Ah, spring! The relatively bug-free winter is (finally!) gone and hungry insects are just revving up for a long summer of feasting. If you live in a house that’s prone to hosting ants, you probably already know this.
Maybe you saw a couple of little guys milling about on the bathroom floor. Perhaps a lone ant crawled upon the counter. Hopefully you haven’t seen a line of dutiful drones marching across the wall by the wastebasket — yet.
The good news is that most house ants are simply a nuisance, and won’t spread disease or cause other issues. Still, now is the time to create your plan of attack to keep these industrious insects outside where they belong. Here’s a short list of ways you can beat back the bugs before they get comfortable.
An Ounce Of Prevention
Even the best ant bait is no match for keeping ants out from the get-go. That’s why it’s so important to engage in some preventative prepping in advance.
For starters, keeping your house clean is a must. That plate with the toast crumbs on it from this morning? It’s got to go in the dishwasher ASAP. Ants live for those messy little mistakes.
So sweep your floors regularly, keep the pets’ food bowls clean and tidy up right away when the toddler’s applesauce goes splat — if the ants don’t find easy food sources, they won’t stick around.
Look Out For Scouts
Ant colonies send out reconnaissance teams to investigate new territory. If you spot just a few ants wandering about in your house, you probably have some scouts on your hands.
Don’t delay! Spritz the ants with a solution of white vinegar and water. It likely won’t kill the ants, but it will send a message that this is not a safe place for them. Plus, this disrupts the scent trails ants leave for each other to follow, keeping other ants away.
You can also use a mix of water and dish soap, or peppermint or lavender oils. Ants are not fans.
They’re Here. Now What?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the ants get in and start taking over. After all, there are hundreds (thousands?) of them, and just a human or two to fight against the tide.
It’s time to bring in the heavy artillery.
“The most effective method for controlling an ant infestation is using ant baits,” Cornell University entomologist Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann told Consumer Reports. “Set them out anywhere you see ants and expect a party.”
The bait attracts the insects and covers them with poison, which they bring back to their headquarters, killing larvae. But what’s the best ant bait?
The one that works. Gangloff-Kaufman says that some baits just aren’t attractive enough to certain colonies, so if you’re still seeing ants after a few days, try a different brand. (Here are our top ant-bait picks at our sister site Don’t Waste Your Money.)
Keep Them Out
Once you’ve evicted a colony from your home, it’s time to ensure they stay out.
Get out the caulking gun and seal any entry points you find. Cracks near windows, doors and floors are good places to look. You probably won’t find every little crevice, but at least you’ll have those areas covered.
Make sure stinky spots, like garbage cans, get a cleaning. And keep up with your chores, especially in the kitchen.
Hopefully the next time your local ants want to pop in for a visit they’ll get the message and move on!
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