You walk out of the kitchen, thinking that you’ve wiped the kitchen counter clean only to return half an hour later to find bits of maple syrup splashed all over the counter. However, your problem is no longer limited to the splashes of maple syrup on the kitchen counter.
Now you also need to deal with several tiny bodies lining from your kitchen door to the countertop; they are all patiently waiting for their turn to take a dip in the sugary maple syrup that lays all over your kitchen counter.
Before you get can get rid of these tiny pests, you need to discover which breed of insects you’re dealing with. Often, the insects that line up in a home kitchen to take a dip in any spilled sugar are sugar ants.
So, how do you determine this? By discovering the distinctive qualities of sugar ants, their different types, and what attracts them. Let’s begin this guide on how to get rid of sugar ants.
What are Sugar Ants?
Spring is some time away. However, as soon as it begins, you will witness all kinds of tiny bodies invading your home in search of water and food. These home invaders may include sugar ants.
While these ants cause no harm to humans, they can be annoying and hard to control. So, how can you distinguish sugar ants from other kinds of ants and crawling insects to confirm their presence in your home?
First, let’s clarify one thing: contrary to what most Americans think, sugar ants do not include all ants with a sweet tooth. Instead, these sugar ants are ants native to Australia and are commonly found in that part of the world.
In terms of physical characteristics, the size of sugar ants ranges between seven and twelve millimeters. They have large blackheads, and their bodies are brown-orange. Hollow wood outdoors is typically the nesting place of these ants; they can also be found beneath soil or rocks and in branches of shrubs or trees.
Although their name suggests otherwise, sugar ants do not depend primarily on sweet substances for nutrients. And they feature no stingers, and they do not bite humans. Besides sugary foods and leftovers, sugar ants feed on plant pollen, proteins, and fats. Once sugar ants have found a food source, they will take it back to the nest for the rest of the colony.
Since they are native to Australia, sugar ants are big fans of the hotter months; they venture out of their nest and are most active during spring and summertime. If you want to identify a nest of sugar ants near your house, then look for large mounds of dirt around the entrances of your home. If you find these dirt mounds around your home, then there’s a good chance that there is a colony of sugar ants near your home.
What are the Different Types of Sugar Ants?
Sugar ants can refer to several kinds of ants. These include ants that live and feed inside a home and ants that nest outdoors and enter your home to satisfy their taste buds and appetite.
Some of the common outdoor sugar ants include rover ants, false honey ants, and acrobat ants. But pharaoh ants, pavement ants, and carpenter ants are some of the prevalent indoor sugar ants. Following is a complete list of indoor and outdoor sugar ants:
Indoor Sugar Ants:
- Pharaoh ants
- Odorous house ants
- Argentine ants
- Pavement ants
- Carpenter ants
Outdoor Sugar Ants:
- Rover ants
- False honey ants
- Acrobat ants
- Little black ants
- Cornfield ants
These are the different sugar ants that may enter your house to feed on the leftover sweet items on your kitchen counter or floor.
Where Do Sugar Ants Live?
Except for Antarctica, sugar ants have a presence in virtually all parts of the world. They made their way from Australia and parts of Asia to the rest of the world in products and other stuff shipped to different countries. This is the reason they are sometimes called “ship ants.”
So, where can you expect to find sugar ants? You can expect to see them near places populated by humans. These include (but are not limited to) homes, restaurants, food factories, apartments, greenhouses, and hospitals.
The reason for this is these places exude a lot of warmth, which is appealing to sugar ants. In other words, you are likely to find sugar ants nearby heated premises. Where do these ants build their nest? In heating pipes, underneath plaster, and inside cracks.
Besides the above, there are other places where you can look for and find sugar ants. These places include the clothing inside your wardrobe, old books, pantries, switches, outlets, between panels, and behind skirting boards.
How Are the Colonies of Sugar Ants Formed?
Since they are social beings, sugar ants reside only in colonies. This is a colony with reproductive male ants, a sugar ant queen, and workers who cannot reproduce. The job of these workers is finding food and bringing it to the queen.
In a single colony of sugar ants, there can be over three hundred thousand ants. However, the number of adult female ants other than the sugar ant queen is only between 100 and 200. These adult female ants can live the colony at any point to start their own family. The growth or development of sugar ants take place rapidly; they take no over thirty-eight days to complete the cycle from an egg to an adult female capable of reproduction.
Overall, sugar ants do not have a long life. The life of male ants is only twenty days; the life of worker ants is sixty days, while female ants can live up to ten months.
How Sugar Ants Communicate Amongst Themselves
Pheromones are what sugar ants transfer information through. Compared to any other insects, the chemical signals of sugar ants are far more developed. When these ants find a food particle, they mark it with a particular smell; they use this to find their way back to their nest or anthill. Even when they are far away from it, sugar ants can recognize the smell.
Once they recognize the smell, they will alert all the workers in the colony that they have found food so they can bring it back to the colony. Because of this instinct, sugar ants can cover a distance of as much as thirty-five meters to find food and bring it home.
What are Sugar Ants Attracted to?
As the name suggests, sugar ants are inclined towards all things sugar. However, since there are many forms of sugar, find out what types of sugary foods sugar ants are attracted to.
