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How to get rid of ants…

ants on the ground

Here’s what to do when you spot ants

  • Watch the ants for a while, see if you can tell where they came from and what they’re looking for.

Note: Resist the urge to just “squish all the ants”, they give off a scent when squished that will attract others, also you’ll need them to be alive so they will be able to carry the poison back to the nest (more info on “the poison” coming up).

  • Remove what the ants were going after and clean the area with strong smelling soap like Windex (to cover their scent).
  • Look for others (there’s never just one).
  • See if you can determine the path the ants were using and find the entry point (where they enter the house). If you can, fill the cracks or holes where the ants are getting in.
  • Place ant powder (“the poison”) or bait around the entry points (inside and outside if possible).

Note: Hardware stores sell ant powder and ant bait/killer. Do-it-yourselfers use boric acid (Borax) and sugar in small amounts. Here’s a recipe.

  • Most ‘ant killer’ is made up of an attractant and a poison. Ideally the ant is attracted to the poison and carries it back to the nest where many will be poisoned.
  • They will continue to show up for some time (3-7 days), so keep cleaning the trails and the entry points.

Where do the ants come from?

Most common ants live outside in the ground, in nests or hills. Several hills and nests can make up one colony. The queen (which can live up to 30 years) is in charge and is responsible for making new ants.

In the spring, as things start to warm up, ant colonies send out scouts to forage for food and fuel. These foragers leave a scent trail so they can find their way home and so others can follow. While foraging they may be attracted to food material inside your home.

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


  • 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 them.
  • 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 for more on that type of infestation).
  • Ants are everywhere and 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.
  • Ants perform many ecological roles that are beneficial to humans, including the suppression of other pest populations, aeration of soil [source] and an occasional Pixar movie.

Good luck!