How to get rid of ants…

Where do they come from? What do they want? How do they get in? How can I get rid of them?

Most common ants live outside in the ground, in nests or ant hills. Several hills and nests can make up one colony. The queen ant (which can live up to 30 years) runs the place and is responsible for making new ants. In the spring as things start to warm up, ant colonies send out scouts to find food and fuel. These foraging ants leave a scent trail so they can find their way home and so other ants can follow.

empire-of-the-ants-movie-posterWhile foraging ants may be attracted to the food inside your home, however ants don’t usually nest indoors. Ants can be attracted to a little juice or pop spill on the floor or on a table top or a lost jelly bean between the cushions (or Joan Collins – see Empire of the Ants 1977).

Ants are very tiny and very clever and for this reason there isn’t much hope of keeping them out of your house. The key is to not give them a reason to come inside. Don’t leave attractants for them – clean up all spills, don’t let pets or kids carry food around the house, discard rotting fruits and veggies, keep sugar containers and jam jars sealed and keep food preparation areas very clean.

This being said, ants will show up in even the cleanest kitchen or basement (they are foraging).

Once you spot an ant, it’s time to act. Do not just kill the ant and think you’re done with it. Ants never travel alone, they always leave a trail for others to follow and once you kill an ant it sends out a scent signal to call for other ants.

Here’s what to do when you spot an ant in your home..

  • Kill the ant and remove the carcass.
  • Clean the area around the ant with a strong soap or window cleaner to remove the scent.
  • Try to determine what the ant was after.
  • Remove the attractant and clean the area.
  • Look for others (there’s never just one).
  • See if you can determine the path the ants are using.
  • Clean the ant path with strong soap or window cleaner.
  • Find the entry point (where they entered the house).
  • Fill any cracks or patch any holes and then apply bait or ant powder near the entry point.
  • For best results use an ant powder or bait on the outside of the entry, that way the ants won’t need to enter the house to get the bait (Hardware stores sell ant killer/bait powders. Do it yourselfers use boric Acid (Borax) and sugar in small amounts. Here’s a recipe
  • Ants will continue to show up for some time. Keep cleaning the area around any dead ants, clean the trails and the entry points.
  • Most ‘ant killer’ is made up of an attractant and an ant poison. Ideally the ant is attracted to the poison and carries it back to the nest where many ants will be killed.

You will never ‘kill all the ants’. They will make more! You can only hope to keep them to a minimum in your home. Most attempts to control ants are temporary at best so be careful with poisons and be wary of false claims.

ps/ Ants perform many ecological roles that are beneficial to humans too, including the suppression of pest populations, aeration of the soil and an occasional Pixar movie.


  • This article is written in the most general, non scientific terms for people who have spotted a few ants in their home and would like to get rid of the ants.
  • This article is not meant to deal with major ant infestations in out buildings or ant colonies near bio waste facilities in the Florida everglades (see: Empire of The Ants 1977)
  • Ants are everywhere. Ants thrive in all ecosystems, and form 25% of the terrestrial animal biomass on earth.
  • Getting rid of all the ants in your yard is impossible. However you may be able to stop them from showing up in your home.

Good luck!

By: Mike Benny

Please let me know if this article has been helpful.

Ophiocordyceps fungus vs. an ant

Video+timelapse by @anandavarma for @natgeo. This ant is infected with ophiocordyceps fungus. The beginning of the video shows the ant in its last hours of life, twitching under the control of the mind-controlling parasitic fungus. The fungus made the ant crawl up the plant and bite down on the edge of the leaf. The fungus then kills the ant and bursts through the gaps in its carapace. Finally, over the course of a week the fungus sends its reproductive stalk out the back of the ant's head. The whole purpose of this manipulation is so that the fungus can spread its spores more effectively. Photographed with the help of @joaofungo at the Adolfo Ducke Forest Reserve near Manaus, Brazil as part of the Mindsuckers story in the November issue of National Geographic. Check out Nat Geo's PROOF blog for a behind the scenes video of my work on the Mindsuckers story. #amazon #onassignment #timelapse

A video posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

Video+timelapse by @anandavarma for @natgeo. This ant is infected with ophiocordyceps fungus. The beginning of the video shows the ant in its last hours of life, twitching under the control of the mind-controlling parasitic fungus.

More short answers to questions about ants

More short answers to frequently asked questions at

biggest ant in the world? Over two inches. More here
how to get rid of ants in my house Plug the entry point, take away the attractant, wait. Details here…
does killing ants attract more Yes, they always leave a trail for others to follow and when you kill an ant it sends out a scent signal to call for other ants.
what does it mean when you see a queen ant You’re watching Empire of The Ants on tv?
can ants survive ant powder No. The powders work well, but they do take some time.
if ants show up does it mean i need more order in my house and life No. Order is nice, but it won’t stop ants.
what’s the best ant powder Insectigone Ant Killer.
why does one ant carry another dead ant Nobody get’s left behind!

Got a question? Comment below…

Short answers to questions about ants

Short answers to frequently asked questions at for the month of May.

why are there ants in my house They are looking for food.
how do ants get in the house They are very small.
does finding ants in my house mean i have a nest in my house No. They usually nest outside.
how long do ants live in a house They are usually just visiting. They will only stay as long as there is something to eat.
how to get rid of ants in basement Details here.
why do i attract ants Maybe you have something they want (like food).
why do ants come in house in spring Looking for food.
how long do ants live after eating borax and sugar They usually carry it back to the nest. It can take 2 or 3 days for it to work.
how many ants are in my house More than you can see.
how to find the queen ant in your house She’s not in your house. She’s in the nest in the yard.

Got a question? Comment below…

How big is the World’s biggest ant?


ANSWER: 5-6 centimeters = over 2 inches

… Ants range in size from 0.75 to 52 millimeters (0.030–2.0 in), the largest species being the fossil Titanomyrma giganteum, the queen of which was 6 centimeters (2.4 in) long with a wingspan of 15 centimeters (5.9 in) [source].

… The largest living ant in the world today is the Queen Driver Ant. Whilst the minions beneath her are just 5 millimeters in length and soldier ants are slightly bigger at 15 millimeters – the queen grows as long as 5 centimeters [source].

… The Bullet Ant can get up to  3 centimeters  [source].