It may start by seeing a lone ant wander cross the kitchen counter. Then one evening you walk into the kitchen, turn the light on, and see a line of ants marching from one side to the other. It's time to get serious about getting rid of the ants before they get into kitchen cabinets and your food. Here is what you're up against and how to get rid of these tiny pests.
Team Approach to Ant Control
You'll need the help of a pest control company to remove the existing ant colony. The colony may be large, live outside in your yard, and come into the house looking for food. Smaller ant colonies may take up residence in your home. The colony is constantly sending out worker ants to find and bring back food.
The pest control company will identify the colonies and spray around your home to get rid of the ants. While the company is taking care of the existing ants, you will need to get rid of the paths that the ants frequent and deter new ants from coming into the house.
Keeping Ants Out of the House
1. Stop ants from getting into the house.
If you find a trail of ants on the move, track them back to the opening they use to get into your house. Close up any cracks or holes you find with closed-cell foam, expanding foam spray or wall insulation. This might include:
- spaces around door and window frames
- cracks around doors that don't seal when shut
- along plumbing pipes and vents that extend through the exterior walls of the house
2. Clean up chemical trails.
Ants rely on a trail of pheromones that are left on a path to tell the other ants that this is the direction to go to the food source. Use a chlorine bleach cleanser to wipe down countertops, floors, baseboards, and inside of cabinets and drawers. The cleaner destroys the pheromone trail so the ants no longer have good directions.
3. Stop the ants from starting new trails.
Ants will avoid some substances that irritate their legs and bodies, so you can put these in their way along old or potential paths to stop their movement. Try one or more of these items to keep the ants from creating new paths:
- baby powder
- cayenne pepper
- white vinegar
Sprinkle or spray these on surfaces where you have seen ants travel.
4. Don't tempt ants with food.
A small splash of soda on the countertop, or a few crumbs brushed onto the floor, are enough to entice the ants to stay in your home looking for food. Keep any food sources from the ants by:
- Wiping countertops with an ammonia or chlorine-based cleaner at the end of the day or after preparing meals.
- Wiping off surfaces that may collect sticky substances such as refrigerator door handles and drawer pulls.
- Sweeping or vacuuming up any crumbs on the floor.