Ask Angie: How to eliminate ants

angieslist.comMay 16, 2014 


Angie Hicks


Dear Angie: What can I do to get rid of the ants that have invaded my home? — Barbara E., Alexandria, Va.

Dear Barbara: Sometimes the tiniest pests create the biggest annoyances for homeowners.

Our team recently interviewed top-rated pest control experts, and learned that sugar ants, also known as odorous house ants, are common home invaders in the spring.

Sugar ants, which are about an eighth of an inch long or smaller, are attracted to food.

Moisture ants are slightly larger than sugar ants and usually show up when there is a problem with excess water in a room.

When ants arrive in homes, they prove their reputation for being industrious. They can seem to come from nowhere and may be a real challenge to eliminate.

The good news is that an infestation is a nuisance, but rarely poses any actual harm. However, most of us prefer that ants and other insects make their homes outside of ours.

If you want to try to deal with ants on your own, here are some things to try:

Bait or insect sprays. Make sure to follow all cautions on the box or can, and then spray or bait the areas where you see ants. To prevent more ants from entering your home, you might want to spray the exterior area where the house meets the pavement or ground.

Spray cracks around baseboards in the affected area inside your home. For ants in the bathroom, spray around the base of the toilet.

If you don't want to use harsh chemicals, you can spray a combination of Windex, vinegar and water to remove visible ants and the chemical trail they lay down for others to follow. To kill ants without harsh chemicals, you can spread powdered diatomaceous earth (a naturally occurring sedimentary rock) on carpeted areas around the ant-affected area. They will die after eating the abrasive substance.

Be aware that do-it-yourself efforts might not eliminate the problem.

The nest itself, where the queen lays eggs, might be unaffected. In addition, sugar ants may have more than one queen.

If your efforts don't work within about a week, call a well-reviewed pest control expert, who should have tools and experience to deal quickly and effectively with infestations.

For instance, a pro has access to transfer insecticides, which are effective in eliminating sugar ant colonies because each ant that makes contact with the insecticide spreads it to every ant it contacts.

A professional solution can start at less than $200 and rise to about $1,000, depending on the extent of the problem. You might find value in arranging for regular inspections rather than waiting for a problem.

Before you hire a company, be aware that in many states and jurisdictions — including Kentucky — exterminators must be licensed. They may also be required to a hold a license to use certain pesticides or chemicals. Make sure also that the company you hire is appropriately insured and bonded.

To look up whether an exterminator has been licensed in Kentucky, visit the state Agriculture Department's website,, or go directly to the search engine at

Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at

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