The word “ant” makes us think about a hard worker, carrying supplies to its anthill. Even when you see such a small insect in your sugar bowl in the kitchen, the idea that you are attacked by pests does not come into your mind at once. Well, can this little sugar ant even eat that much?
In fact, the presence of sugar ants signals danger and requires immediate action. Who are these ants, and why should they be controlled?
- 1 What are the sugar ants?
- 2 How to prevent the appearance of sugar ants
- 3 Getting rid of sugar ants
- 3.1 What to pay attention to when choosing a sugar ant killer
- 3.2 What products to choose
- 3.3 Ant traps – Best Sugar Ant Treatment
- 3.4 Ant Sprays
- 3.5 Gel insecticides
- 3.6 Long-lasting insecticide pencils and chalks
- 3.7 How this product works
- 4 Home remedies for sugar ants
- 5 Conclusion
What are the sugar ants?
There are more than 10 thousand species of ants. But in the kitchen, you usually meet sugar, or pharaoh, ants.
Sugar ants are small light brown or yellowish insects. They are called “sugar” because they like sweet food: sugar, honey, jelly, cakes. They were first discovered in the Egyptian pyramids in the 18th century. That is why their second name is pharaoh ants.
Also Read: How to get rid of carpenter ant infestation.
How sugar ants look like?
Sugar ants are small. Male ants reach a length of about 1,5-2 mm, and female ants can reach 4-4,5 mm. But despite its small size, sugar ant is one of the main pests on all the continents.
The sugar ant has 3 pairs of legs and long moving antennae. These antennae are the most sensitive organ that can recognize aromas, ground motions, and air currents. Using their antennae, sugar ants recognize each other, signal danger, find their way to the anthill or food.
If the ant loses its antennae, it will not be able to perceive any information or even find its way back home. Workers that are most commonly seen in homes do not have wings, so don’t confuse them with flying ants.
Where do sugar ants live?
Sugar ants have spread across all continents, except for Antarctica. They were brought with stuff and products from Asia to all countries on ships. This gave them another name – ship ants.
Sugar ants settle only next to humans in houses, apartments, restaurants, hospitals, food factories, greenhouses, etc. The sugar ants love warmth. Therefore, they live only in heated premises. They build their anthills in cracks, under plaster, and along heating pipes.
Sugar ants can be found behind skirting boards, in crevices between panels, in outlets, switches, in old books, in a wardrobe amidst your stuff and a heap of clothes, in pantries among foodstuffs (especially if sacks and bags are rarely revised there).
Anthills occupy a small space – only 3-4 square cm. But numerous passages and tunnels lead to this nest.
Want to skip all the research and hire a licensed exterminator for your ant problem?
How do sugar ants form their colonies?
Sugar ants are social insects and live only in colonies. A colony has a sugar ant queen, reproductive male ants, and non-reproductive workers. They find food and bring it to the queen.
One sugar ant colony has up to 350 thousand individuals, among which there are 100-200 adult females except for the sugar ant queen. They can leave the colony and create their own family at any moment. Sugar ants grow quickly: it takes only 38 days for an insect to develop from an egg to an adult reproductive female. But sugar ants do not live long.
Worker ants live about 60 days, male ants live only 20 days, and female ants live up to 10 months.
How do sugar ants communicate with each other?
Sugar ants transmit information through the pheromones. Their chemical signals are developed better than in any other insects. Ants mark the food they have found with a particular odor, which they use to orient and find their way back to the anthill. They catch such smells at great distances. One sugar ant that has found sugar or sweets in your cupboard will bring all workers to take the food to the anthill.
Thanks to this feature, sugar ants can cover distances of 35 meters in search of food and return home.
What do sugar ants eat?
Sugar ants got their name from their food preferences: they like sugar, sweets, jellies, jam, candies, as well as bread products, fish, fatty foods. They can also eat food remains, waste from your trash can, fish and meat remains. Even if these insects find a little breadcrumb on the floor, they will immediately surround it and drag it bit by bit to the anthill.
What harm do sugar ants cause?
In addition to the obvious harm in the form of spoiled food, ants contribute to the spread of bacterial and viral diseases in humans. These insects can find and eat something from the trash can, contact with the waste, feces, they can even eat carrion. Sugar ants carry helminth eggs and other infections that are dangerous to human health on their feet: streptococcus, staphylococcus, dysentery, etc.
