How to Get Rid of Ants in Home & Yard

  • Written By: Phil Hawes
  • Time to read: 5 min.

If you’re dealing with ants, you’re not alone. Ants can be a common problem for homeowners, and there are four easy steps you can take to get rid of them for good.

In this article, I’m going to tell you what those four steps are so that you can get rid of your ant problem once and for all. What’s more, I will also go over how to stop these little pests from coming back in the future.

Why do you have an ant infestation?

Ants, like all other living creatures, only require some pretty basic things to survive. They need food, water, and a place to live. If your home is providing any of these things for ants, then that’s likely why you have an ant infestation.

However, just removing these things will not remove your problem. Ants will continue to come into your home in search of food and water unless you take steps to prevent them from getting inside in the first place. So, what can you do to get rid of ants for good?

Step one: identification 

Before you begin throwing ant killer around your property willy-nilly, there is an important first step. You must figure out which type of ant you are dealing with. This will help you determine the best way to get rid of them and keep them from returning in the future.

There are over 10,000 species of ants worldwide, but you probably only have to worry about 10-20 of them. The most common include carpenter ants, Pharaoh ants, crazy ants, and fire ants. For the most part, ants are harmless when found outside, but certain species can cause real damage to your home or leave you with a painful bite. Some can even transmit nasty diseases to humans by coming into contact with our food.

To identify the type of ant you have, take a close look at its body. Note the number of segments, body characteristics (like color and antenna shape), and where you are seeing them. Also, note their behavioral patterns. For example, fire ants are found outdoors in flower beds and turf whereas your typical Pharoah ant is more likely to be found indoors.

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How to identify common US ant species

Below is a quick guide to help you identify the seven most common ants that you will come across around your property.

Fire Ants

-The red imported fire ant is a common ant found in the Southeastern seaboard and parts of California.

-Fire ants have an exoskeleton and six legs, and their head is typically copper brown in color.

-Worker ants have mandibles, and they use their stinger to inject venom into their prey.

-The result of being stung by a fire ant is a burning sensation and red welts.

-They build a single mound nest in unshaded locations roughly 18 cm tall and 61 cm wide

Odorous House Ants

– OHA are small, dark brown to black ants that lack a sting or acidopore and have a slit-like opening on the ventral side of the gaster one segment from the tip.

– Odorous house ants can be found in many places, indoors and outdoors.

– They nest in pre-existing spaces, often near water or food sources.

– OHAs are polygynous, with many queens per colony.

Argentine Ants

– Argentine ants are typically light to dark brown in color and range between 2.2 to 2.8 mm long.

– They are wingless with a 12-segmented antenna and emit a musty odor when crushed.

– Queens are slightly larger than workers, measuring between 4 to 6 mm long.

– Reproductives queens and males may have wings.

– The most common sign of an Argentine ant infestation is witnessing the trails of ants, often traveling up buildings, trees, and into homes.

Pharaoh Ants

– Pharaoh ants are a small (.2 mm), light yellow to red species of ant that lives in large colonies.

– Pharaoh ants nest in warm, humid areas near food sources like behind baseboards, in walls voids, underneath floors, or behind large appliances.

– Pharaoh ants feed on a wide variety of foods including other insects, sweets, oils, and proteins.

– Pharaoh ants can carry and transmit serious diseases to people including salmonella and Streptococcus.

– Pharaoh ants are difficult to control because they live in large colonies and can “bud” when the colony senses danger meaning the queen will escape.

Thief Ants

– tiny, yellowish ants that are often confused with Pharaoh ants, but have 2 segments in the club-like structure at the end of the antenna (Pharoah ants has 3 segments)

– lives among other ants and acts as a predator of their brood

– omnivorous and prefer grease or high protein foods over sweets

– often invade houses and may nest indoors in cracks and cupboards

Pavement Ants

– They often construct their nests under the foundation of buildings.

– Small dark brown to black ants (>3mm) that occur in all 50 states.

-There are striations on the head and dorsal surface of their thorax and their 12-segmented antennae end in a 3-segmented club.

-Food can be termites, other insects, sugar or protein based ingredients.

-Pavement ants use a chemical trail to recruit nestmates to a food source.

-Foraging ants are usually active on the floor and along the edge of the walls near door frames at night.

-The workers live for several years and the largest colonies can exceed 10,000 workers.

Carpenter Ants

– 24 species of carpenter Ant are recorded in the USA

Carpenter Ants a waist with one node (petiole) and a thorax that is evenly rounded when viewed from the side.

