Even in the cleanest houses, ant colonies can still be found. Homeowners might regard this tiny pest as harmless living things getting into a house only seeking for food sources and shelters. In fact, ant infestation inside the house can possibly cause various problems. Mostly, ant infestation causes health risks to the house members, although the risk of damaged house structure or outside plants also needs to be anticipated as well. Hence, being able to spot infestation immediately will determine effective treatments and thus, preventing possible bad effects it may trigger.
Signs of ants infestation
There are various kinds of ant species, and among those, carpenter and black ants are the most common types invading indoor spaces. Despite the types of ants infesting your house, signs of this infestation are somehow similar. Pay attention to these things when inspecting the house from ant infestation.
- Look for ants’ nests—bigger ant types, such as the carpenters make deep holes, while some smaller types of ant build mounds of soil for their nests. Outdoor, these nests can be found around vegetation, either grown in pots or soil. Ant tunnels are built underground and are likely to damage plants’ roots. Hence, to disclose major ant infestation, you can scrutinize died trees and grass with rotten roots.
- When ants infest paved areas, they will remove the sand between the paving concretes. Hence, loose pavers can be an indication of severe infestation.
- The appearance of single ant in a specific area gives a sign of bigger infestation. Look around the place you find the ant to disclose the colonies.
Where to check?
- In exposed soil or the soil under vegetation
- Under the vegetation pots, pile of pallet woods and movable rocks
- Among the grassed areas
- Paved areas
- In the humid areas
- Behind picture frames or paintings
- Inside wall and window casings cracks
- Beneath stored cardboards
- On covered corners, e.g. the corners under staircases
- Around the sink, stove, and spices-jar shelves
- Inside kitchen cabinets
- In couch’s folds
- Around pet’s bowl and cage
- Near refrigerator
Ants are social creatures—they work together and live in groups. When a single working ant finds a food source, it will tell the rest of the working group by leaving chemical pheromone. This trail cannot be seen with naked eyes and thus, is often unnoticed. Ants live outdoor, but they are trying to find food sources and comfortable environment for building nests, so that they may invade houses. Cutting off the possibility of unconsciously providing them proper foods and shelter can be an effective way of preventing ant infestation at home.
There are steps and methods you can do in order to reduce the infestation and if you have successfully getting rid of one, reduce the risk of future re-infestation.
- Store foods in sealed, air-tight jars. Ants are attracted to the food source by its aroma, and they will work on to find the thing. Keeping foods in a loose lid container does not prevent ants, especially if you “provide” sweets, which is their all-season favorite.
- Remove all food crumbs and spills from all kitchen cabinets, floor, and tables. If an ant finds this crumbs, it will likely invite the remaining group to inspect. Wipe it off with a wet cloth or mop to make sure you do not leave any trail or smell of the foods.
- Empty trash cans before sleeping time. If you notice ant trails going through these cans, empty it immediately. Next time, you will need to be prepared to empty the can immediately, especially when dumping organic trash since ants will repeatedly come into the potential places to get foods.
- Keep your trash can clean from spills. Even if the can is empty, the aroma of this spill may attract ants. Do not keep the trash can in a humid place, such as under the sink. Instead, place it in the area you can spot easily, to make sure you empty it in time.
- Always squeeze the dish sponge dry after using it. Wet sponge with a certain food or soap aroma can attract ants.
- Regularly check indoor storage. Remove the cardboard used for storing items, since they are prone to ant infestation. Instead, replace these cardboards with plastic containers, which do not attract ants and other insects.
- Keep the area around your refrigerator clean. If you spill something, mop it immediately, since ants may reside around the refrigerator feet and wait for their foods.
- Check and seal deep cracks on the wall or around the window casings. You might want to use caulk and sealant to cover these cracks from infestation.
- Check the area around plumbing, especially near the sink. Small house ants love building their nests around this pipe. Remove any mounds of the soil if any, to get rid of ant population.
- Check the area around your potted plants. Move these pots regularly to prevent ants from building nests beneath the unmoved pots.
- Create a good ventilation especially in the storage room. Insufficient ventilation will cause excessive humidity and thus, give a comfortable environment for ants to build the colony.
