Sugar Ants – What They are, and How to Get Rid of Them
Insects are truly a nuisance. They come in huge numbers, can get in through the smallest spaces, and are sometimes hard to get rid of. Ants in particular are a type of insect that get into your home and want one thing: your food. Able to smell food particles from a great distance, ants hone in and do everything they can to get to it. And there’s not just one type of them. They come in several varieties including one known as the sugar ant.
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What Are Sugar Ants?
Sugar ants are called that because they’re attracted to food. They can be described banded sugar house or as house ants, and are ones you normally see in your home. Their colonies have dirt mounds around them and they usually prefer warm climates. They can get into your house through even the smallest opening.
The species originates from Australia and their natural habitat is forest or woodlands. They are very often found in city or suburbs.
Many people don’t realize that among the types of ants out there, flying ants are one of them. To learn more about how to get rid of flying ants, go here.
What do they look like?
Sugar ants don’t all look alike. They are between 2-15mm in size and are different colors. Males have wings and are all black, while female have an orange-brown body color. Each colony has a queen who stays inside at all times.
Banded sugar ants look like they’ve got tiny bands around their middle, while house ants are smaller and more uniform in color.
Sugar ants and their bite
Ants have pincers they can bite people with. No need to worry, as their bite isn’t poisonous, but it can leave a bump. Sometimes the bite will itch. Sometimes, sugar ants can spray formic acid, which might burn, but again, it’s not poisonous.
How they get to you in the first place
Because ants have a sense of smell far greater than that of a human, as well as most other insects, they can detect food from far away. If you’ve got any food out, whether it’s a whole watermelon or just some crumbs, an ant can find it.
There are many ways in which ants can get into your house:
- The foundation: Your home’s foundation can have cracks in it, which then allows the tiny creatures access.
- Doors: If any door that opens to the outside has a poor seal to it, it provides a way for ants to get through.
- Utility lines: Think about it – there are tons of little holes in your walls that connect to the outside. Electrical outlets, phone outlets, plumbing – they’re all openings that allow utilities to get into your house. They can also let insects in, as long as the ants find a way close, they can crawl in through the opening.
- Floors: You may have no idea, but ants can crawl underneath your floors, including carpeting. Their trail goes around the house until the appear right where they smell your food source.
Having ants in your yard is one thing, but in your house it’s quite another. More annoying, harder to deal with – you want nothing more than to get rid of them as soon as possible. More details on how to get rid of ants in your house can be found here.
Sugar ants are so small they can get in through openings you have no control over. However, there are ways you can limit their entry. Fixing cracks in the walls, gaps in your flooring, and cracks and gaps on the outside of the house will lessen the chance that sugar ants will find their way inside.
How to Kill Sugar Ants
Once you realize you’ve got ants to deal with, the next step is figuring out how to get rid of them. And not just getting rid of them temporarily, but killing them and their colony completely.
When you use bait to get rid of ants, the idea is that they’ll take the substance back to their colony. Some sort of poison is mixed in with the bait, which the ants will take to the colony as food. Once ingested, the poison then kills the ants. This is a good way to kill ants in the colony that normally wouldn’t come out, including the queen.
Ant baits include products like:
- Terro Liquid Ant Bait: Ants are attracted to the bait and take it back to their colony, along with the poison laced throughout.
You can also trap the ants that are invading your house instead of baiting them, by setting out something extremely sticky, like honey or corn syrup. The insects will get stuck in it, unable to get out, where you can then destroy them.
Make sure you realize that trapping isn’t the same as baiting, and that trapping and killing ants won’t destroy the colony that is causing the ant problem in the first place.
For trapping ants, consider this product:
- Grant’s Ant Bait and Trap Stakes: Put these stakes in the ground outside and watch your ant problem disappear.
Using the best method
The best way to get rid of sugar ants seems to be through luring them to poison which they can then take back to the colony. It might not kill all the ants instantaneously, but it will ensure that the entire colony will die instead of just the ones you see in front of you.
Something else to think of after you get rid of ants is repelling them.