The most apparent type of sugary items these ants are attracted to is sugar in its original form. By original, we mean white, brown, and powdered sugar available in almost every grocery store. Some other sugary items that sugar ants are inclined to include jellies, jams, sweet syrups, corn, and honey; they are also drawn to soft drinks, cakes, honeydew, nectar, and fruit.
If these items are stored in your kitchen or house and a colony of sugar ants is near your place, then you should expect a home visit from sugar ants soon.
How Sugar Ants Can Enter Your Home
If you fear a visit from sugar ants to your home is imminent, then you should look to seal or block all the potential places from where these ants can enter your house. The areas in your home sugar ants are most likely to invade your kitchen and pantry.
They can make their way to these places through the gaps in your doors and windows, through the cracks in your home’s foundation, and tears in your window screens and doors. If you’re unable to prevent the sugar ants from entering your house, then the next best thing you can do is eliminate these ants from your home soon. How to get rid of sugar ants is discussed next.
How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in Your Home
They are two ways to get rid of the sugar ants that enter your home and cause a mess. The first is the use of natural remedies or stuff you can easily find at home to deter and kill sugar ants. The other and probably the easier of the two methods is the use of chemical solutions to eliminate the ants. The following are proven ways to get rid of sugar ants in your home.
1. Keep Your Home Clean
Since prevention is better than cure, it would be sensible of you to keep your home clean, so they are no leftovers on your floors or counters that can attract sugar ants to your home. While sugar ants are most attracted to sugary items, they can feed on some other food items.
So, making sure there are no sugary leftovers on your counter or floor isn’t enough; instead, you need to ensure there is no sign of leftover food in your home. Besides keeping your floors and counters free of any food item, dispose of the garbage in your home quickly and correctly.
If you let the garbage sit inside your home for too long or if something spills over from the trash bag or cans, then this may invite sugar ants into your home. So, keep the counters and floors in your home clean and free of any food items. Make sure you dispose of the garbage in your home correctly and as quickly as you can.
2. Use a Vinegar Solution
A non-toxic home remedy using a vinegar solution can help you to eliminate the sugar ant trail. How do you prepare this solution? Mix one-part water with one-part vinegar and then unload the mixture into a spray bottle.
This solution is effective in eliminating sugar ants from your home due to acetic acid property of vinegar; the acetic acid in vinegar can deter the sugar ants in your home by removing the scent of the ant trail. Start by searching for the entry point of the ants inside your home.
Next, spray the vinegar solution along baseboards and all potential paths from where the ants can enter into your home; this will prevent the ants from moving along these routes, which will keep them out of your house.
After you do the above, you will find a lot of dead ants along with the potential entry points for them into your home. Using a paper towel, wipe up the dead ends, and then discard them out into a garbage can. For best results, spray the vinegar solution in the morning or late afternoon; sugar ants are most active.
3. Use Baking Soda to Make a Trap
Using baking soda is another non-toxic remedy to get rid of sugar ants in your house. The small crystals that make up baking soda comprise sodium and bicarbonate ions. Therefore, when sugar ants take in bits of baking soda, it causes an acidic reaction in their digestive system. This reaction causes Co2 gas to develop, which leads to the explosion of the ants.
To use this method successfully, use powdered sugar with the baking soda as the bait. Since sugar ants are likely to take the powdered sugar mixed with baking soda back to their colony or nest, which will kill the source of the sugar ants in your home, using baking soda to get rid of these ants is considered sufficient. And if you have kids or pets at home, then this using method to eliminate sugar ants will ensure their safety.
4. Use a Homemade Essential Oil Spray
Like many other insects, sugar ants do not like the smell of essential oils and are deterred by them. When they make their trail, sugar ants release pheromones; the strong smell of essential oils interferes with these pheromones to prevent the sugar ants.
Comprising of d-limonene, lemon oil is an essential oil that sugar ants find toxic. The d-limonene will penetrate the hard and waxy exoskeleton of the sugar ants, and this eventually kills the ants. Another essential oil that can effectively repel several kinds of insects, including sugar ants, is peppermint oil. Sugar ants despise the smell of menthol and will stay away from any area with that scent.
Besides the above, sugar ants also detest the smell of tea tree oil. Therefore, placing cotton balls soaked in tea tree oil near the potential entry points for sugar ants into your home will deter the ants from entering your home and keep them outside.
Another essential oil hated by sugar ants is clove oil. Not only can clove oil act as a deterrent against sugar ants, but it can also work as an insecticide that quickly and safely eliminates the sugar ants in your home, causing no harm to the environment.
5. Use a Chemical-Based Bait
There are two ways to get rid of the sugar ants in your home: home-based remedies and chemical-based solutions. One of the most commonly used chemical solutions to get rid of sugar ants is a chemical-based bait. These baits entice the sugar ants to take the bait back to their nest or colony, thinking it is food.
Once the ants consume the bait, they will slowly die. Some of the commonly used chemical-based baits to kill sugar ants are sweet bait containing borax or boric acid and Terro liquid baits; the latter is effective against ants of all types that may enter a home.
As seen above, there are several ways of eliminating or getting rid of sugar ants in your home. Most of these methods are natural remedies that involve the use of products readily available at home.
How to Get Rid of Sugar AntsHowever, sometimes, these home-based remedies fail to produce the desired results. In such a case, the best thing to do would be using a chemical-based bait or product designed to get rid of sugar ants in a house. I hope now you understand how to get rid of sugar ants.