As the weather warms up, you may notice the arrival of some unwanted house guests: ants. These little critters will swarm your home in a heartbeat. They’re pretty eager foragers, constantly looking for a source of food, aaand that source is probably in your kitchen.
Follow these steps to get rid of the ants in your kitchen.
Not all ant species are the same. They cause different levels of structural damage and have different appetites. Knowing the type you’re dealing with will help you get rid of your ant infestation efficiently.
Carpenter ants, for example, can cause structural damage to your home. They feed on rotten or damp wood, and you may need professional help to destroy the ant colony.
Try to take a photo of the ant and send it to your local county extension office for identification — they’ll have the ant-swers (groan). The extension service will tell you the type of ant you’re dealing with and where those ants like to nest. Then, you can figure out what ant bait to use.
Heads up: Ants can cause issues in your garden too.
Ants are foragers. They send scout ants to find food and bring back a sampling. If the colony likes what they find, hundreds will follow them back into the house.
They’re only entering your home because they have an accessible entry point and there’s plenty of food and water available.
Keep surfaces clean, clean up all spills (especially sweet items like honey, soda, and syrup) and keep all food on the counter in airtight containers. The same goes for pet food. By eliminating a potential food source, scout ants won’t be returning to your kitchen with hundreds of their friends in tow.
There’s no such thing as an isolated ant. Ants leave a scent trail that other ants follow to food sources, and mopping isn’t enough to eliminate the scent — but there is a way to do so.
How to get rid of an ant trail
You’ll need to make a solution and spray that business:
- Mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water.
- Put the mixture in a spray bottle.
- Spray the vinegar mixture on surfaces where you’ve seen ants in the past.
Not just ants that are the problem? We’ve got your back when it comes to eradicating 14 types of bugs.
If you don’t want to wait until the identification comes back from the extension office, you can use this quick trick to find out what type of bait to use to lure the ants.
If you’re still seeing ants after you clean and pack away food sources and erase ant trails, it’s time to use bait. Skip liquid baits or ant spray, as they only kill ants that are currently in your home.
Solid baits are better because they eliminate the entire colony. Ants take the toxic bait back to the colony where they’ll share it with the rest of the ants, including the queen, and kill them.
When buying a commercial bait, be sure to pick the one that targets the right species of ant and their current taste preference.
When it comes to baiting and killing ants, the best product to use at home is boric acid. It’s available over the counter at your local pharmacy or home improvement store, and people use it to control a wide variety of pests You can make your own bait and poison using boric acid.
Homemade ant bait recipe and process
- Mix 1 teaspoon of boric acid with 1/4 cup of corn syrup.
- Put a few drops of the mixture onto a small piece of waxed paper.
- Place it where you’ve seen ants hanging around.
- The ants will find the bait and carry it back to their colony.
- Add fresh drops onto the wax paper daily.
- Store the bait in a glass jar at room temperature.
Other all-natural ways to deter ants may include:
No, this isn’t what the Queen said before sending James Corden Stateside. If you’re still seeing ants in your kitchen after using bait, you will have to find and destroy the colony (or colonies — yep, it could be more than one).
You’ll also need to use a stronger toxin and apply it directly to the ant mound. Apply the insecticide early morning or late afternoon when the ants are most active. You want them to transport the poison deep into the colony.
When to call in the pros about an ant problem
If ants are still building mounds and entering your kitchen 6 weeks after you’ve found and baited the colony, you’ll need to do a whole-yard, broadcast treatment.
At this point, it might be time to hire professional help. Sometimes, all you need is an anty-hero.
Ants can be cute — see “A Bug’s Life” — but not all over your kitchen and near your food. Getting rid of ants is largely about picking the right bait and targeting as much of the colony as you can.
(Or, maybe don’t watch “A Bugs’s Life” before trying to kill all the ants. Just sayin’.)
You can make your own bait using boric acid. You don’t need to call in a pro unless your colony-clearing actions haven’t worked for 6 weeks.