How to Get Rid of Tiny Black Ants in the House

How to Get Rid of Tiny Black Ants in the House

Introduction: How to Get Rid of Tiny Black Ants in the House

Ant season is here again! You’ve arrived on this page because you are trying to figure out how to get rid of tiny black ants in your house. The most common types to invade homes include black, carpenter, pharaoh, odorous and sugar ants. Identifying the species that you are up against is usually helpful. However, It can be difficult for someone untrained in entomology to determine the slight difference between these tiny insects. Luckily the method I will be teaching today does not require any dangerous chemicals. We will be using natural remedies that are modified to work on almost every species. It is finally time to get rid of ants for good!

What is Attracting Ants in the First Place?

Like all living things on God’s green earth, ants are in search of food, water and shelter. This is why your kitchen and bathroom are prime targets. Getting rid of tiny black ants in your house will be an easier project if you can eliminate the sources of food or water that is allowing them to thrive. Colonies will spread rapidly so it is important to get rid of them fast.

  1. Observe their patterns. Where are their trails located? Which areas of the house do they prefer? How are they getting into your kitchen in the first place?
  2. Eliminate freestanding water. Something as little as a wet napkin on the counter can sustain hundreds of ants. Wipe your sinks down regularly and inspect pipes for condensation and leaks. If you see heavy condensation, you need to increase air circulation in that area.
  3. Apply caulk to all crevices they are using to enter and travel through your house. You’ll need to inspect the inside and outside of your property. The best way to get rid of tiny black ants is to keep them out of your house in the first place!

Step 1: How to Kill Ants and Eliminate the Nest

If it isn’t broke, there is no need to fix it! Using baits to kill ant colonies is an effective method that has passed the test of time. However, you may want to skip this step if you have small children or pets. Borax is a natural solution but exposure to it can be harmful for some humans and animals. Baits are a little tricky because different species of tiny black ants have different preferences for food. Additionally, insects in different life cycles stages will also eat entirely different substances. Adults only eat liquids while larvae eat solids. In order to get rid of the entire colony, it is important to have both forms. That is why all-in-one baits will never solve your problem. The trick is to prepare 3 simple little bait stations to make sure you kill every black ant in your house.

Directions: Apply the baits at different spots along ant trails. You will not see an immediate decrease in the infestation. Things will probably get worse before they get better. This is a good because we want as many of these tiny workers to take the borax back to their nest. This is a long term solution that is very effective for getting rid of black ants in your kitchen.

  • Protein based bait: Create a mixture of 75% peanut butter and 25% borax.
  • Liquid sugar bait: Warm about 1 cup of honey or syrup in the microwave. Mix in about a quarter cup of borax.
  • Solid sugar bait: Add 3 parts powdered sugar to 1 part borax.

Step 2: My Favorite Way to Repel and Eliminate Ants for Good

Once you’ve given the baits about 1 week to work their magic, it’s time to kill the rest of the stragglers. I have actually skipped the borax altogether on many occasions and just used this portion of the treatment. Essential oils are they key to getting rid of black ants in your house. These insects are just as sensitive to certain essential oils as they are toxic insecticides. Almost any essential oil will work but I find a combination of tea tree and peppermint oil to be the most effective. These oils also have many other health and beauty applications to it is always nice to have a small bottle of each around the house. They are inexpensive and 100% natural.

This will provide a powerful repellent. You can even use this spray to instantly kill insects around your kitchen.This is my favorite home remedy for getting rid of tiny black ants in my house. It can also be applied to the outside of you home to deter any new ones from entering. Pay special attention to crevices around the foundation, windows, doors, pipe penetrations and vents. You will need to reapply every few weeks or after a heavy rain. Watch this quick YouTube video for step-by-step instructions about how to keep ants out for good using essential oils.

  1. Add 6-8 ounces of water to a spray bottle.
  2. Add ½ tsp of cayenne pepper powder.
  3. Combine 15 drops of peppermint oil and 15 drops of tea tree oil.
  4. Spray trails, crevices and other high traffic areas. For heavier application, I like to douse a cotton ball and stuff it near the source of the trail.
  5. Here is an awesome resource if you need more details and instructions about using essential oils to get rid of black ants.