Even the very idea that sugar ants contact with the waste and then they come to your dining table and contact with your products makes you feel disgusted.
There are spoiling food remains, rot, and mold in the ant nests. All this worsens the epidemiological situation, as well as causes allergies in the owners of the house.
If sugar ants settle in inter-floor ceilings, it will be difficult to get rid of them. And if the ceilings are wooden, the insects can destroy these beams, causing damage and breaks.
Do sugar ants bite? No, but they pose a real threat to people with open wounds. The insects react to the smell of blood. Sugar ants can even get under the bandage and infect the wounds.
How to prevent the appearance of sugar ants
First of all, sugar ants are attracted to easily accessible food. They can move from neighboring houses, they can be brought with stuff, furniture, and products.
To avoid the appearance of sugar ants in the house, you must observe several basic rules:
- Eat only in the kitchen, wipe away spilled food and sweet drinks (scout ants can find food and bring their relatives);
- Store sweet foods (candies, cookies, jam) in a closed container or in a refrigerator;
- Seal all cracks and holes in windows, doors;
- Don`t leave dirty dishes overnight;
- Treat the sink with vinegar to deter the insects from the water source;
- Ants are omnivorous, so you need to deprive them of food, make your products inaccessible to the sugar ants;
- Prevent the insects from moving into your house by constructing barriers in the form of turmeric, bitter pepper, cinnamon strips;
- Treat the foundation of the house from the outside with a pesticide;
- Look through all the stuff that you bring into the house;
- Sugar ants do not tolerate the smell of wormwood and tansy. Place some bunches of the dried grass in vent holes and next to the door and window openings, and the insects will not penetrate into the house.
It is much easier to prevent the appearance of pests than fighting them with chemicals and home remedies.
Getting rid of sugar ants
If these pests have appeared in your home, take urgent measures to get rid of sugar ants. Ants multiply rapidly, and if you do not pay attention to their stay in your house, then in a few months you will find these insects in all cupboards with food, in sugar bowls, in jars with jam, and even in a trash can.
There are many ways of how to get rid of sugar ants. You have to choose the one sugar ant killer method that is most acceptable for your home and your specific situation.
What to pay attention to when choosing a sugar ant killer
- Pest control must be safe for the owners. If there are children, pets, aquariums with fish in the house, it is dangerous to use a strong sugar ant killer. Insecticides must be effective, but safe at the same time.
- Many insecticides cause allergies. If someone in the house is susceptible to allergies, you should use poisonous chemicals with caution. Home remedies can also cause allergies.
- When disinsection is performed, you have to leave the house for several hours together with your pets. If this is not possible, replace disinsection with safer methods.
- Decide whether you are ready for a long struggle with pests or you want to get rid of sugar ants quickly and for long.
- Read the instructions for the use of pesticides, ask your friends who used the same sugar ant killer. Pay attention to the ratio of price and quality.
After carrying out this work, you can freely choose a pesticide for getting rid of sugar ants.
Sugar ant killer is created on the basis of several insecticides: diazinon, permethrin, cypermethrin. Please read the instructions and precautions before using.
What products to choose
Ant traps – Best Sugar Ant Treatment
Terro liquid ant killer has a Borax formula specially designed for all types of ants. It works as bait and must be put in places you see ants most often: ant trails and entry points to cardboards, kitchen working spaces, trash cans, etc. The gel is sweet and very attractive, especially for sugar ants. When you use Terro gel for the first time, the number of ants will seem to be growing. Don’t worry: this means the gel works perfectly as an attractor.
The kill itself is slow which is another strong point: the working ants, the ones that find bait, will take it to the nest and feed to the other ones, including the queen. It will take some time for Borax to enter each ant digestive system. Some of the pests will even manage several trips to the bait to ensure the effect. Complete infestation control may take up to two weeks.
Terro Ant Killer is entirely safe to use at the premises. You can put it everywhere you like as it is not dangerous for humans. One box contains a 1OZ bottle of gel and nine cardboard squares for product placement.
Ant aerosols are the most popular product to fight ants. The instant effect is provided by the droplet spraying of the insecticide. Can they be the only treatment? No. Let’s see why.
How this sugar ant killer works
Aerosols destroy insects within 2-3 hours.
The pests in the area of action of the chemicals die. These are mostly worker ants. But the nest with the sugar ant queen remains untouched, and new individuals will be born over time. If you find the anthill, you can spray the aerosol in its direction. All the sugar ants, including the queen, will be killed.
