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How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants?

It’s that time of year again. Every March through September most people get an uninvited guest, who is accompanied by a multitude of their friends. They infest your house invading your kitchen and dining areas. They converge upon any food they find. No, I’m not talking about your relatives. I’m talking about what is commonly known as the sugar ant. This tiny irritating insect is actually the Pharaoh or Pavement Ant, but is mistakenly nicknamed the sugar ant. This is due to its tendencies to be attracted to sugary sweets

Now, that we have identified your new roommates it is time to serve them their eviction notice. There are several ways to rid your home of this annoying creature. The first is to practice a daily cleaning routine, this is sure to reduce the amount of food brought back to the ant colony. Simply getting into a habit of picking up food messes, and cleaning the surfaces of your kitchen and dining room will go a long way to eradicating the ant’s presence in your home. Second is bait traps to permanently exterminate the problem infecting your home. Finally, there are some natural methods that are safe for pets and children to be exposed to.

Some cleaning products and tools that help combat ants are: bleach all purpose counter cleaner, strong garbage bags, vacuum, broom, mop, bleach floor cleaner, dish soap and a sponge. Making sure your kitchen is clean each night is very important. Leaving dirty dishes out will attract ants, so be sure to at least rinse off food stains and crumbs. Wipe down your counters with the all purpose cleaner to ensure the ants won’t have a tasty evening snack. Sweeping the floor after food is prepared will take another meal away from the ants. You should mop your kitchen and dining area once a day to eliminate the scent trail scouting ants leave behind. If you have a carpeted dining room then vacuum up all the crumbs after your meals. Ants usually cultivate where any type of food falls, so your carpet is a virtual playground for these insects. Take your trash out daily, so the ants don’t find a buffet just waiting for their consumption. These steps will help control the ant population until you can fully rid your home of the pesky insects.

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Killing sugar ants is fairly easy, and the surest way is to set out ant baits. There are several types to choose from, so it is a matter of making an educated decision. Sweet baits are the most common used method of killing sugar ants. Most all of these baits will contain boric acid, also known as Borax. Borax is usually non-toxic to humans, but ingestion isn’t recommended. If you have children or pets this style of eradication isn’t recommended. This mineral is poisonous to ants, and has the ability to kill a whole colony. The trap works by luring ants to partake in the sweet boric acid, from there the ants will then take a portion of it back to their dwelling. After the other ants consume the bait very soon the whole colony will be exterminated.

There are natural ways to control and kill sugar ants that are safe for children and pets to be around. One way is using white vinegar to clean surfaces instead of the bleach cleaner. The strong odor of vinegar isn’t pleasant, but will detract the ants from frequenting your counters. The acetic acid in the vinegar works as a cleaning agent, and will be just as effective as the bleach solution. Another natural method to repel the insects is whole cloves. The pungent scent of cloves seems to drive away ants, as it confuses their senses. Placing this spice along baseboards and under windows is a great way to deter the ants from entering your home. Bay leaves are a natural deterrent for these insects, and should be used exactly like the aforementioned cloves. If you are looking for a natural way to kill ants use boiling water. Locate the ant colony by following the ant trail, then pour boiling water into it. This will end the ants disturbing presence in your home.


Darren Urman became a professional writer 15 years ago, when he retired as a building contractor. Darren joined the THF team of writers in July, 2009. He enjoys cooking, writing, and traveling.

  • Amanda Tempel

    Thanks for the info. We’ve had sweet ants recently. I feel bad killing them, but they need to go. I found one of the colony “homes” or whatever in my new $200 camera… that I had to throw away. A final straw for me.. I just applied vinegar all over my counters, and I saw them walking away, but have already seen a few back on. Going to go check out Home Depot tomorrow to look for the sweet ant traps you mentioned.

  • PennyV

    Hi, Amanda!

    You may find some of the suggestions other users have made regarding getting rid of ants under the pest control section of this site’s forum threads. You may also find these other articles on The Housing Forum helpful:

  • PennyV

    Amanda, you may benefit from reading some of the other ant control articles on THF as well as joining us on this forum thread:

  • Pricelessbevy

    Thanks for the info, but in my case sweeping and mopping my kitchen and dining floors everyday is not the best option. I simply do not have the time. I’ll get me some Borax though! Thanks a million.

  • PennyV

    Pricelessbevy, if you don’t want to use Borax, you can use baby powder or talcum powder.

  • Paul

    Here is another trick to kill them in their tracks. Spray Windex, or a similar window cleaner, directly on them. They will instantly stop moving. Then just wipe it up with paper towel.

  • PennyV

    Thanks for this helpful trick, Paul! Even just pouring pure water on the ants can temporarily get rid of the ants, as well as kill a few of them.