Step 3: Give me a High Five!

I have a great deal of respect for anyone that is courageous enough to ditch the toxic insecticides in favor of a natural solution. The truth is that these remedies work just as well as the chemicals used by exterminators. The only difference is that you are not exposing yourself, your family or your pets to dangerous side effects.

If you found any of this information to be helpful, please do me a BIG favor and share this article on your favorite social network. I really enjoy helping people solve their pest control problems. Your support is very important to me. It is what allows me to continue doing what I love.

If you have any question or comments, please leave them below. I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks again for reading my guide about how to get rid of tiny black ants in your house. I wish you and your family the best of luck!

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What to Do About Flying Ants in Your Home

GLady / pixabay CC0

Seeing flying ants in your home is never a good sign, but having these winged ants in your home in the winter is especially problematic. This is because ants only fly — or even have wings — when they are getting ready to breed. In the summer, the flying ant may be a species that lives outdoor and simply got inside through an open door or through another gap or crack.

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But during the winter, particularly in colder areas of the country, ants are not living and breeding in the open outdoors. So if flying ants are seen in the home in the winter, it is most likely that it is an ant that is living within the structure of your home, and, worse, it is very likely that there is a carpenter ant nest within the structure.

8 Ways to Differentiate Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

Differences Between Ants and Termites

Carpenter ants are very common across the U.S. but are often confused with termites. Some carpenter ants are much larger than termites. In fact, carpenter ants are one of the largest of all ant species! But other carpenter ants are very small, so size is not a way to determine species.

So how do you know if it is termite or an ant? Look for:

  • Dark-colored bodies
  • Narrow waists
  • Elbowed (bent) antennae
  • Hind wings being shorter than front wings

If it has these characteristics, it is a carpenter ant.

Carpenter arts are also more likely to be seen out in the open than are termites. While both carpenter ants and termites can be very destructive to homes, the two species are different because termites eat the wood in which they tunnel, but carpenter ants only nest in it; they do not eat it. So another difference of carpenter ants is the frass (wood dust, soil, and insect parts) that is often found beneath openings to the nest.

Flying Ants Swarm to Mate

Whether the winged ant you see is a carpenter ant or a termite, however, the wings mean that the insect is a reproductive male or queen—the only members of an ant colony that can reproduce. Ants and termites swarm to mate, then the males die, having done their duty, and the queens drop their wings to find a nesting site.

Because of this, a winged ant seen indoors during the summer may just mean that it flew in from outside, and it will likely die before it could find a good nesting site, and no pest control is needed for the ant. But because the ants are not active outdoors in the winter, a flying ant seen indoors at this time most likely means that the ants are nesting within the structure.

It is rare for termites to swarm at all in the winter, but they have been known to do so in warm areas of infested buildings. So the sudden appearance of swarming ants or termites in flight is one of the first signs of indoor infestation.

Carpenter Ant Treatment

While carpenter ants may be found nesting in dry wood, they are more likely to be found in wood that is wet, damp, and/or rotting. The first step is to repair or replace the rotted wood to remove the harborage and help prevent future infestation.

Next would be the use of an insecticide to kill ants that have built their nest indoors.

  • Dust: One option is insecticidal dust that is labeled for carpenters ants and for indoor household use. This can be injected into the area(s) where the ants are nesting. If it is difficult to get to the area, small holes may need to be drilled so the dust can be injected.
  • Bait: Another option is to bait. Although baits are much slower acting, they can be easier and safer to use. The foraging ants will pick up the bait and carry it back to the colony and queen to eliminate the entire colony. Because ant baits sold in stores are often labeled for many different ants, always read the label to be sure it is labeled for carpenter ants and follow all label directions.
  • Spray: Insecticide sprays will have little impact on foraging ants because the spray will kill only ants that are foraging for food. But if the ants have simply flown indoors from outside, sprays can provide kill of these occasional invaders.

When using any insecticide, it is important and required by law to read and follow all label directions.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants

Updated — March 23, 2020 / Julianne Ragland

Getting rid of Sugar Ants is never a simple proposition, despite their simple nature. Sugar Ants are probably the most simple-minded ant species.

