Ants are some of the most common household pests in the United States. Although tiny, ant colonies can include millions of ants and they can infest our homes, yards, and even foods. Many people in the US deal with what they call “sugar ants”. These ants are often blamed for sneaking into your home, overrunning any left out food, and sometimes bringing entire colonies inside with them for a free feast.
As the weather warms up, you’re likely seeing more and more of these pesky pests and looking for remedies to take care of the problem.
Whether you’re outdoors or in, dealing with sugar ants is certainly a nuisance. Worse yet, sugar ants can contaminate foods and cost hundreds of dollars in waste.
So, how do you get rid of sugar ants and keep them from coming back? Let’s find out.
What Are Sugar Ants?
Sugar ants in the US are a number of different ants commonly nicknamed sugar ants due to their appetite for sweet foods.
Many of us in the States refer to the small, home invading ants who seek out sweet foods as sugar ants. Not to be confused with the true sugar ant or banded ant, who is a native ant to Australia, US sugar ants are a number of species of common nuisance ants that are known to seek out anything sweet.
The sugar ants of the US could be any species of ant you find in your home, but the most common types of “sugar ants” found here are listed below.
Most ants we refer to as “sugar ants” don’t cause property damage, but if you’ve got carpenter ants in your home, watch out. Like termites, carpenter ants dig through wood which can cause serious structural damage to your home.
Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood and are highly attracted to any type of sweet food and even meat sources.
Many people wondering how to get rid of sugar ants are dealing with pavement ants. These are those super small black or brown ants you often find in large colonies congregating in cracks and crevices in sidewalks or trailing along on your picnic blanket.
Pavement ants are for the most part harmless, though they can get into your foods like cereals, crackers and cookies and have been known to transmit harmful diseases. Though this is rare, you should still take action to protect your home and foods from these annoying little pests.
Odorous House Ants
If your type of “sugar ant” is an odorous house ant, you’ll really be looking at how to get rid of sugar ants in a hurry. Odorous house ants emit a foul smelling odor that is stronger when the numbers are larger.
Odorous house ants, like all the US sugar ants on this list, invade homes looking for foods and have a very strong sense of smell. Unfortunately, they also heighten your sniffer senses in a rather unpleasant way.
Of course, there are other types of “sugar ants” in the US that cause problems. The rest include:
- Acrobat Ants
- Cornfield Ants
- False Honey Ants
- Little Black Ants
- Rover Ants
- Argentine Ants
- And Pharaoh Ants
So, now you know that sugar ants could be a wide variety of ant species in the United States, and that’s great. But how do you get rid of sugar ants in your home and keep them from returning in the future?
In order to answer that question, it’s important to first take a look at what has attracted these sugar ants to your home in the first place.
What Attracted Sugar Ants To Your Home?
As their name suggests, sugar ants are often attracted to sweet foods.
When looking for how to get rid of sugar ants in your home, it helps to understand what brought them there in the first place.
Regardless of the sugar ant species you’re dealing with, ants have a very strong sense of smell and are often lured in by the scent of food.
Ants live in massive colonies and can easily infest your home if you’re not careful. That said, most ant infestations begin outside and begin with scout ants.
Scout ants are ants that leave the colony in search of food. They often enter homes through cracks, crevices, ripped screens, or open doors or windows after being attracted to the smell of a sweet food source.
These scout ants leave behind scent trails, which communicate to the other ants in their colony how to get into your home and find the food. This is often how an infestation begins.
Most sugar ants are attracted to foods that contain sugars (obviously) including:
- Brown sugar
- White sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Maple syrup
- Corn syrup
- Soft drinks
- And the honeydew secretions left on houseplants by aphids and other insects
Some species of “sugar ant” can also be attracted to rotting organic material, other dead insects, dried meats, and water.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants – Identifying A Suger Ant Problem
Catching ants in action eating your food like this is a sign of an ant infestation in your home.
If you’re working on how to get rid of sugar ants, you might already know the signs to look for to determine if you have a sugar ant infestation.
In case you’re not sure, let’s take a look at some of the most common signs of an ant infestation in your home.
