How to Kill Ants
You wake up one morning and find a skinny tail of ants across your kitchen counter, or maybe it’s time to throw the football around in the backyard and you discover a fire ant infestation. Ants are difficult to kill, it seems like no matter how much you throw at them, the colony always comes back. Fire ants can be a hazard — their painful bites are a real nuisance — and the type of ants that end up in your kitchen are an even bigger headache. How do you kill ants?
Pesticide or Pesticide-Free?
Your first decision to make when you need to get rid of ants is whether or not you want to use pesticides to get the job done. The main argument against the use of pesticides is that the chemicals in pesticides can make their way into the ground water. If your home depends on a well for water, it is even more dangerous for you to use pesticides, as your well water could be contaminated. The biggest thing pesticides have going for them? They work — in most cases a single pesticide application can rid your home of even the worst ant attack.
Choosing to go pesticide-free means being okay with a little bit of frustration. Different methods of getting rid of ants without pesticides work sometimes and other times the ants shrug them off. Using pesticide-free methods for killing ants takes a little more leg work, but if you’re concerned about chemical contamination in your home, pesticide-free is the only way to go.
Here are the most popular ways to kill ants, with pesticides and without.
How to Kill Ants in the Yard
The proper way to kill ants depends on where your ant problem is. If you want to get rid of ant colonies that are outside, you have a few more options. The most popular pesticide-free methods for killing ants outside are:
Nicotine — Place a bag of pipe tobacco in water and let it sit overnight. Capture the liquid, throw out the tobacco, and pour the liquid directly into the ant colony. The ants will receive a lethal dose of nicotine, and the liquid won’t poison the groundwater.
Boiling water — Prepare a pot of boiling water and slowly pour it into the ant colony. The idea here is to “scald” and kill most of the colony.
Windex / Soap — Exterminators swear by this simple method — mix Windex and liquid soap into a 50 / 50 mixture and pour it into the ant colony.
As for using pesticides to kill ants outside, there are commercially available products like carbaryl or Spectracide that you can apply directly to the outdoor colony. You can also have a pest control company out to take care of larger or stubborn colonies. To avoid future ant problems, just sprinkle the commercially available bait granules near old ant mounds, in cracks in the pavement, and any other place you see ants travelling.
How to Kill Ants In Your Home
Because most people don’t want to use pesticides in their home, natural methods for killing ants are more popular in the home. Here are the most popular home remedies for killing ants.
Baby powder — When you see a trail of ants in your home, sprinkle them immediately with baby powder. The ingredients in baby powder will kill the ants and any ant that comes in contact with them. Increase the likelihood that this method will work by “sealing off” the ant’s point of entry with bar soap.
Chalk — Similar to the baby powder method, sprinkling chalk near where the ants enter and exit the home will keep them from returning.
Lavender oil — Essential oils of all varieties work well on ants, but lavender oil won’t offend anyone’s noses in the kitchen or bathroom. This confuses the ants chemical communication signals and they will most likely leave your home.
How to Prevent Ant Infestations
You can take a few simple steps to keep ants from coming into your home. The trick is, you can follow these “ant-free” rules to the letter and still end up with an ant problem. But if you follow these simple rules, you’re far less likely to have ants in your home.
1. Wipe down and clean counter surfaces after every meal
Tiny crumbs of food, so small you can’t see them easily with the naked eye, attract ants. This doesn’t mean that every crumb will draw an ant, and it also doesn’t mean that crumb-free homes won’t have ants. But not wiping down and cleaning your counters is like an open invitation to ants. A simple solution of vinegar and water can be prepared in a spray bottle so you can quickly spray and wipe down the counter after you cook a meal. This one step alone should cut your chances of drawing ants in half.
2. Check the seals on your doors and windows
If you’re handy around the house, buy some caulk and prepare to seal your home off. No one, not the most talented contractor in the world, can perfectly seal a home. But you can try. If you aren’t confident in your ability to seal off the home, hire a construction team to do it for you. It shouldn’t take more than an afternoon of work, and the hassle you save by avoiding the annual ant rodeo will be worth whatever you spend.
3. Fix ant problems the first time
So you’ve successfully gotten rid of your kitchen ants — the bait worked, and you used a simple spray system to start cleaning your counters better. However — if you didn’t seal the crack or hole that ants used to get in the first time, I can guarantee you they’ll be back. Seal your cracks, lay bait in ant-heavy areas, and make changes now so you can avoid ants the same time next year.