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Ants aren’t just pests that invite themselves to outdoor picnics. They can invade your home, carry bacteria into your living spaces, and can even cause structural damage to your house.

About 25 species of ants in the United States invade homes each year, and they are particularly active in the spring and summer months. Worker ants are constantly in search of food and moisture to take back to their colonies, and a place like your kitchen is the perfect location to find both.If you spy a trail of ants in your house, follow these steps to get rid of them and keep them away.

1. Follow the trail: If you find ants in your home, don’t immediately sweep, stomp, or spray them away. Take a moment to figure out where they are entering your house and what they are traveling toward, so you can address the problem.

2. Clean them up: Now it’s time to get rid of them! Multiple methods can be used to kill and remove ants, but sweeping across them with a paper towel, sponge, or rag dipped in soapy water or all-purpose cleaner can kill them and start to wash away their trail.


3. Scrub it down: Use a mixture of vinegar and water or other cleaning products to scrub where the ants have been. This will erase the pheromone trail they leave for other ants to follow. With the pheromone trail gone, it will become more difficult for ants to continue to move into your house.

4. Seal access points: Use silicone-based caulk to seal crevices or cracks on the outside of your home, including around outdoor faucets, and repair damaged weather stripping on windows and doors.

5. Wood and water: Ants love nesting in wood, so if possible, opt for gravel or small stones along the perimeter of your house instead of mulch, and keep all firewood stacked at least 20 feet away from your home. Make sure landscaping is correctly sloped and does not allow for any stagnant water to collect or pool near your home.

6. Secure the perimeter: Make sure there are no bushes, trees, or other foliage touching your home that could act as a bridge for the ants to enter your house.

Young gardener with a professional garden tools at work.

7. Keep it orderly: Inside your house, keep countertops and tabletops wiped down regularly and don’t leave food sitting out in the open. Sweep the floor frequently to keep it crumb-free.

8. Polish up pet dining: Keep pet food sealed in airtight containers and off the ground. Regularly clean your pet’s food and water dishes to prevent attracting ants.

9. Take out the trash: Empty trash cans regularly—especially the kitchen trash—and make sure there is no residue or crumbs remaining in the bottom of bins.

10. Repel: For a natural repellent, mix lavender and peppermint and spray on window and door seals or other points of entry. A chemical option you can try is boric acid, but read the instructions carefully, as it can be toxic to humans and pets.

11. Eliminate the source: The queen ant must be killed to eradicate an ant colony. You can keep worker ants at bay by taking the above precautions, but in order to truly take care of an ant problem, the queen ant and nest must be destroyed. Once you’ve located the nest, you can pour boiling water on it or try chemical ant poisons, but again—be wary if there are small children or pets in your yard who may come across the insecticide, as it is toxic.

12. Call in the pros: If you have an ant problem you just can’t shake, despite following the above steps, you likely have an infestation and need to have it professionally exterminated. A-1 Able Pest Doc can inspect your property, locate ant colonies, and eradicate an infestation. Call A-1 Able Pest Doc today at 1-800-737-8189 to schedule an inspection of your home.