ants crawling on a leafThe most common household invader is also one of the tiniest - ants. While they aren’t the thing homeowners fear most in the bug department, they can be incredibly hard to get rid of once they’ve established themselves.

Like most pests, ants are attracted to areas with plentiful food sources, shelter, warmer temperatures and better conditions. Once they’ve homed in on an area, they take the word back to their colony. Following the scent trail, the entire horde will soon make its way back to the area.

You’ll most likely find ants where food is stored - namely, kitchen and pantry areas. Because these are areas where food preparation takes place and contamination is a factor, homeowners are understandably reluctant to use pesticides. Thankfully, if it hasn’t grown too large, you should be able to eliminate your ant problem rather easily.

Know What You’re Dealing With

Understanding what species you're sharing your home with is important some can cause harm to humans and should be avoided at all costs. Fire ants, for instance, will sting anyone they consider a threat to the colony. These stings range in severity from pain and discomfort to nausea and difficulty breathing and are generally best left to professionals.

Others, like carpenter ants, will chew through the structural wood of your home and cause severe damage. Using behavior and other cues to figure out what species you’re dealing with will help you find the correct solution.

Steps to Elimination

If you prefer not to use chemical based options, a number of natural ant repellants exist. Ants don’t care for citrus smells, garlic, chili pepper or chalk, among others. Traps are also available but may not work for large infestations.

Pre-baiting the area where the ants are to determine the best approach should be your first step. Leave several different selections of food on a paper plate and watch their behavior to discover whether the ants prefer sweet or salty. A good test would be potato chips and honey. This will help you select a poison bait geared toward their particular taste - sweet or greasy.

After you’ve found your chosen bait, set it out and watch the swarm. You’ll notice an increase in the number of ants you’re seeing. It will likely take several weeks before the poison reaches the entire colony. You may need to replace the bait during this time. If you’re still seeing ants after two weeks, it’s time to call a pest prevention specialist.

Prevent Recurrence

After you’ve wiped out the current infestation, take steps to ensure they won’t be coming back.

Use a cleaning solution such as vinegar and water to erase the scent trails they leave for others to find. If you know where the nest was located, take steps to clean it up and apply an insecticide that will prevent their return. Last, take care of points of entry - spray windows, doors and foundations with insecticide.

If you’re unsure of what kind of ant species you’re dealing with or are dealing with a population that seems outside of your control or continues to return, it’s probably time to call a specialist like Pest Control Solutions to help you out.