How To Get Rid Of Ants

Follow these guidelines to learn how to get rid of ants inside and outside your home.

DIY Pest Control has helped countless customers eliminate ants from their homes and properties. Ants are persistent and often aggravating to control but rest assured that you can beat them with the guidance we’ve provided below. Also, you can call us at 1-800-476-3368 to speak with one of our pest control experts, or use the live chat feature on our website. Either way, we’re here to help you do this!

Before you start treating, you need to know at least one of these questions

  • Where do the ants live?
  • Where are the ants traveling?
  • Where are the ants entering the home?
  • The steps below will help you answer these questions.

How Do I Get Rid of Ants?

Ants are a social insect that lives in colonies. Ant control treatment plans should include killing the entire colony. Just spraying an ant with a typical ant spray, particularly a repellent spray, will only kill a few at best and scatter the colony. Using a non-repellent spray like Taurus SC would not scatter them.

Can I Get Rid Of Ants Permanently?

No, you can't get rid of them permanently. You will continue to battle them as they come back from surrounding properties. But the good news is that you can start early in spring baiting your whole yard with Maxforce Complete Granular, Invict Xpress, or Extinguish Plus Fire Ant Bait. Because ants gather these baits and take them back to their colonies, this practice will exterminate many ants that may have been missed. Don't use ant bait when the temperatures are below 50 degrees.

1. First Step - Ant Identification and Inspection

Ant Segments

Ants have distinctly elbowed antennae, with segments. The segments of the abdomen are attached to the thorax. The ants have a thin-wasted appearance called the abdominal pedicel. The pedicel may have one or two sections. These sections are enlarged and vary in shape from a flattened plate-like shape to a slight hump.

Using a microscope, you can identify the shape type of the pedicel. This pedicel is called a node.

Termites also have segments. Identify the difference between ants and termites

To get your ant problem under control, inspection is an important first step.

To find ant nests, follow their trails. Ants lay down a chemical pheromone trail along their established routes to and from a food source so other ants can easily find the food.

Inspection Inside

Inside a house, inspect along the carpet edges, doors, windows, and all areas of the kitchen. The easiest way to find a trail to the nest is to watch where ants go after reaching the food source. If you are targeting Carpenter ants, inspection at night is more effective since the larger Carpenter ant is nocturnal. You can spot Carpenter ants emerging from damaged wood inside the house, or foraging outside in woodpiles, rotted or water-damaged wood, and tree stumps.

Inspection Outside

Outside the house, inspect around foundation walls, areas of vegetation, and mulch. Any vegetation found near patios and walls may hide some Ant nests or their trails. Check under any item that is on the ground. Some ant nests are well hidden.

  1. Follow the trail to find the nest.
  2. Inspect at various times of the day. Some ants will be more active in the early morning. Others may be active at night.
  • Your ant control strategy should depend on the type of ant is causing your ant infestation. Identifying which type of ant you have is helpful, but maybe difficult without a magnifying glass. Therefore, it is beneficial to use a magnifying glass to inspect ant trails and nests.
  • Identification is key in understanding ant colonies and behavior may help with your ant control.
  • When in doubt of the type of ant that you have, send us a picture or call us.
  • Identify/Inspect: Ants will describe this in further detail.
  • Ant Identification Chart provides a quick glance of all the major ants in the USA.

Most Common Ants

The most common ants in the United States are Argentine Ants, Carpenter Ants, Crazy Ants, Fire Ants, Ghost Ants, Leafcutter Ants, Odorous House Ants, Pavement Ants, and Pharoah Ants.

Understanding their behavior patterns of the various types of ants will help you achieve the best ant control. When in doubt of which type of ant you have, give us a call.

  1. Follow the trail to find the nest.
  2. Treat the nest directly if possible or use bait or non-repellent insecticide around the perimeter of the house and on the ant trails.

2. Ant Control Tips and Strategies

There are two main types of ant problems that are commonly encountered when ants show up inside.

  1. Ants that live outside and come inside for food or water. You’ll usually be able to find a trail of ants coming and going on the outside when this is the case
  2. Ants that already have a nest built inside. They’ll still go out to gather most of their food but opportunistically get food inside when the weather is bad or food is scarce.

Ant Control Inside and Outside/ Ant Colonies & Behaviors

Indoor Ant Control
Get Rid Of Ants Inside

Some ants don't just enter your home foraging for food. Some ants will establish a colony inside.

Refer to Get Rid Of Ants Inside for more in-depth information.

Ant Control Outside
Get Rid Of Ants Outside

Ants that live outside will travel inside your home to search for food.

They will usually be nesting near the house and may be in a visible nest or mound. But some nests may be under mulch, leaves, decorative stones, flower pots, or landscape timbers. Granular ant baits can be very useful for treating these nests.

If you find their entry point, spray a non-repellent residual insecticide such as Taurus SC or FUSE Insecticide around the perimeter and entry points.

Refer to Ant Control Outside for more in-depth information.

ants
Ant Colonies & Behaviors

As social insects, ants live in colonies. These colonies range in size from dozens to millions of numbers. One or more fertile queens, soldiers, wingless female castes of workers, male drones, and other specialized groups are included in most colonies. As an insect, ants are very successful in their survival. There are more than 20,000 ant species, and they are found almost everywhere except some remote islands and Antarctica.

Refer to Ant Colonies & Behavior for more in-depth information.

Popular Ant Control Products

Key Takeaway

Use baits and/or non-repellent sprays to avoid scattering ants.

3. Special Considerations for Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants are most active in the evening hours when foraging for food, both inside the house and outside. Carpenter ants do not eat the wood for food, but they will tunnel into the wood to make nests. By observing ants at night, you may be able to tell where to spray or bait. Treating the nest itself is the last resort for Carpenter ant control. Unless the entire nest is effectively treated, the colony may simply scatter. Use a non-repellent insecticide to minimize this risk.

carpenter ants
Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants ant Treatments

Carpenter Ants are most active in the evening hours when foraging for food, both inside the house and outside. Carpenter ants do not eat the wood for food, but they will tunnel into the wood to make nests. By observing ants at night, you may be able to tell where to spray or bait. Treating the nest itself is the last resort for Carpenter ant control. Unless the entire nest is effectively treated, the colony may simply scatter. Use a non-repellent insecticide to minimize this risk.

The best way to treat Carpenter Ants inside the house: Place recommended Carpenter Ant Baits on the ant trails. Use a non-repellent insecticide aerosol such as Spectre PS Aerosol, Alpine Aerosol, or Phantom Aerosol. Non-repellent aerosols are superior to repellent aerosols because the Ants do not detect them and can't avoid them. A typical Ant spray will kill only a few Ants and scatter the rest.

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4. How To Prevent Ants

prevent ants

Steps To Prevent Ants From Entering Your Home

  • 1. Caulk and seal cracks and crevices to eliminate passages into the home. You may not be able to seal all the entry points as ants are incredibly industrious in finding entry points.
  • 2. Clean around entry points with a detergent to remove the pheromone chemical trail.

To Prevent Further Carpenter Ant infestations

  • Trim all trees and bushes so branches do not touch the house.
  • Correct moisture problems such as leaky roofs and plumbing.
  • Paint and/or seal exposed wood construction before it becomes wet.
  • Replace rotted, water-damaged, and previously Ant-infested wooden parts of the structure.
  • Eliminate wood/soil contacts.
  • Remove dead stumps on the property and store firewood off the ground and away from the structure.

Various Ants That Invade Homes and Businesses