Ant poisons and ant baits are extremely toxic substances. For homes with pets, small children, or those that just care about the environment, these methods of getting rid of ants may not be viable options. There are non-toxic home pest control methods, however, that are safe for kids, the environment, and pets and get rid of an ant infestation.
Common Types of House Ants and Where They Nest
- Pharaoh Ants – Pharaoh ants are tiny. They can range in color from yellow to red and have black and white markings on their abdomens. Pharaoh ants are a common house pest and will build their nests in the walls, behind appliances or underneath carpeting.
- Carpenter Ants – Carpenter ants are either black or black with a red head. These ants nest by burrowing into moist and rotting wood to build their nests. When carpenter ants infest a home, they are most commonly found around windows and doors where wood has been exposed to the elements and become soft enough to burrow into.
Fire Ants – Fire ants are aggressive swarmers and as such, are the most dangerous variety of h ouse ant. They will nest nearly anywhere in a home. Fire ants range in color from red to dark brown and are most common in the American South.
- Argentine Ants – Argentine ants are light brown in color with a large, almost clear, abdomen. They are sometimes referred to as “honeydew ants”. Argentine ants are a home pest to be reckoned with since their massive colonies can grow into the millions within the walls of a home.
- Odorous House Ants – Odorous house ants are brown or black in color and all of the colony’s workers are the same size. They give off an odor if stepped on. Odorous House Ants typically live at ground level within baseboards or underneath carpeting. An individual with an Odorous House Ant infestation will frequently see the ants crawling about the home as this variety of ant is very active.
Non-Toxic Methods of Ant Control
All ants navigate by the use of pheromones. Disrupting the ants’ navigation system will often result in the ants becoming lost and not able to find their way back to their colony. A colony losing large numbers in this manner, or having trouble foraging due to navigation issues, will often move to a safer area. Some common, non-toxic household substances that disrupt ant navigation and also prevent future ants from navigating through the same area are:
- Baby powder
- Chili powder
- Mint oil
- Simple Green spray
These substances can be sprinkled or sprayed along baseboards, in cupboards and pantries, behind appliances, and anywhere else an individual believes ants may be crossing. None of these substances, however, will actually kill the ants. It will just frustrate them and force them to move find a more convenient home.
To further disrupt and confuse house ants, an individual can leave lights on at night that are typically turned off, or place a reading or desk lamp on the ground near high activity areas throughout the night. This will throw the ants off as the change in light and slight change in temperature will throw off the ants’ instinctual foraging patterns.
Ant Infestation Prevention Methods
- Keep all counters and floors clean and free of food – especially before going to bed at night.
- Sweep daily and mop regularly. This will dispose of any small pieces of missed food.
- Caulk any areas ants may use to enter the home. An opening as small as 1mm is wide enough for an ant.
- Keep trees and bushes trimmed. Ants can crawl up trees and along leaves to gain access to open windows.
- Replace all aged and deteriorated weather stripping, as ants will find tiny holes to gain access. Some ants will actually burrow through rotted weather stripping.