Start by identifying the type of ant in your house so you can find out its nesting habits and have a better idea of where they're living (they may be nesting outdoors). Learn the ant species online and get some advice on getting rid of that particular species. |
Some ant species may require special management considerations. In addition, some ant species have colonies that contain a single queen while other ant colonies may contain several queens. These ants may be more difficult to control because eliminating a single queen may not eliminate the colony and it may be easier for them to split up and form several colonies near each other. If you are having difficulty controlling an ant problem in your home, it may be helpful to collect a few specimens for proper identification.
Erase Their Trails
Where you see one ant, you're bound to see others. That's because ants leave a scented trail that other ants follow. Sweeping or mopping isn't enough to eliminate the scent. Instead, mix one part vinegar with three parts water in a spray bottle, then spray wherever you've seen ants in the past. This will stop outdoor nesting ants that entered the house to forage for food (ants that come inside are not necessarily trying to establish a nest). But vinegar and water won't stop ants that are already nesting indoors.
Wipe Out Colonies
When you see an ant, your first impulse is probably to step on it. But don't. You'll kill it, but for every ant you see, there may be hundreds more hiding in the house. The ones you see are scout ants, foraging for food to take back to the colony. Use these scouts to wipe out the entire colony. Prebait ants in areas you've previously seen them. Ants' tastes change during the year. They usually prefer protein in the spring and sweets or fatty/oily foods in the summer.
Once you know what the ants like, buy and set out ant bait that's geared to their taste. Look on the bait package for words like "controls both sweet and grease eating ants. " Expect to see more ants (initially) when you set out the bait. That's a good thing. It means more ants are taking the bait (which is toxic) back to the colony where they'll share it with the rest of the ants, including the queen, and kill them. There might be thousands of ants back at the nest. Liquid bait works best for many sweet-loving ants. Other ants prefer solid baits. If you still have ants after two weeks, replace the bait containers. If that doesn't work, it's time to hunt down the nest.
Hunt Down the Nest
Sometimes the solution to an ant control problem is getting rid of their nest. If you're dealing with carpenter ants, which can do structural damage to your house, it's vital that you wipe them out ASAP. Finding the nest may not be easy and takes some detective work. Ants generally prefer damp areas, such as framing or flooring that's soft and spongy from a plumbing or roof leak. Start by looking for areas with water damage. Attics, bathrooms and exterior walls are obvious candidates. Cut small holes in water-damaged walls to track down the ant nest.
When you find the nest, spray it with an insecticide that contains bifenthrin, permethrin, or deltamethrin (look on the label). Be sure to fix the water leak and replace damaged wood. If you can't track down the nest, hire a pest control service. Pros can get expensive, but they spend about 80 percent of their time hunting down nests, and know what to look for.
Spray Entry Points
After ridding the house of ants, take steps to ensure they don't come back. Caulk and seal holes, and then spray insecticide around doors and windows. Use an insecticide that contains bifenthrin, permethrin, or deltamethrin. Spray a 4-in.-wide band along entry points, just enough to wet the surface. Once dry, the spray leaves an invisible film that repels ants so they won't enter the house. Each spring, spray the insecticide to guard against ants. But keep in mind that this only works to keep ants out—it won't kill ants that are already inside, and it can actually interfere with the use of ant baits
Ants like bare spots in the yard and they like to build nests under layers of thatch. Maintaining a healthy lawn is one way to discourage ants. If anthills pop up in bare areas, spray the mound with insecticide and plant grass in the bare spots. Rake the lawn or bag the grass when you mow to eliminate thatch
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