That brown flake that suddenly started moving on your counter is–yikes!—not a crumb, but a pesky ant that just alerted others to join its stead. If you have ants in your house, one of the first things you want to do is identify the entry point, which could be a window sill, a crack in the foundation, kitchen floor, or other seemingly microscopic entry points that ants (and other pests) are able to find.
So, to say cleanliness is important is an understatement. Ants are attracted to moisture and food, so they will try to make their way into a home to find those items. "Make sure that you are keeping surfaces, counters, and floors clean of crumbs or food," says Godfrey Nalyanya, Entomologist and Technical Services Manager for Western Exterminator. "It is also important to make sure you don't have any leaks around your pipes, take an inventory of your home to make sure any cracks or crevices are sealed, and properly seal and store food in your home." Ahead, discover expert tips that'll show you how to get rid of ants, once and for all.
Take Care of Those Cracks
Since ants are so small, they can get into a home through any cracks, crevices, or gaps throughout the entire house. “Ants also get to the interior of the home around doors and thresholds, through cracks in the floor as well as through any penetrations, like pipes, that are not sealed properly,” says Nalyana. “If the ants are near a water source, make sure to remove the water or seal up any cracks.”
Get Non-Repellant Sprays
"As a home inspector, I have seen many pest problems and the accompanying wood damage—such as from carpenter ants," says Arie Van Tuijl, blogger at homeinspectorsecrets.com, a home maintenance blog. "I really like non-repellant sprays and baits to get rid of ants in living spaces. These sprays and baits don't kill ants immediately, but the ants bring the chemicals back home, and it will kill the entire colony."
Address Window Sills and Floor Corners
For those that are natural-product inclined, consider lightly powdering window sills and floor corners with diatomaceous earth or 'DE.' "This material is a type of sedimentary rock (fossilized diatoms) and it will get absorbed into the ants and kill them through a process of dehydration," says Van Tujil.
Look for Natural Alternatives
"Cinnamon is a natural repellent for ants and other bugs. When inhaled, it prevents the ants from breathing properly and causes death," says Natalie Barrett, pest control expert at Nifty Pest Control, adding, "you can use cinnamon sticks, powder, or cinnamon essential oils." Vinegar is another natural alternative. "Mix equal parts of vinegar and water, place the mixture in a spray bottle, and spray on the ants directly," says Barrett. "The mixture will kill them and you can clean the area by collecting the dead ants using a wet wipe or damp cloth," they add.
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Don’t forget the pepper. "Ants hate black pepper and cayenne pepper," says Barrett. "You can sprinkle pepper powder in the areas that ants most often occupy in your home or mix the pepper with water and use a spray bottle to spray the mixture. This combination is not deadly to ants but it will push them away from your home."
Place Ant Traps in Key Areas
If you’ve treated the area but still see a few stragglers, don’t be alarmed. "You can set traps to get rid of the remaining ants," advises Jen Stark, blogger at Happy DIY Home, a gardening and home improvement site. "Some traps will entice the ant to eat the poison and bring it back to the nest to kill the entire nest. However, keep these traps out of reach of your kids and pets to avoid accidents," she notes.
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