Ants make for terrible houseguests. They come uninvited, get into everything, and are in no hurry to leave. But they’re also fairly easy to get rid of, or better still, avoid altogether.
Through the warmer months, the two types most likely to show up are house ants (technically known as odorous house ants because of the peculiar smell they release when crushed) and carpenter ants. When their natural habitat is destroyed because of development—such as construction on a new home, additions, or decks—ants seek out alternate food sources, which is what brings them indoors.
“The problem is they can really proliferate,” says Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an entomologist and the director of the Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. “By the time you start spotting them inside your house, you may already have hundreds.”
According to Gangloff-Kaufmann, odorous house ants—typically less than 1⁄8 inch long—are the most common ant species to invade your house.
“The good news is that they’re really considered a nuisance pest,” she says. So while odorous house ants may show up on your kitchen counters or around the shower, they won’t transmit disease or cause any real damage to your home.
The same can’t be said of carpenter ants, which chew through rotten or damp wood, potentially damaging windows, doors, or even structural framing in the process. Carpenter ants are about 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch long.
But think twice before you grab a can of bug spray and start crop-dusting your kitchen countertops.
“Ant poison may make you feel like you’re accomplishing something, but you’re not,” says CR senior scientist Michael Hansen, PhD, a biologist and ecologist who wrote his doctoral thesis on integrated pest management. “Unless you solve the problem of what’s attracting them to your house—and how they’re getting in—you should remember that there are thousands of ants in every colony, and you’ll just keep seeing them.”
Top 4 Ways on How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally from New York City
The best way to get rid of ants naturally in NYC. Here are their top 4 tips.
1. Keep Your House Clean
Ants feed on sugar, protein, and just about anything else they can find. “Generally, a colony will send out a few ants to scout—they’ll bring back a sampling of any food they find to the colony, and hundreds will follow them back into the house,” Gangloff-Kaufmann says. “And in my experience, they particularly gravitate toward sugary liquids.”
To keep scouts from returning with their friends in tow, quickly clean up spills, particularly honey, maple syrup, and soda. And keep all food in airtight containers.
2. Eliminate Damp Spots and Rotted Wood
“While house and carpenter ants generally form a primary colony outdoors, they’ll sometimes build satellite colonies inside a home to serve as a conduit for resources,” Gangloff-Kaufmann says. “And both species prefer damp areas.” That means showers, windows, and damp spots in the basement need extra attention.
Find leaks, patch them swiftly, and replace any components that have been harmed by water. Carpenter ants will only dig through wood that has previously sustained water damage, as opposed to termites, who may consume both fresh and old wood, according to Gangloff-Kaufmann.
Where can you get water-damaged wood that you shouldn't? A deck. These buildings will decay from neglect and act as a welcome mat for carpenter ants. Maintaining a well-maintained deck is the greatest approach to get rid of ants there. Below, we've identified two decking alternatives to wood as well as the best wood stain for defending a hardwood deck from future harm.
3. Ground coffee
Do you consume coffee? If so, make it a practice to scatter your old coffee grounds around your house's exterior, including in the garden.
Why It Works: The smell that coffee grounds emit repels ants. This makes using the grounds to reduce pests while still being pet-friendly. 6 Coffee grounds are excellent for your garden's soil since they include minerals like potassium, phosphate, and magnesium.
To send ants away from known ant activity, leave cucumber or citrus peels there.
Does this work? Citrus peels have been demonstrated to contain antifungal properties, which hinder the growth of one of the primary ant food sources.