You’re in your kitchen, enjoying a nice cup of coffee or getting ready to start prepping dinner when you suddenly notice little black ants everywhere. While sugar ants are often small—about the size of pepper flakes—and they don’t typically bite humans, it can still be unnerving to spot them in your living spaces.
Even if you clean your home regularly, sugar ants can still invade. This is especially true if you have children living in the home who might make it tough to stay on top of every drip and spill of sugary items that attract sugar ants, like juice, jelly, chocolate milk or maple syrup. So where do sugar ants come from, and if you have a sugar ant infestation, what can you do to get rid of these unwelcome pests?
Unfortunately, sugar ants can make their homes just about anywhere. These insects can nest inside homes and in virtually any crack or crevice around your property, which can make controlling them on your own very challenging.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants: Home Remedy Ideas
Wondering how to get rid of sugar ants? Home remedies may sound appealing, but the most important thing to know first about getting rid of sugar ants is that an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. This means that keeping these pests away can be easier than getting rid of these insects once they’ve settled in. So before we dive into what works and what doesn’t, let’s look at the top ways to keep ants out of your kitchen and away from your home.
Since most ants of any variety that invade your home are seeking food, it’s important to start your anti-ant efforts by giving your kitchen a thorough cleaning. This should include deep-cleaning in hard-to-reach spaces such as behind the stove, between the cracks surrounding the refrigerator, on top of the fridge and range hood and finally deep within the pantry. Next, use caulk to seal off any cracks where ants may be getting in, such as between tiles, around windows or where counters meet backsplash.
Once you have a “clean slate,” meaning a spotless kitchen free of entry points ants can get in or hide, it’s time to focus on daily cleaning maintenance and food management:
- Each and every time anyone uses the kitchen throughout the day, wipe down your countertops. Any time you see ant activity, spray around the area with Windex to remove ant trails and wipe up any errant ants with a soapy sponge.
- Mop the kitchen floor at least once daily to ensure that any sugary drips, splashes and spills are cleaned up.
- Toss out old food, especially overripe fruit, and keep as much food as possible inside the refrigerator.
- Empty your garbage and recycling bins on a regular basis, and if you keep a compost bucket in your kitchen, make sure it’s tightly sealed, as well as regularly emptied out and cleaned, so that it won’t attract bugs of any kind.
- If you keep candy or other sweet foods around, make sure it is inside a well-sealed container that ants can’t breach.
- Don’t focus your cleaning efforts only on the kitchen. Sugar ants will seek out food anyplace in the home where food is stored or eaten, so apply the same cleaning methods to your dining table, chairs, floor and anyplace else where you or your family might accidentally spill food or drinks.
Obviously, keeping your home spotless and clean takes a lot of vigilant effort—and sometimes, you just can’t wipe up every single drip or morsel that might attract sugar ants. Using home remedies to control sugar ants may be appealing, especially if you are trying to avoid using any products in your home that might impact your family, including your pets. The desire to avoid chemicals is understandable, especially in areas where you prepare food. So which home remedies can work in keeping ants away?
Boric acid has been shown to be effective against some types of ants, but not all. Mixing boric acid with sugary foods and setting it out in homemade bait stations for ants to find may help keep ants at bay, but don’t expect it to be a quick fix. Also, this substance is not without risks. The EPA has documented the health risks that boric acid can pose, so this is not the alternative many homeowners think it might be. Moreover, boric acid can take weeks to reduce an indoor ant infestation, and it should be refreshed frequently—preferably every few days. Once again, it won’t work against all types of ants, and you may have to experiment with which kinds of foods you mix it with for best results. So, unfortunately, boric acid is not a great solution.
Does baking soda kill ants? While tempting to try, other home remedies for killing or repelling ants, such as sprinkling baking soda, cornmeal or cornstarch, have not been found to be very effective. You can use cornstarch as a trap to catch ants by setting out a small pile of it on a countertop or elsewhere, waiting for ants to congregate and then vacuuming them up. This approach is unlikely to bring your ant problem under control by itself, however, and who wants piles of cornstarch on countertops? If you use this method, be sure to dispose of the vacuum’s contents as soon as possible in a tightly sealed bag tossed into an outdoor trash bin.