What do sugar ants eat? They eat sugar, sweets, and other scraps of food. This is why we call them sugar ants. Of course, the term sugar ant is actually a misnomer. The real Sugar Ant is a native of the Australian continent, and exclusive to that part of the world; you won’t find them here. The ants you’re probably having trouble with are Pavement Ants and Pharaoh Ants, and for the purposes of maintaining simplicity in this article, we will refer to both Pharaoh and Pavement ants as Sugar Ants. After all, both ants are controlled and killed the same way: with extreme prejudice usually taking advantage of their appetites.

Note the one big difference between Pharaoh and Pavement ants, though: Pharaoh Ants live indoors and actually cannot survive outside. Pavement Ants, on the other hand, like to live outdoors, especially around concrete, sidewalks, or some other shelter that provides them everything they need.

Sugar Ants vs. Little Black Ants

Little black ants have also garnered the name “sugar ant,” though their real name is, well, Little Black Ants. Not a lot is known about Little Black Ants, except that they eat just about anything (including other insects) and they really like rotting wood and dark spaces. Getting rid of little black ants, however, despite how little is known about them from a biological perspective, is as easy as getting rid of sugar ants. Sweet baits can be used to control little black ants indoors, and protein baits can be used to control little black ants outdoors.

Controlling Sugar Ants

Sugar ant control is very much a matter of daily routine during the months when sugar ants are a problem (March through September), particularly in the kitchen. They are often attracted to crumbs, spills, or anything that might not be entirely cleaned-up. This gives the ants a chance to spot and move to the food source. Homes with young children, such as toddlers, seem especially prone, because we all know that younger children tend not to realize when they are spilling a drop of juice, or leaving a few crumbs on the floor.

Below is a list of things you can do to control sugar ants and prevent a sugar ant infestation in your home.

If you want to control sugar ants, you need to keep your kitchen sink clean and dry.

Sugar ants love a dirty sink and the water you leave them to help wash down the leftovers. Make sure to rinse out any dishes you’re going to leave in the sink over night. And when you do clean the dishes, make sure you rinse and wipe down the entire sink to make certain you haven’t left residual sweets, food, or moisture behind. If you’re really picky about cleaning, you might even want to try pouring a little bleach down the drain to make sure the smell of rotting food doesn’t attract more ants to your kitchen. Dish drains should also be emptied and wiped down befor the end of the day.

Wipe down kitchen counter tops with bleach each night to get rid of sugar ants.

Sugar ants love a dirty countertop almost as much as they love a dirty sink. I can’t count the number of times I’ve spilled a few crystals of sugar (for my morning coffee) from the sugar cup on the counter, only to find I’ve fed an entire colony of ants the next morning. Wiping your countertops with bleach will not only help sanitize your kitchen, but bleach breaks down the pheromones that ants use to follow each other to sources of food.

As for bleaches, we like the good, old fashioned Clorox bleach (find here on Amazon). Make sure you dilute it and use rubber or latex gloves when working with it. The stuff can be violent on skin. Also, be sure not to drip any on your clothing, as it will stain.

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Sweep and mop your kitchen floor with bleach every night during the summer to control sugar ants.

I worked in a large kitchen long enough to know that it is in your best interest to sweep and mop your kitchen floor after every meal, or at least once in the evening to make sure any pheromone trails a scout sugar ant has made aren’t left for other sugar ants to follow. Scraps of food and residual sugars are easily swept away with a bucket of warm water and bleach.

It is amazing how small the amount of food needed is to attract ants. It is literally possible for Sugar Ants to find just a few crumbs. When it comes to sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming, learn to be a bit OCD — it will pay off.

Vacuum the floors of spaces where food is regularly consumed to avoid inviting sugar ants into your home.

It might seem like common sense to vacuum your dining and living rooms to prevent sugar ants from feasting on the leftovers of your most recent meal, but people just don’t get it. So, I thought I’d mention the fact that sugar ants don’t just eat sugar and sweets, they will eat crumbs of bread, certain types of vegetables and meat as well, even the remains of other pests that could be hiding in your carpet. Make sure you get all this stuff off your carpet if you want to get rid of sugar ants.

