How to Get Rid of Ants

Tips for Ant Prevention and Control

How to Get Rid of Ants

You know those tiny little insects that seem to invade your home every year, crawling around your kitchen counters and making you crazy? As annoying as they are, ants play an important role in the ecosystem, aerating soil and recycling nutrients. But when they march into your home uninvited, it’s time take action to get rid of them humanely but effectively.

In this article, we’ll go over some general tips for ant prevention, discuss natural remedies to get rid of ants in and around your home. If all else fails, we recommend some powerful ant killer sprays and baits and hiring professional pest controllers from Green Pest Control.

Why Ants Invade Your Home

To get rid of house-invading ants effectively, it helps to understand a little about one of the common household pests first. Here are some key facts about these tiny insects that commonly sneak indoors:

Type of AntAppearanceBehavior
Argentine AntsLight brown, 1/8 inch longTrail along edges, love sweets
Odorous House AntsBlack, 1/8 inch longSwarm food left out, smelly
Carpenter AntsBlack, 1/4 – 1/2 inch longTunnel into wood seeking moist areas
Pavement AntsBlack or red, 1/8 inch longNest outdoors, trail indoors for food

Knowing the types of ant you’re dealing with will help guide the best remedy.

Ants live in colonies and build nests in protected areas outside or within structures. They enter homes in search of food and water. Common ant species like the pharaoh ant can be extremely difficult to control due to their tendency to build a home indoors. Carpenter ants build their base in wood and can cause structural damage if left unchecked.

Ants communicate by laying down pheromone trails. If you see a long line of them marching along, they’re following a pheromone-laden path to to a food or water source. They use the same route to find their way back.

How to Prevent Ant Infestation

Here are some tips for keeping ants at bay:

  • Remove food sources. Store them in sealed airtight containers, clean up spills and crumbs right away, and keep counters and floors clean. This include pet food that they like to much on too. Take out garbage frequently and rinse recycling to remove residues.
  • Eliminate water sources. Fix any leaks, drain standing water outside after rains, and keep kitchen and bath areas dry.
  • Seal cracks and crevices. Caulk or seal openings along baseboards, cabinets, pipes, windows and doors to block entry points. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Clear debris and trim vegetation. Keep tree branches, wood piles, and mulch back from the foundation where they can provide nesting sites. Cut back overgrown plants so they don’t touch the home.
  • Inspect for nests. Check inside cabinets, under sinks, around pipe chases, attic spaces, etc. Destroy any that you find right away. Dig a hole using a shovel or hoe and pour soapy or boiling water. Another option is to use spray insecticide labeled for nests.

Natural Remedies for Getting Rid of Ants

If ants have already invaded, try these natural remedies first before resorting to harsh chemicals:

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powder made of crushed fossils of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. The sharp edges of DE cut and damage the waxy coating on insects’ bodies, causing dehydration and death.

How to use: Apply a fine layer of DE along ant pathways and entry points. It’s safe for use inside and outdoors. Wear a dust mask when applying to avoid breathing in the dust. Reapply after rains or heavy cleaning.


White vinegar dissolves the pheromone tracks ants use to navigate and disrupts their scent communication. It can also kill ants on contact.

How to use: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on ants and along baseboards, countertops or other surfaces where they’re active.

Lemon Juice/Lemongrass Oil

Lemon juice and lemongrass essential oil contain compounds that repel and kill ants.

How to use:

  • Wipe surfaces with citrus juice diluted in water.
  • Squeeze lemon and place cotton balls in the juice. Once soaked, line along routes the insects use.
  • Add a few drops of lemongrass oil to water in a spray bottle and spray near ant entryways.


Cinnamon’s spicy scent confuses ants from the pheromone paths they follow. It also may kill or repel ants.

How to use: Sprinkle ground cinnamon or cinnamon essential oil along cracks and entry points. Can also mix with baking soda.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil interferes with ants’ sense of smell and taste, making it hard for them to navigate. It’s highly concentrated so mix with water before using.

How to use: Add 5-10 drops of peppermint oil to a cup of water in a spray bottle. Mist around ants and along tracks leading inside.

When Natural Remedies Don’t Cut It

When Natural Remedies Don't Work

If you’ve tried the natural remedies faithfully and ants still persist, it may be time to turn to chemical ant killers. Look for products containing these powerful, fast-acting ingredients:

  • Fipronil: Disrupts ants’ central nervous systems, causing paralysis and death. Found in granules, bait gels, sprays.
  • Boric acid: Kills ants by interfering with their metabolism. Low toxicity to humans. Apply powder along trails and entry points.
  • Pyrethrins: Derived from chrysanthemum flowers, pyrethrins attack ants’ nervous systems. Found in aerosol sprays, foggers, and concentrates.
  • Indoxacarb: Breaks down ants’ nervous systems, blocking nerve impulses.
  • Professional Extermination: For serious ant problems or difficult ants like carpenters, you may need to call in professional exterminators. They have the powerful chemicals and technical knowledge to fully get rid of ants.

When using chemical products, carefully read and follow all label instructions for best results and safety. Focus application along trails, nests, and entryways where ants are active. Combining baits, sprays, and powders can provide maximum control. With persistence and regular monitoring, you can get ants under control and prevent future invasions.


Ants can be pesky but with some diligence, you can get rid of them for good. Keep your home clean and tidy, use natural repellents, and treat nests and entry points. If infestations persist, commercial ant killers and professional pest control may be needed. The key is to be patient and consistent in your ant control efforts.