The Most Common Signs Of An Ant Infestation In Your Home Include:
- Seeing one or two scout ants inside your home
- Finding a trail of ants in your home (AKA an ant pathway)
- Discovering an ant nest near your property
- Leaving food out for a moment only to find ants overtaking it inside or outside
- A foul smelling and sickly sweet odor (caused by an infestation of odorous house ants)
- Ants crawling out from baseboards or other wood inside your home (this typically means a carpenter ant infestation)
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants – Most Popular Methods
There are several methods you can choose to help you get rid of sugar ants.
Because ants have been a common household pest in America for such a long time, there are many methods experts recommend you use to get rid of them. These methods can include natural products, insecticides, home remedies, and even professionals.
For the most part, removing ants from your home shouldn’t be too difficult, as these are sensitive pests who are repelled by many ingredients and chemicals and are easily enticed by poisonous baits.
That said, the right method for you for how to get rid of sugar ants will depend on your personal preference and sometimes even your lifestyle.
Many people with pets and children in the home or those who would rather use organic pest control options prefer to use natural repellents with ingredients that don’t contain harsh chemicals and are not harmful to people, pets or the environment.
If this sounds like you, you’ll also be happy to hear that you can also use home remedies for how to get rid of sugar ants. Home remedies often involve using ingredients you already have in your kitchen cabinet or pantry and can often repel and control an ant infestation just as effectively as commercial products.
However, if your ant infestation is severe and you need a more intensive method for how to get rid of sugar ants, you may need to use insecticides. While insecticides are effective and not only work to get rid of ants but also many other home invading pests, it’s important to remember that they may contain harsh chemicals and toxins that can be dangerous to people, pets and the environment, and should be used with caution.
If none of the above methods work, you may need to turn to professional help for how to get rid of sugar ants. A very large pest problem of any kind may be a symptom of a more serious issue in your home such as water damage, other pests, and more.
But before we go over when the appropriate time would be to contact a professional, let’s take a look at some of our favorite products for how to get rid of sugar ants naturally.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants Using Natural Products
Commercial products containing citrus or peppermint oil can get rid of sugar ants and other pests.
As we mentioned above, if you don’t want to use insecticides or other harsh chemicals as a method for how to get rid of sugar ants, you’re in luck. There are plenty of natural products you can use that don’t contain any toxins and that are safe to use around people, pets and the environment.
Some of our favorite natural products listed below use essential oils and non-toxic glue traps, to control and eliminate an ant infestation in your home safely and quickly.
Take a look.
Wondercide Natural Pest Control Indoor Spray
First on our list of how to get rid of sugar ants using natural products is an indoor spray called Wondercide. This is a natural form of pest control that uses essential oils like peppermint oil to kill and repel pests on contact.
This spray is so safe it can even be used on pets to protect them from fleas and ticks and is gentle enough to spray on houseplants to kill aphids, gnats, and flies. You can also use this spray to get rid of spiders, bed bugs, roaches, and scorpions.
Wondercide Natural Pest Control Yard Spray
If Wondercide works so well inside your home for how to get rid of sugar ants, it’s no surprise it should work just as well outside. Since most ant infestations begin with scout ants who find their way inside, part of any good pest control regime will include creating a barrier around the outside of your home.
We like Wondercide outdoor pest spray because it can protect your home from ants, spiders, roaches, centipedes, fleas, ticks, and more. Best of all, it is perfectly safe to use on your plants, in your garden, and fine for children and pets.
Mdxconcepts Organic Home Pest Control
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Another organic pest control spray we like for how to get rid of sugar ants is a spray by MDXconcepts. This spray uses essential oils and other natural ingredients to kill and repel ants, spiders, roaches, and more.
It is safe to use in kitchens where food is stored and prepared and will not harm people, pets or the environment. That said, this spray works best as a target treatment and preventative and may need to be used along with other ant repellent products in the case of a very large infestation.
Boric Acid Ant and Roach Killer
Boric Acid is a product used for a number of household chores and is also very popular as a natural form of pest control. This product is a natural dust insecticide that is derived from organic minerals from rocks, water and soil.
Wondering how to get rid of sugar ants using boric acid? It’s simple. This is a poison that, once ingested by pests, expands in their stomachs and kills them. The above product is specifically designed to attract and kill ants and roaches, but you can also mix it with powdered sugar to make it more attractive to the ants.
