How to Get Rid of Ants Inside & Outside – Most Effective Methods

Regardless of where you live, you must have encountered ants. These are species that are found in all regions except the places that are too cold like Antarctica.

They are mostly found in colonies, just like wasps. These creatures love living together so that they can work for the success of the whole colony. There are precise roles that are played by each of the ants in the colony.

How do you know that the creatures moving around your home are ants? They have distinct characteristics, including their bodies being divided into 3 parts, having six legs, and bent antennae. However, their sizes differ depending on the species.

Ants can be a nuisance in your living space. There are times you may want to hatch methods on how to get rid of ants, but you do not succeed because you are not an expert or you don’t use correct ant control products. With my expertise, research, and experience in this area, I have compiled the information you need on these creatures. In the end, ant removal should be an easy thing for you.

What Are Ants?

You cannot deal with something that you do not know. Before you learn how to eradicate ants, you should learn what they are. They are social insects that are classified in a family called Formicidae. Their scientific order is called Hymenoptera. The ants have a close relationship with wasps and are also known to live in colonies.


When you compare ants to other insects, they are fairly easier to notice. This is because of their distinct features. One thing that distinguishes them from other insects is their bent antennas. Moreover, you will notice that they have a big head and the mandibles that they use for chewing.

How do you differentiate ants from other insect species? They have three body parts with a head, waist region, and lastly, the abdomen. Unlike spiders that have eight legs, ants have six. Their bent antennas separate them from termites.

Ant love natural ecosystems where they can get food and build their homes. However, population pressure and encroachment by humans in ant habitats have forced these organisms to interact with humans. You will find them in pavements, lawns, and homes. When they find a good source of food within your indoor environment, they leave a trail that other ants can follow. Within no time, you may find many ants within your living space. It is for that reason that you should know how to get rid of ants in the house and outside as well.

Common Ant Types You Should Know

different types of ants

There are 10,000+ species that are known. However, some do not pose any harm to humans. The ant species are distinguished based on many factors, including how they look, habitat, and region of origin. The common types that you are likely to encounter around your home are like the ones below:

Acrobat ants

How do you identify these ants? Their length is between two and a half and three millimeters and has two nodes. While some are brown, others are black. They like living in moist wood or other wooden structures that are damaged.

When they are under threat, you will see them turning into a scorpion-like shape. That is where their name “acrobatic ants” came from. They are known to sting. You are more likely to find them in yards as opposed to an indoor environment. They are mostly found in the Eastern parts of the United States of America. The scientific name of this ant is Crematogaster.

Black ants

These ants are small and black in color. The smallest ones are 2mm long while the longest ants in this category measure 4mm long.

Argentine ants

These ants only have one node and are between 2.2 and 2.8 millimeters in length. They have different variations of brown from dark to light. During winter, you are likely to see them in different areas while they prefer places with shade in winter. If your indoor space has voids, you are likely to find them there. This is an important piece of information if getting rid of ants in the house has been a problem for you.

When you step on this ant, you will feel a musty smell. However, they do not sting. What are the regions where these ants are common? They are mostly found in Hawaii, the Southeastern part of the United States as well as California. Scientifically, the ant is called Linepithema humile.

Asian Ant

The ant has a length of five millimeters and has one node. Its body has a combination of brown and black colors with orange mandibles. You are more likely to find it in moist outdoor environments. Although it is not known to be aggressive, it is likely to sting you if it comes into contact with your skin. Alabama and Virginia are the places you are likely to find these ants.

Ghost ants

Also known as Tapinoma melanocephalum, they are mostly found in the Southern parts of Florida. They have a length of between 1.3mm and 1.5 mm.

Carpenter ants

There are the most widely known structural pests. They do not feed on wood. Instead, they damage them in a bid to create the space where they live. The ants are 6 to 13 millimeters long. They are mostly found in outdoor environments where there is wood. Their most preferred indoor environment is the roof.

The ants can cause much damage to your home’s structural parts, making it necessary to find ways to get rid of ants. There are species of these ants that are known to sting when they feel threatened or disturbed. Scientists call them Camponotus.
Learn more about carpenter ant control.

carpenter ants compared in size with other ants

Sugar ants

As the name suggests, these ants are attracted by sugary foods. They also feed on proteins. Their lengths range from 7 to 11 millimeters. You are more likely to find them in Australia.
Check my detailed guide on sugar ant control methods.

Crazy ants

The length of these ants is between 2.1 and 3 millimeters and only have one node. They are black-brown. What differentiates them from other species is the fact that their antennas and legs are extremely long. They do not choose where to live. You will see their colonies in dry environments, and they also like moist spaces.

