Are all your sweets getting attacked by ants?
Ants are difficult to get rid of. Its often hard to find where they are coming from and how to prevent them from getting back.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
In this post, we will go over the steps you can take to get rid of sugar ants once and for all.
Let’s get started.
What Are Sugar Ants?
There is a species of ant in Australia called the sugar ant due to its preference for sweet food. This is not the species of ants I will be discussing today.
Sugar ants is a generic term used in the United States to describe ants that prefer to eat sweets. Other ants are called protein or grease ants because they eat everything else.
In the United States, many ants are classified as sugar ants because they prefer sweets.
What Are The Types of Sugar Ants?
When people use the term sugar ants, they often refer to a group of ant species that eat sugar.
Indoor and outdoor ants both eat sugar, which means using the term sugar ants can be confusing.
The most common species of sugar ants that you will find in your home are the:
- Pharaoh ants
- Odorous Ant
- Pavement Ants
Several species of outdoor ants can be considered sugar ants. These ants won’t nest inside your home but will forage for sugar and return to their nest outdoors.
Outdoor sugar ants include:
- Acrobat ants
- Argentine ants
- Rover ants
- Carpenter ants
- Little black ants
- Rover ants
- Carpenter ants
1. Inspect Your Home For Ants
The first step to getting rid of sugar ants is to inspect your home.
In most cases, sugar ants will forage indoors near gardens and structures.
When indoors, sugar ants tend to target kitchens and bathrooms.
Start inspecting here. If you encounter any ants, take a picture or capture them to identify them later.
Some key areas to look at include:
- Under the sink
- Near food
- Along guidelines
- In trash cans
- On shelves
- Near sources of water
- Under appliances
When you do spot ants, it’s essential to follow trails and any activity. Take notes on where you see them, any exit or entry points, and what they are feeding on.
This is information that will help when you are treating sugar ants later.
After your inspection, you should be able to:
- Identify the type of ant.
- Identify areas of high activity
- Identify potential sources of food and water
2. Eliminate Items That Attract Ants
Sugar ants will also enter your home in search of shelter and food.
The first thing you can do to get rid of sugar ants is to eliminate anything that attracts sugar ants.
The easiest way to eliminate sugar ant’s source of food and water is to clean.
When you are cleaning, you want to focus on your kitchen and target any sugar and food sources.
Some key areas to clean include:
- Under appliances
- Inside pantry
- Shelves where food is stored
- Cooking areas
- Near the dining table
- Other food storage containers
It’s also important that you seal any open food.
When looking for sources of water, you want to focus on your kitchen and bathrooms.
Below are some key places you can inspect for water:
- Under the sink
- Under the refrigerator
- Pet water bowls
- Empty cups
- Inside and under the dishwasher
- Around the bathtub
3. Confirm Your Have Sugar Ants
Once you have eliminated items that will attract ants into your home you can begin identifying the ants in your home.
Before you begin treating the ants in your home you need to confirm that you have sugar ants.
If you can’t easily find an ant roaming around, I suggest you use pre-bait.
Pre-bait is non-toxic bait that you can use to lure ants into your house. Once you have spotted several ants you can capture them for identification.
There are some key things to look at when trying to identify different species of ants:
- Food Preference
- Nest location
There are a couple of ways you can examine an ant’s appearance.
First is by capturing one ant and using a magnifying glass to study it.
The second is to use a zoom or macro lens and take a photo to get a closer look.
Different types of ants have different diets.
Some ants might prefer sweets and protein, while others might prefer oils and fats.
For instance, carpenter ants prefer proteins and sweets. On the other hand, fire ants will prefer meat and lipids.
You can use the ants’ choice of pre-bait as a baseline for what you’ll use in your bait treatment.
Following the trails to find an ant’s nest can help determine what type of ant it is.
Carpenter ants, for example, live inside the wood.
On the other hand, pavement ants may build their nest under concrete and come up through the cracks.
It’s not always easy to determine where an ant’s nest is.
3 Common Indoor Sugar Ants
1. Pharaoh Ant
Pharaoh Ants are commonly found foraging and nesting inside structures.
