Last Updated on February 25, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
Spring brings along endless numbers of tiny, black sugar ants that can pop up in your home anytime looking for food. Sugar ants are quite common in the US and are also known as odorous house ants because when they are crushed, they give off a sweet-smelling, coconut like odor.
Sugar ants are attracted to all kinds of sugary foods, scraps, plant pollen, fats and proteins from other insects. And, once they locate a source of food, they carry back the food to their ant colony. While sugar ants are not harmful to humans, they are quite annoying and rather difficult to get rid of.
In this guide, we have discussed everything you need to know about how to get rid of sugar ants from your home and prevent them from coming back.
Sugar Ant Varieties
There are different types of sugar ant—ones that live outdoors and those that like to live in your home. Some common types of indoor sugar ants include pavement ants, pharaoh ants and carpenter ants, while outdoor varieties are rover ants, acrobat ants and false honey ants.
Most sugar ants come into your home from the outdoors. Compared to other kinds of insects, these have 4-5 times more receptors. They can smell food and usually follow the trails via vents, cracks, crevices and other openings.
Just a single ant needs to locate an entry point and when it finds a supply of food or water, it leaves a pheromone or scent trail that other ants follow. Some types of sugar ant build nests inside your home in spaces such as basements, inside the walls, etc.
Ways to Get Rid of Sugar Ants
Before you can start to get rid of sugar ants, you must first locate them, follow their trail and determine the point where they enter your home. This will help you to remediate the pest problem more effectively.
Once you determine the ant trail and their entry point, then you must decide whether you need to deploy a natural or chemical method to get rid of the sugar ants. If you can, avoid using harsh chemicals to treat sugar ant infestation by trying home remedies such as:
In a spray bottle, mix white vinegar and water in 1:1 proportion. The vinegar helps to remove the ant trail scent and deters them because it contains acetic acid. Spray the mixture on the entrance points, along the trails, into any cracks and crevices, paths and baseboards. You can then use a paper towel to wipe away all the dead ants. To ensure that this remedy is effective, spray when the ants are most active i.e., in the morning or afternoon.
Just like bay leaves and cloves, the strong smell of garlic helps to confuse the sugar ants and deters them from the scent trail. You can tie the garlic on strings and hang them from the shelves or doorknobs of your pantry.
Place cucumber slices or peels at points where ants enter your house to deter them effectively. However, you must remember to replace the cucumber peels or slices when they dry up.
Bay Leaves or Cloves
Bay leaves and cloves contain compounds, which have a very strong smell and help to repel sugar ants effectively. You can place some bay leaves underneath your kitchen countertops and whole cloves along the baseboards to prevent ants.
Citrus helps to repel sugar ants effectively. So, you can make use of fresh citrus juice, oil or dried citrus peels to get rid of ants.
Used Coffee Grounds
Ants dislike the acidity and smell of coffee. Spreading used coffee grounds in areas infested by ants can help to repel them from these areas. Sprinkling used coffee grounds outside the home can also help to stop the ants from entering.
Cleaning your floors and walls with soapy water is the easiest and most effective way to remove ant trails and this also helps to prevent ants from walking across the floors and walls.
Wiping the Kitchen Countertops
Using an all-purpose cleaner, wipe down your kitchen countertops every night. This will help to break down the scent trail of the ants and also help to sanitize your kitchen.
In a spray bottle make a mixture with a few drops of peppermint or lavender essential oil with one part of water. Spray this solution on the pantry shelves, kitchen island, doorways, window sills and other areas to prevent ants from invading these areas.
Homemade Ant Trap
Place some corn syrup or honey onto a plastic plate as bait. This ant baits will attract the sugar ants, which will get stuck to the sticky substance and die. When the ants are dead, you can throw the plate away. You can also use sweet baits containing borax powder or boric acid, which are slow-acting poisons and kill the ants when they consume them.
Made from marine phytoplankton remains, diatomaceous earth is a food-grade, non-toxic white powder that kills insects like ants but is completely safe for pets, as well as humans. The diatomaceous earth kills the sugar ants by entering their digestive system. Simply sprinkle the diatomaceous powder along the ant trails to get rid of them effectively.
You can use organic, non-toxic solutions made of natural plant or orange-peel extracts such as EcoSmart Organic Ant Killer or Orange Guard to eliminate sugar ants and prevent them from returning.
Removing Sugar Ant Nests
The nests of sugar ants look like small volcanoes, i.e., a little mound with an opening at the top. If you spot these little mounds around your home, by removing them immediately you can prevent the sugar ants from coming into your home. To destroy the ant nests, follow the steps described below:
- Pour boiling water over the nest or using a garden hose, flood the ant nest for around 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pour a cup of bleach into the hole. This will help to destroy the colony of ants.
- Sprinkle some baking soda into the ant hole and in the area around the nest to prevent the ants from reappearing.
Tips to Stop Sugar Ants from Entering Your Home
By taking the following preventive measures, you can ensure that sugar ants don’t enter your home:
- Sugar ants love to feed on any type of sugar or sugary foodstuff such as candy, jam, honey, soft drinks, fruit, etc. So, make sure that if you spill any sugar or sugary foods, wipe it up immediately.
- Any trace of food left on your kitchen counter or floor can attract sugar ants into your home. So, make sure to vacuum or sweep your kitchen after meals or at night to ensure there is no scent trail to lure the ants into your kitchen.
- Clean your kitchen sink regularly. Rinse all the dirty dishes in the sink and drain the standing water in the sink. Wipe the sink thoroughly with a paper towel. Ensure that there is no water or food left behind.
- Ants can be attracted by your garbage disposal. Pouring some bleach once every few days into the trash disposal can help to destroy the scent trail and prevent ants from entering.
- Ants love damp and dark places such as kitchen sinks, bathrooms and garbage cans. Make sure to fix any plumbing leaks or wipe all the excess water to prevent ants from nesting in these damp areas.
- Any holes in your trash bags can cause sugar ants to be attracted to the food in the trash. Use sturdy trash bags and also make sure to empty your trash regularly.
- Usually, ants come into your home via any crevices in the doors, windows, etc. So, inspect all the entry points in your home for holes and seal them using caulk.
- You can spray the foundation and basement of your home with natural pesticides. This can help to prevent sugar ants from entering your home.
- Herbs such as sage, peppermint, tansy, etc. have very strong fragrances, which can help to deter sugar ants. You can place these herbs around your kitchen to prevent the ants from entering.
- Essential oils soaked into cotton balls also have a strong fragrance that can interrupt their pheromone trails.
You can use any of the above methods or a combination of them to get rid of sugar ants and prevent them from entering your home. Many of these methods are also useful for getting rid of fire ants as well as getting rid of ants in a car. However, if all the above methods fail, then you could opt for the last resort of calling a professional pest control service company that can evaluate the issue, remediate and help to eradicate the sugar ants completely.