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Ant Infestations: How to Spot and Stop Them Early!

Ant Infestation

With spring approaching, it’s time to talk about ant infestations. There are 93 species of ants in Alberta! Since ants become more active in spring, it’s important to recognize early signs of an infestation and learn how to deal with them before the problem gets out of hand.

Why do Ants Come Indoors?

Ants come indoors because buildings offer food (crumbs, spills, pet food, ripe fruit, etc.) and shelter (in walls, below floors, under sinks, etc.). To prevent an ant infestation, deny these insects food and nesting areas. Keep your home free of crumbs, wipe spills quickly, place ripe fruit in the fridge, and store foodstuffs in closed plastic containers. Clean pet bowls frequently and keep a close eye on your potted plants. Invest in garbage receptacles with tight lids. Seal around doors, windows, pipes, cables, and wire entry points. Inspect your foundation for cracks and seal those you find.

What are The Signs That You Have an Ant Infestation?

There are many indicators that you have an ant infestation in your home.

  • Ant sightings outside, close to your home
  • Ant mounds outside, close to your home
  • Ant sightings inside (around outlets, in gaps in grout, in cracks in drywall, under the sink, in a line across the floor, etc.)

Natural Ways to Treat Ant Infestations

Ants are prolific. So are the remedies that folks try. Some natural methods work most of the time, while others work only some of the time. Try these out and see what works.

  • Diatomaceous earth (silicon dioxide) is composed of fossilized, pulverized aquatic organisms and is safe for people and pets. It leaches oil from the skeletons of insects, drying them out. Sprinkle this powder anywhere you see ants entering or moving in your house. Reapply often. It’s safe for children and pets.
  • Detergent: Liquid detergent, hand soap, and/or glass cleaner may keep ants from entering a building by interfering with the pheromone trails that help them navigate. This method is safe, easy, and non-toxic but requires frequent reapplication.
  • Pepper: To navigate, ants use their sense of smell. The scent of pepper deters them from entering a building. Simply sprinkle pepper behind appliances and around baseboards. Safe and affordable, this method requires frequent reapplication and is irritating for pets and kids.
  • Essential Oils: Cinnamon, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, neem, thyme, tea tree, and lemongrass essential oils are natural ant repellents. Mix a few drops of the chosen oil into water and spray around the windows, baseboards, and doors. Though this is safe, easy, and affordable, it’s irritating for pets.
  • White Vinegar: Use a solution of 50% water and 50% vinegar to wipe up visible ants. This mixture kills the captured ants and repels future invasions with a lingering scent. The drawback is the remaining vinegar smell in your home!
  • Baking Soda and Borax: Ants die when they ingest baking soda or borax. Mix equal parts borax or baking soda with icing sugar and place it where ants enter your home. Just be aware that this easy, effective method may also attract pets and/or children and is toxic to them.
  • Chalk: A thick line of powdered chalk (calcium carbonate) confuses the ant’s scent trail keeping them from entering your home. Though easy and affordable, this powder must be reapplied after each rain.
  • Oranges and Lemons: Orange and lemon rinds contain d-limonene which is toxic to ants. Fill a jar halfway with citrus peels then fill to the top with water. Leave the jar in a dark place for three to five days or until the water is fairly deeply coloured. Strain the liquid and add one teaspoon of molasses or honey and a squirt of dish soap. Put the resultant liquid in a spray bottle, spraying directly on ants as you see them. Also, spray it on known ant trails or anywhere you’ve seen ant activity. This method is easy, affordable, and non-toxic but does leave a sticky residue.
  • Epsom Salt: Mix Epsom salts with water and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray directly on visible ants to dehydrate and kill them. This solution is safe for pets and kids but you’ll need to be diligent to make a difference in the ant population.
  • Boric Acid: Make a solution of ½ tsp of boric acid (available at hardware stores), 8 tsp sugar, and 1 cup of water. Stir till well mixed. Dip cotton balls in the mixture till wet and place them everywhere you’ve noticed ant activity. Though this method is effective and affordable it can be dangerous for pets and kids.
  • Boiling Water: Quick and easy, this method involves pouring boiling water into the crack, crevice, or hole from which ants emerge. Though easy, safe, and effective, this solution requires frequent reapplication and cannot be used indoors.

More Pointed Approaches to Ant Infestations

  • Barrier Sprays (found at hardware and garden stores) are applied along the exterior foundation of the house. This compound kills ants on contact and acts as a preventative. A barrier is both long-lasting and effective but requires occasional reapplication and is toxic for pets, kids, and beneficial insects.
  • Ant Granules are placed around the exterior of your home. Ants eat the granules and die. This is an affordable and effective way to control ant infestations but requires frequent reapplication and is dangerous for pets and kids.
  • Ant Bait is a sweet, edible material (granule, gel, liquid, solid) that is toxic to ants but minimally toxic to pets and humans. Worker ants take this slow-acting substance to the colony where they share with the other ants. Place the bait containers close to ant trails and out of reach of kids and pets. Keep the rest of the home clean so the ants are attracted to only the bait. You may need to place new bait containers after a few weeks to provide enough material for the entire colony.

When Should I Call a Professional?

If you don’t have the time and patience to monitor your ant situation and reapply your chosen treatment for weeks or months, contact a pest control expert. Licensed technicians can handle any ant infestation. They’ll inspect your property to determine the type of ant you’re dealing with and where they’re entering your home. They’ll identify the ant’s food sources and help you eliminate them. After tracing the ants back to their main colony, the pest control experts will carefully place bait in areas where the ants feed and spray along the ant trails. They can safely eliminate your ant problem.

Looking for help with an ant infestation in your home or business? Contact One Man and a Lady Bug. We provide pest control in Calgary and nearby areas. One Man and a Lady Bug delivers innovative, environmentally friendly pest prevention help.