Getting rid of ants
Sometimes, no matter how clean you are keeping the kitchen and other areas in the house, you will still disclose these tiny creature colonies walking across the floor or around the cabinets. A Certain season is in fact, more prone to ant infestation that they get bigger in number. If this is what happens, you need to start thinking about getting rid of these ants, preventing the house from being infested. To perform proper treatments, you will need to get to know the type of the ants, in the first place. Once you know your enemy, choose any treatments which will be effective in getting rid of the species.
- Getting rid of carpenter ants
Do carpenter ants eat wood like termites do? No, they do not eat wood. Yet, the name suggests a bad effect which can be caused by this type of ant infestation in your house. Carpenter ants refer to large ants with either black or red in color.
The queen of the colony is winged and the largest among the rest of its colony. A colony of carpenter ants does not eat wood, yet they remove wood to get through it, building their nest and tunnels.
This ant type feeds on protein and sugary things. They are also attracted to dead small insects. Indoor, these big ants eat pet food, meat, and sweets. Once you found out that carpenter ants are infesting your house, do these things to get rid of this type of ant. Carpenter ants are often seen in rotting woods or trees, on the soil under plant pots, or in moist of decaying woods inside buildings.
- To treat carpenter ant colonies, you need to firstly disclose its nests. Look for possible nests under old pots or cardboards which are stored in the soil or other less-moist areas in the house.
You can also search inside decaying or old cracks of the wood structures inside the house. Spray the ready-to-use insecticides you can easily find in the markets. If you can spot the trails, spray the insecticide to this suspected spots as well.
- If you have found suspected areas when the ants are coming through regularly, you can use bait method. Use anything you have—especially sweets as a bait while adding a poisonous ingredient for ants, such as baking soda. If the ant is attracted to the bait and bring it into the nest, you are likely to kill all the population.
- If the infestation is outdoor, most commonly in trees, stumps, fences, and other wooden structures, remove these woods to eliminate the ant’s nests and colonies.
- Getting rid of black ants
In most infestation cases, black ants cause the problems in the outdoor garden, although they may also move indoor when no food and shelter are available outside. Black ants can refer to many species of ants, but most commonly the fruit ants. Fruits ants target ripening fruits on trees as their source of food. In addition, they also attack the tree itself, damaging the leaves and its wood branches. To get rid and kill this type of ants, you might want to:
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the possibly infested trees and flower pots. Use the food-grade one will be less harmful to your pets and children. This chemical will dry up the ants’ organs and kill them eventually. However, you will need to replace the powder after rain soaks it.
- Spray the tree branches and hanging ripening fruits with fruit spray, which you can make at home. Use either garlic spray or baking soda spray to perform this treatment and spray it directly to the infested vegetation.
- Use the sticky traps around the infested trees. The ready-to-use ant traps can be placed around the garden to catch infesting black ants. They will not be able to get off the sticky thing and will eventually die.
- Use hot water trick. This method is done by pouring a 160-170 degree of Fahrenheit water onto the suspected ant nests to kill all the colonies and queen. However, do not use this when the ants reside near the tree root, as this root can be burnt and leave the tree dead.
- Getting rid of sugar ants
Sugar ants commonly infest your house in the places where foods are stored, for instance, the kitchen. Kitchen cabinets and food jars are their main targets to find food. Hence, getting rid of sugar ants is closely related to getting rid of ants in your kitchen. It is definitely important to keep the kitchen clean to prevent sugar ant infestation.
Sugar ants are small ants with a brownish color. They feed on sweets—as the name suggest, but are also attracted to greasy foods, cakes, and other fatty ingredients. Some species of sugar ants are odorous and excrete strange smell when crushed. To get rid of this common household pests, these methods can be done:
- Keep your kitchen spill-free as well as crumb-free. As soon as you see the tiny creature occurrence, wipe off all food crumbs and drippings on the kitchen table, before the single ant triggers the entire colonies to find foods you show through these crumbs and drips.
- Use food bait which has been mixed with slow-acting poison. This will enable you to kill the entire colonies, which feeds on the same source of food carried by the baited ants.
- Treat the discovered nest to kill not only the adult ants but also its hatching eggs. If the nest is located behind the kitchen counter, you can seal it with plastic wrap to prevent the ants from getting out. This way, the ants will not be able to get foods for the colony and will eventually die from starvation.
- Spray the areas around the discovered nest with insecticides. This will prevent ants from building a nest in the same spot.