Sometimes, you can become more effective in do it yourself pest control by learning more about your unwelcome houseguests.
What Are Sugar Ants?
What are sugar ants, exactly? This is a good question, especially considering that the type of ant that is actually named “sugar ant”—the banded sugar ant of Australia—isn’t a kind of ant that most U.S. homeowners are likely to encounter.
The term “sugar ants” is actually a catch-all term that many homeowners use to refer to any type of ants that have invaded their homes and seem to be attracted to sweet foods. The ants that invade homes in the U.S. in search of food include several species of ants that are attracted to sweets and don’t typically bite people, such as pharaoh ants and odorous house ants.
Pharaoh ants are very small and light-colored, ranging from yellow to light red or light brown. Odorous house ants are also small; they are dark brown or black in color, and they emit a distinct smell when crushed (hence their name). Pavement ants are another variety of small, dark-colored ant, and true to their name, they are generally found outdoors, on sidewalks and driveways. They might venture indoors, however, if extreme weather conditions or a lack of food sources push them to seek shelter or sustenance.
People might also encounter indoor infestations of carpenter ants, winged ants or even fire ants. These types of ants aren’t particularly attracted to sweets, and all of them are larger than typical sugar ants. They all also have other distinct characteristics that differentiate them from sugar ants. When it comes to fire ants, it’s imperative to do everything you can for fire ant prevention, as these biting and stinging insects can invade your space and become quite a pain, literally.
If you’ve spotted small ants in your home that seem drawn to sweet foods, you may need to contact a pest control professional to properly identify the specific type of ants infesting your home. A trained pest control technician will also be able to recommend an effective treatment plan for eliminating these tiny bugs.
Sugar Ants In The Bathroom: How To Get Rid Of These Pests
Finding sugar ants in the bathroom can be a real surprise. What are they attracted to that might draw them there? If they are the same kind of ants that typically invade kitchens in search of sweet foods to eat, they might be drawn to your bathroom if you use sweet-smelling, fruity bath products, or if you or someone in your household brings any food or dishes into the restroom if you are rushing to eat breakfast while getting ready in the morning. Sugar ants might also venture into the bathroom if you have leaking faucets, houseplants or another source of moisture that could meet the ants’ water needs.
If you do find sugar ants in your bathroom, or any type of ants, look for any cracks around windows, light fixtures or electrical outlets—all typical places where ants can get in. Seal off any cracks with caulk, and make sure that faucets and pipes are working properly and aren’t leaking. You should also eliminate any sources of standing water, including over-watered potted plants. In fact, since bathrooms are already typically damp, humid areas, it may be best to keep houseplants in other, drier rooms of the house, where they will be less likely to attract bugs.
How To Eliminate An Ant Infestation In House
If you have an ant infestation in your house, you may be tempted to use over-the-counter foggers or sprays that you can pick up at the grocery or hardware store. But, these products are actually less helpful and also more harmful than many people realize. Ant killer sprays are useful only for killing the ants that you can see, meaning they are not effective at killing all the other ants that are out of sight in the nest. Furthermore, sprays and foggers aren’t effective against all types of ants, only certain varieties. And if you have children or pets in the home, or if you’re concerned about environmental toxins, these may not be viable options for you. Ant baits are typically the most effective approach, but they still require trial and error as you experiment with different types and brands of bait to find the one that works best for your particular ant problem.
ABC Can Help With Your Ant Infestation
If you keep your kitchen and other areas of your home spotless, you’ve sealed off all cracks that ants might be using to access the indoors and you still have a sugar ant problem, it’s time to call in the professionals. The pest control experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services can identify exactly which type of ants you have in your home, which will narrow down which types of products and approaches will eliminate them quickly. Our trained specialists work to find the nest, since a comprehensive pest control plan will eliminate the queen as well as any eggs, to make sure all ants are gone, not just in hiding. We will work with you to develop an extermination plan that is safe for everyone living in your home, including furry friends and other pets, and that is gentle on the environment as well.