How to Get Rid of Ants in the House & Your Yard
Put an end to most ant problems with inexpensive products from the home center or hardware store, and save the expense of hiring an exterminator.
How to Identify Ants
Take a close-up photo of the ant and send it to your local university extension service (enter your state’s name and “university extension service” into any online search engine). The extension service will tell you the type of ant you’re dealing with and where it nests. They may give you fact sheets about the ant species and maybe even some advice on getting rid of that particular ant species. Plus, check out these 26 tips for controlling pests in and around your home.
How to Find Ant Nests
Cut small holes in water-damaged walls to track down the ant nest. (You’re going to have to repair the walls anyway.) When you find the nest, spray it with an insecticide that contains bifenthrin, permethrin or deltamethrin (look on the label). Ortho’s Home Defense Max is one brand. Be sure to fix the water leak and replace damaged wood. If you can’t track down the nest, hire a pest control service. Pros spend about 80 percent of their time hunting down nests. Their fees start at about $150, but tough cases with multiple treatments can cost $400 or more.
Image courtesy of Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota
Ant Removal: Determine the Best Ant Bait
Prebait ants in areas you’ve previously seen them. Ants’ tastes change during the year. They usually prefer protein in the spring and sweets or fatty/oily foods in the summer. Set out sugar or honey, fried food and peanut butter, then see which food attracts ants. Use whichever food they prefer for bait and a DIY way to get rid of ants.
Once you know what the ants like, buy and set out toxic ant bait that’s geared to their taste. Look on the bait package for words like “controls both sweet and grease eating ants.” Stop ants from coming in the house by using this ‘outdoor ant bait (Amazon)’ around your yard.
Ant Removal: Erase Ant Trails
Vinegar and water won’t stop ants that are already nesting indoors. You’ll need to kill them with ant bait.
Ant Removal: Wipe Out Ant Colonies
Liquid bait is the best way to kill ants for many sweet-loving ants. Other ants prefer solid bait. If you still have ants in house after two weeks, replace the bait containers. If that doesn’t work, how to get rid of ants next means finding the nest.
How to Kill Ants in Your Yard
For large-scale ant problems on how to get rid of ants, use a lawn and garden insect killer that contains bifenthrin as the active ingredient. The spray will also kill other insects (read the label for a list).
- First, mow the grass.
- Then spray the insecticide on the entire lawn—you can also spray shrubs and trees.
Spray in the early morning or late afternoon when the ants are most active. And it’s best to spray on a calm day to prevent drift. If ants are still building mounds after six weeks, treat the lawn again (the insecticide works for up to six weeks). You won’t kill every ant in your yard (nor would you want to!), but spraying will eliminate most of them and stop the annoying mounds. Keep those pests away with these natural remedies.
How to Kill Ants in Your Yard: Destroy Exterior Nests
Image courtesy of Mike Merchant, Texas A&M
How to Kill Ants in Your Yard: Fire Ants
You need a special product that’s designed to wipe out and the best wall to kill ants and these biting critters. Apply the granules with a broadcast spreader.
Fire ants carry the granules, which they think are food (it’s actually toxic bait) back to their mounds. The ants share the bait and die. Some of these insecticides keep killing fire ants for up to a year. As with other baits, it may take a few weeks for you to see full results.
Ant Prevention: Keep It Clean
Ant Prevention: Spray Ant Entry Points
Once dry, the spray leaves an invisible film that repels ants so they won’t enter the house. Each spring, spray the insecticide to guard against ants. But keep in mind that this only works to keep ants out—it won’t kill ants that are already inside, and it can actually interfere with the use of ant baits. Kill more than just ants with this multipurpose insect bait (Amazon), which is one of the best ant sprays.
Ant Prevention: Spray on an Ant Barrier
Ant Prevention: Eliminate Safe Havens for Ants
- Trim back bushes, shrubs and trees that brush against your siding or roof that provide a bridge for ants to reach your house. Remove these pests and find out how they gained entry to stop future incursions.
- Keep a 3-in. to 6-in. clearance space between the soil around the foundation and the bottom row of siding to prevent ants from nesting in the siding (and make sure the soil slopes away from the house).
- Avoid stacking firewood next to the house. Firewood makes a perfect retreat for ants.
- Ants like bare spots in the yard and they like to build nests under layers of thatch. Maintaining a healthy lawn is one way to get rid of ants.
- If anthills pop up in bare areas, spray the mound with insecticide and plant grass in the bare spots in order to get rid of ants.
- Rake the lawn or bag the grass when you mow to eliminate thatch.
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