Getting rid of ants naturally
Some people understand that insecticides are probably the most effective method which can be used in killing the population of infesting ants at home. However, pets and children often make them reluctant in using this poisonous ingredient to get rid of the ants infesting their house. In fact, there are several disadvantages of using insecticide to kill ants, such as:
- Frequent use of insecticides to attempt to kill ants inside the house can cause chemical build ups which can stay long and not easily dismiss. This dangerous chemical can be easily inhaled by humans and pets and may cause various health problems.
- Insecticides are costly and do not last very long. Mosquito spray, which can be used to get rid of ants are expensive and requires large amount per application.
- Insecticides need to be reapplied to guarantee effectiveness. Often, the treated insects re-infest the house and thus, require more insecticides application.
- Regular uses of insecticides cause resistance. Insects pass this resistance over generations. This is a bad thing since the insecticides will not make any effects on killing the species, but keeps building up residue in your house.
To minimize these negative effects on insecticides, many people start to employ some safer methods using more natural ingredients. Compared to insecticides, these treatments are less instant and can be time-consuming. However, these are less toxic, so that these treatments will not harm either pets or humans. If you have a big infestation of ants around the house and garden, you might want to refer to one of these environment-friendly treatments using ingredients you can easily find in the kitchen. You will notice some advantages coming with natural ways of killing ants, such as:
- No toxic residue. Some natural ant killer might leave residue behind. However, this residue can be easily wiped off without causing any harms to someone’s health.
- Lower cost, as treatments are able to perform using any ingredients which can be found in the kitchen. Or if you have to buy those, they are the low-cost natural ingredients compared to costly chemical substances.
- Safer for kids and pets, as the treatments are done using food-grade ingredients.
Some of the most well-known folk remedies can be used to kill infesting ants and deter any future infestation. These low-cost home remedies include:
- Lemon juice.
The acid in lemon juice messes up ants’ sense of tracking and thus, deter the colonies from infesting the house. To perform the remedy, cut the lemon into two slices and squeeze it to spread the juice around the suspected areas or any possible entries to keep the ants in the bay.
Ground cinnamon smells good and is effective to deter ants from coming into the house. Take several cinnamon rolls and ground them into powder. Sprinkle this powder in the suspected ants’ paths. You may also sprinkle it on your window and door casings or behind every kitchen cabinet. If you can find cinnamon oil around, you can also use this folk ingredient. Simply mix cinnamon oil and water in 1:1 proportion ad spray onto the windows, doors, tree branches, or any spots you desire.
Ants do not like the smell of peppermint, and will likely choose another way which is not covered with this fresh-smelled ingredient. Anything containing peppermint can be used for deterring ant colonies, including peppermint bath or hand soap. To use this soap, mix it with water in a spray bottle and spray directly onto the preferred areas. You will see ants avoiding the sprayed path because they hate the smell of fresh peppermint.
- The borax bait
Borax which contains boric acid is an effective remedy for almost any insects. This ingredient kills ants by drying the body up. To make the poisonous bait, mix three spoonful borax with an equal amount of sugar and water. You can add a spoonful peanut butter to attract the pests. Once you come with a consistency of paste of poisonous bait, put it on a small cardboard and place these cardboards across the places which will likely be passed by the ants. Sugar and peanut butter inside the bait will attract the ants, which are going to bring it back to the colonies and feed them with the deadly bait. This way, you are likely to eliminate the entire colonies, rather than some adult working ants.
You can choose either the conventional blackboard chalk or the ready-to-use ant chalks. Draw the line with the chalk and it will keep the ants away. This chalk destroys the trail of pheromone left by ants when crossing an area. This causes ants to find another way to walk through. Draw some lines with chalk near your food storage or under your pet’s bowl to deter ants.
Vinegar is a useful ingredient which should exist in every house. This is a folk remedy which is effective for getting rid numbers of insects, including ants. To effectively eliminate ant infestation, you will need to find the nest and pour several drops of vinegar onto it—if the nest is small and built from mounds of soil, or a half liter of vinegar—for deep carpenter ants’ nests. If it is too hard to find the nest, you can do simpler treatment which can be used to get rid the visible adult ants. Mix a cup of vinegar into the water you are using for mopping the floor and cleaning the counters. The acid in the vinegar will prevent the ants from coming, passing through the vinegar-wiped areas.
Eliminating entire ant infestation might not be easy. Hence, prevention is the most effective treatment. Try to keep your house as clean as possible, and be sure to check for any outdoor and indoor infestation immediately to prevent it from spreading.