– Workers are usually black or red and black in color.

– Workers usually range in size from 10 – 13 mm in length; one species is just 5mm long.

– Carpenter ant workers of the same species vary in size (major and minor workers).

– Queens and males are larger than workers and have wings. Queens will lose their wings once they start a new nest.

-Queens may be as large as one 2.5 cm.

Step two: Inspection

Once you have a good idea of which type of ant you are dealing with, it’s time to understand just how bad your infestation is.

Start by taking a tour around the perimeter of your home, looking for any cracks or crevices that ants could be used to get in. Also check around flower beds, mulch beds and other areas where ants might find food.

Other favorite spots of ants in your yard will include under logs, bricks, and other debris.

Indoors, ants typically nest in dark, humid places like underneath sinks and behind appliances. They will also follow food trails to pantries and cupboards in search of crumbs or other sources of sustenance.

When you have found a sizeable group of ants, you then want to locate their nest. This is usually done by following the trail of ants back to their home base. Once you have found the nest, you can then begin to treat it.

Step three: Control

Now that you know the source of your ant problem, it’s time to eliminate these pests. But how? I would recommend two main products for outside which I’ve found to be most effective in these situations.

The first is an insecticide called Bifen LP. This stuff is great because it’s a non-repellent, meaning the ants will walk right over it and then take it back to their nest and spread it around, killing the entire colony. The second product I recommend is a liquid pesticide called Reclaim.

Bifen LP, which is a granular insecticide which you can spread by hand over your turf and flower beds. However, this might not always do the job on its own so that’s why I recommend using a liquid insecticide after you’ve applied the Bifen LP. The liquid insecticide will help to water in the granules and also provide immediate control.

You can also use this product around your windows, door frames, eaves of your house, or building, and also around any cracks or crevices that you might see.

If you’re dealing with an infestation inside your home, I recommend using an aerosol foam insecticide. This is a non-repellent insecticide delivered in a foam that you can use to fill all voids, cracks, and crevices.

It’s important to use a non-repellent here because the ants will come into contact with it and then take it back to their colony, contaminating the others. I would also recommend using a ant bait gel.

You can apply this in areas where you’re seeing ant activity, such as near appliances in your kitchen, near baseboards, or entry points. It’s important to let the bait and gel do its job for several days before disturbing it so that it can effectively control the infestation.

After about seven to 10 days, you should start to see a decrease in ant activity. If you’re still seeing some stragglers, you can use a flushing agent (aerosols containing pyrethrins) to get immediate control. This flushing agent is used to spray into cracks and crevices to excite the ant population and get them moving towards your gel bait.

However, I wouldn’t recommend using this right off the bat because if you kill the ants too quickly and before they return to their nests, the survivors will oftentimes relocate. This will mean that you have an ongoing infestation which will require constant treatment.

Recommended ant control products

Use this as your first line of defense to bait and kill off ant colonies.

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Liquid insecticides are excellent for building a perimeter around your property and keeping ant colonies in check.

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Stop ants from hiding in walls or cracks by squeezing them out with this insecticide foam.

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Use this gel bait to attract and poison an entire ant colony.

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Use this to flush out ants hiding in walls or cracks.

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Step four: Prevention

The final step to getting rid of ants is prevention. You don’t want to spend all your time and energy getting rid of them, only to have them come back again.

To prevent ants from returning, keep your home clean. Vacuum floors regularly, sweep up crumbs, clean baseboards, pick up pet food, and store perishable foods in airtight containers. It’s amazing how just a few changes in your daily habit can rapidly reduce your pest problems.

If you have pets in the house, be sure to keep their food and water dishes clean. Pick up any spills immediately, and don’t leave food out overnight.

Seal up any cracks and crevices around your home, and trim vegetation back from the house. These simple changes will make it harder for ants to get into your home, and will help you get long

I would also recommend that you pick a day every few months just to do another quick inspection of your property to ensure it is still ant-proof. By following these simple tips, you can get rid of ants and prevent them from returning in the future.

Tools for spreading Insecticide outdoors

Battery Powered Sprayer

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Broadcast Spreader

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Hand Spreader

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Summing up

So, if you’re dealing with an ant infestation, follow these four easy steps to get rid of them for good. With a little bit of work and a little patience, you will soon be ant-free.

Just remember, pest control is just as much about lifestyle as it is about insecticides and deterrents. Keep your home pristine and you’ll prevent those ants from coming back.

If you have any questions or need help implementing these tips, don’t hesitate to get in contact with your local pest control company.


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