Updated March 5, 2019 . AmFam Team
When warm weather returns and nature springs back to life, it’s not all positives. When ants leave their nests and start looking for sources of food, they’ll often find creative ways into your home, pantry and cupboards. Most species won’t do much structural damage to your home, but for your food and family’s sake, it’s important to know how to get rid of ants in your kitchen and home altogether.
While different types of ants have vastly different diets, most ants will gladly feed on the food you have in your home. Once they start to have trouble finding sustenance outside in their natural environment, they’ll try to get into your home searching for new food and water sources. And once they find a new source, they’ll let the other ants in your colony know and invite potentially hundreds of tiny invaders into your home.
To an ant, your kitchen is perfect — they’ll seize on food crumbs and damp areas initially, moving on to other nearby food sources soon after. Most infestations can be found in your kitchen, although ants will move on to other areas of your home where they sense food or water.
If you see one ant in your home, it’s nearly guaranteed that there are a lot more from the same colony in there too. That’s why it’s so important to eradicate ants as soon as possible to stop a major infestation and health hazard.
Luckily, there are a wide variety of inexpensive ways to get those ants out of your home and food. Here are a few:
Ant baits. Using a mixture of ant attractants and insecticide, ant baits attempt to get ants to take a piece of the bait and return it to their colony, where it will spread the insecticide. Since they’re generally slow-acting in order to allow the ants to return the material to their colony, it allows the ants to communicate the presence of what they see as food to other ants, knocking out a large portion of the colony if successful.
Insecticide. If you can find the ants’ nest outside, applying appropriate insecticide can wipe out the colony. Talk to a professional at your local hardware store to find the right insecticide and strictly adhere to its directions to keep your family, your home and your pets safe.
Boric acid. Mixing boric acid with a sweet substance can attract ants and kill them. Boric acid is poisonous to ants, humans and animals in certain doses, so be sure to follow a strict and reputable recipe for making a solution and applying it.
If you’re not comfortable using potentially harmful insecticides, traps or solutions to fix your home’s ant problem, you’re not alone. Try one of these more natural options for repelling and eradicating ants in your home:
Water and vinegar. Using a half-vinegar, half-water solution in a spray water bottle, you can quickly kill any ants in your home and send others nearby fleeing. Just be sure to wipe up the ants and wipe down the area you sprayed afterwards.
Lemon juice. Make a solution of lemon juice and water, making sure to use 3 times the amount of water as the juice. Put it in a spray bottle and spray the ants, as well as any areas you’d like to keep the ants out of in the future.
Essential oils. Adding just a few drops of essential oils to a spray bottle of water can help you deter ants from your home. Peppermint and tea tree oils might smell great to you, but not to an ant. Some essential oils can be poisonous to animals, so be careful and research the oil you plan to use beforehand.
If any of the six methods above don’t work, call an exterminator. While more expensive, they often come with guarantees that’ll give you peace of mind in combination with your ant-free home.
Once you’ve removed the ants from your home, it’s time to make sure they don’t come back. Here are a few ways to can prevent them from getting into your home again:
Keep your house clean. Cleaning up any spills right away, regularly vacuum and sweep, and make sure not to leave food out to ensure ants can’t sense a new source of food from the outside.
Take care of water leaks and rotting wood. Ants are attracted to damp areas and water sources, so being vigilant about monitoring your plumbing for leaks and cleaning them up as soon as possible is key. If you notice rotting wood in your home, have it fixed right away before it damages your home’s structural integrity.
Seal cracks around your home. It’s good for maintaining the ideal temperature of your home, preventing leaks and keeping nuisances like ants out. Having your home professionally sealed is a wise investment at any time of the year.
After ridding your home of those pesky ants, get going on protecting your home from the unexpected. Ask your American Family agent (Opens in a new tab) about how you can customize your homeowners insurance to give your family the peace of mind they deserve.