How to Get Rid of Ant Pheromone Trails: A Complete Guide

Have you ever wondered why ants always move in a line? Every time you stumble upon these little insects, they seem to be actively following one leader or at least it looks like that.

When you observe their movements closer, you notice that they seem to be following an invisible path right? Well, they are actually following a path, one that is only meant for their tiny senses. Ants following a pheromone trail that was left by other ants, with this trail they can find food or water source.

Now, what are ant pheromone trails? Ants produce a mixture of chemicals that they leave behind as they walk, which we then refer to as pheromone trails. These trails lead the ants to food sources and also act as a territorial mark for other insects outside of their species. This is basically one of the ways ants communicate with themselves.

This explains why, no matter how much you try to get rid of these ants, they always find their previously curved out path to a food source within your home.

So how do you get rid of ant pheromone trails? The best way to get rid of ant pheromone trails is to mess with their senses. Since they are basically sniffing out the pheromone trails to get to their food sources and back to the nest, the best way to stop this is by introducing another strong scent to cover the previously left trial. You should first clean the pheromone trails with soapy water and then apply deterrents such as Vinegar, cinnamon, etc. Spray your deterrent of choice or spread it around all their paths or entry points. This will keep the ants out of your home.

It has been discovered that ant invasions have a lot to do with the weather. Different seasons in different areas on the planet will see ants moving into your home either in search of heat, a little breeze and mainly food.

Some ant invasions are too severe to eliminate by using basic deterrents and would require you to find the ant colony and kill all of them. This article focuses on ways to get rid of ant pheromone trails. You will be happy to find out that this process isn’t that hard to perform and you already have most of the items required for this in your home. Let’s begin with the guide!

Getting Rid of Ant Pheromone Trails: Step by Step Instructions

Getting Rid of Ant Pheromone Trails Step by Step Instructions

Ants are attracted to our homes by the food crumbs we leave laying around after we eat. Most pet owners or people with toddlers often find themselves fighting ant invasions. Our adorable little humans and our furry friends have more than their cuteness in common. They are also messy eaters. So messy in fact that the pet food companies have come up with anti-ant pet bowls!

Related: How to Keep Ants Out of Pet Food – Complete Guide

The first step towards an ant-free home is by cleaning up. You need to clean ant pheromone trails using soap and water. You can also try adding some of the deterrents into the water e.g. vinegar, cinnamon, orange peels, etc.

Spray your mixture along the ant trails. The strong scents in the water will surely deter the ants from their previous path.


Ant Deterrents for Getting Rid of Ant Pheromone Trails


Vinegar

Most of us have used vinegar before and so this is either an item we already have in our homes or can easily be bought in the local grocery store. Mix vinegar with water (50/50) and spray along the ant pheromone trails. Remember that generally, vinegar is very acidic and thus may chew through some of the surfaces.

Do your research and see if your tabletops, floors, tile grout, or even window seals can get affected by the vinegar mixture. If so, then try another option but if not, spray away and watch as the strong scent confuses these little invaders and sends them away.


Cinnamon

You are probably smiling thinking, wait, I have that too! Yes of course you do. And this is actually the next best thing after the vinegar concoction and it doesn’t even come with the disclaimer on corrosion. Sprinkle the cinnamon on the ant trails, generous amounts to make sure that you cover all areas.

Cinnamon isn’t dangerous when consumed by pets and of course, it is child safe too. This is to say that, while the pets/ kids shouldn’t be given free rein to mess up your cinnamon covered trails, you shouldn’t panic if they ingest it. However, this isn’t a blanket statement and certainly doesn’t speak for all. If your child or pet gets affected by the cinnamon for whatever reason, consult a specialist.


Draw Chalk Over the Trail

For some reason, chalk works magic with ants. They cannot seem to cross over the line and for this reason, ensure that the pheromone trail is well covered by the line of chalk to ensure that the ants cannot sniff it. As seen above, if they cannot sniff their trail, the plan to reach your food gets distorted.


Peppermint Oil

This happens to rank as one of the best solutions for your ant problem, right along with cinnamon and vinegar. It deters the ants away from their path and keeps them away. Just like when you use cinnamon, peppermint oil leaves your house smelling amazing.

