When insects invade your home, few culprits are as bothersome as sugar ants. These tiny black ants typically begin showing up during the springtime as they search your house for food sources and water. And while they don’t pose a physical threat to humans, the sight of them crawling around in your kitchen or bathroom can be unsettling. If you’ve had it with these minuscule pests, then take heed of these tips on how to get rid of sugar ants in your home.
What are Sugar Ants
Sugar ants, also known as banded sugar ants, are a species of small black ants that originated in Australia. At some point, they found their way to North America and have been flourishing here ever since. Sugar ants are not harmful to humans – they don’t bite or sting, but they certainly are annoying.
As their name suggests, sugar ants are fond of sugary sweets of all kinds. But they don’t survive solely on sugar. They also eat other insects and plant pollen, as they are high in protein and fat. When sugar ants locate a food source, they will carry tiny pieces of food back to their colony.
How Do Sugar Ants Get Into My Home?
Sugar ants typically live outdoors and only venture into your home to find food. They have incredibly strong odor receptors – stronger than most other insects, and therefore, they can detect food from far away. The ants will follow the scent until they reach the source, squeezing through the tiniest of cracks and crevices to get to it. Once there, they create a pheromone trail that the other ants in the colony can follow to get to the food.
In some cases, sugar ants come from nests that they have built inside the home. Their nests are usually difficult to detect because they build in inconspicuous areas. Some of their favorite spots to build nests are behind wall paneling, under kitchen cabinets, and in basements.
How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants?
The sworn-by methods for eliminating sugar ants in your home are seemingly endless. Unfortunately, many of these techniques are completely ineffective, or the results are negligible. There are, however, several tried and true treatment methods to consider when trying to get rid of sugar ants. They are broken down into two categories: natural methods and chemical methods.
Natural Treatment Methods
In recent years, using natural treatment methods to eliminate sugar ant infestations has become quite popular. These methods focus on using non-toxic ingredients safe for households with children or pets.
- Use vinegar to remove the pheromone trail. This method involves mixing white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Once the concoction is ready, you can then spray it on the pheromone trail left by the ants. The vinegar helps mask the scent of the trail, and the ants will no longer follow it. But first, you have to locate the pheromone trail, which can be difficult.
- Place coffee grounds around your home. Sugar ants detest the pungent smell of coffee grounds. Spread the grounds near places where the ants congregate, and this should be enough to prevent them from returning to those spots.
- Hang garlic in the pantry. The scent of garlic is believed to confuse sugar ants, and because of this, they won’t go near the stuff. Try hanging garlic cloves in the pantry to keep sugar ants from getting at your food stores.
- Make homemade ant repellent. Fill a spray bottle with water and add a couple of lavender or peppermint oil drops. Spray the homemade repellent on countertops and inside cupboards to deter sugar ants from invading those areas.
Chemical Treatment Methods
There is a reason that chemical methods remain the go-to choice for eliminating sugar ants, and that’s because they are highly effective. And nowadays, most of the chemicals used in treatment applications are FDA-approved and biodegradable.
- Ant baits or traps. These simple devices contain poisonous bait that attracts sugar ants rather than repelling them. The ants then feed on the bait and carry the remainder back to their nests to feed the other ants in the colony. Shortly after the ants ingest the poisonous bait, they begin to die. In this way, ant baits can wipe out an entire colony of sugar ants.
- Borax or boric acid. These two substances are closely related, with borax being a boric acid derivative. They both come in powder form, which makes them useful for creating barriers where the ants are entering the home. Carefully sprinkle either substance near any entry points, at the base of walls, and inside overhangs. Borax and boric acid are poisonous and should never be used where children or pets could contact the substances.
If you have already tried these methods and sugar ants continue to be a problem in your home, you will need to contact a pest control specialist. Professional exterminators often use proprietary chemical mixtures and treatment techniques that are highly effective in eliminating sugar ants.
What Can I Do to Keep Sugar Ants Out of My Home?
Once you have gotten rid of the sugar ants inside your home, you will need to implement measures to ensure they stay out. Here are some steps that will help prevent sugar ants from returning:
- Keep your countertops clean. By cleaning up any food spills, especially sugary messes, you will reduce the ants’ chances of detecting food sources inside your home.
- Properly store sugary leftovers. If you have leftover sweets, such as cookies, cakes, pastries, or other sugary treats, make sure they are stored in an airtight container.
- Sweep your floor after meals. Even the smallest dropped crumb can attract sugar ants, so you should sweep your kitchen and dining room floor after each meal.
- Seal off possible entry points. Look for cracks, crevices, and other small openings where ants might enter your home and seal them using caulk.
- Spray pesticide on the exterior of your home. Apply a natural pesticide to your home’s exterior areas, particularly the foundation, as a first-line defense against sugar ants.
Say Goodbye to Sugar Ants
Although they are harmless, sugar ants inside your home can cause undue stress and anxiety. If you have had enough of these small pests, consider using either a natural or chemical treatment to get rid of them. The methods mentioned above have worked for countless others in eliminating sugar ants. If these techniques have not yielded the desired results, contact a pest control company to discuss a treatment plan.