I once read that ants are estimated to outnumber humans by over one million to one, and it isn’t hard to believe! Almost everyone deals with ants in their house or apartment at one point or another, and they’re never short on numbers.
So if you’re wondering how to get rid of ants, you’ve come to the right place! Because today’s post is all about getting rid of the type of ants that are most likely to end up inside your home: sugar ants.
We’ll start with an overview of what sugar ants are and how they manage to find their way into our homes. After that, I’ll round things off by sharing four simple things you can do to get rid of sugar ants for good!
What Are Sugar Ants?
The term “sugar ant” is a colloquialism, serving as an umbrella for species of ants that are attracted to sweets and other foods that humans eat. The following ant species (and many others not listed here) are considered to be part of this group:
- Acrobat ants
- Argentine ants
- Big-headed ants
- Carpenter ants
- Cornfield ants
- Crazy ants
- Ghost ants
- Little black ants
- Odorous house ants
- Pavement ants
- Pharaoh ants
- White-footed ants
Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar Ants
Got questions about sugar ants? I’ve answered some of the most common questions that people ask about sugar ants for you below.
Where Are They Coming From?
Ants can come from both inside and outside your home. To get in your home, they seek out cracks, crevices, vents, and any other sort of entry point they can find in search of food and water.
Certain ants will also set up shop inside your home if given the opportunity. They can build nests in undisturbed spaces (like wall voids, etc.) by burrowing out soft wood or nesting among unused items.
How Do They Know Where To Go?
Like a well-organized army, each ant colony sends out scouts whose job is to collect information that will benefit the rest of the group. Scout ants can explore every nook and cranny up to several hundred feet from the nest, including homes and other buildings.
When scout ants locate a promising source of food or water, they’ll lay down a trail of pheromones that will tell the other ants in the colony exactly how to get there. (That’s why you often see ants scuttling along in single file—they’re following a pheromone trail.)
How Do They Spread?
One reason why ants can be difficult to eradicate is a phenomenon known as “budding.” Budding, sometimes referred to as fragmenting or fracturing, occurs when the queens in an ant nest detect a threat or foreign invader in their surroundings.
To evade the threat, the queens will each go in a different direction and start a new nest. If you’ve ever discovered ants in your kitchen, only to find they’ve somehow ended up in the laundry room and bathroom too, you’ve probably been the victim of budding.
If you’re trying to get rid of sugar ants, you definitely want to avoid accidentally triggering the budding process, because it could make your ant problems considerably worse! (Don’t worry—we’ll talk about which ant remedies to avoid shortly!)
Do Sugar Ants Bite?
None of the species that are considered sugar ants are known to bite aggressively. If you do get bitten by any of these types of ants, it won’t be painful and you’re not likely to experience any other negative symptoms from it (unless you happen to be highly allergic to ants, of course.)
Are They Harmful Or Destructive?
Other than breaking and entering your home and contaminating any food they touch, most sugar ants aren’t considered harmful or destructive. The one major exception is carpenter ants, which can be very destructive.
Carpenter ants like to build their elaborate nest mazes inside moist wood. If that wood happens to be inside your home, carpenter ant activity can weaken its structural integrity over time. (If you suspect you have carpenter ants, be sure to call a pest control or pest management specialist!)
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants
1. Keep Your Home Clean
Keeping the inside of your home clean can go a long way when you’re trying to get rid of ants, and it’s a good way to prevent sugar ants from becoming a problem in the first place. Avoid leaving both human food or pet food out in the open, and rinse off dirty dishes promptly to make sure they don’t become a food source.
Keeping things clean and relatively crumb-free will help make your space less enticing to any passing sugar ants who find their way into your home.
2. Eliminate Water Sources
As I mentioned previously, ants are looking for two things: food and water. Once you’ve addressed the food part of the equation, you’ll want to locate and eliminate any potential water sources.
Particularly in dry climates, even drips from leaky pipes, kitchen and bathroom sinks, and condensation can be enough to attract sugar ants. Garbage disposals can attract ants as both a source of food and water, but you can destroy any pheromone trails to it by turning on the disposal, pouring some vinegar into it, then flushing it with cold water.
3. Avoid DIY Remedies
I love the DIY approach as well as home remedies, but I don’t recommend them when it comes to getting rid of ants. That’s because using a home remedy, including spraying vinegar, sprinkling herbs and spices, or drops of essential oils, can cause a sugar ant colony to begin budding, which will only make the problem worse.
Instead, focus on keeping your home clean and dry, and utilize one of the store-bought ant solutions I’ve outlined below.
4. Use Ant Baits
Store-bought liquid ant bait is inexpensive and can be very effective against a minor to moderate sugar ant infestation. Terro brand ant baits are available in most grocery stores, and they work in a brilliantly simple way.
The liquid ant bait is sweet, which attracts ants like moths to a flame. Once ants have found the bait, a pheromone trail will lead others to it (which is why you often see more ants when using bait before you start seeing less of them.)
What they don’t know is that the sweet bait they are eating contains borax, which acts slowly and will eventually kill sugar ants. It works slowly so that the ants have time to return to their fellows and share the bait with them, spreading the effects throughout the colony and (hopefully) eliminating it entirely.
Indoor Ant Bait
While you can get liquid ant bait on its own, you can make the process even easier by getting liquid ant bait stations instead. Stations use the same liquid ant killer, but they come pre-filled and last a lot longer than the liquid bait you have to apply yourself. Set them out at entry points or along ant trails and leave them out for at least two weeks.
Outdoor Ant Bait
Outdoor ant bait stations are protected from the elements, and they can help you bait outdoor ants to prevent them from getting inside in the first place. Outdoor stations are a good option if you tend to see ant activity at certain times of year or in certain locations around your home.
Do you have any tips or tricks for getting rid of sugar ants?