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Chilli Powder

This has the same effect as the others above but be careful when using it around your kids and pets for obvious reasons. This obviously isn’t the go-to method but if you feel like it would serve you best, give it a try.


Lemon Juice

Fresh lemon juice also comes bearing a strong scent that can certainly work. However, having to spray your floors and surfaces with lemon juice means you have to think about the surfaces getting sticky and so, consider that if you are willing to choose lemon juice as your method.


Coffee Grounds

While the smell produced by ground coffee would also keep the ants away, this would be a tricky choice. The coffee would also leave behind its scent, a fact that might not be appealing to others. If this doesn’t bother you, well, this choice will certainly help keep those ants at bay.


Mint

Much like all the above options, the smell will deter the ants from their trail. Choose whatever opting you like, be it ground, crushed or preserved, whichever kind gives off the most scent will be the better option.


Spices

This concludes the list above and even gives room for more. Remember that you are looking for something that will be giving off its own scent to cover the pheromone trail. Choose a scent you can stand because after you have applied/ sprinkled it all over your floors, surfaces or entrances, you will have to leave it there for a while before cleaning it up.


Do the Deterrents Kill the Ants?

The list above gives you a summary of all the deterrents you can use to keep the ants out of your home. They are called deterrents because they do not actually kill the ants. All they do is keep them away and if well applied, you can actually succeed in keeping the ants out of the house.

How? You may ask. Easy, by applying them along with every entry point in the house, doors, windows, vents, cracks, etc. This will certainly keep the ants out of the house because each time they get close to their entry point, they will turn around. 

Deterrents, however, only help when the ant problem is a mild one. If the problem becomes big and unbearable, it is wise to locate the colony and get rid of it.


How Long Do Ant Pheromone Trails Last?

The duration of the ant pheromone trails depends solely on the type of the ant. Different ant species have different durations of the pheromone trails. For example, some ant species can leave pheromone trails that can last for days, while other ant species will produce a pheromone trail that lasts for only 10 minutes.

The best example for this are the carpenter ants, their pheromone trail must be dealt with because it can last for a few days. This is why carpenter ants are one of the most annoying ants to get rid of. On the other hand, the pheromone trail of pavement or fire ants lasts only for 10 minutes.


Outside Ant Pheromone Trails | Prevention

Outside Ant Pheromone Trails Prevention

You should continue getting rid of the ants outside. This would be the time to use hot water. Boil a pot of hot water and go outside where the locked-out ants are busy trying to figure out their next step.

After finding their trail out there, pour the hot water along with it. This will certainly kill the ants on the trail and will also get rid of the pheromone trail. The hot water should be used with caution and should certainly not be used indoors.

Additionally, you can also set up ant baits if you have no idea where their nest is located. They will carry the bait into the nest and the entire nest will die from consuming it. Knowing the location of the ant trails works really with ant baits.

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After a while, the deterrents will lose their scent and so you need to take precautions to continually keep the ants out of the home. So, to avoid a repeat of the same, observe the following:

  • Keep your food in sealed containers
  • Keep your floors and surfaces crumb-free

Summary

Having ants crawling all over your home can get really uncomfortable regardless of whether they pose any danger to you or not. The surprising characteristic of ants is that they move fast and are certainly organized. One day you can spot a few ants crawling haphazardly along your floors and the next day, you wake up to armies of the little things crawling all over.

Their organization is something you can use against them and as well to find and kill their whole colony. In this article, we have given you many ways that you can use to keep the ants out of your home.

It is handy because most of the things listed above can already be found in your home. Choose the method that best suits you and watch how the ants will lose interest in your home. Best of luck!


List of Sources

Czaczkes, T. J., Grüter, C., Jones, S. M., & Ratnieks, F. L. (2012), Uncovering the complexity of ant foraging trails, Communicative & integrative biology

Choi, M. Y., & Vander Meer, R. K. (2012), Ant trail pheromone biosynthesis is triggered by a neuropeptide hormone, Center of Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Florida

Klotz J., Williams D., Reid B., Vail K., Koehler P., Ant Trails: A Key to Management with Baits, Institue of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Choe, D. H., Villafuerte, D. B., & Tsutsui, N. D. (2012), Trail pheromone of the Argentine ant, University of California