You may be wondering how to get rid of sugar ants if you have found them in your home. While any ant that is attracted to sugary goods is deemed a “sugar” ant, there is an actual species with that name.
Generally all small ants are referred to as sugar ants, even if it isn’t technically true.
From how to get rid of sugar ants to prevention of another infestation, there is plenty of information here to get you through the process from start to finish with as little headache as possible.
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What are sugar ants?
There are several species of ants which are referred to as sugar ants. Generally they range in size from half an inch up to almost two inches, though the latter is unusual. You will likely see them feasting on food that was readily available on your counter, floor, or spilled in the pantry.
The males are black in color while the females are often more of an orange color. You will need to know which type of sugar ants you are dealing with in order to find out the best method when learning how to get rid of sugar ants.
Where and how do sugar ants live?
Sugar ants are pests that live in a colony. The colony is built from the “queen” ant and is maintained by worker ants. These workers are the ones who keep the colony alive and going while the scavengers go out and look for food. The scavengers are the ones you will likely see scurrying across surfaces in your home. They will seek out food to bring back to the colony to ensure the workers are fed properly and can continue their jobs. Below is a breakdown of the ant jobs within the colony.
- Queen. The queen sugar ant is bigger than the others in the colony. Her job is to solely reproduce to ensure the success and growth of the colony. Once she is killed off, the colony will slowly start to disappear.
- Workers. The worker sugar ants are there to ensure the reproduction process is handled as well as keeping things going. These are the sugar ants that need to be fed. They very rarely leave the colony. If you find these guys in your home it is likely because the colony has been compromised.
- Scavengers. The scavenger sugar ants are the ones that will fill your home up. They are seekers and often flock to the sweet foods you may have in your cupboards or left out on the counter tops. The food will be carried back to the colony by the scavengers. A scent they leave allows them to return the exact way they traveled. If the scent is lost, the sugar ants will not be able to return to the colony.
Where should I look for sugar ants?
It is possible that you may see one or two ants in your home and not think twice about it. Asking how to get rid of sugar ants based on seeing a few is unlikely, but where there is one there are many more. Below you will find the most habitable spots in your home for sugar ants and why they likely chose that place.
- Kitchen. This is obviously the number one place you may find sugar ants hiding out. They live for food, preferably something of the sweet variety. If you find one or two climbing on your counters, you will know that you have an issue. Also check drawers where your silverware is put. Sugar ants seem to like it in there as well.
- Pantry. If you are storing boxed food that may have been opened or spill something sticky in the pantry, the sugar ants will be the first to know. Many people store cereal and syrup in their pantries, which is why this is a prime place for sugar ants to be found. Any small amount of open or spilled food can lead to problems with sugar ants.
- Kitchen cupboards. Storing things like sugar and flour in your kitchen is normal, but sugar ants love to find their way into your home for these things. If you are storing these in cabinets, make sure you are checking frequently for any signs of sugar ants.
How to get rid of sugar ants
Now that you have likely identified the places the sugar ants are hiding, you can move forward. Deciding how to get rid of sugar ants can be complex, but the sooner you handle it the easier it will be in the long run. These are several of the ways you can go about getting rid of sugar ants, and which come more recommended than the others.
- Soap and water. This is only effective if a colony has not yet been built in your home. Ants leave a scented trail from their home to the food they find in order to bring it back to the workers in the colony. If you see ants and know where they came in from, you can wipe away their scent. Make sure you clean the area well, just to be certain there will be no reason for more to come back for the same food source. This measure should be used more as preventative rather than total elimination.
- Bait stations. These are rather inexpensive and work quite well. The idea is the ant goes into the bait trap and feeds. Generally they will bring something back to the colony, which will kill everything inside of it over time. You will need to keep these out of reach if you have children and pets. Strategically placing them around your home will yield the best results.
- Insecticides. You can spray your home for ants, but it is probably the most hazardous to the people and pets in the home. The spray will work to eliminate the live ants crawling around, but it does little to get rid of the colony where the pests are reproducing quickly. If you choose this route, it may take quite a while to get rid of the problem. It is recommended that this is used as preventative care, not long-term use.
- Exterminator. Provided you have some extra money to pay for this service, it is the best option available. Exterminators are trained to get rid of various bugs, including sugar ants. They will take the steps needed to ensure the sugar ants will be gone for good. This includes tackling the colony and any other places you may need treated including the perimeter of the home.
How to prevent a recurrence of sugar ant infestation
In order to ensure you do not have to deal with another sugar ant re-infestation after just fighting one, you need to be proficient in the prevention aspect. Learning how to get rid of sugar ants is cut and dry with the right products, but keeping them at bay takes a little more persistence. Below you will find the preventative steps to take to ensure you will not have another sugar ant problem in the future.
- Clean. This is the perfect time for “spring cleaning.” Make sure that you wipe out everything in your kitchen. Cabinets, cupboards, and the pantry should be your main focus. Double check all of your food is stored properly and sealed completely. Plastic containers come highly recommended, especially with snap lids.
- Adjust the rules for food in your home. If you have children or pets, you will need to ensure that all eating is done in the kitchen only. Bringing food into other areas of the home will open up an ideal place for sugar ants to feed. After feeding your animals, pick up their bowls. There is no need to let dog or cat food sit out all day. Not only does this attract sugar ants, but it gives them an ample food source to live off.
- Seal entryways. If you are noticing cracks in your home, around your windows, or any other place where the ants could come in, they need to be dealt with. Use caulk or anything else recommended at the hardware store. If everything is sealed properly the likelihood of the sugar ants having access to your homes lessens greatly.
- Spray around your home. You can purchase spray for the perimeter of your house at any local grocery or hardware store. Use it along the base of your home, around the windows and doors, and anywhere else you think it would be beneficial.
How to get rid of sugar ants may sound like an easy thing to learn, but the actual process of doing it can be exhausting. This type of infestation doesn’t end overnight and will likely happen over the course of several days.
Make sure you are taken preventative measures even as you fight their presence in your home. Keeping food cleaned up and sealed will be a big help in avoiding a sugar ant problem in the first place. Sugar ants are a pain to get rid of but at least they don’t do structural damage and they are not poisonous.