When you first discover a trail of ants in your home, how do you get rid of them?
Do you grab the bug spray and go to town on them? Perhaps you grab a paper towel and crush them one by one? Or, do you put your investigative cap on, and try to pinpoint the source of the problem?
You have most likely tried at least one of these methods before. And, if you’re like most people, the ants have probably come back a few days (if not a few hours) later. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault – you just need to figure out a better approach to get rid of the ants.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out how to deal with invasive ants, how to monitor the treatment, and how to reduce the risk of another infestation in the near future.
#1 – Determine the Species of Ant
Different ants have different behavioural patterns. Some ants like to feed on meat and grease products, while other ants prefer to feed on sweet materials like honey, syrup, and sugar.
Some ants prefer to dwell and establish nests outdoors – i.e. bushes, shrubs, and nearby trees – while other ants desire the shelter of damp, concealed areas – such as under the property, within the cracks of the exterior wall, or even in your pantry.
To get rid of ants, you need to know what you’re dealing with. This way you can quickly predict their behaviour. The easiest way to do this is to visually inspect a live ant. Then, look up an Australian ant guide – All Bugs has a handy guide here – and use that information to figure out what you’re dealing with.
If you’re having trouble determining the species of ant, then consider reaching out to a local pest controller.
#2 – Follow the Trail
Most ants who invade your home are searching for two things: food and water.
In order to do this, the worker ants enter the building, investigate the common living areas, and then leave behind a scented trail designed to help the rest of the colony gain easy access to the nearest source of nourishment.
Unfortunately, ant trails are largely invisible to the human eye. But, if you manage to capture the live ants in the act, you can follow the trail all the way to the entry point. Some of the most common entry points are unsealed holes, gaps between doors and windows, and exposed plumbing fixtures.
Once you’ve found the entry point, head outside and continue to follow the trail. Hopefully, this trail should lead you to the nest. Keep in mind, there may be more than one nest. So be on the lookout for splits in the trail which lead to other directions.
#3 – Plan your Attack
Congratulations! You’ve found the ant trail. There are a number of things you can do from here to get rid of the ants.
By far, the most effective strategy, is to entice the worker ants to collect and consume a strategically placed ant bait.
This way, the worker ants will consume the bait and return to their nests, where the toxic compounds will eventually kill the worker ants, including the rest of the inhabitants and the Queen.
You can either create your own natural bait, or purchase commercial ant bait from the store.
One popular mix of natural ant bait is a combination of sugar (3 tbs) and borax (1 tbs), splashed with water to create a paste. Once you’ve made the mix, place the paste in a few sealed containers, but with holes small enough for ants to enter. If placed strategically, the ants will enter the boxes, consume the bait, and return to the nests to kill the remaining ants.
Although this method can be effective, borax can be toxic to children and animals. For this reason, use of a commercial ant bait is safer and guaranteed to get results – without putting your loved ones at risk.
#4 – Monitor the Treatment
Whichever approach you take, you need to monitor the treatment. Over the next few days, check the areas where you placed the bait, and see if the ants are still resuming their usual activity – or if their presence has dwindled.
Keep in mind, you may need to wait up to at least a week or longer to get rid of ants. So don’t get impatient and resort to killing any ants you see. Let the natural order of things take its course first, and then decide later if the treatment needs revising.
If you notice the bait is being consumed, be sure to refill the bait at least once every 1-2 weeks. Depending on the size and complexity of the infestation, you may need a few rounds of treatment until you achieve total elimination.
#5 – Call the Experts
How’d you go? If, after a few weeks, you still have ants coming into your home, you may need outside help.
Consider getting in touch with your local pest controller to help get rid of your ants.
On a suitable day and time, a pest controller can perform a visual assessment of both inside and outside your property. They will identify areas of high ant activity, locate the most likely entry points, and recommend a tailored treatment plan for you.
Unlike your own DIY efforts, pest controllers use their local knowledge and the latest technology to achieve real results. More importantly, they can put in place preventive measures to reduce the risk of another invasion.
If you wish to proceed, the pest controller will implement a safe and effective treatment plan. They will then monitor the treatment over the course of several weeks, which usually involves assessing the ‘kill count’ and refilling the treatment.
Rest assured, your pest controller will continue the treatment until the infestation is gone.
How to Prevent the threat of Ants
Unlike lightning, ant infestations can strike in the same place twice. And, depending on the state of your house, it can happen sooner than you think.
Here’s a few helpful tips to Reduce the Risk of Another Infestation:
- Keep your internal living areas clean – Be sure to store your lunches and dinners in the fridge before going to bed. If you do have food left out, then pack them in a tightly sealed container. Plus, be sure to regularly wipe down all surfaces – including tables, countertops, stovetops, and floorboards.
- Keep your outside area clean – Regularly mow your lawn. By having short grass, this will help you identify ant hills sooner, enabling you to control an infestation before it gets inside. Also, be sure to clean up debris such as rocks, logs, and equipment, as these can serve as a useful hiding spot for ants. Oh, and never keep food outside in your outdoor living areas – that’s just asking for trouble.
- Manage your pet food bowls: Yes, ants will try to feed on pet food. To prevent this, there are two things you can do, either: rinse, wash, and put away the pet food bowls once they’ve eaten; or, if you like to keep pet food out during all hours of the day, then place the bowl in a shallow pan of water (essentially, creating a ‘moat’ around the bowl).
Need help with getting rid of ants? Contact All Bugs today, and let our expert team deliver real results for you.