The weather has a huge impact on ant infestations. When the weather is too cold or wet, you’ll find ants taking refuge in your home. Research has even found that most Argentine ant infestations happen during drought and intense rainstorms.
Wet conditions are most likely to send ants looking for shelter in your home. Most other ant infestations will occur during hot, dry seasons, typically August and September. In general, ants will frequently come in when it’s too hot out, and they’re looking for food and water.
Unfortunately, ants are prolific pests that quickly bring other ants into your home. Once inside your home, some ant species, like carpenter ants, will create nests. Other ant species will continue to bring other ants into your home for shelter and food. Regardless of the ant species, ants are undesirable tenants that you don’t want sticking around.
If you’ve noticed ants in your home, you’re probably wondering how you can keep them away and get rid of ants. Sometimes it can feel like a fruitless effort because ants are stubborn pests that are difficult to get rid of, but it can be done.
To help you out, we’re going to go over the following topics that’ll help you with ant control:
- Top 8 Ways to Keep Ants Away
- Top 5 Natural Solutions
- What Attracts Ants
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
Top 8 Ways to Keep Ants Away
There are many ways to keep ants away from your home, kill ants, and set up ant control to prevent ants in the future. The primary ways to squash your ant problem include:
- Ant exclusion (keeping ants from physically entering your house and removing attractants)
- Insecticides (pesticides that eliminate ants)
- Ant baits
- Ant repellents
Let’s go over some specific steps that you can use to keep ants out of your house. Often, it will require multiple methods to get rid of and prevent ants, so we recommend working with several of these to start your pest control efforts:
- Get rid of ant attractants. Ants are primarily attracted to our homes for food, water, and shelter. Start by using airtight containers to seal off food sources in your home so that ants can’t eat your food and contaminate it. Then, check your home for leaks in your plumbing and faucets. Fix any leaks you find immediately to eliminate water sources for pests, such as ants, roaches, and fleas.
- Clean up your trash. Regularly take out your trash and make sure that the lids on your trash cans are tight and sealed for both your indoor and outdoor trash cans. Then, hose down the area around the trash cans weekly to wash away the pheromones that ants leave behind. Other ants use these pheromones to guide them to your home, so erase these pheromones regularly to prevent this from happening. Ants will need to forage for food repeatedly instead of having a direct route to your home when you wash away their pheromones.
- Seal off entry points to your home. Any openings in your home will allow ants and other pests to enter your home easily. Examine the entire outside of your home for possible openings. Silicone caulk is ideal because ants can chew through regular caulk. Look for cracks and crevices around window sills, door frames, dryer vents, and near any water pipes or outdoor faucets. Also, check electrical, telephone, or cable TV wiring for possible entry points. Eaves, lights, chimneys, and vents in your roof are other prudent places to look for entry points. Once you’ve identified any entry points, fill these cracks and crevices with silicone caulk.
- Keep up with your landscaping. Carpenter ants are notorious for building nests in trees and may use trees to access houses and buildings. Regularly trim any tree limbs that touch your home to prevent carpenter ants from entering your home this way.
- Apply granular insecticides to eliminate ants in your yard before they enter your house. One granular insecticide that is widely recommended is the Talstar PL Granule, which is a great way to control ants effectively. These granules typically come in 25-pound bags and will need to be spread around the yard with a hand spreader. To use, fill the hopper on the spreader and set the size of the opening. We recommend starting it at three, which is in the middle of the sizes offered on the sliding switch. These granules are water-activated. Once water touches them, they melt and spread out to create a band of insecticide. It’s recommended that you do this once a month, especially during warm months of the year, to get ongoing protection from ants.
- Use insecticide sprays. Insecticide sprays are helpful to use near entry points in your home. If you find out where ants are entering your home, use an insecticide spray to prevent ants from entering.
- Place ant baits around your home. If you find ants inside your home, place ant baits around your home. Unlike other pest baits, ant baits don’t lure ants into a trap. However, the bait is toxic and attracts ants. When worker ants eat the ant bait, they bring it back to the ant nest and perform a process called trophallaxis. Once back in the ant nest or colony, the worker ants will regurgitate the partially digested, toxic bait and feed it to other ants, larvae, and the queen ant. Since the ant bait is toxic, this will kill any ants that consume it, effectively eliminating the ant colony. We recommend using the Terro Liquid Ant Bait, which smells like food and attracts ants easily. The active ingredient in this ant bait is sodium tetraborate decahydrate, also known as borax. Borax will quickly kill Pharaoh ants, odorous house ants, pavement ants, carpenter ants, fire ants, and other types of ants. Place these ant bait traps near ant trails you’ve seen, near entry points, near nests, and ant hills for the best results.
