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Identify Which Ants You’re Dealing With
The first step to dealing with an ant infestation is to determine what ant species is giving you problems. The four most common types of ants are house ants, fire ants, carpenter ants, and pavement ants.
Tiny ants are more commonly called house ants, stink ants, or coconut ants. They feed on honeydew, floral, nectar, and sugary foods while living in various habitats near heat sources, houses, in insulation, and even under toilet lids. Colonies can form virtually anywhere in or around your house.
House ants are black, brown, or some combination of both colors. Depending on the season, they make multiple tests. They survive in hot and cold temperatures and will continue to work and lay eggs even if they are injured. When you kill these ants, they leave an odor.
There are over 200 species of fire ants across the globe. Ginger ants, tropical fire ants, and red ants are other common nicknames for this type of ant. Fire ants are usually red, sometimes with copper brown tones. Worker ants are a little bit darker.
Fire ants are small and like to live in open areas where they can produce large mounds for their colony. Moist habitats such as pond shores, lawns, riverbanks, and under rocks are susceptible fire ant nests. They mostly eat seeds and plants, but they sometimes attack and kill small animals.
The venom from a fire ant bite will cause bumps, pain, and irritation to humans. In some cases, emergency treatment is necessary if you have an allergic reaction the venom.
Carpenter ants live indoors and outdoors creating their nests in hollow wood, decaying wood, or other moist environments. These large, black ants are capable of forming extensive tunneling systems underground to move around between different sections of their nests.
Areas of your house with wood and moisture are the most vulnerable to a carpenter ant infestation.
You will find colonies underneath windows, decks, porches, and roof eaves. Carpenter ants usually forage at night, consuming honeydew, dead insects, and sometimes live insects.
Pavement ants are dark brown and sometimes black. They like to build nests inside pavement, hence the name. The largest ant in the colony is the queen; she is more than double the size of her worker ants.
Pavement ants are aggressive and often attack nearby colonies. These ant fights can result in thousands of dead ants on your driveway or sidewalk. Pavement ants will eat almost anything including bread, nuts, cheese, honey, insects, seeds, and honeydew.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Ants
Instead of using harmful and expensive chemicals, you can kill ants with everyday items around your home. You can learn what kills ants and what prevents them from coming back.
You can use duct tape or masking tape as a homemade ant trap to get rid of ants in the house. Strategically place the tape around the area where you constantly see them marching or near their nest.
Make sure the sticky side is up, and that the ants have to cross the tape to get through. The ants will get trapped in the tape and become immobilized.
Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is one of the natural ways to get rid of ants. You can safely put this substance around your garden, plants, or other areas of your yard where ants are a problem.
The particles diatomaceous earth has sharp edges that penetrate ants passing through. Once penetrated the ants lose moisture, slowly dehydrate, and die.
Lemons or Lemon Water
Ants are averse to citrus and lemons are full of citric acid. For the best results, squeeze fresh lemons into water. You can also use store bought lemon juice, but fresh lemons work better.
Pour the lemon and water mixture into a bottle and spray it along the perimeter of your home to keep ants away. Lemons also smell fresh, so there won’t be any foul odor in the air that you would experience if you used chemical pesticides.
Salt and Pepper
Salt and pepper will not kill ants but they can repel ants. You can mix salt and pepper together, and sprinkle it around ant mounds or nests to drive them away. Boiling water and adding a generous amount of salt and water is another option. Once the water cools down, add it to a spray bottle and spray the areas where you usually see ants.
Ants do not like walking through areas of a foreign powder substance like chalk. Draw chalk on your driveway, sidewalk, patio, or entryways to your home to keep ants away.
Herbs and Spices
Use dried herbs such as bay leaves, oregano, sage, cloves, basil, mint, and garlic to create a barrier around your home or garden. Create a line with the herbs in a spot that you’ve seen ants use as a trail.
You can use ground cinnamon, cinnamon oil, or anything else with cinnamon to get rid of ants. Put the cinnamon around doors, windows, or any other border you do not want ants to cross.
Although it repels ants, cinnamon is a pleasant smell for humans, so it will keep your house smelling good, and it’s not difficult to clean up.
White vinegar will kill ants. Mix the vinegar with water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Use this spray bottle to spray the ants to directly and kill them.
Mix borax and sugar in a jar of warm water. Next, soak cotton balls in the water. Place the soaked cotton balls throughout your home in areas where ants are giving you problems.
Sugar attracts the ants to the cotton, and the borax kills them. They won’t die right away, so sometimes borax is brought back to their nest to kill others. Don’t use a borax ant killer if you have pets or small children.
Put drops of peppermint oil around the spaces of your house where ants can enter. The most concerning areas are usually the garage, basement, doors, and windows.
Learn how to get rid of ants in kitchens with cucumber peels. Simply put, ants do not like cucumber. You can put peels or slices of cucumber around the entry points of your kitchen to keep the ants away. If you have bitter cucumbers, they work even better.
You can use cayenne pepper to create a homemade ant killer. First, slice three or four peppers and put them in a jar. Boil a quart of water in a pan, and then pour the hot water over a jar of sliced cayenne peppers.
Let the jar sit for a day or two before removing the peppers. Go right to the anthill or nest and pour the water solution directly into their colony. Alternatively, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper flakes near nests or use other hot peppers to make a water solution.
Liquid Dish Soap
To create a poisonous ant spray, combine liquid dish soap with water into a spray bottle. Use 50% dish soap and 50% water in the bottle. Spray the ants directly with this DIY ant killer solution to kill them, drive the survivors away, and keep them from coming back.
Preventing Ant Infestations
Keep Sugary Food Out of Open Space
Ants are hard workers and always on the move. Ants are attracted to sugar because it helps give them the energy they need for their daily tasks. It’s not easy to find sugar in nature, so ants will turn to your home to find sugary foods.
All it takes is for one or two ants to find a sugar source for you to have a problem in your home. Ants are excellent at communicating with each other. One will tell the rest of the colony, and thousands of ants will swarm to your kitchen before you know it.
Keep Your Kitchen Sink Clean
Most ants will eat almost anything. Your kitchen sink is full of food particles that will attract ants. Ants are also attracted to moisture, which is abundant in your sink. The combination of food and moisture in your kitchen sink area makes it a vulnerable location for an ant infestation.
Mix drops of bleach with water when you are wiping down your countertops and floors to keep ants from getting to your kitchen sink.
Take Out the Trash Every Day
Keep garbage out of your home by taking out the trash every day. Food particles and crumbs in your trash will invite ants to investigate. Your garbage is their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Taking the trash out will also prevent offensive odors in the air for yourself and your guests to encounter.
Keep Moisture Away
If you have damp or decaying wood on your porch or around your home, it will attract ants. Ants want to live and build nests in areas with dense moisture. If possible, replace your existing wood with treated wood to minimize moisture.
Ants will also congregate around other moist areas of your home such as near a pipe with a plumbing leak. Fix the leak and clean up any water on the ground to deter the ants.