Strong toxicity is the main disadvantage of this method: animals and people should be taken away from the premises for several hours until the rooms are ventilated. Also, you will have to take out your aquariums with fish or cover them tightly with glass or film.
Aerosols Raptor, Combat, Raid are widely used.
The unique formula of Terro Ant Killer lets you kill unwanted pests on contact, and the sprayed places keep the killing effect for up to 6 weeks. You can disperse it on the ants you see right away or all over the places that they often cross. Although highly effective, it is also toxic and must not be sprayed in food preparation and consumption areas. Still, you can spray the legs of your kitchen table to keep ants from crawling there.
Terro Ant Killer is perfect for preventing an ant infestation. If you see just a few ants crawling on your bathroom or kitchen surfaces, try to find their entrance points and thoroughly spray their trails. If you use the spray outdoors, you can also disperse it right on the ant hills.
After using ant killing aerosols leave the premises for a couple of hours with your family and pets. If you have a fish tank, it must be completely isolated or taken out of the house as well. Always turn the nozzle away from yourself before spraying and keep aerosol from overheat.
Gels are more effective than aerosols. They act more slowly, but they destroy not only workers but all other sugar ants too. Using gels, you can eliminate the whole colony.
How this product works
The gel droplets are applied in the form of a dotted line in areas where pests tend to accumulate. It operates on the principle of a sugar ant bait. The ants eat the gel, but they do not immediately die. They spread the sugar ant bait into their nests and infect their relatives. 2 weeks later the whole colony will be infected, and after 8 weeks the insects will disappear.
The gel contains 0,05% of fipronil insecticide or it’s alternatives. If the concentration is higher, this may lead to the increased growth of the thyroid gland. Before use a sugar ant killer in a form of a gel, read the instructions and composition carefully. Otherwise, this may affect your health.
You can find a variety of gel brands on sale: Advion, Raptor, and Storm. All of them are made on the basis of the same sugar ants insecticides of different concentrations. Therefore, any of the gels has a reliable and long-term effect.
If you ask me, I usually recommend the Advion Gel from Syngenta. It has a working active ingredient, has no odor and leaves no stains. This is probably the best solution for indoor use, especially at places like the kitchen or bath.
Long-lasting insecticide pencils and chalks
How this product works
The sugar ants carry the poisoning substance on their feet throughout the colony. They bring it to the nest and infect their relatives. They gradually perish, and the colony falls into decay. After all, it is not difficult to get rid of sugar ants running around the house, but it is more difficult to get to the nest, destroy the sugar ant queen and the entire colony.
These pencils or chalks can be used for a long time. Regularly repeat the treatment of places of penetration and delineate access to food, water, and shelter. But over time, the sugar ants become accustomed to the active substance, and you will have to change the product.
This product currently is not available. Try this instead:
Chinese chalk is the riskiest substance for fighting ants, but it’s also said to be the most effective. It’s banned in the US as well as in almost every European country, so if you want to buy it, go to corner shops or Amazon online stores of Asian countries. It looks similar to regular chalk, but contains poisonous elements like synthetic pyrethroids and diatomaceous earth and should never be used near food or in places where your kids or pets may find it. Actually, regular chalk also works for keeping ants away.
If you draw a line with it on your porch, they may get intimidated by the powdery material and wouldn’t want to go inside, even if there are sugar and honey in your kitchen. Calcium carbonate which is the material the regular chalk is made from blocks the ants’ ability to follow scents.
If regular chalk doesn’t work on your level of infestation, and you’re ready to face the dangers of using Chinese chalk, please use it carefully. Laxmanrekhaa chalk is covered in plastic for its users not to touch it with bare hands.
Emulsions and pastes with a deterrent effect. They are used for sugar ant prevention
How this product works
This kind of a sugar ant killer should be applied to the places where the insects enter the house. A deterrent effect is achieved by using strong-smelling substances. Ants have a good sense of smell, so they can smell the sugar ant bait in a few meters, just as they smell something unpleasant and scary.
These houses are designed for cockroaches at the first place, but thanks to a special formula they attract other insects just as well. There are twelve card boxes with non-toxic glue inside of them. In additional green packs, you will find eco-friendly bait. Open it up and place inside each card box trap.
