Are you dealing with ants roaming in and out of your home? An ant infestation can seem to come out of nowhere, with ants being most prevalent in homes during twilight when most of us are sleeping. Some people find ants to be a seasonal problem. However, depending on your region and where you live, ants can be a nuisance inside your home all year round.
If you’re dealing with ants, you may be on the hunt for some quality ant traps to help catch these pesky intruders and stop them in their tracks before they have the opportunity to bring their entire colony along behind them.
Ant traps are an excellent tool many homeowners use to get rid of ants and keep them from returning.
That said, ant traps do not work entirely on their own to get rid of ants and keep them from coming back. The best ant traps for your home will be most effective when used alongside other ant repellent remedies and methods.
Join us today as we talk a bit more about ants, why they’ve invaded your home, and how you can get rid of them and keep them from returning using ant traps.
What Are Ants?
Ants are small insects in the same family as bees and wasps.
Ants are small insects in the Hymenopterans class, which also includes wasps and bees. While many ants are considered pests, some species of ants are highly beneficial and play an important role in our ecosystem.
In fact, ants are credited for helping to aerate soil, improve drainage, help fertilize soil and increase vegetation health, disperse seeds, and they even prey on other pests like ticks, stink bugs, termites, and scorpions.
Unfortunately, if you’re here looking for ant traps to use for the pesky ants driving you nuts, chances are you’ve missed all the goodness these insects do, which isn’t a surprise.
While ants do have loads of benefits, once they get into our homes they can truly wreak havoc simply due to their overwhelming numbers.
While there are over 12,000 different ant species across the world, (and an estimated 12,000 more ant species yet to be discovered), there are a few species of ants most commonly to blame for household infestations in the United States.
These ants include:
- Fire Ants
- Sugar Ants
- Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants are the most common home-invading ants in the US, causing a foul odor in homes and even contaminating foods and costing hundreds of dollars in waste.
Worse, ants are social insects and live in large colonies of more than a million other ants. In fact, scientists estimate that there are between one and ten quadrillion ants throughout the world. That’s an estimated one million ants per human. Wow.
And with that in mind, one ant infestation inside your home can include upwards of one million ants and sometimes more. This is why most experts agree that using ant traps are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting your home from an ant infestation.
Still, ant traps can be useful and even effective when used correctly to prevent and help quell an ant infestation. But before we dive into our list of best ant traps, let’s talk more about ants and what has attracted them to your home in the first place.
What Attracts Ants To Your Home?
Ants are attracted to food sources and especially sweet foods like fruits and candy.
Like most nuisance pests, ants are attracted by three major sources including food, water, and shelter.
For ants, food and water are a primary attractant, with sweet foods being the number one target for these hungry critters.
Different ants have different diets depending on their species. That said, most house-invading ants are omnivores and feed on both plant and animal matter. Ants who invade homes are often seeking food sources that range from animal matter, plant matter, fungi, honey, nectar, dead insects, dead animals, rotting organic matter and more.
This means practically any food source in your home that you eat an ant could eat and then some. The “and then some” is generally referring to those ants who eat smaller insects or dead insect carcasses, and even rotting foods like garbage.
House plants are another attractant to ants. While most ants who invade our homes aren’t looking to feast on our flowers, they are lured in by their sweet, fragrant smells as well as the rich moisture in the potted soil. Other insects that hang around potted plants like fungus gnats and aphids may also be attractive to hungry ants.
So, the sum it up, practically any home with food, water, or plant life can be an ideal ant magnet. This basically means any home in the United States.
But how do you know if you have an ant infestation? Is there a way to catch an infestation before it gets out of control? And how do ant traps help remedy an ant problem before it becomes overwhelming?
Don’t worry. We are going to answer all your questions below. Keep reading.
Signs Of An Ant Infestation
Ants in your food are often a good sign you have an infestation.
While ant infestations may seem to come out of nowhere, there are some signs you can look for that will help you get a jump on the beginnings of an ant invasion in your home.
Some common signs of an ant infestation include:
Seeing A Stray Ant
The very beginnings of an ant infestation usually begins with a few scout ants. These ants make it their mission to break into your home and find food. Once they do find food, they will leave behind a scent trail to communicate with the other ants in their colony. Ants may also bring some of the food they’ve found back to their nest with them.
Ant traps are most helpful in the early stages of an infestation because they can trap and kill these scout ants and even take out colonies if the scout ant brings poison bait back to the nest.
Coming Across Ant Nests Outside Your Home
Another early sign of a potential ant infestation is coming across ant nests around the perimeter of your home. These nests can look different depending on the species of ant you’re dealing with, but many look like small mounds of dirt in cracks or crevices of the sidewalk or along the perimeter of your home, in your deck, or on your patio.
If you find an ant nest, act quickly to protect your home against invasions as they can happen quite fast. Using insect traps along with other methods like sprays and repellents can help keep your home ant free.
Finding Food Overrun With Ants
If you go to pour yourself a bowl of cereal and notice it’s crawling with ants, you’ve got an ant infestation. Other types of foods that ants can overtake include fruit that has been left out in fruit bowls, candy, honey, open soda cans, or exposed leftovers.
You may even wake to find the dirty dishes in the sink from the night before are overrun with ants or that ants have infiltrated your garbage bin.
Finding that Your Pet’s Food Is Crawling With Ants
If you put your pet’s food dish down and return a moment later to find it crawling with ants, you definitely have an infestation going on somewhere in your home. By this point, the scout ants have likely already done their job and left behind scent trails, which have attracted even more ants to the food sources.
The best way to manage this type of ant infestation is to lay out ant traps and use other methods like repellents, sprays, and home remedies to get rid of the ants.
But what are the best types of ant traps to help prevent or manage an ant infestation? Let’s take a look.
Best Ant Traps For Inside Your Home
Many ant traps include baited poisons that scout ants ingest and then take back to the colony.
As we mentioned briefly above, ant traps are usually most effective when used in the early stages of an ant infestation or when used alongside other pest control methods. Most ant traps can help stop an infestation not by capturing the scout ants who are entering your home in search of food, but by allowing these ants to take bait which has been poisoned back to the colony. This helps not only kill the scout ants, but also any more ants that would potentially follow.
Other ant traps use sticky glue that is non-toxic and safe to use in home with family and pets. These traps will often lure the ants in and catch them, eventually killing them in the glue.
While some ant traps are generally safe for people and pets, it’s important to do your research and make sure you know what ingredients are being used in each trap so you can use it confidently in your home.
If you’re not sure which type of trap would be right for you and your home, we have listed some of our favorites for you to take a look at below.
HARRIS Ant Killer Ant Traps
The above product by HARRIS uses boric acid to make deadly ant traps that ants can’t resist. The combination uses a bait that is put in nine bait trays which are meant to be placed throughout your home.
These ant traps work by luring the ant to eat the bait, which expands in the ant’s stomach and kills it. Many scout ants also bring this bait back to the colony as well, which can further reduce and control ant infestations.
While boric acid is a natural pest control agent, these traps do contain some harsh ingredients that can be harmful to people and pets so only use them as directed and keep them out of reach of kids and animals.
Raid Max Ant Traps and Bait
These traps by Raid work similarly to the HARRIS ant traps above, though they contain insecticides to kill and control the entire ant colony once ingested.
The baited ant traps entice scout ants to ingest the bait and then bring bait back to the colony, where other ants and often even the queen will be taken care of. While this is an effective method for ant removal and these traps do work well, they can be dangerous to use in homes with people and pets and should be used with caution.
Home Plus Ant Traps
These ant killing traps and bait stations are designed to be used both indoors and outdoors and come in pet and child safe containers. To work, they should be placed around your home or the perimeter of your home where you suspect ant activity to kill scout ants and prevent ant colonies from forming.
That said, and while these containers are child resistant, the ingredients used to poison the ants can be toxic to people and pets. Use these traps only as directed and keep them out of reach of children.
