Ant season is just around the corner and pretty soon, we’ll have to deal with these resilient pests once again! And while I have my own tried and tested treatments and solutions as an organic ant pest control expert in Beaverton, Oregon, I thought it would be a good idea to find out what other pest control experts and entomologists have to say about waging war against odorous house ants or sugar ants in particular.
Well, I guess I made the right move at soliciting tips and suggestions on how to get rid of sugar ants because I got responses from ant pest control experts halfway across the globe as far as the Land Down Under!
Homemade remedies for sugar ants
Natalie Barrett of Nifty Pest Control in Sydney, Australia has worked with lots of clients on exterminating sugar ants and shares her insights here. Her tips can be very valuable even to simple homeowners since her solutions are basically “do-it-yourself”—best of all, her arsenal consists of ingredients that you’ll find right in your kitchen, pantry or even your bedroom!
Natalie recommends these few tips to try to quickly remove sugar ants from any area in your home:
- Soapy Water: The soap in the water will not only eliminate sugar ants but will prevent them from walking across the washed walls and floors. Sugar ants are certainly not fond of the substance.
- Vinegar: A nice natural way to get rid of your sugar ant infestation is to clean the surfaces with vinegar. This will eliminate any scents that have attracted the ants to your living or working space in the first place. Use a spray bottle for convenience.
- Cinnamon: Another substance found in any home that’s highly unappealing to sugar ants is cinnamon. Apply cinnamon across the affected areas in the property.
- Baking soda, boric acid, and sugar: This is another homemade combination you can use against sugar ants. Soak cotton balls in the mixture and use them against ant colonies.
- Essential oils: You can try spraying the area with your favorite essential oils to fight the sugar ants away. They are repelled by the smell and substance.
Jeff King, president of The Pest Rangers PA also adds two more crucial tips to getting rid of sugar ants during ant season. First, Jeff suggests trimming back the vegetation from around your home as they can provide a “highway” for ants to enter, especially when they’re touching your structures.
Second, (and from a professional viewpoint) he recommends using ant baits to control odorous house ant populations. Jeff specifically mentions that “ants have a similar diet to us—some days we want steak and lobster and others, we prefer pasta. Don’t get frustrated baiting as ants like protein one day and sweets another.”
Get rid of sugar ants permanently: Spray or bait?
The most valuable and thorough response I got was from Natasha Wright, a board-certified entomologist at Braman Termite & Pest Elimination in Massachusetts and a member of the Entomological Society of America. We certainly have our minds aligned on this one, especially with starting on the right foot to successfully get rid of sugar ants—FIRST identify why there are ants present.
I always tell my clients that sanitation is key whenever you’re dealing with a pest problem. Natasha points out that many problems can be solved by cleaning up sanitation issues (like oils, crumbs and food debris) and fixing exclusion issues (like gaps around windows and doors). If issues persist after trying to solve these underlying causes, only then should you consider the use of insecticides.
Treatment involving the use of insecticides often comes in the form of liquid sprays or baits. I have a special preference for baits as they have the lowest exposure to people, are attractive to ants, and don’t kill the ants outright. Instead, baiting enables the foraging ants to bring some of the bait back to the colony where they are shared with the queen and developing young. The downside to baits, however, is that they work slowly but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
The same principle works when using ant bait stations to get rid of ants—you need time to get the best and most effective results. Ant baits are formulated to really work slowly (but consistently) so the worker ants don’t die before sharing the bait with others. The problem is that we can get impatient and most people want immediate control when they run into an ant problem.
Some liquid sprays provide immediate control, but may not target the entire colony—just the foraging worker ants. You think you’ve successfully eliminated them but a new batch will be out again searching for a food source in a matter of days. So whenever you grab that insecticide spray bottle you bought from the supermarket shelf and spray them on visible ants, better think twice as you’re merely addressing the tip of the iceberg.
The better alternative would be to get hold of many liquid options at the disposal of a licensed pest professional. There are even some that act more like baits, where ants pick up the chemical and unknowingly transfer it among the colony. Of course, you won’t find these products on supermarket shelves as you will need a license to purchase them. Also, they’re usually sold in bulk and it doesn’t make sense to buy these products if you’re just treating your own home. Better to bring in a licensed pest control professional like Ryan at ANT & GARDEN ORGANIC PEST CONTROL if you live in Beaverton or anywhere in the Portland metro areas.
How to cut down on repeated ant pest control services
The entire ant colony needs to be eradicated if you want to avoid repeated services. Merely spraying the ants you see with insect repellents won’t solve the problem. Killing just these foragers is not enough to gain control, although it may feel like progress for a while. That’s because these foraging worker ants comprise only about 10 percent of the colony. The rest, including the queen, are hidden from your sight.
When choosing professional ant pest control services, make sure your pest technician only uses baits and non-repellent insecticides. That way, the active ingredients are easily picked up and shared among colony members and ultimately the queen. With the queen killed, that means the end of the entire ant colony and no more repeated ant pest control services!
ANT & GARDEN ORGANIC PEST CONTROL has addressed hundreds and hundreds of ant problems for more than two decades. I’ve successfully eradicated entire ant colonies using only safe, family, and pet-friendly organic pest control solutions. If you’re experiencing an ant problem in your home this season, send me a message or give me a call at 503-713-9590 and I’ll guarantee your home will remain ant-free the whole year through!