There are things you can use that will keep any new ants from coming near your house:
- Plants: Herbs like peppermint, sage, and tansy are known to keep ants at bay. Plant them around your yard or keep an herb garden in your kitchen.
- Garlic: Garlic has such a strong odor that it confuses the ants and throws their scent trail off.
- Sprays: You can make an ant repellent spray by mixing water with substances like garlic, lavender, or peppermint. Spray it in your kitchen and pantry, as well as any areas you suspect ants might get in.
Insect killers often contain ingredients harmful to not just humans, but pets as well. Since animals are naturally curious, it’s easy for them to get into ant products that could hurt them. To learn more about pet safe ant killer, click here.
The Natural Way
You may want a solution that doesn’t involve any kinds of harsh chemicals. Fortunately, there’s many solutions for you that use ingredients perfectly safe for children and pets.
Some organic products you can find on the market include:
- Orange Guard: This spray uses all natural ingredients including orange peel extract to kill ants and keep them away.
- Ecosmart Organic Ant and Roach Killer: This liquid is made with plant extracts that keep ants at bay and kill ones who come around. The organic components are non-toxic, so you don’t need to worry about it in your home.
For many ant remedies, look no further than your kitchen or grocery store.
Here’s some ideas when it comes to home remedies:
- Diatomaceous Earth: This white powder is the crushed up remains of marine phytoplankton. For humans and pets, it’s completely non-toxic. However, for insects, the substance is deadly. Diatomaceous Earth gets into their digestive system and kills the ants from the inside out. Sprinkle the powder into a food source like shortening and mix until crumbly. Place a pile around an ant trail or anywhere you might suspect them to be lurking.
- Borax: Borax is powder from Boric Acid, derived from the element Boron. It’s toxic to insects and destroys their digestive system as well as irritates their exoskeleton. You can buy Borax in the laundry aisle of the grocery store. To use against sugar ants, mix borax with something the ants will want to consume like jelly, honey, or peanut butter. Leave it out for the ants to take back to the colony, sharing it with the other ants and thus poisoning them all. Be careful to mix only as much Borax as a homemade ant killer recipe says, as too much will kill the ants before they can reach the colony. Too little won’t be effective enough and will keep the ants alive.
- Essential oil spray: Essential oils have many uses, one of which is a bug killer. Mix clove oil, orange oil, and vinegar in water and spray all around the ant trail. Clove oil is caustic and has a strong smell that throws off the ants’ scent trail. Orange oil contains compounds that are toxic to ants. The vinegar also throws off the scent trails and deters them from crossing that area again.
Although products like Borax and Diatomaceous Earth aren’t toxic to humans, they can still be dangerous to consume in large quantities. Store bought products that use poison are toxic and can cause physical harm. Take care to keep these away from children and pets.
Steps to Eliminating Sugar Ants Both Inside and Out
Do you want to kill the sugar ants roaming around your home, or do you want to kill all the ants everywhere around your entire property?
To get rid of those ants for good and stop them from coming back, there are steps you can take:
- Locate the trail: Figure out where the sugar ants are coming in. Follow the trail as far back as you can and try and notice the entry point into your home. You can also go outside and look for their colony – small mounds with a hole in the center.
- Decide which method: Do you want to go organic? Are you interested in killing the ants right then and there or do you want to bait them? Go over your options and then decide which killing method would work the best for you.
- Kill: Be diligent and keep up with the method you use. If you’re going with ant bait, make sure it’s replenished regularly. Check the baits and ant trails and notice if the number of ants is diminishing.
- Repel: For further home protection against sugar ants, spray ant repellent around your property and home. Herbs, plants, oils, and products meant for keeping future ants away do their job well and are readily available.
What is the most effective way?
If you’re looking for the most effective way to kill ants for good, baiting is your best bet, as it kills the source of your ant problem. For a way to kill the ants you see right when you see them, homemade sprays can do the trick quickly.
Let’s face it – sugar ants are annoying. Their sheer number can drive you crazy and it seems like no matter what you do, they just keep coming. But you don’t need to put up with them. Decide which way you want to go about removing them, and get rid of the pests not just for now, but for good.
You can find further details of Ants Control here.