Terro Sticky Ant Traps
If you are looking for a non-toxic way to manage ants using ant traps we recommend using sticky glue traps, like this trap above by Terro. This trap is made with a folded design to protect curious pets or debris from getting into the glue.
They also work to catch and kill other pests like spiders, roaches, ticks, bed bugs, and more. The glue on these sticky traps are non toxic, but we still suggest you keep pets away from these traps as they could accidentally get them stuck in their fur.
Catchmaster Ant Traps
Another non-toxic and poison-free method for catching ants is a glue trap by Catchmaster. Again, this product uses non-toxic sticky glue to capture ants as they attempt to invade your home. The folded design helps make it more difficult for pets or children to get into the glue, but even if they do the glue is harmless.
These traps can be placed around your home wherever you notice ant activity and can be used alongside other ant repellent methods.
Hot Shot Ant Traps
Hot Shot is a well known brand that makes baited ant stations. These traps work well for killing and controlling ant infestations in and around your home when used correctly. Each order includes eight ant bait stations and is designed to encourage scout ants to take the bait back to the colony to kill the queen.
While these ant traps and bait stations are child-resistant, we still recommend you use them with caution and keep them out of reach of children and pets since the ingredients in the bait can be toxic.
PIC Ant Killer Bait Stations
Last on our list of recommended ant traps are bait stations by PIC. Each order contains four ant traps that are child and pet resistant and that work to kill ants by giving scout ants enough time to ingest the poison bait and then to take the bait back to the colony.
The poison begins working 24 hours after being ingested by the ant, giving it plenty of time to take the bait back to the queen, which can help reduce and prevent ant infestations from becoming worse.
That said, the ingredients in these ant traps are toxic and can be harmful to people and pets, so use them only as directed and keep them away from the kiddos.
Other Products You Can Use To Keep Ants Away
Some natural, vinegar based cleaners can help keep ants at bay
Remember, using ant traps and bait stations alone may not be enough to control and repel ants or prevent an ant infestation from getting out of control. Along with using the above traps to keep ants at bay, we also recommend using other ant-repellent products.
We have listed some of our favorite products you can use along with ant traps to help keep ants away or control and eradicate an ant infestation already in the works below.
Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar
Scout ants are super problematic because they leave behind scent trails that allow other ants in their colony to find their way into your home. You can help prevent this from happening by cleaning often and using a vinegar based cleaner like Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar listed above.
This product is actually extra effective on ants because it not only eliminates the scent trail left behind by scout ants but it repels future pest ants from returning by leaving behind a lovely eucalyptus scent, which ants hate.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Spray
We love wondercide because it naturally and effectively gets rid of and repels pests like ants, spiders, roaches, fleas, flies, and even bed bugs. It uses natural ingredients like essential oils and you can choose the scent that best suits you.
Wondercide also makes products that work outdoors, so if you want a natural and effective ant perimeter spray we suggest looking into that.
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer Perimeter Spray
Along with using ant traps in and outside of your home to help defend against ants, we recommend using a perimeter spray to keep pests from coming inside. We have included Ortho Home Perimeter Spray because it is a well-known brand and has a number of great reviews.
While we do like this spray for pest control around the home, we should note that it contains strong insecticides and other chemical ingredients that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment.
With that in mind, we suggest only using this product as directed and keeping it out of reach of children and pets.
How To Make Your Own Ant Traps At Home
Mixing baking soda with sugar is a natural and effective ant killer.
If do it yourself pest control is your thing, then you’ll love these recipes and ideas on how to go about making your own ant traps and repellents at home.
Essential Oil Ant Repellents
Like many pests, ants are repelled by a number of essential oils. The overwhelming scent of these oils not only drives current ants away, but can also keep future ants and pests like spiders, roaches, flies, fleas, ticks, mice, and even bats from coming back around.
Some of the most effective essential oils that repel ants include:
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Citrus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Lemongrass Oil
- Clove Oil
- Cinnamon oOil
- Lemon Oil
- Orange Oil
- Grapefruit Oil
You can make a simple ant repellent spray by dropping 10 drops of any oil you like from the above list into two cups of water and mixing it in a spray bottle. Then simply spray any area around your home where you have noticed ant activity.