We are even fans of vacuuming hardwood floors. You will soon see that vacuuming is the easiest way to clean nearly any floor surface. We recommend vacuuming daily, but only mopping once a week or so. More often if your family tends to spill liquid. A little dried OJ on your floor will be a feast for the ants.

Use strong garbage bags and take the trash out regularly to avoid sugar ant infestations.

It’s often the case that a garbage bag gets punctured, dripping fruit juice or some other kind of liquid onto the floor while you’re taking out the trash. Make sure to use strong garbage bags, even garbage bags that use Arm & Hammer baking soda to deodorize themselves, if you want to prevent a sugar ant infestation. It should go without saying that taking out the trash on regular basis will reduce the chances of sugar ants finding their way into your kitchen.

Do we have a favorite garbage bag? Yes. We have found the Hefty ultra strong kitchen garbage bag to be the sturdiest. They fit most standard kitchen garbage cans, and should be your go-to. Stock up here on Amazon.

How to Kill Sugar Ants: Ant Baits

The most common ant baits used to get rid of sugar ants are called sweet baits, and the most common ingredient found in sweet ant baits is boric acid, or Borax. Most household ants (pharaoh ants, pavement ants, and little black ants included) are prone to the poison known as Borax. Borax is a mineral mined in the deserts of California, refined and dissolved into all manners of ant bait systems. It is generally non-toxic to humans, though I wouldn’t recommend inhaling or ingesting large amounts of it. The NIH has found that it can cause many types of irritation even though it is considered a “green” product. It is a slow-acting poison, which means that when the ants eat the bait (usually corn syrup), the poison doesn’t kill the ants right away. The ants take some of the sweet bait back to the colony with them and dispense the poison meal to other ants. This is how colonies of ants are exterminated, and sugar ants are the easiest ants to kill because they’re small, voracious scavengers.

Borax is often used as a laundry additive because of its cleaning and deodorizing qualities. For this job, though, we like the plan old generic borax sold in a small tub, like this one on Amazon.

If you want to get rid of sugar ants or kill a sugar ant colony quickly, I prefer Terro brand sugar ant baits. You can also find Terro baits at an affordable price from Amazon. Just be very careful not to put any ant poison near kids or pets. They are obviously not meant to be ingested by mammals.

Natural Sugar Ant Control

Distilled White Vinegar

Use this to clean instead of bleach is a good way to naturally control sugar ant invasions. Acetic acid, the acid in vinegar that makes it smell so strong, not only naturally deodorizes (or odorizes, as the case may be), but is one of nature’s most powerful cleaning agents. We recommend using vinegar instead of bleach on How to Clean Things all the time, and nothing can be more repulsive to sugar ants than a little white vinegar. Make sure you use White Vinegar, and not apple cider vinegar or something like that. The less sugar the better.

Note that Borax is borderline natural — it is considered a green product. We just wrote about Borax above.

Whole Cloves

These are apparently a good way to repel invading sugar ants. Whole cloves have been used to help prevent infestations of all sorts of insects. I imagine it is the compounds that produce the strong smell in cloves that many pests do not like, but then, I’m not a biologist like Eric, so I wouldn’t know. Suffice to say that if you leave some whole cloves laying around the house, especially along baseboards and under counters, you will probably have less sugar ants scurrying about–and perhaps a better smelling home, if you like cloves that is.

Bay Leaves

These leaves are another one of those natural home remedies to control sugar ants that I haven’t tried yet, but a few of the chefs I’ve worked with in camp kitchens say that Bay Leaves do in fact keep ants away. Usually they will put them under countertops where food is prepared and near entrances where ants are likely to come in. If you want to give it a try, let me know if it works for you. To help with this, you can order a full pound of Bay Leaves at Amazon. It’s significantly less expensive than buying the little bottles.

Colorless ants — the distinctive features of this type of insect, how to get rid when moving into an apartment or house

Ants are some of the most common pests found in and around homes.

  • Most ants are primarily a nuisance and cause little damage.
    • Some ants infest food.
    • Carpenter ants can weaken wood in structures.
  • The species of ant determines the nesting site, food preference and the best method of management.
  • The most effective way to get rid of ants is to find and treat the nest.
  • Queens must be killed to properly eliminate a colony.
  • Ants are social insects and some of the most common pests found in and around homes. They are divided into castes: workers, males and queens.