When you unpack the houses, place them to the spots regularly visited by ants. You may put it literally all over your home as Greener Mindset traps are the safest traps you’ve ever seen. The worst thing they can do to you or your pet is stick to your bodies. In this case, simply apply some vegetable oil on the place with glue and then thoroughly rinse it with water. The packages have been made from recycled paper.
The bait is made from non-toxic ingredients, and its formula reminds of sweetened fish food. So even if your pet it’s it nothing will happen. The ants are attracted to the bait, so they come into the trap and glue to it. There’s quite a lot of glue inside so you could catch a few dozen ants with one trap. The card boxes can be used for up to three months. Just look out if there’s a place for more pests.
Sugar ant traps are a safe method of fighting insects. These devices will not do harm to cats and dogs, they are safe for use in homes with children. Sugar ant traps can be glue, poisonous and electric.
Glue traps are boxes with a fragrant adhesive surface inside. The bait lures the sugar ants with its aroma inside the trap, where they are stuck forever. Sugar ant traps are suitable for use with a small number of insects. The fact is that only those that have been stuck are destroyed, and the ants in the nest remain alive.
Traps should be frequently changed as insects are attached to the walls.
Poisonous sugar ant traps work on a different principle. Ants eat poisoned bait and carry part of it to the nest. This is how they spread the poison throughout the colony. These traps are effective for up to 3 weeks.
How this product works
Electric traps are an expensive device, but they will be effective for several years. The bait inside the trap attracts sugar ants, but when they come inside they are affected by an electric shock. These traps should be put in dry places in compliance with safety rules.
The only disadvantage is that sugar ant traps can destroy workers, but life and reproduction in the anthill will remain unchanged.
The traps of the following brands are the most efficient: Clean House, Blockbuster, and Combat.
Related Post: Amdro Ant Killer Bait Reviewed.
Raid Ant Bait is a plastic station with a pesticide inside. The apertures of the station are too small for your kids, pets and even larger insects to get inside, so the bait stays there. Ants come to feed on it and take the rest to their colony, thus providing poison to every other ant, including the queen. The bait can last for up to three months and control high-level infestations. There are eight traps in the box, which are recommended to place altogether if there’s a severe ant infestation in your home.
Every trap has an adhesive on its bottom and can be glued to walls or even ceiling to cover as much ant space as possible. Ant population reduction is expected after three to five days after you’ve placed the stations. Baits of this kind are made for indoor use. The best places for them are kitchen and bathroom surfaces, spaces under cardboards and beds. We’d recommend watching the pests closely to find out their entry points and the places they frequent the most.
Ultrasonic repellers, which are used for mosquitoes and rodents, are not recommended for sugar ants. But these repellers do not work, because these insects do not produce and do not perceive ultrasound. Ants perceive all information using chemical signals – pheromones.
If you cannot get rid of sugar ants on your own, invite a pest control team.
Professional disinfectors will cope with this problem quickly and qualitatively. But it is also necessary to make some preparations. Specialists will get acquainted with the situation, appoint a time for disinfection and give recommendations for getting rid of sugar ants. At their direction, animals and aquariums must be taken away, foodstuffs should be closed tightly. Besides, you will have to remove moisture from the premises and deprive the insects of the water sources.
In addition, you have to check the certificates of the disinfection service, as well as their permission to work with insecticides. After the work is done, disinfectors are obliged to leave a certificate of disinfection and give a guarantee.
After the specified time period, you must ventilate the rooms and carry out general cleaning. Only then animals and children can be brought in.
Want to skip all the research and hire a licensed exterminator for your ant problem?
Home remedies for sugar ants
If you are against the use of chemicals and poisonous substances, you would like to know how to get rid of sugar ants naturally. We can advice you some home remedies to gain your goal. In this case getting rid of sugar ants will be long but safe. This is especially acceptable when there are pets, children or allergy sufferers in your house. Some of these methods lead to positive results.
- The use of boric acid is effective for the destruction of insects. But ants will not eat this product. Therefore, you have to make a special mix of borax and sugar for ants. You can also mingle boric acid with boiled egg. Prepare small balls of borax and sugar for ants and spread them in the areas where the pests tend to accumulate. Workers will not only eat the sugar ant bait, but they will also bring it to the nest, which will lead to the death of the sugar ant queen.
- To get rid of sugar ants, you can use water and vinegar. Spray the ant habitats and the anthill with this mixture. The smell will deter the pests, but it will not destroy them.
