There are more than 20,000 species of ants around the world and about 570 species in the United States. Of those, about 30 species are common household pests. When discussing ants, we will use three terms that reflect the size of the ants in a colony. If ants are “monomorphic”, it means all the workers are the same size. If they are “bimorphic”, they have two sizes in the colony. The larger ones are major workers and the smaller ones are minor workers. If they have three or more sizes of workers in the colony, they are considered “polymorphic”.
There are several things you can do to prevent ants from entering your home.
The first step is exclusion.
Go around the outside of your home and inspect it very carefully from an ant’s point of view. Ants can sense cool air and aromatic odors emanating from your home and will try to gain access. Check around the house at ground level and look for cracks in the foundation, voids around pipes, areas under stucco, peepholes in bricks and similar areas that ants can use to gain entrance.
All these areas need to be sealed, caulked, screened or otherwise altered to prevent ants from using them to get into your home.
Check around your windows and doors to make sure they close tightly. If the doors aren’t tight, you may have to install door sweeps on them.
Check your bushes, shrubs and trees to make sure you don’t have any branches touching the roof. Don’t stack firewood, bricks or anything else next to your house or ants and other insects may find a good place to nest. If you have bushes or shrubs next to your house, periodically inspect them for aphids, scales and similar bugs as ants are attracted to the honeydew they produce. The ants will get on the plants and eventually find their way into your home.
Don’t put flagstone or flat boards on the ground too close to your home or some species of ants will nest under them.
On the other hand, mound-making ants will generally stay outside. They rarely leave their complicated and efficient homelike in the mound to enter homes.
If you don’t want the ants making mounds in your yard, you can flood the nests with club soda or with white vinegar or food-grade DE. If you use the DE, mix 4 tablespoons per gallon of water. You can also use 1 gallon of orange juice diluted with 2 gallons of water and a dash of soap. If you prefer, you can also spread dry instant grits on the mound. The ants will eat it and not be able to digest it and die.
You can repel ants with a wide variety of products, including cinnamon, baking soda, Comet Cleanser, cedar oil, medicated baby powder, Tide, talcum powder, chalk, coffee grounds, borax, garlic, broken egg shells, bone meal, black or red pepper, peppermint, paprika, chili powder and mint leaves.
If you have ants going into your hummingbird feeder, you can put duct tape, sticky side out, on the wire holding the feeder, to deter them.
The best way to control them when they get in your home is with baits. Different species have different food preferences. Some species will take a wide variety of baits, while others are more particular in what they eat.
You can use a bait containing half baking soda and half powdered sugar and place it where you see foraging ants. You can also use instant grits, which they can’t digest or use 2 packets of Equal or NutraSweet, which contains aspartame, wherever you see the ants.
If the ants have a preferred food in your home, such as apple sauce, peanut butter, canned cat food, Karo Syrup, jelly or similar products, you can mix in small amounts of boric acid or borax or aspartame. Mix about 2% of any of these products in the food. Make sure you keep these baits away from children and pets. If the ants are dying near the baits, you are making it too strong and need to make a fresh batch with less boric acid or borax.
Here is a recipe for effective, homemade ant baits/traps that use borax. It attracts ants looking for either moisture or food. You will need: 3 c. water, 1 c. sugar, 1 tsp. borax or 2 tsp. food-grade DE or aspartame, 6 small screw-top jars with lids, such as jelly jars covered with masking tape, which will enable the ants to climb up the side. Mix the sugar, water and borax (or food-grade DE or aspartame) in a bowl. Loosely half-fill the jars with cotton balls or pieces of sponge or wadded paper towels. Pour up to ½ cup of the sugary mixture over the cotton balls, saturating them. Make several small holes in the lid. Screw the lids on the jars tightly.
If you smoke, always wear plastic gloves when making ant baits or they will sense the tobacco smoke on the baits and not go to it. Ants do not like cigarette or cigar smoke.
If you are finding ants in a classroom or office building and baits aren’t practical, then you can spray all of the foraging ants with Greenbug for Indoors, which is a cedar product and will kill the ants it hits and repel others. Here are a some of the ants most likely to be encountered in your home or yard.
Natural Pest Control for Ants Infographic. Please Share!
Beehabitat.com loves all insects and know that these little garden helpers have a big purpose in the local and global eco system. Before trying to kill or get rid of all the insects in your yard, consider re locating them to an area of your yard that is protected from kids, dogs and chemicals. Most of the insects in your yard, over 97% of them, are doing a ton of free pest control for you and your family.