Ants are one of the peskiest small insects that can invade one’s home, lawn, and garden by the thousands. Some of these ants, such as fire ants, are quite dangerous to humans and animals with their painful bites and stings.
Having ants in your living space is a problem and one that requires a call to an experienced ant exterminator. Here are a few effective ant control tips for your home, lawn, and garden to ensure that the presence of ants doesn’t get out of hand.
Identify the type of ant
Before you attempt to fend off the ants on your property, you have to identify the type of ant that’s invading your space. This way, you can find out their nesting habits and how to properly get rid of them for good.
Take a close-up photo of the ant and send it to your preferred ant exterminator; they may be able to advise you on the type of ant you are dealing with and how to get rid of that particular species.
Find the ant nest
The most straightforward way to put a stop to your ant problem is to get rid of their nest. However, finding the nest may not be easy and takes some detective work. Ants generally prefer damp areas, such as framing or flooring that are soft and spongy from a plumbing or roof leak. However, depending on the species, ant nests can also be found:
Under rocks, tree logs, and other debris.
Built aboveground and appear as mounds of soil and/or small stones.
Hidden below ground.
As an elaborate tunnel system made up of chambers for different housing purposes.
As “castles” made from silk and bound together with leaves in trees.
Indoor potted plants, wall cavities, roofing insulation, window frames, and behind kitchen cabinets.
When you finally come across their nest, bear in mind that ants can become aggressive if their territory is threatened. They may bite and sting to defend themselves and their nest. Hence, it is best to get rid of an ant nest with extreme caution to avoid hurting yourself.
If the nest is too big or there are too many for you to handle, hire an experienced ant exterminator to help you get rid of the pesky insect.
Fend off ants from your home
Bait the scout ants
Although your first impulse when encountering an ant may be to step on it, the better option would be to hunt down its nest and remove it altogether. The ones you see are scout ants, foraging for food to take back to the colony.
Use these scouts to wipe out the entire colony by baiting them in areas you have previously seen them. Set out a few types of food and note the ones the ants prefer. Then use that information to buy and set out toxic ant bait that is geared to their taste.
There might be thousands of ants back at the nest. Liquid bait is the best way to kill ants. However, some ants prefer solid bait. If you still have ants in the house after two weeks, replace the bait containers.
Repair & set preventative measures
One of the best methods for ant control is to identify and treat cracks, crevices, and entry points with dust, granules, or barrier sprays. You can also:
Ensure flyscreens are fitted and maintained.
Cover vents with a fine mesh, if possible.
Repair leaky taps and pipes.
Keep the lid of the toilet closed, especially outdoor toilets.
Keep food in sealed containers.
Clean the outside of sauce bottles and jars.
Dispose of garbage regularly
Ensure the house – particularly the kitchen – is clean, including under and in appliances.
Rinse food waste residues out of recyclable packaging.
Ensure house plants are free of sap-sucking insects.
Monitor indoor plants.
If you have found ant nests on your indoor plants, take the ant-infested plants outside and get rid of them. You may bring back the plant into your house once the insects have disappeared.
Erase the trails
Ants leave a special chemical-scented trail for other ants to follow. Hence, sweeping and mopping is not enough to eliminate the special scent. Instead, you could try mixing a vinegar-water mixture and spraying it on areas where you have seen ants in the past.
This method may stop outdoor nesting ants that entered the house to forage for food. However, this vinegar-water mixture may not be efficient enough to stop ants that are already nesting indoors – you may need to get rid of them using an ant bait.
Keep it clean
A clean house is your first defence against ants. Sweep up food crumbs, wipe up spills, take out the garbage and do not leave dirty dishes sitting around the house. This takes away the ants' food source. For a safer way to get rid of ants, spray the vinegar-water mixture around bowls of pet food to keep ants from feasting there.
Keep ants away from your lawn and garden
If there are ants in a certain area of your lawn and garden, such as along your sidewalk, spot-treat the area with an outdoor insecticide – liquid or granule insecticide works fine in this situation.
However, for large-scale ant problems, you may need to use a lawn and garden insect killer that contains Bifenthrin as the active ingredient. Mow the grass and then, spray the insecticide on the entire lawn—you can also spray shrubs and trees. Make sure to spray in the early morning or late afternoon when the ants are most active. Do keep in mind that this spray will also kill other insects in your lawn.
If ants are still building mounds after six weeks, treat your lawn and garden again using insecticide. You may not be able to get rid of every single ant in your yard and garden, but spraying will eliminate most of them.
Use granule baits & keep pots in water
In situations where there are ants nesting underneath non-edible garden plants and non-edible potted plants, add granule baits along and around the ant tracks, into nests, or other infested areas.
In addition, you can prevent ants from re-infesting your potted plants by keeping the pots in a deep saucer of water sitting on a paver. The paver will stop the pot from sitting in the water and rotting the plant.
Eliminate their food source
To reduce ant activity on and near your plants, eliminate the pests creating their food source. Use a highly versatile and broad-spectrum insecticide in your yard and garden to spray on more types of edible and non-edible plants for a variety of pests.
Remove their nest
Once you get rid of the ants in your yard and garden, make sure to take the following steps to prevent them from coming back:
Trim back bushes, shrubs, and trees that brush against your house – they provide a bridge for ants to reach your house.
Keep up to six inches of clearance space between the soil around the foundation and the bottom row of your house sides to prevent ants from nesting in the siding.
Avoid stacking firewood next to the house – they make a perfect retreat for ants.
Spray the ant mounds with insecticide and plant grass in the bare spots.
Rake your lawn and garden or bag the grass when you mow to eliminate thatch.
Hire a professional
If you have attempted the aforementioned steps but are still struggling with a seriously annoying ant problem, it may be time to call in the experts. An experienced ant exterminator or a commercial pest control technician is trained to do a proper, full inspection of your property and provide you with a solution specific to the type of ants infesting your home, lawn, and garden.