If you think ants are more than a nuisance, you?re in good company. Over 20 percent of pest control workers consider them one of the most tenacious pests. It?s easy to understand, given the number of insects you may encounter.

The first step before you start doing battle is to know your enemy. Different species require varying approaches. Bear in mind that a severe infestation means calling in the professionals.

For smaller problems, there are several things you can do to get a handle on the situation. You may find it helpful to try a few methods for a quicker solution.


Set Some Traps

Baits and traps are effective ways to stop an ant problem in its tracks. They work by luring the pests to a potential food source, which contains toxins.

Some products use borax as their active ingredient. It kills ants by damaging the insect?s GI tract. While it isn?t poisonous to people, it can cause nausea and lung irritation if inhaled in large quantities.

On the positive side, its slow action allows other ants in the colony to ingest it, too. That?s especially helpful if you haven?t located the ants? nest.


Eliminate the Trail

Ants share the location of food sources by creating pheromone trails. Unfortunately, you can?t see them. The best way to manage them is to spray spots where you see the pests gathering with a 1:3 vinegar-water solution. The strong scent and acidity will deter them.


Bring Out the Big Guns

We understand if you want to cut to the chase and get rid of the ants once and for all. Luckily, there are some potent weapons you can put in your arsenal.

Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic way to kill ants without harming wildlife. It works by drying out the ants? exoskeletons. The downside is that it only is effective for the insects that encounter it.

Some research has found that essential oils, such as peppermint and cinnamon, can repel ants and perhaps other pests, too. It doesn?t kill them. It only gives them a reason to search for food elsewhere.

Of course, pesticides can also get the job done. The industry has developed products that are selective for different pests. That means they are less likely to harm non-targeted species than broad-spectrum products that kill everything.


Take the Fight Outdoors

It?s imperative to stop the problem at its source?outside of your house. If you see anthills on the driveway and sidewalks, it?s a safe bet that they are part of the problem.

A quick and safe way to get rid of the ants is by pouring boiling water over the anthills. It will kill them without hurting other non-targeted insects.

It?s also essential to treat your lawn and shrubbery. You?ll get the most bang out of your buck if you launch your attack late morning or late afternoon. Again, stick with products that target ants only.

You should only use a spray or powder pesticide on days when the wind speeds are less than 10 mph to avoid drift to other sites?or your neighbor?s yard. We also suggest using this method during a dry spell for optimal effectiveness. Precipitation will wash away many of these products, reducing their effectiveness.


Preventing Future Problems

Everything you?ve done to control an ant problem is for naught unless you take measures to prevent a recurrence. Many things are common sense. Others involve some detective work on your part. The more steps you take, the better your chances of keeping the pests out of your home.


Stop the Gravy Train

Ants are much different from other organisms. They need food, water, and shelter to survive. The first thing you must do is cut off their food source. That means a deep clean wherever you eat. Vacuum the carpet and furniture to pick up any crumbs.

You should also clean your kitchen and pantry. Sweep the floors, and wipe down the countertops. It?s a good time to scrub the sink and run the garbage disposal. We suggest making it a house rule to avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

It?s also essential to shore up any leaky faucets inside or outside of your home to avoid providing an accessible water source. Even small drips can add up to significant amounts and take a chunk out of your utility bill.


Put Up a Barrier

Spraying outside windows and doors is another excellent way to keep ants out of your home. Many of these products contain long-lasting ingredients, such as pyrethrins. While these ingredients won?t hurt birds, they are highly toxic to fish, aquatic organisms, and bees.

We strongly urge you to follow the manufacturer?s instructions to the letter. Remember that it?s against federal law to use pesticides inconsistent with their labeling. The same precaution about windy days and drift also applies with these products.


Seal Up the Leaks

Cracks and holes in your house?s foundation provide easy access for ants and other pests. We suggest you examine the outside for any breaches that could allow them to get inside of your home. Don?t forget to check the screens for holes, too.

While you?re outside, it?s also an excellent time to clean your air conditioning unit and the area around your utility meters. A buildup of dead leaves and other debris can provide an ideal hiding spot for pests.


Keep It Neat

Shrubbery and landscaping close to your house provide cover for pests to enter your home. Keeping them trim will make your dwelling less accessible for ants and other critters. We suggest cutting back the vegetation so that it isn?t touching the outside walls of your house. You should also keep your lawn trim. Regular mowing will go a long way toward a pest-free home.


Final Thoughts

Ants are one of the most relentless pests. Luckily, you have several tools that will not only deter them but also prevent future infestations. Staying on top of the housekeeping is an excellent way to make sure you won?t find ants scurrying away on your countertops or in your pantry.