    Damage from ants varies. Most are primarily a nuisance and cause little damage. Some, such as Pharaoh ants, may infest food. Others, like carpenter ants, can weaken wood in structures. Generally, there are no disease problems associated with ants.

    Knowing what a particular ant species likes to eat and where and how they nest is very important in controlling ant colonies.

    Identifying ants

    Color, size and body parts

    Ant identification can be challenging. If you find an ant that you do not recognize, send it to someone who can properly identify it.

    • Ants vary in color from yellow to red to brown and black and various combinations of these.
    • Ants have three distinctive body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen.
    • All ants have
      • a pair of bent antennae on the head and
      • a constricted (pinched) area between the thorax and abdomen called the petiole. The petiole has either one or two nodes (bumps).

    Ant castes

    Workers are sterile, wingless females which range in size from 1/20 inch long to about 1/2 inch long. The workers of some ant species vary in size and are divided into major (large) and minor (small) workers.

    The reproductive members of the colony are the males and queens.

    Males are generally the same size or larger than the workers. They have wings and a small head with large eyes. They are found in older, large colonies. Their sole purpose is to mate with the new queens; they die shortly afterwards.

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    Queens are the largest members of the colony, often two to three times larger than workers. Queens have wings but break them off after mating. They have very large abdomens and can live for a number of years.


    Males and queens will swarm (i.e. fly) from their nest to mate. A given species will mate during a specific time of the year. After mating, the female seeks a proper nesting site and begins a new colony. The presence of swarming winged ants inside buildings is an indication of an ant nest indoors.

    How to tell an ant from a termite

    Ants are sometimes mistaken for winged termites called swarmers.

    Ants are different from termites by having a narrow, constricted waist, bent antennae and hind wings shorter than front wings.

    Termites have a more rectangular shaped body with no constrictions; straight, beaded antennae; and four wings of equal size and shape that are much longer than the body. Termite wings fall off very easily and are usually found near where they emerge.

    Ants are commonly seen in the open, as are winged termites when they swarm. But termite workers, which are creamy white and wingless, avoid light and are rarely seen unless disturbed.

    How to get rid of ants

    Knowing where a specific type of ant likes to nest and what they like to eat is the key to finding the best way to get rid of them.

    Some ants build nests in soil, producing mounds, while some nest in homes behind moldings, baseboards, countertops and similar places. Other ants nest in decaying or moisture-damaged wood.

    Ants eat different types of food, including starches, meats, fats and sweets. Many ants also feed on honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects.

    Nonchemical methods of getting rid of ants

    Trying to discourage ants from invading the home can be frustrating. Proper food storage and waste management will reduce the food that attracts workers indoors.

    • Clean all kitchen surfaces
    • Vacuum daily
    • Rinse recyclable containers before storing them

    Ant trails can be temporarily disrupted with a mild solution of vinegar and water.

    Sticky barriers using commercially available materials or water moats containing soapy water can be used to prevent ants from reaching plants or other items.

    Caulk cracks that ants are using to enter the home.

    Controlling ants outdoors

    Many ants enter homes from outside nests as they look for food. To find their nest, follow the ants. You can encourage foraging by setting out attractive food.

    Ants usually take regular routes to and from their nest and the food source by making a chemical (pheromone) trail. The nest may be found by watching where the ants go. For some ants, such as carpenter ants, this works best at night. When you find the nest it can be treated or removed.

    Outdoor nests can be very difficult to get rid of without chemicals. Be sure to select a product that is labeled for treating lawns:

    • permethrin as liquid or granules
    • carbaryl as liquid or granules
    • bifenthrin as granules
    • cyfluthrin as granules
    • acephate as a liquid

    Note: Liquids work best if they are soaked into the nest. You may need 1/2 gallon or more of mixed material to treat large nests.

    Retreatment of nest sites may be necessary if above ground activity resumes after the initial application.

    If you can’t find the nest, ants can be kept out of the house by applying an insecticide barrier around the exterior of the building.