- If you find the anthill, you can get rid of sugar ants with boiling water (if the area allows to do this, i.e. there is no wiring, and the water will not damage the furniture).
- Borax is poisonous for these insects, but sugar ants will eat it only mixed with minced meat. Small pieces should be placed near the ant habitats. This home remedy for sugar ants is dangerous for animals. Therefore, you should place it so that cats and dogs do not find and eat it.
- Wild chamomile can be used as a decoction for washing the floors and places where sugar ants usually walk.
- The Pyrethrum powder (consisting of chamomile flowers) is a safe and effective remedy causing paralysis and death of the insects.
- Ammonia, kerosene, and birch tar will help deter the pests. But it is difficult to take such radical measures in the house. It will take much time for the smell to go away.
- There is another way – you can try to treat the sugar ants with oatmeal, which they cannot digest.
- Homemade sugar ant traps can easily be placed next to the nest. Pour water into a glass, and then add some sugar, honey or jam. When the sugar ants smell this bait, they will immediately come and try to eat this sweet thing, but most of them will fall into the liquid and drown. This method will work against workers, but the sugar ant queen and reproductive ants will remain unharmed and quickly replenish the population.
- You can vacuum a large number of sugar ants, but this will not solve the problem, because they multiply with great speed.
Any home remedies can ward off these insects for a while. But you should take into account that you see only worker ants on the surface. The main individuals, which produce offspring, are in secluded places and continue to live and reproduce. Therefore, you will not solve the problem if you repel some of the sugar ants.
Why are there sugar ants in my bed?
A bedroom is not a common place for sugar ants, but they may have several reasons for coming. As we know, search for food is what basically leads them to your place, so if you better quit eating in bed. Another reason is the smell — your sheets can keep smells which attract the insects. Wash bed sheets, blankets, and pillow cases as often as possible and use a bleacher-based washer.
If you and your bed are tidy, the problem may lay in your building: old houses with lots of space in the walls and the floors seem like a comfortable place for ants to nest. Try to find and isolate every hole that may be an ant entering point to your bedroom.
The other reason is the fusty air in the bedroom — try and ventilate it more often or get an air conditioner to eliminate the house smells. And once a week we’d advise you to wash your bedroom floor with vinegar.
Related Post: How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants
How do you get rid of sugar ants in your car?
Sugar ants come into your car in their never-ending search for food. If you don’t have any food leftovers, it’s unlikely they will stay for long, but if they find what they want, car infestation is most probable. The first step is to clean all of your car, including tires and wheels.
Throw away any food packaging or any other boxes and bags you can find. They may seem clean, but ants can smell a lot of things we don’t. Vacuum-cleaning the upholstery is also a must — thus you will eliminate the ants from tiny cracks and holes. If the infestation continues after cleaning, use ant baits (Terro baits are highly recommended).
How long does it take to kill sugar ants?
That depends on the size of your infestation and the killing methods you choose. The basis for any type of extermination is to sanitize your home — wipe all the surfaces with all-purpose cleaner every night, take the garbage out daily, don’t leave any human or pet food for long, seal the cracks in your walls. These measures will shorten ant stay at your place, no matter what type of pesticide you choose.
If you want to get rid of sugar ants quickly, use chemical pesticides: sprays and baits will do. Spraying is the best way if there still aren’t many pests in your home. Baits take longer to work (from several weeks to even months), but they can deal with a grave infestation.
Act quickly and efficiently. If you live in an apartment building, you have to involve all your neighbors and fight together. Otherwise, the ants will continue to wander from one apartment to another and return to the old place after the poison stops working.
|Syngenta Advion Ant Gel 4 tubes 30 grams each||Check Latest Price|
|TERRO PreFilled Liquid Ant Killer II Baits, 3-Packs of 6 Baits Each||Check Latest Price|
If you find a cute little ant in your sugar bowl carrying a dainty to its nest – this is a signal to start fighting the insects. You cannot hesitate! In a few days, there will be an army of hard-working ants. So you have to get rid of sugar ants as soon as it is possible!
- Lenora Jones (Washington State University Urban IPM Program): https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/415/2014/12/PNW_PPSugarAnts.pdf
- Managing Household Ant Pests. Bastiaan M. Drees, The Texas A&M University System: https://agrilifecdn.tamu.edu/aes/files/2014/06/Managing-Household-Ant-Pests.pdf
- Ant Control for Householders by Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef619