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Ants – What You Need To Know To Control Them | Home & Garden

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Ants – What You Need To Know To Control Them
Home & Garden
Ants – What You Need To Know To Control Them

(Submitted by a local Pest Control advocate)

Understand the Ants

Ants are a nuisance. In order to properly control them, you need to know a little about them. Ants are social creatures, so where you see a couple, you are guaranteed there are a lot more where they came from. The ants that you see wandering around or “marching” in trails are called foragers. This is because that is their one duty as part of the colony – to find food.

Ants have a special way of communicating with one another through pheromones. For instance, if one little forager ant finds a source of food, he will head back to the colony from the food source, leaving a pheromone trail along the way. The thin and long antennae that each ant has are very sensitive to scents and pick up on the pheromone trail. They follow it to find the food and even leave pheromones of their own along the trail to keep it fresh and available for the others to follow. Once a food source has run out, they stop leaving pheromones and the trail “fades away” and can no longer be detected. This is how ants always manage to stay in lines and follow the same exact crooked trajectory. It is actually quite fascinating; unless, of course, they are making these trails all over your kitchen!

Outsmart the Ants

If you have not picked up on it already, ants have excellent communication. This means that if an area becomes “unsafe”, the word will spread quickly. For example – You have noticed that these little critters have been trailing along your baseboard and you immediately spray an insecticide. You see instantaneous results and dead ants. That’s great, but really it’s “only a drop in the bucket” or a temporary “band-aid” to solve your problem.  While you may have killed some ants, you generally haven’t even come close when compared to how many there are back at the colony.

Ants will come along that same path and detect that something is wrong and avoid the area, leaving a special pheromone that alerts others to stay away as well. So really, you have not solved your problem, you just made it move somewhere else.

Trick the Ants

So what is the most effective way to get rid of ants? Attack them at their source. Use ant bait. Baits come in granular and liquid gel forms. What they do is attract the ants as a food source. Once feeding on it, an ant is contaminated and carries that contamination back to the colony and spreads it to the others. They may even carry some of the actual bait back. The active ingredient does not take effect immediately to give time for the poison to spread amongst a population. The insects will not detect the bait as a threat and it ends up killing off the entire colony at its source. This is generally more effective than using a spray insecticide. Another effective way to kill an entire colony is by locating where the colony mound is. Use something to poke a hole deep into the mound and immediately drench the entire mound with a gallon of insecticide allowing it to soak deep below the surface. Using a potent professional grade product such as Talstar works very well. You will only need about an ounce of the product concentrate per gallon of water.

Deprive the Ants

Apart from using chemicals, it is important to remember what the ants are after – food. Although you may think that you are a very tidy housekeeper, there has to be something that they are after if you keep seeing them around. If you can, follow the trail and try to figure out what is attracting them and eliminate that food source. Maybe you do well in keeping the countertops wiped up and the floors spotless, but check your sinks, cupboards, pantry, and trash cans.

Food ought to be sealed up tightly. Cardboard boxes and bags that many foods come in can easily have a tiny hole or opening allowing entrance. Ants have an excellent sense of smell to be able to find anything. Clean out the sink after doing dishes so that nothing is left behind, and make sure to never leave dirty dishes overnight. Clean your trash can and take out the trash often. You may even want to buy a garbage can with a tightly sealed lid.


Ok, so for a quick review. To get rid of ants, you need to follow them back to their source. Kill a whole colony by using baits or drench their mound. Even a powerful spray in your kitchen won’t be enough to really get rid of the little buggers. Prevent further infestations by not giving them what they’re seeking. Eliminate food sources. Stay clean and tidy. With these simple steps, ant control really is quite easy!

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