- Deep clean your home. Ants are attracted to easy access to food sources and water. If you leave pet food out, this will attract ants to your home. Ants will happily go after any crumbs, spilled substances, or leftovers left on the counter. Ensure that you keep food safely stored and frequently sweep, vacuum, and mop your floors to pick up food crumbs that pests may go after.
Top 5 Natural Solutions
If you’re looking for natural remedies to take care of ants on your property or inside your home, keep reading to learn more.
- Use Diatomaceous earth (DE) as an all-natural repellent against ants. DE is made from microscopic marine plants, also known as diatoms. DE has razor-sharp edges, which slice open the protective shell on ants and insects, ending in death. Most of the time, DE comes in powder form and can be spread finely across entry points, like window sills, and along ant trails that you’ve come across. Our recommendation for DE is Harris Diatomaceous Earth, which comes in a 21-pound bag and includes a powder duster that allows you to quickly spread the fine powder across your home without creating a giant mess.
- Try essential oils to disrupt the chemical trail of pheromones that ants leave behind. By disrupting the pheromone trail, you make it difficult for ants to find their way into your home. Essential oils are created by squeezing, steaming, or grinding plants to release the oils within the plant fibers. The resulting distillate is highly concentrated and is often used for household cleaning products, pest control, and aromatherapy. Popular essential oils for pest control include peppermint oil, lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, lime, and lemon oil. We recommend diluting one of these essential oils and placing the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray this scent around your home and entry points to disrupt the scent trails that ants follow into your home.
- Create a DIY mixture of white vinegar and water. Make a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle of white vinegar and water and spray it wherever you see ants. It’s a safe and effective method that is kid and pet-friendly. We also recommend spraying this near countertop food items, and on cracks and crevices where ants may be entering your home.
- Use boric acid to kill ants. Boric acid is a natural ant killer that is not toxic for humans but is highly effective against ants. Try mixing boric acid in water and sugar to create a trap that will lure ants and kill them. Place this mixture near ant trails. Once they climb in, they will die, or they’ll escape and take the boric acid back to their colony, effectively killing off other colony members.
- Try cayenne pepper against ants. Ants widely hate cayenne pepper and black pepper. Identify the ant infestation problem and spread cayenne pepper or black pepper around the source. You can even create a wall around your property with cayenne pepper to prevent them from entering your home, as this is a natural deterrent to ants.
Use insecticide sprays.
Insecticide sprays are helpful to use near entry points in your home. If you find out where ants are entering your home, use an insecticide spray to prevent ants from entering.
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What Attracts Ants?
Ants are primarily attracted to three things in our homes: water, food, and shelter. If they find all three in your home, they will turn to reproduction and expand the infestation in your home.
Water and Food
Ants will be incredibly persistent about finding water and food, particularly during hot and dry weather. Ants usually eat meats, fats, sugar, sweets, starches, vegetables, and even left-out pet food. Certain ant species, like pavement ants, will also feed on honeydew which is produced by aphids.
Ants are tiny critters that only need a space that a piece of notebook paper can fit into to enter your home, which is why physical exclusion methods are so crucial to preventing an ant infestation. Certain ant species will make nests in wall voids in your home, attic, crawl space, or attic, especially if your crawl space has a pier and beam foundation. Large potted plants in your home can also attract ants because they may make their nest in the plant soil.
Another factor in ant shelter is the weather. Heavy rain soaks the ground and forces ant colonies to look for higher ground to avoid drowning. During heavy rain, your home will look like a haven for these pests. Drought will drive ants and other pests inside to look for water sources and food to prevent them from starving during these intense seasons.
Ants can be difficult to get rid of, which is why preventative measures are always the best way to avoid ant infestations. However, ants inside your home can be dealt with using the discussed methods. We recommend starting with insecticide granules in your yard and using silicone caulk in cracks and crevices in your home to prevent ants from entering your home physically. Deep cleaning, such as cleaning with essential oils and vacuuming up food crumbs regularly, is also key to preventing pest infestations.