Weeds And Pests

Common Remedies for an Ant Infestation



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Springtime and summer bring on rain, warm weather, outdoor recreation and those pesky home invaders, ants.  If you have discovered an infestation of these pests in your home, there are several easy options to eliminate them. Whether you want to use eco-friendly green remedies or more aggressive forms of pesticides, you can successfully rid ants from your home with these common corrections.

Home maintenance

The first thing you want to do to treat your ant infestation is to perform maintenance on your home. Because ants are social insects, they rely on each other for survival. Most of the ants that you see around your house are foraging for food. These are known as worker ants and their primary purpose is to support the queen by searching for food and taking it back to the nest. This is an easy task for the ant as they can easily carry three times their weight. Unfortunately for humans, ants like the same foods that humans do. A thorough cleaning of floors, kitchen cabinets and counters is necessary to remove the crumbs and greasy food substances that ants are drawn to. It’s a good idea to give your kitchen sink a heavy scrubbing too. Once you have removed crumb and food debris, it’s important to wash surfaces with detergent to remove the chemical scent that ants leave behind to find the food trail.

Take notice of where the ants are entering your home and seal cracks and crevices around window tracks, doorways, floorboards and corners. Ants are particularly drawn to rotting wood, so it’s important to replace any wood damaged by water in your home.  Wood that you store should be kept up off the ground and away from the house.  Proper pruning of trees and bushes around the house is essential. You should keep branches off of the house to reduce direct paths into your home. Noticeable ant hills and chambers on the outside of your house should be flooded with water and treated with an insecticide.

Green remedies

Ants communicate using pheromone trails so their sense of smell is extremely sensitive. To throw them off their track, these natural plant and food substances are easy cures for your infestation. One of the most common natural remedies is to place cinnamon sticks around the house. Place them in kitchen drawers, cabinets and pantries, near doorways and thresholds and in window sills. Don’t forget to put them in those hidden corners obstructed by furniture and other household items. Garlic can be used in this same manner.

Another eco-friendly remedy is vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is best but white vinegar will work as well. The malic acid in vinegar is a great insecticidal and fungicidal. The ants simply cannot stand the smell. The higher the acidic content the better. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray on all areas where you have seen ants gathering or entering your home.

Additional plant and food substances to disrupt the ant scent are herbs such as thyme, rosemary and mint. Eucalyptus and lavender also work wonders. Use them the same way you would with the cinnamon and garlic. For a quick fix sprinkle black pepper, chili pepper or paprika directly on the trail to confuse and scatter the ants. Then follow up with the long term remedies listed above.

Eradication

Green remedies are helpful but may not completely rid you of the ant infestation.  While eco friendly correction will manage your problem it may not cure the problem. The only way to completely eliminate ants from your home is to destroy the nest. Outside nests are usually viewable to the naked eye in the form of ant hills. Spraying the ant hills and the outer perimeter of your home with a heavy duty liquid pesticide is recommended. This method seeps into the ground, thereby destroying both the nest and the colony. Dusting pesticide in powder form is also effective. This will prevent ants from returning.

Inside infestations are more difficult in locating the nest. The optimal solution for this is to use baits. Ant baits in liquid and gel form work best, though combining them with the common plastic bait is good practice. Ants can become familiar with the bait smell and change their path over a period of time. Using dual methods keeps them confused and more likely to carry both back to the nest and destroy it immediately. It’s important to note that once you notice the ant trail is gone, baits should be discarded in an outdoor trash container away from the home. Both liquid insecticides and baits are readily available at your local home improvement store, and do it yourself pest control stores. 

More about this author: Mel Murphy

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