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Summer is the season of battling bugs—here’s how to win every time.
As the weather warms up, you may notice the arrival of some unwanted house guests—ants. These little critters will swarm your home in a heartbeat. They are voracious foragers, constantly looking for a source of food. Unfortunately, that source is probably in your kitchen. If you are up to your ears in ant problems, follow these steps to get rid of ants in your kitchen.
Not all ant species are the same and knowing what type you are dealing with will help you get rid of your ant infestation efficiently. Carpenter ants, for example, can cause structural damage to your home. They feed on rotten or damp wood and you may need professional help to destroy the ant colony.
Try to take a photo of the ant and send it to your local county extension office for identification. The extension service will tell you the type of ant you’re dealing with and where those ants like to nest. This information will help you figure out what ant baits to use.
Heads up: Ants can cause issues in your garden too.
Ants tastes differ, depending on the time of year. They like protein in the spring and sweets or fattier foods in the summer. If you don’t want to wait until the identification comes back from the extension office, you can use this quick trick to find out what type of bait to use to lure the ants:
Put out a plate with honey or sugar, some sort of fried food, and peanut butter. Watch to see what food attracts the most ants. Once you know what type of food the ants prefer, you can use the right toxin that’s geared to their taste.
Ants are foragers. They send scout ants to find food and bring back a sampling. If the colony likes what they find, hundreds will follow them back into the house. They are only entering your home because they have an accessible entry point and there’s plenty of food and water available.
Keep surfaces clean, clean up all spills (especially sweet items like honey, soda, and syrup) and keep all food on the counter in airtight containers. The same goes for pet food. By eliminating a potential food source, scout ants won’t be returning to your kitchen with hundreds of their friends in tow.
There’s no such thing as an isolated ant. Ants leave a scent trail that other ants follow to food sources. Mopping isn’t enough to eliminate the scent. Instead, mix one part vinegar with three parts water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar mixture on surfaces where you’ve seen ants in the past.
If you are still seeing ants after you clean and packed away food sources and erased ant trails, it’s time to use bait. Skip liquid baits or ant spray—they only kill ants that are currently in your home. Solid baits are better because they will kill the entire colony, thus eliminating the source of the ants. Ants take the toxic bait back to the colony where they’ll share it with the rest of the ants, including the queen, and kill them. If buying a commercial bait, be sure to select the one that targets the right species of ant and their current taste preference.
Boric acid is an effective ant killer. It’s available over the counter at your local pharmacy or home improvement store. It’s used to control a wide variety of pests and even used as a natural remedy for a whole host of ailments. Mix 1 teaspoon of boric acid with 1/4 cup of corn syrup. Put a few drops of the mixture onto a small piece of waxed paper. Place it where you’ve seen ant activity. The ants will find the bait and carry it back to their colony. Add fresh drops on to wax paper daily. Store the bait in a glass jar at room temperature.
If you are still seeing ants in your kitchen after using bait, you will have to find the colony or colonies. You will also have to use a stronger toxin and apply it directly to the ant mound. Apply the insecticide early morning or late afternoon when the ants are most active. You want them to transport the poison deep into the colony. If ants are still building mounds and entering your kitchen after six weeks, you’ll need to do a whole yard, broadcast treatment or hire professional help.