When outdoors, they mostly love garbage and soil. Their attractive indoor space is below carpets and houseplants. Although they do not sting, they are known to make crazy movements in case they are disturbed. This is the characteristic that earned them their name. The ants’ scientific name is Paratrechina longicornis and is mostly found in Florida.

Check my detailed guide on crazy ant control methods.

Dark ants

Also known as Brachymyrmex patagonicus, the ants have an average length of 1.5 millimeters. They have a dark color with one node. When outdoors, you will find them in grass edges and parking lots. Because these ants love sweet liquids, they are a common scene in the kitchen.

They love moving in a large colony, which makes them troublesome creatures. Their stubbornness means you need to learn the best way to get rid of ants indoors. However, they are not known to sting. They are common in Arizona and Mississippi.

European ants

These ants are scientifically called Myrmica rubra and have a length of between 4 and 5 millimeters. They love outdoor environments such as lawns during the warmer periods. During the cold seasons, you are more likely to find them in warm indoor environments, including water heaters.

The ants are known for their aggressive nature, stinging any time they are disturbed. You should know how to get rid of ants in your home to ensure these creatures are not problematic to you. You will most likely find them in Canada and New York.

Field ants

These ants come in different sizes, with the majority of them measuring between 4 and 8 millimeters in length and one node. They also have different colors, with a majority of them being either brown or black. When outdoors, you will find them in greenery and woods. They are rarely indoors.

When they sting, they release formic acid, which makes the stings painful. They are mainly found in the North-Eastern parts of the United States.

Fire ants

These ants find their name from the fact that they sting painfully. They are reddish-brown and are mostly found in the Southern regions of the United States of America.

The above are the most common ant species. There are still more species that are less common. Knowing these ant types helps you when you are looking for the best methods to get rid of them.

Learn more about how to exterminate fire ants.

What Foods Do These Ants Eat Within the Environment?


If you are looking for the biggest scavengers that are found within nature, ants are there. Most of the ants eat meat. That means they are always searching for places where they can get dead organisms so that they can feed on them.

Because of their sharp mandibles, they can comfortably break a dead lizard into pieces. Although most of the ants are known to exhibit carnivore behavior, there are a few examples like Leaf-Cutter, which only eats plants.

There are also cases where the ants search for live animals to feast on them. For instance, driver ants are known to do an aggressive search for food devouring small insects and other animals.

In homes, ants are known to attack sweet foods such as candy in swarms. It is for this reason that you are likely to find the ants in cupboards and kitchen counters. It can get to a point where the whole of your kitchen space is covered with ants if you are not careful. Therefore, you should learn to kill ants in your house.

The fact that they are scavengers also brings some benefits to humans. This is because they can help people clean dead organisms within their living space, act as natural methods of controlling pests, help in eliminating garbage, among other roles.

However, they may soon grow out of control and create many problems for humans. Even if you feel they are useful to you, it gets to a point where getting rid of ants in your house is something that you have to do.

What Are the Things That Attract Insects Within Your Space?

Ants are annoying insects when they invade your living space. Although there are different species of these organisms, they are attracted to the home by common things. Before it gets to a point where you have to look for that natural ant repellent, you should know why the ants are invading your home so that you can reduce their numbers.

What are these things that make the ants find your house as an attractive place to live? Here are the main ones:

Availability of Food Where You Live

Ants are always looking for something to eat. You will notice that they always attack food remains in swarms and can actively feed on them for hours. Ants mostly love foods that are sugary such as honey. Therefore, any spills within the place you live will attract them. That is why they love kitchen counters and tables where there are food leftovers.

The other area that acts as a source of food to the creatures is garbage. When there are food leftovers in your garbage bin, you will most likely see ants. This is because these food pieces emit strong smells that attract the ants. It just begins with one ant before it attracts the others. Within no time, your whole kitchen space is full of ants.

High Moisture Content Within the Home

For proper survival and building the colonies, ants need a constant supply of water. That is why you will notice a colony of ants in areas where there is stagnant water, moisturized, or in a space with leaking water pipes. When you closely monitor the tiles in the bathroom and the sinks in all the areas of the house, you will see ants.

Once they know that there is a place where they can always get water when they need it, the ants will always come back.

Scents from Flowers and Plants in the House

an ant on the yellow flower

Most plans within the home emit attractive smells. Although most ants do not feed on plants, they are attracted by the scent of these plants. These are things that you should not ignore as you strategize on how to get rid of ants naturally.

