Ants in the House? 3 Extermination Tips to Keep Them Out
Don’t let ants in the house get you down. Whether you have spotted just a few ants or an army invading your kitchen, it’s possible to get rid of ants for good once you know what to do. Sure, even Health Canada says if they're outside it's no big deal, but who wants ants inside their home? Here are 3 effective strategies to get you on the way to total ant extermination!
Get rid of ant food sources
Don’t leave food out in your kitchen, keep your counters clean, and sweep up crumbs on the floor regularly. Looks for obvious points of entry in the exterior of your home and seal them off, to make it harder for insects to get inside.
If you have pets, leave food out long enough for them to eat it, but not long enough for ants to find it.
Carpenter ants are one of the most common species that cause trouble. They like to make a home in rotting wood. To fight them off successfully, you need to inspect your home’s exterior for decaying wood, particularly in your deck or in landscaping materials (ex. railroad-style wood ties used to border shrub beds) - ants could be using these as a home base from which to launch invasions into your home. If you find any rotting wood, replace it with fresh wood that will be much less attractive to ants.
A powerful solution - use with caution
Good old fashioned borax is one of the most effective DIY solutions for getting rid of ants, and keeping them out. It works by attracting ants looking for food, then acting as an abrasive that scratches them enough to cause dehydration and death. But before they die, the ants have time to bring this poison to their colony, potentially killing all the ants in the entire nest if enough is brought back.
But if you go this route, you need to make sure you keep the borax away from pregnant women, children, and pets. (Health Canada warns that overexposure has the potential to cause developmental and reproductive health effects.)
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here is how you can make your own ant killer. Recipes vary, but involve mixing borax, powdered icing sugar, and water until you get a thick liquid. Some recipes call for adding liquid sugar syrup to the borax. The trick is to add enough sugar to attract the ants - if you use about three times as much sugar as borax, you’ll be on the right track.
Next, find a shallow lid to put the borax mixture in, and place it in areas where you’ve seen ant trails - you want them to be able to find it easily. Make sure you keep this mixture out of reach from children and pets.
To buy Borax, head for the laundry detergent aisle of your local store - we’ve seen it available at Canadian Tire and Walmart - a common brand name is “20 Mule Team Borax”. You’ll see it sold either as a multi-purpose cleaner, or a laundry booster.
Look for DIY products with residual effects
When shopping around for ant control solutions at your local hardware store or garden center, be sure to read the labels carefully. Try to find products that have a lasting effect long after you’ve applied it, as opposed to those that kill ants you see right now, but do nothing to the ones that come crawling around later on. This way you’ll see more of an effect with less effort on your part.
Keep ants out of the house for good
Keep the above tips in mind as you decide on a strategy for getting rid of the ants in your home. Remember that with DIY products, it’s often necessary to try more than one tactic to permanently solve the problem. And if all this is too much trouble for your liking, remember that you can call a professional to take care of it for you.