One of the things that makes boric acid so effective when it comes to getting rid of large ant problems is that scout ants often take this bait back to their colony, which further assists in reducing infestations.
Diatomaceous Earth Powder
If you have read any of our other articles on natural pest control, you’ll notice we recommend Diatomaceous Earth quite often. This is a natural dust insect killer that works on contact by penetrating an insect’s exoskeleton, which dehydrates and kills it.
Diatomaceous earth works for how to get rid of sugar ants when they crawl through it, so it is most effective when placed around the perimeter of your home both inside and out. You can even use this dust in gardens and around your landscaping. However, it works best when dry and will need to be reapplied if it gets wet.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants Using Insecticides And Bait Traps
Poison bait is a popular method used to get rid of ants.
Some very large sugar ant infestations may require the use of a more intensive treatment that includes chemicals. Although insecticides are a well-known and effective method of control for how to get rid of sugar ants, the downside is that they contain harsh chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment.
For the most part, a sugar ant infestation can be remedied using natural repellents when applied correctly. However, this is not always the case. If you feel your ant infestation is too large and you need to use insecticides or poison baits to help control ants, we have you covered below with a few popular products.
TERRO Adhesive Strips
Glue traps are often used to catch and eliminate crawling insects like ants and roaches, but this glue trap by TERRO includes a bait that attracts sugar ants, enticing them to get stuck. This is an excellent tool to use along with other ant removal products to help monitor an ant infestation inside your home.
Experts suggest placing these ant traps along baseboards, beneath appliances, and anywhere else you have noticed ant activity. That said, the bait is poison and the glue can catch on children and pets, so use this product with caution and only as directed.
Hot Shot Ant Killer Aerosol
Hot Shot is a popular product used to control a number of pests, and it works well for how to get rid of ant infestations on contact inside and outside the home. This is an aerosol spray for ant control that uses the active ingredient permethrin, which is a common insecticide.
While effective in killing ants, spiders, silverfish, and roaches, permethrin is also toxic and can be dangerous if not used correctly. Experts recommend reading the directions carefully and using this product only as directed.
Amdro Ant Block Granule
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These ant granules by Amdro are specifically designed as a perimeter protected for how to get rid of sugar ants outside of your home. It can last up to three months and uses baited granules that are poisonous to ants but have an extended kill period, so scout ants can bring the poison back to the colony.
This product is effective, works well and is long lasting, but it can be harmful to people, pets and the environment and should be used only as directed.
TERRO Liquid Ant Bait Killer
This is another bait trap that works well for how to get rid of sugar ants. Bait traps like this one by Terro are recommended by experts because they entice ants to take the bait back to the colony, where other pest ants will ingest it and be eliminated.
This product can be placed around your home and anywhere you have noticed ant activity to help get rid of a number of different types of species of ant. However, and like most products on this list of insecticides and baits for how to get rid of sugar ants, this product does contain ingredients that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment.
Ortho Home Defense Liquid Ant Bait
Last but not least are these bait traps by Ortho Home Defense. The order includes six bait station traps that are designed to entice scout ants to not only ingest the poison, but also take it back to their colony.
The bait targets the queen in order to effectively eliminate the infestation at its source. However, while this product is effective for how to get rid of sugar ants, it does contain harsh chemical ingredients that can be dangerous and should be kept out of reach of children and pets.
Best Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants
Citrus and peppermint are two ingredients that repel ants.
If you’ve read through the above products for how to get rid of sugar ants and still think using home remedies is right for you, then you’re in luck. There are plenty of different ingredients and recipes you can use for how to get rid of sugar ants and other pests on your own at home.
Best of all, these methods are generally safe for your loved ones and gentle on the environment, and many of the below recipes also help to repel and control other pest problems around your home.