    If ants are entering only through one area of the house, you can spot treat that area. If it is not clear where the ants are entering, then treat a 2- to 4-foot wide area around the entire building. This control method is temporary and you may need to retreat.

    Insecticides for treating building exteriors

    Be sure to select a product that is labeled for treating the perimeter of buildings’ exteriors:

    • permethrin as a liquid or granules
    • bifenthrin as a liquid
    • carbaryl as a liquid or granules
    • cyfluthrin as granules
    • deltamethrin as a dust

    These methods are NOT effective to get rid of ants

    • Flooding nests with water
    • Pouring gasoline in a nest (it is dangerous and causes environmental pollution)
    • Using spearmint gum, red pepper, orange peels or other herbs

    Drenching a nest many times with an insecticidal soap solution is sometimes effective in forcing an ant colony to relocate.

    Remember you must kill or relocate the queen to manage an ant colony.

    Controlling ants indoors

    When possible, find the nest and treat it with an insecticide. When the nest is hidden behind a wall, it may be necessary to drill small holes and apply an insecticidal dust (be sure it is labeled for indoor use). Follow product directions. Return any unused insecticide back to its original container and thoroughly clean the applicator.

    Common insecticide dusts for treating cracks and crevices

    Be sure to select a product that is labeled for indoor household use. Common active ingredients are deltamethrin or permethrin.

    You can also use baits. Workers feed on the bait and take it back to the nest where they share it with the rest of the colony. An advantage of baits is that they are delivered into inaccessible areas that insecticide sprays cannot reach. However, baits act slowly and may take several weeks to several months to get rid of a colony.

    Ant baits sold in stores for home use are generally labeled for many common household ants, although ants will not be equally attracted to all baits. It is important to identify what ant species you have so you use the right bait.

    Ant baits

    Be sure to select a product that is labeled for ants.

    • abamectin
    • fipronil
    • sulfluramid (may be listed as N-ethyl Perfluorooctanesulfonamide)
    • disodium octaborate
    • orthoboric acid
    • propoxur

    Spraying foraging ants is only temporary and has little impact on the nest. Spraying may be useful for seasonal ant problems when ants enter from outside nests.

    Aerosol ready-to-use insecticides for treating ants found indoors

    Be sure to select a product that is labeled for indoor household use.

    • permethrin as an aerosol or a liquid
    • bifenthrin as liquid
    • cyfluthrin as a liquid
    • cypermethrin as an aerosol
    • deltamethrin as a liquid
    • tralomethrin as an aerosol or a liquid

    Pest management professionals have the training and experience to deal with household ant problems. Contact a trusted pest management company if you want to have your ant problem handled by a professional.

    CAUTION: Mention of a pesticide or use of a pesticide label is for educational purposes only. Always follow the pesticide label directions attached to the pesticide container you are using. Remember, the label is the law.

    Common household ants

    Open a drawer for more specific information and photos of each type of ant listed. It is often challenging to recognize ants from a picture. Because different species may be treated differently, be sure an ant problem is correctly identified before attempting control.

    Camponotus spp.

    Some species of carpenter ants are the largest ants in the north central states.

    • They are black, or red and black
    • Workers range in size from 3/16 to 1/2 inch
    • Colonies consist of major and minor workers
    • Carpenter ants have
      • petiole with one node
      • workers have a thorax with an evenly rounded upper surface

    What they eat

    • Other insects, both living and dead
    • Meat
    • Sweets, including honeydew, syrup, honey, sugar and jelly

    Carpenter ants DO NOT eat wood; they chew wood into sawdust in the process of creating galleries and tunnels.

    Where they nest

    • Moist or rotting wood, including trees or tree stumps
    • Behind bathroom tiles, around tubs, sinks, showers and dishwashers
    • Under roofing, in attic beams, and under subfloor insulation
    • In hollow spaces such as doors, curtain rods and wall voids
    • In soft polystyrene and other forms of insulation

    Carpenter ant tunnels are clean and smooth, making the wood appear that it has been sandpapered. In contrast, termite tunnels are not clean looking, but are packed with dirt like material.

    Mating swarms

    April through June. Occasionally swarms may emerge indoors earlier during late winter on warm, sunny days.

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