How to Get Rid of Ants

by Team HomeServe
crowd of ants inside the house on the tile floor

Ants have a reputation for spoiling picnics, but they can also cause major headaches if they invade your home. It's common in many areas to have ant, fly and roach infestations in your home.

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Unwanted ant inhabitants don't typically cause health issues, although the sight of them scurrying around your kitchen floor can be frustrating. Learn how to get rid of ants easily and safely to evict those pesky pests.

How Do You Know You Have an Ant Problem?

Ants aren't exactly sneaky, so you can usually see them if they've moved into your home uninvited. Even if you see only a few ants inside your home, many more could soon join. Ants create a pheromone trail that guides additional ants to food. You might see a trail of ants outside walking toward your home, or you might notice an ant home in the form of a dirt pile outside your home.

If you're dealing with carpenter ants, you might notice wood shavings or sawdust around your home since they chew up wood. Carpenter ants sometimes shed wings that you might find around your home, especially on windowsills or near baseboards. You can sometimes hear a quiet rustling noise come from within your walls if you have carpenter ants. This noise is usually quieter than the scampering you might hear if you have mice or rats running around in your walls.

5 Methods for Getting Rid of Ants

1. Seal ANTry Points

Sealing up entry points is an effective way to keep ants at bay. Ants can squeeze through tiny spaces, so sealing up even the littlest gaps and cracks is necessary to block their entry. Look for gaps around doors, windows and your foundation.

2. Try DeterrANTs

Using ant deterrents to prevent an infestation inside your home can make your life easier. Additional deterrents that might keep ants away from your home include:

  • Diatomaceous earth: Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around your home or in hard-to-reach areas inside your home, such as between cabinets. This powder damages the ants' exoskeletons and dehydrates them to kill them.
  • Insecticide barrier spray: Another way to deter ants from entering is by spraying insecticide around your home, especially near entry points like windows and doors. Apply the barrier spray early in the season before you notice an ant infestation to keep them out of your home.
  • Strong-smelling spices: Many food items with strong fragrances, including red pepper, cinnamon and mint, can help repel ants. Sprinkle these items where ants might enter to repel them.

3. No RefreshmANTs

To start, keep your home clean — especially when it comes to crumbs and food. Leaving food easily accessible attracts ants and keeps them coming back. Airtight food containers can minimize ant infestations. Make sure to clean less obvious areas where food particles may accumulate, like around the trash can or under the fridge.

4. Evict Existing TenANTs

Cleaning up your home can minimize your ant infestation, but you'll likely need to do something about the existing ants. While you clean, thoroughly wipe the trails where you see ants walking regularly. Cleaning those pathways with water and vinegar removes the pheromones that guide new ants into your home.

5. EnticemANT

Store-bought ant baits can also be effective. Place them in a spot where pets and kids won't disturb them. Many pre-filled baits are enclosed to protect humans and animals from the poison inside. When using ant baits, avoid killing the ants that you see. They take the poison back to the nest so other ants eat it, which helps get rid of the infestation.

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Do I Need to Call a Pest Control Service or Exterminator?

Some pest problems are difficult to handle yourself and almost always require a pest control service. Ants can often be controlled with DIY strategies. However, if you've tried all of the usual ant deterrent methods and still can't figure out how to get rid of ants effectively, calling a pest control service might be necessary. It's also best to call an exterminator if you're dealing with fire ants that can hurt you or carpenter ants that can damage the wooden structures in your home.

A pest control service can identify how the ants are getting into your home and suggest fixes to keep them out. They can apply insecticides and use other methods to kill the ants that are living in your home. Experienced pest control companies also offer suggestions for preventing future ant infestations and can provide ongoing treatments to keep ants away from your home.

When choosing a pest control service, look for a company that hires licensed technicians with extensive experience. Ask about their methods for pest control, including the option for pet-friendly, child-friendly and non-toxic methods that are safe for your home. Looking at online reviews and ratings can help you evaluate the pest control company based on past performance and any potential red flags. Comparing quotes and looking at what's included with each company can also help you make your decision.