You can also make your own ant traps using the below recipe:
Boric Acid And Corn Syrup Ant Trap
- 1 Small Bowl
- 1 Teaspoon Boric Acid
- ¼ Cup of Corn Syrup
- A Few Strips of Wax Paper
Mix the ingredients together in the bowl and then drop pea-sized drops onto different strips of wax paper. Place this paper around your home where you have noticed or suspect ant activity.
The ants will eat this mixture and the boric acid will expand in their stomachs, killing them. Scout ants may also bring this poison back to their nest, further helping reduce the ant population causing you trouble.
Powdered Sugar and Baking Soda Ant Trap
- Equal Parts Baking Soda
- Equal Parts Powdered Sugar
- Several Strips of Wax Paper
Mix the above powders together and place a bit on the strips of wax paper, similar to the boric acid ant traps above. Leave this bait anywhere you have noticed ant activity. When ingested, the baking soda will expand in the ants stomach and kill it. Ants may also take this bait back to their nest.
Soap and Vinegar Ant Hill Killer
- ¼ cup liquid dish soap
- 1 Gallon Boiling water
- 1 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
This is an ant killer that is specifically designed to destroy ant hills and nests outside of your home. Simply pour the still-hot mixture above directly into the ant hills. That said, keep in mind that the boiling water and vinegar can be harmful to grass and plants, so use this method carefully.
We also suggest leaving ant hills and nests alone if they are far enough away from your property to not cause a problem. Remember, ants are highly beneficial so long as they stay outside.
Tips On Preventing Future Ant Infestations
Ants are beneficial when they stay outside, and that’s where we should try and keep them using preventative measures.
Ant traps are an effective form of ant control and prevention, but there are some other methods you can use to protect yourself from ants in your home and around your property.
Be Vigilant And Watch For Scout Ants
Yes, we mentioned this earlier and we are mentioning it again. Look out for those scout ants! These guys are usually your very first clue that you’re in for an ant infestation and will que you into when it’s time to set up ant traps around your home and use other remedies of prevention listed below.
Remove Ant Trails From Scout Ants
If you see scout ants then you probably have ant trails. These trails are scent trails left behind by scout ants that alert other ants in the colony that there are food and moisture sources in the home. You can remove these scent trails using commercial cleaners, but vinegar works just as well and so do essential oils.
Clean And Sanitize Surfaces Often
Wipe down and clean surfaces often, especially after preparing a snack or meal. Even tiny crumbs left behind can lure in ants, so use a quality cleaner or vinegar cleaner to help wipe up any leftover food particles and reduce odors that attract ants and other pests.
Vacuum and Sweep Regularly
Vacuuming and sweeping is just as important as cleaning your counters. Food particles and crumbs can easily make their way to your floors, and they can attract not only ants but also roaches, mice, and other pests looking for a quick and easy meal.
Practice Routine Home Maintenance
Keeping your home in ship shape all year long will help prevent ants and other pests like mice, roaches, spiders, earwigs, and more from entering. Make sure entry and exit points close and seal securely, fix ill-fitting window screens, repair ripped window screens, and caulk and seal cracks and crevices around the perimeter of your home.
Monitor and Control Ant Colonies Outside Your Home
If you notice ant colonies beginning to crop up around the perimeter of your house, start taking care of them immediately. Keep in mind that ant infestations begin from the outside, and you can prevent them from happening inside by destroying these ant hills as you come across them.
Use A Pest Control Method All Year Around
The last method you can use to prevent an ant infestation inside your home is to continue using a pest control remedy all year round. Whether you use ant traps, home remedies, organic pest control regimes, or insecticides, just make sure you are doing so carefully and routinely.
Practicing pest control management and using the proper tools and ingredients will help keep your family and home safe from not only ants, but countless other pests as well.
We hope this article has been a helpful guide in how to use ant traps to keep ants out of your home. Best of luck in staying ant free!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.