Safe Places in Your Home Attract These Insects

Ants are known to build their safe nests underground. However, there are also times they may find your home as an ideal place to build their habitat, especially when your walls have cracks. They also love wood fixtures within the home.

Use of Pesticides Outdoors Can Attract Them

The general belief is that pesticides are used for the control of pests. However, there are cases where these pesticides remove the ants from the yard and make them seek refuge inside your house. This is because the ants find the house safer compared to outside.

How Do the Ants Work Together and Increase Within Your Home?

The communication between ants depends on the species. However, most of them are known to convey their messages through chemicals. They secrete a chemical called pheromones close to the food sources. This is a form of communication to the other ant species to follow the trail so that they can reach the food. Where there is a threat, the ants also release distress chemicals to the others.

There are also times when the ants use sound to communicate. To put it simply, the mode of communication is determined by the species and the situation at hand.

Ants work as a community to achieve their goals. The first group of ants is called the scout ants, and their role is to search for food sources. Once they identify a source, they communicate with the worker ants who take the food to the colony.

How Do You Know There Is Ant Problem in Home?

When you notice a few ants around your living space, it doesn’t necessarily imply that you have a full-blown infestation. But there are a few specific signs that point to an ant invasion:

Live Ants in Many Areas of Your Property

Although a few ants do not mean that there exists an ant invasion within the home, there are times you may notice that the numbers are beyond normal. A huge number of them in your living room or kitchen is an indication that there is a large colony somewhere nearby. The ones you see around may be looking for food to take to the colony.

Marching Ants in Your Home Space

Ants are known to move in trails. The line movement is an indication that they are being attracted by pheromone. They only settle once they have reached the food. It is the trail that assists in their movement towards and away from the colony.

The Bowl Used by Your Pet Is Attacked by Ants

Ants do not select the type of food they eat. They love the fresh food you have cooked, and they are attracted by the food that remains from your pet. If you notice ants in the bowl that is used by your pet, that is an indication that there are other ants around.

Existence of Ant Piles Outside Your House

When there are ant piles anywhere around your house, you should be cautious as the ants are likely to attack your house. It’s because your home is a source of food for them. The closer they are to your house, the higher the chances of invasion. Therefore, you should be working on finding solutions to how to get rid of ants outside and ensure that you are safe.

What Damage Can Ants Cause to Your Home?

Many risks are related to an ant infestation. That’s why you should seek ways of getting rid of them. Ants pose a danger to your home and health in many ways.

Contamination of food

Apart from being a nuisance to you, there are also health risks they may pose to your family members. The first thing you should know about them is that they can contaminate your food. As the ants move along, they collect bacteria from different areas, including the floor.

After that, they move to your utensils and food and leave the bacteria there. And don’t forget that these ants also move through garbage and washroom floors.

All these germs are then transmitted to your food. Therefore, you should be cautious. Always ensure that the containers you use for storing your foods are sealed so that ants can’t penetrate them. Your kitchen hygiene should be top-notch as a natural way to get rid of ants.

Stings and bites

You should not underestimate the stings from the ants. Most ants are known to bite humans as a way of defending themselves when they feel threatened. There are cases where you can get an infection after the bite if you do not clean the bite area as expected.

Some ants inject venoms during their stings. Depending on the chemical that the ant leaves on your skin, you may experience complications such as dizziness and diarrhea.

Allergic reactions

Ant stings can make you sick. You are likely to experience things like skin irritation and nausea. It is crucial to seek the assistance of a medical professional in such situations.

Property damage

Carpenter ants are known to cause severe destruction to the home. For instance, they are known to damage wood in a bid to establish their colony. If you do not notice and eliminate them on time, they can even bring down your whole building. That’s why you need to know how to repel ants completely from your space.

Ways to Kill Ants in House Effectively

If you already have the ants in the house, you should look for ways of killing them. Do you know how to get rid of ants permanently from your house? Baits, sprays, and gels are the most effective approaches that will get the job done fast.

Baits/Traps – Best Way to Get Rid of Ants Indoors

ant trap on the wall with ants inside it

When you have ensured that your home sanitation is proper, it’s time to seek solutions to how to kill ants that are already within your house. There are ant baits that may help you through this process. Using baits increases the chances of removing the ants completely from your home.

Ant baits or traps are insecticides that are combined with liquid or food to attract ants. The worker ants will carry it to the nest where it spreads throughout the colony, killing the queen and larvae. Baits offer a long-lasting solution since they eliminate all the ants. Besides, some commercially available baits eliminate other bugs too.

Put the bait in a place where you have noticed the activities by ants. However, do not put the bait on the actual trail. When they realize it is around, they can take a route that is away from the bait. Instead, place the bait a distance away from the activity or trail.