They commonly hide inside homes in locations that are hard to reach, such as wall void and underneath cabinets.
They tend to place their nests near food and water sources when possible.
|Phoraoh Ant Identification|
|Size: 1/16″ – 1/8″||Antenna: Bent||Color: Yellowish-Light Brown to Red|
|Pattern: No Pattern||Nodes: One||Shape: Segmented|
|Region: Coastal U.S States From Fl to WA||Food: Sweets, Protein, Insects||Nest: Near water sources, common indoors|
2. Odorous Ants
Odorous ants are versatile in that they infest both indoors and outdoors. They are commonly migrate indoors during cold weather or when it is raining outside.
Odorous ants are attracted to water and you will commonly find then nesting near water sources such as inside the kitchen or the restroom.
|Odorous Ant Identification|
|Size: 1/8″||Antenna: Bent||Color: Dark Brown to Black|
|Pattern: None, but distinct coconut smell when crushed.||Nodes: One||Shape: Segmented|
|Region: Across the U.S||Food: Sweets, Human food (salts, grease, dairy, and protein)||Nest: shallow mounds, inside wall voids.|
3. Pavement Ants
Pavement ants are a type of sugar ant that earned their names because they are commonly found near the ground’s surface.
These ants tend to nest under pavements, between cracks in cement, or near water. They are common both indoors and outdoors.
You might think they look like other black sugar ants, but a few unique characteristics can help you identify them.
- Small hairs on their abdomen and thorax
- Raised ridge between the thorax and abdomen
|Pavement Ant Identification|
|Size: 3/16″||Antenna: Bent||Color: Light Brown to Black|
|Pattern: small hairs on the abdomen||Nodes: Two nodes and a raised ridge||Shape: Segmented|
|Region: Across the U.S||Food: Primarily sweets but will eat protein and grease||Nest: Inside homes, ground-level under sidewalks and pavement.|
4. Pre-Bait Your Home
After you’ve eliminated other items that will attract sugar ants, you can begin the baiting process.
Prebait is a non-toxic lure used to identify an ant and determine its food preferences.
The best prebait for sugar ants is a 1:1 solution of water and honey. Place the pre-bait on wax paper for easy monitoring and cleanup.
When treating ants, the prebaiting stage is used to identify the ant and their food preferences.
When treating sugar ants, since we know that they are attracted to sugar, this is not as important here.
The prebaiting stage will be used to find ant trails and establish ant activity in your home.
Once you establish the ant activity, you can easily swap the prebait for toxic bait to begin the treatment process.
Common places you want to place prebait for sugar ants are inside the kitchen or restroom.
- Under appliances
- Small crevices
- In corners
- Behind or under furniture
- Near door or window sills
- Under the sink
5. Set Your Bait
Ant bait is a combination of attractant and insecticide that ants eat. The bait is slow acting and designed to pass through multiple ants for maximum efficiency.
With sugar ants, once your prebait has attracted ants indoors, you can begin using your toxic bait.
All you need to do is swap the prebait wax paper for the toxic bait wax paper.
When choosing your bait, you must select a sugar-based bait. Without sugar, the ants are less likely to eat the bait.
Below are some examples of the best sugar-based gel baits for sugar ants.
Place ant baits in all the locations where ants were active during pre-baiting.
Doing so will make it a seamless and efficient transition once you apply the bait.
Other Food Sources
Remember to remove any pre-bait or other food sources that might attract ants.
Baits are most effective when they are the only food source.
Ants will have no other choice but to eat the bait.
Use Gel Bait Indoors
Setting indoor bait is much easier than setting bait outdoors.
Once you have located high activity areas in your home, place your bait near these areas.
I recommend against placing bait directly on ant trails. Place them off to the side of an ant trail so the ants can find the bait naturally.
Also, it’s an excellent way to test if the ants are attracted to your bait.
Ant’s can develop a disliking for certain types of bait over time.
You have two options when setting ant bait: gel bait and bait stations.
Both are effective, but I prefer using gel bait. Gel bait is more versatile.
Gel bait typically comes inside syringes and allows you to control the location and amount of bait you are placing.
Gel bait is versatile. It allows you to place bait in hard to reach areas easily or adjust the amount to target large quantities of ants.
Also, it’s much easier to monitor the activity of gel bait than bait stations.
Bait stations are easier to use because all you have to do is place them around your home.
These are sealed containers that only allow ants to access the bait.
These are ideal if you have kids or pets that may try to disrupt exposed gel bait.
They are larger and not ideal for targeting small cracks or hard to reach areas.
Monitoring them can be difficult due to the enclosed casing.
Target Sugar Ants with Outdoor Bait Stations
The source of most sugar ants is outdoors. While some sugar ants can create a nest indoors, it’s quite hard for ants to do so.
It’s more common that their nest is outdoors, very close to your home. To target any sugar ants outside, you can use outdoor bait stations.
Outdoor bait stations function the same as indoor bait stations. When placing outdoor bait stations, you want to place one at each corner of your home.
Also, if you see any other areas of high activity, such as along your sidewalk or driveway, you can place a bait station near them as well.
Don’t place bait stations directly on nests or trails. Position it so the ants can naturally find the station and begin feeding on it themselves.
Check your bait stations regularly to ensure that there is still bait inside.
If you notice that ants are not consuming the bait, try using a different bait to attract them.
6. Apply Non-Repellent Spray
Non-repellent insecticides are slow-acting and undetectable by ants.
Ants that walk over a surface that has been sprayed with insecticide will not react.
When they return to the nest, they will spread the insecticide to other ants.
After several days the insecticide will begin to kill the ants that were infected.
Non-repellent sprays are a great way to enhance your attack against ants.
They are not necessary but can provide additional protection.
This is also a great way to prevent ant colonies from establishing. The non-repellent spray will help you attach the source early in the colony.
The non-repellent insecticide should be applied around your home and on the surface of your house. You can expand to spraying it on your driveway or sidewalk as well if needed.
Make sure you choose an insecticide spray with a residual effect.
The residual effect will keep the insecticide active for 3-6 months before reapplication.
7. Tips To Prevent Sugar Ants
We’ve all heard the maxim: prevention is better than cure. And when it comes to ants, this is undoubtedly true.
Here are some of the best tips and strategies to stop ants from invading your home:
Eliminate Sources of Food
Eliminate any sources of food in your house. If there are no food items, it’s unlikely ants will remain in your home for very long.
Although sugar ants prefer to eat sugar, many will resort to other human food to survive.
Clean regularly and make sure all food is sealed properly. This is the most effective way to prevent ants.
Eliminate Sources of Water
Ants need water to survive.
If there are no food sources but there is an abundance of water ants will still enter your home.
This is particularly true when the soil outside is dry and they need to find additional sources of water.
Make sure you address any excess moisture issues both inside and outside of your house.
This includes leaking pipes or faucets.
Standing water or overwatering of plants and grass outdoors.
Seal Up Entry Points
The harder ti is for ants to get in, the less likely they will try and enter your home.
The best way to do this is to seal up any cracks, holes, and crevices around your home using caulk.
Some common places to look outside are:
- Cracks in foundation
- Holes or cracks on walls
- Door or Window Sills
- Under or around windows and doors.
- Pipes or Wires that penetrate walls.
Common places to look indoors include:
- Cracks on walls
- Around windows and doors
- foundation or edges walls
- under sinks where there are pipes
- electrical sockets
It is also a good idea to apply a dust insecticide into these crevices before sealing them up.
This will allow you to kill any ants hiding inside these voids and give them no way of getting out.
Keep your trees, plants, and bushes trimmed. I recommend you don’t let any vegetation come in contact with your home.
Overgrown vegetation can act as a bridge for ants to climb on your home.
If you have treated your foundation and the area around your home, this can help ants bypass the insecticide.
The harder it is for ants to reach your home, the less likely you will have ants in the future.
Keep Your Yard Clean
Keep your yard tidy. Piles of leaves, leaking water hose, dead branches provide shelter and protection for ants.
Keeping your yard clean will make it less attractive and harder to survive. It also makes it easier to spot and treat ant infestations.