Have you discovered an army of ants marching in single file across your kitchen worktops, making a beeline for the toaster? You'll be wanting to know how to get rid of ants pronto because they won't go of their own accord – especially if there's sugar around!
And because ants use a pheromone trail to ensure the safe movement of a colony, if you’ve seen a few on your property, hundreds more will follow. Black ants are the species you’re most likely to find in UK gardens.
How to get rid of ants in the house
Despite being harmless, as they don’t bite, carry disease, or cause any real damage to your home, they’re a complete nuisance. 'They will happily nest anywhere and have a taste for sugary substances, so will quite happily forage for food in your kitchen,' warns an expert from Gardening Express.
'If you want to get rid of them, there are plenty of ways to do so without having to rely on chemical solutions. Coffee grounds, glass cleaner, and white vinegar have all proved to be effective in killing ant colonies.'
Even those of us who never stop cleaning our kitchens can suffer from an ant invasion, particularly in spring and summer. If you're serious about getting rid of these small insects, read our how to get rid of ants guide.
1. Use fresh mint
You can prevent ants from entering your home by placing a pot of mint by the door. ‘If you’ve got a massive ant problem, pop one of these outside your door,’ says Lynsey Queen of Clean.
Planting a large amount of mint outside your backdoor or in the front garden is not only handy for making fresh mint teas or adding flavour to your dinner, but it will also deter ants. They hate the smell.
2. Draw the line with chalk
Simply drawing a line on the floor in chalk is also said to help ward off ants. It might sound like an old wives’ tale, but it’s better to be armed with lots of methods to try at once. Chalk will stop ants in their tracks and encourage them to turn around.
3. Scatter coffee grounds
Make your morning coffee go even further! Brewed coffee grounds have been known to keep ants away, too.
Try sprinkling the coffee grounds on wipe-clean surfaces and around pet bowls and plants. You can also place them on windowsills to stop them from entering at all.
4. Make a barricade
Follow the trail of ants back to their nest to find out where they're getting in, then fill any cracks and crevices with sealant or talcum powder. This is especially important around the doors and window frames.
Squeeze talcum powder under your skirting boards to prevent ants from coming in, suggests Lynsey Crombie. She recommends making a mini ‘mountain’ of talcum powder in any small gaps and this will simply form a barrier that the pesky intruders won’t be able to get through.
Blocking up entry points is of course a fundamental step when it comes to how to get rid of mice - head to our guide for preventative measures to keep mice away.
5. Clear away food
If you want to get rid of ants the obvious thing to do is keep food off their menu by storing yours away in airtight containers. Next, wipe away any food and drink spillages immediately, not forgetting to clean the inside of cupboards and under the kitchen cabinetry.
Try not to leave that pile of dirty dishes out by the sink for too long. Ants won't turn their noses up at leftover pet food or food waste either, so wash up your pet bowls straight after feeding time and take out your rubbish regularly, keeping bin lids tightly shut at all times.
You should also keep an eye out for oil splatters around the cooker and even other dead insects that might be lying around, as ants are extremely resourceful. If your kitchen’s also being invaded by flies, find ways to banish them with our guide on how to get rid of flies in the house.
6. Spray glass cleaner and liquid detergent
Combining spray-on glass cleaner with liquid detergent or dish soap can help deter ants from entering your home' suggests the spokesperson for Gardening Express. 'It does this by removing the scented pheromone trail they leave behind when they walk. Mix together and spray on areas where ants seem to congregate or originate from.
‘Wipe down the area after spraying, leaving a light residue.' Look out for cleaning products with mint or eucalyptus scents which will leave your home smelling good and go some way in putting ants off.
7. Try kitchen spices
If you've tried blockading them but they still keep coming in, line the doors with natural deterrents such as salt, curry powder, pepper, and cinnamon. If you choose to do this, be careful as you don't want any getting in your pet or child's nose, mouth or eyes.
To keep cupboards ant-free, soak a few cotton wool balls in peppermint or citrus essential oils and pop them in the corners. Lynsey Crombie, Queen of Clean also recommends using any whole cinnamon sticks you might have knocking around, or cinnamon powder, to keep ants out of your home.
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, she recommended putting cinnamon sticks into the ground outside or popping them in your plant pots. You can also use petroleum jelly or talcum powder to line doors.
However, if you've tried absolutely every natural deterrent going, to no avail, you might find that a domestic ant killer works best.
8. Use a natural anti-ant spray
Once you've removed the ants' food sources, give your kitchen surfaces and floor a final wipe down using an eco-friendly homemade anti-ant spray, made with one part vinegar to one part water. Homemade lemon and peppermint oil sprays will also do the trick.
Ants can't bare strong smells, so the vinegar or oils will work a treat in deterring these house invaders. Strong smells will also mask their scent trails, making them lose direction.
If there are any rogue ants still searching for food, wipe them away starting from the beginning of their trail and all the way along to the end of it, then wash them down the plughole. This might seem cruel but stopping a few ants in their tracks like this will in turn stop a whole army of them from coming into your home.
Once the ants' food sources are taken out of the equation, they'll search elsewhere for food, preferably away from your home, however, if they keep coming in you'll need to take further action…
Why are there ants in my house?
You'd be correct in thinking that ants are usually found in nests outside, so how have they made it into your house? Well, the clever (but annoying) insects often head into our homes to forage for food.
It's not surprising ants usually head straight for the kitchen with all that tempting food about. An ant scout will leave the nest to look for food, laying a trail of pheromones as it goes. If it finds food it will follow the trail back to the nest and leave more pheromones, creating a stronger trail that the other ants in the colony will follow.
If there's been a sugar spillage, crumbs left out, or you've left out a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, it won't be long until an army of ants is parading across the kitchen worktop.
How to get rid of an ants nest in the garden
Ants are essential to a balanced ecosystem and help us by eating up other household and garden pests like fleas and bed bugs. For this reason, destroying an ants' nest should only be a very last resort.
The ants you see in your house and scuttling around the pavement are only 10 percent of the colony. If you are seriously struggling with an infestation, then you're going to need to target the nest.
Natural ant killers
Vinegar and Lemons
All the ingredients we mentioned earlier will be even more effective when blasted directly into every nest entrance. Lemons and white vinegar are the most effective.
Undiluted vinegar will kill ants, but diluted is still an effective deterrent. The lemons can be squeezed into each entrance, with the leftover peel scattered around the entrances.
Ants will go to great lengths to avoid the smell of citrus, and it will also destroy scent trails. Remember to keep replacing the peels each day until all the ants have gone.
Find the offending ants' nest, then expose the top of the nest by proving it with a trowel. Then, pour an entire kettle of boiling water over the nest to destroy every single ant in the colony, including the queen ant.
If you want to make sure you're targeting the queen, this is a good option. Ants adore anything sweet and sticky, so by mixing boric acid with sugar or syrup you can guarantee it will be taken back for the queen to snack on
Mix one part boric acid with three parts sugar, and stir in one hot water to create a syrup-like paste. Blob the mixture around the entrances to the nest.
We hope this 'how to get rid of ants’ guide helps to get rid of your ant infestation. Do you have other pests around the house?
Millie Hurst is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She first joined the team at the start of 2021. Previously, she worked in women’s lifestyle and homes news, writing about everything from budget kitchen makeovers and gardening tips to homeware dupes and cleaning hacks. Millie can often be found looking up trending terms, spotting news stories our readers need to know about and finding ways to decorate her rented flat.
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