What are the ideal places for the bait? Place it on the kitchen cabinets, where there are pipes that may provide water for the ants, and near bathroom fixtures. Monitor the process and make the necessary adjustments until you notice that there is no longer any ant activity.
Check my Terro Ant Bait review. This thing works like a charm.

Sprays – Easy Way to Get Rid of Ants

There are cases when the ants may avoid baits. Then you should use ant sprays. The non-repellent types will be more effective because the ants may not notice them. Moreover, the ants can carry them back to the colonies. Since sprays don’t kill ants immediately, many other colony occupants will be affected by such insecticides.

Ant Gels

Gels come in tubes with a syringe. You can apply them directly in the places where the ants enter the house and on the ants’ tracks. The most effective gels have a combination of slow-acting poison and a strong food attractant. The ants will carry the gel back to the nest, and, eventually, the entire colony will be eliminated.

Natural Ways to Eliminate Ants Inside

There are some natural methods to eliminate ants, but they are not as effective as using baits/traps, sprays, or gels. Some home remedies to get rid of ants include:


apple cider vinegar

How does this remedy work? You should carefully wipe the places where you have noticed ants with a solution that has water and vinegar in the ratio of 50:50. You should repeat this procedure several times a day.

The ants go away because they do not like the scent of vinegar. Moreover, the solution removes the trail used by other ants, so they do not have an idea about where the food source is located.


You can draw a chalk line within the location that the ants are using to access your house. You create a barrier, and the ants find it hard to enter your house. The trick works because the chalk contains calcium carbonate that prevents ants from picking up on the scent of other ants.

Use borax

Another way of removing ants from home is by applying the borax mixture in a place where you are sure the ants will locate it easily. This mixture contains mild toxins, so you should put it in places where your pets and kids cannot reach it.

Borax kills the ants by interfering with their digestive system. Moreover, it destroys the ants’ outer skeletons. Therefore, the ants can die in the long run. You may also use baking soda to kill ants as an alternative.

Ground coffee

ground coffee in the spoon on the white background

If you are a coffee drinker, you can use coffee grounds to repel ants. Sprinkle the coffee grounds in the areas where you notice ants, and the scent may drive away these creatures.

How to Prevent Another Ant Infestation in the House

It is crucial to put in place both outdoor and indoor sanitation measures to ensure that you do not experience another infestation. Here is what you can do to reduce the chances of ant infestation within the house:

Remove Food Sources from the House

The first thing you can do to control the infestation of ants is to ensure that your sanitation measures are top-notch. Regardless of the elimination measures you put in place, proper sanitation is critical. Otherwise, you may kill the first bunch of ants only for the next to be attracted by the food you leave carelessly.

Removing the food sources that attract the ants is a good prevention measure. How should you do this? You should properly clean all your kitchen appliances and cabinets because food spills around them provide a perfect location for these ants. Therefore, ensure that you clean your refrigerator regularly, inspect your microwave, clean the toaster and all the other appliances.


Another important measure is to ensure that your food is always kept in sealed containers. Because of their small nature, ants always find a way of accessing food that is kept in loose boxes or bags. A proper seal makes it hard for them to find the food source.

Designate one room where people eat. That way, you limit the areas where you can experience ant infestation. If there are food spills in this space, deal with them properly.

Always ensure that your kitchen is very clean before you go to bed. Ants typically come out of their hiding places at night to search for food. When they find nothing to feast on, they move to other areas. Always clean the countertops and wash up after meals.

Moreover, you should ensure that all the other areas where food is not handled are clean. Sweep the crumbs that may have strayed and eliminate any ants that may secrete pheromones to attract others.

Remove Water Sources That Attract Ants

Ants love water, and it attracts them to your home environment. Although you may not remove all these sources, it is important to ensure that you eradicate as many of them as you can to put yourself in a secure position.

pipe with water

What measures can you take to reduce the water sources which attract ants? If there are leaky pipes around your home, you should fix them immediately. Leaving them the way they are means that you are attracting ant invasion. Every night before you go to bed, make sure that all the sinks are dry, the showers and taps are not leaking, and the bath tabs are completely drained.

For those who use dish rags, store them in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can hang them in outdoor environments so that they can dry completely. Empty all the bowls where you put water for the pets if they are in the house. Dry any other trays that can bring an ant problem in the home.

Damage all the Ant Entry Points

Ants are known to prefer safe areas as their hiding ground. By removing them, you will make your house an unattractive place for them. For instance, a crack in the walls attracts huge ant colonies. If your house has any cracks, block the entry of the ants by doing repairs. If flying ants are constantly trying to enter your home, use nettings before you identify and destroy their colony outside.