Let’s start with some common household ingredients that repel sugar ants below:
- White Vinegar
- Citrus Fruits
- Salt Or Pepper
- Castile Soap
- Tea Tree Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Citrus Oil
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants Using An Essential Oil Spray
- 1 spray bottle
- 1/4 cup of water
- 15 drops of tea tree oil
- 15 drops of peppermint oil
- 7 drops of citrus oil
Mix the above solution well in a spray bottle and spray it around your home and wherever you have noticed ant activity. This concoction can kill ants on contact and the scent of the essential oils will repel any future ants from coming around. The spray will also help eliminate ant scent trails left behind by scout ants.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants Using White Vinegar Spray
- 1 spray bottle
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 cup of water
Mix the solution in a spray bottle and use it similarly to the essential oil spray above. This vinegar spray can also be used on countertops and tables as a safe and effective sanitizer. The vinegar will even help eliminate any scent trails left behind by scout ants.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants Using Cinnamon, Chalk, or Cornmeal Deterrents
- 1 canister of cinnamon spice OR
- 1 package of common white powdered chalk OR
- 1 package of cornmeal
The above ingredients may not necessarily kill sugar ants, but they can help repel them. Sprinkle the above around entry and exit points and anywhere you would like to keep ants from coming around. Ants do not like chalk, cinnamon, or cornmeal and will avoid walking through it.
Need more home remedy ideas for how to get rid of sugar ants?
The below video gives other great tips and ideas on home remedies you can use for how to get rid of sugar ants naturally.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants – When To Call A Professional
While most people don’t need to call a professional for how to get rid of sugar ants, these insects can become an overwhelming problem quite quickly if not taken care of early on. Furthermore, a very large ant infestation may be a sign of a secondary problem, so if you can’t seem to get rid of the ants in your home using the above methods, you may need to call in the pros.
Professional pest control experts for how to get rid of sugar ants should be able to help you pinpoint your ant problem and eradicate the issue. On average, professional pest control experts charge between $100 and $500, but sometimes they will charge more depending on your region and severity of your infestation.
While professionals can help eliminate a pest problem temporarily, they cannot keep pests from coming back permanently. For this reason, it’s very important to implement some preventative measures to help keep sugar ants from returning.
How To Prevent A Future Sugar Ant Problem In Your Home
Most ant infestations begin outside the home, so monitor ants and ant hills you find on your property.
Prevention is key to any good pest control regime. Once you’ve figured out how to get rid of sugar ants, experts recommend focusing on preventative measures to keep them from coming back.
Luckily, preventing sugar ants is generally easier (and less expensive) than trying to get rid of them. Best of all, using the preventative measures listed below can also help keep other household pests from becoming a problem in the future.
You can prevent sugar ants and other pests from returning to your home by following the below advice:
- Don’t Leave Dirty Dishes In The Sink Overnight
Remember, sugar ants have a very strong sense of smell and can quickly overtake homes to get to food sources. If you leave dirty dishes out overnight, you are practically inviting these pests in for a free meal.
Washing dishes promptly or putting them in the dishwasher right away will not only help keep ants at bay, but also other pests like mice, roaches, and flies.
- Sanitize Countertops And Tables After Making and Eating Meals
Vinegar and citrus sprays work especially well to repel ants and can help eliminate their scent trail, as we discussed above. Routinely cleaning countertops and tables will also help reduce the chances of ants and other pests spreading potential illnesses to your foods if they do happen to get into them.
- Seal And Store Foods Properly
Speaking of ants getting into foods, the best way to avoid this is to store foods properly. Keep perishable foods refrigerated and pantry foods stored in airtight containers made of glass or thick plastic. We also suggest not leaving fruit out in fruit bowls to become overripe or rotten.
- Vacuum And Sweep Routinely
Vacuuming and sweeping can help catch any crumbs you may have accidentally dropped while preparing a meal or eating food. Remember, even the tiniest crumbs can attract scout ants, who can then lead their entire colony into your home.
- Keep Up Routine Home Maintenance
Ants are super small and can get into our homes through the tiniest cracks, crevices, tears in screens, and gaps in doors and windows. Practice routine home maintenance and caulk and seal any potential entry points for ants and other pests to help protect your home and family.
- Remove Ant Colonies Near Your Property
Ant colonies outside of your home can easily turn into ant colonies inside your home if they are not kept under control. If you find ant colonies or ant hills that are too close for comfort, get rid of them.
- Use A Pest Control Regime All Year Round
Last, keep up with routine pest control all year round. Whether you use commercial products or home remedies, it’s wise to apply some kind of perimeter barrier around your home inside and out to keep it safe from a number of pests, including sugar ants.
So, what do you think? Do you have other ideas about how to get rid of sugar ants in your home and keep them from returning? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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.