method and the others discussed can take up to two weeks.

Almost Two Weeks Have Passed

We are almost two weeks into our ant extermination war. And, until last night, I thought we were winning. Earlier this week, I'd noticed a line ants making their way into our front door, so I followed the same procedure again with the ant killer spray and the liquid ant killer. That appeared to do the trick - at least for a few days.

Last night, we got home late from being out of town all day, and I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. There were about 20-30 ants circling the basin of our sink. Apparently they have now found a way inside our plumbing!

I immediately sprayed and flushed as much water down the pipes as I could. Almost 24 hours later I'm still seeing a straggler or two, but not anything near what I was.

Put These Outside to Take Care of the Nest

The War Is Not Over

As I mentioned before, I also bought the outdoor liquid ant baits. I waited until I'd tried everything else before I placed these outside because I was trying to do what I thought was easiest first. Besides, I was afraid the condo association's grounds workers would move them or get rid of them, anyway. That wouldn't do us a bit of good. Not to mention the fact that I felt a little guilty - killing the little bugs outside, when they belong outside, anyway.

But the ants proved to be smarter than I originally thought. They worked around the liquid ant killer and the preventative spray. I've even seen them climbing up on the walls to avoid the deadly floor trails! I had to set the liquid bait outside.

I noticed that there was a continuous trail of ants going back and forth across our bottom porch step. They seemed to be concentrating in an area just under the mulch beside our porch steps, so that's where we put the first liquid bait trap.

It hasn't been two weeks yet (the container stresses that complete ant control will take at least two weeks), but they seem to be very interested in the bait. I don't see the continuous trail anymore. Now I just see a few ants here and there around the bait trap. So, it appears that the trap is doing its job.

I do still see a few stragglers inside the house (mostly in the bathroom), but that's a lot less than I was seeing before. I'm very happy with the results we've gotten from using these Terro products. They work just like they say they will, and if you have a major house ant invasion like I do, then these might just do the trick to help you win the war.

What Did You Learn About Ants By Reading This Hub?

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    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Thanks, Stephen. Glad you found it helpful.

    • StephenSMcmillan profile image

      StephenSMcmillan 6 years ago

      Very useful hub. Thanks for this great timing as ants season in our place is approaching. Great hub.

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Hi, daisy. Best of luck! I can honestly say we've gotten rid of our ants now. :-) Thank goodness! They really are annoying!

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 6 years ago from Canada

      I need ant advice right now! They are taking over my yard. I have five desperate ant hills and they are swarming my compost pile! So gross! I will try your advice, I'm desperate.

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Thanks for that tip, midnightbliss. We tried that at our previous residence, but it didn't work at all. The ants just walked right through the powder - even when I put Borax down!

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 6 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      thanks for the tips, ants are really difficult to get rid of specially during the rainy seasons, but my easiest way for me is to put any kind of fine powder such as baby powder or flour on where they are passing and it works for me.

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Great! Glad I could help you, Chatkath. :-)

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Thanks, Simone. Ants are starting to be one of my least favorite creatures. Spiders still win top prize for now, though.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you Thank you - I am being invaded right now and need this info desperately! Great Timing!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Great guide! Man, I hate ants, so I really appreciate your tips!