Tips on How to Get Rid of Ants in the Yard

Some ants crawl in the exterior parts of your house. They are the ones that end up in the house after a while. Therefore, it is crucial to find ways of eliminating them. You can only cope with this problem if you make your house unattractive to these ants. There are three conditions which lead to ant invasion; availability of the food they need, adequate moisture to help them survive, and shelter. If you break this chain, you are on the path towards making the area around your house ant-free. Getting rid of ants in the yard involve these methods:

Outdoor Ant Baits – Effective Approach of Getting Rid of Ants in Yard

Outside the house, most ants live in locations that can’t be easily noticed. In this case, using baits/traps is an excellent remedy. Baits will attract all the ants and eliminate the entire colony. Moreover, the baits can help you eliminate ants before they reach your property.

While some people use liquids, others use grains. You should use both so that you can capture all the ants. Check regularly if the bait is working as required. If something doesn’t work as it was expected, fix it immediately.

Outdoor Ant Sprays and Insecticides

There are many insecticides available on the market. You should pick the one that works effectively depending on the ant species that have invaded your home. Sprays work instantly and thus are a quick fix for eliminating ants.

woman spraying ant insecticide outdoors

Natural Methods

You can as well opt for natural approaches to removing ants. However, note that these methods are not as effective as using baits and insecticides. Therefore, they only provide short-term solutions. Some of the workable natural techniques include:

Boiling Water

Pouring boiling water on the ants will instantly kill them. This method, however, only kills the ants that the water comes into contact with. Therefore, those inside the deeper areas of the anthill will not be affected.

Improvement of the Outside Sanitation – Eradicate Ants without Incurring Many Costs

Sanitation goes beyond just removing the food sources that the ants love. Rather, you should focus on eliminating the conditions that make your yard good for ants. The first step is to monitor the pathways the ants use as they enter your house. There may be trees that act as bridges for the ants to follow from the yard. Ensure that the branches of these trees do not come into contact with your house at any point. That means you should trim them.

Within your yard, there may also be a moist area that provides water for the growth of these ants. Remove the shady condition that contributes moisture for the ants to survive.

Do not leave your lawn in a state that encourages the multiplication of ants in your space. As such, you should mow it frequently and maintain the area so that it is clean and hygienic.

If you keep your trash bins outdoors, you should know that they work against your intention of killing ants indoors and outdoors. It’s because they serve as shelter and source of food for these pests. To ensure that you are safe, they should not be too close to your house. Moreover, you should find tight-fitting lids to close them. To ensure that they are clean, wash the cans with ammonia solution regularly.

Do you have trees with sweet fruits within your compound? They can also lead to ant infestation. Ripe fruits that fall down is a recipe for ants. Therefore, you should collect all of them.

The Bottom Line

There are many species of ants that may invade your home. Knowing the type helps you know the remedy that may work for you. What is appropriate for one person may not be good for you. Therefore, you should assess your situation carefully.

Do not assume the ants as harmless organisms. They can cause a lot of harm to you, family members, and even to the environment where you live. Therefore, you should not overlook them. A serious infestation is harmful to your health.

From the content above, I have given many ways that you can use to tell if there is an infestation in your house. The best remedy, however, is to use baits/traps, sprays, and gels. These methods give quick and long-term results.

You should always do a regular check to ensure a huge colony does not find you by surprise. The earlier you begin dealing with these organisms, the better for you.

There are many home remedies for ants outside and inside. Check them carefully. Getting rid of the ants is not something that you can do in a day. You should be patient and apply the methods consistently. More importantly, choose a methodology that works in your situation.

Also read:

Have you ever experienced an ant infestation? What techniques did you use to eradicate them? What is the most effective method in your view on how to prevent ants in house? Share your opinions by leaving a comment.


  • Ants (University of Minnesota Extension):
  • A Guide to House-Invading Ants and Their Control (NC State Extension Publications):
  • Stanford researchers found an algorithm that explains how ants create and repair trail networks (Stanford University):
  • Pest control in the home (Victoria State Government)
  • Ants Managment Guidelines (UC IPM):


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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

1 Comment
  1. Thank you for reminding me to regularly check parts of our house for any ant colonies to avoid being taken by surprise. I have seen a lot of ants in our kitchen, and although it didn’t bother me at first because it is only natural for a few ants to roam around where the food source is, we now want to be careful because of our first-born. We want to keep her safe from any kind of pests, so it might be better to start taking those ants serious.

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