How to Get Rid of Red Ants | Effective Control and Prevention

Written by Thomas Matthews

If you notice a single ant inside your house, know that there might be a thousand more nearby. These small invasive colonies in our homes can be aggravating, and it is best to take measures early to eliminate them.

How to get rid of red ants? To get rid of red ants, you can use natural ingredients such as cornstarch, boiling water, essential oils, and vinegar. Alternatively, you can also use chemicals like borax or boric acid. Lastly, one should maintain a clean environment to prevent their return.

This article will go over the many varieties of red ants that may be found inside and outside the house, what they look like, and how to control and prevent red ant infestation.

What Are Red Ants?

What Are Red Ants

Red ants, also known as “Fire Ants”, are an aggressive type of ants. They are commonly seen around and are known for the burning sensation of their bite. Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) are also well-known red ants that are commonly found around the United States. As the name suggests, they are called imported because they originated in South America.

What Do Red Ants Look Like?

Red ants have a dull red body coloring, which ranges from reddish-brown to reddish-black. Same with other ants, red ants have 6 legs on their body, with stingers and antennae on their head. Their bodies have a strong carapace or armor to protect them.

Are All Red Ants Fire Ants?

Are All Red Ants Fire Ants

The most common red ants that can be seen frequently are fire ants. However, not all red ants are fire ants. There are also other types of ants that are color red, similar looking to fire ants. The examples are:

  • Leafcutter Ants are also a common red ant that has become somewhat renowned as a result of their appearance on television or in documentaries. They are mainly found outside and eat leaves. Agricultural areas are where they are most commonly found, and they rarely penetrate residences. However, there’s a chance you might find them in your garden.

Where Do Red Ants Live?

Red ants, same with other types of ants, often live under soil and other moist habitats. Irrigated lawns, edges of riverbanks, and pond areas are also common places for them to lay their eggs. These ants that migrate to households usually live in moist places of the house, surrounded by dirt or soil.

How Long Do Red Ants Live?

How Long Do Red Ants Live

Ants, in general, have a relatively brief life cycle. Queen fire ant colonies can live up to seven years; however, studies show they typically live for only three or four years. On the other hand, worker ants are commonly seen in groups and have a considerably shorter lifespan. The temperature influences their life expectancy; higher temperatures indicate a shorter life expectancy. Furthermore, the average fire ant worker survives for four to six weeks.

Do Red Ants Fly?

Just like other types of ants, red ants can also develop wings. Every ant colony will have ants with wings. The colony’s winged ants are known as “alates.” Their primary duty is to reproduce and form new colonies. If you’re seeing red ants flying, it could be a male red ant searching for an ant queen to breed. After mating, ants will lose their wings. Ants grow wings primarily for the purpose of reproduction.

Are Red Ants Dangerous to Pets?

Are Red Ants Dangerous to Pets

Red ants can be dangerous to pets. They bite and cling to their victims with their powerful fangs, then sting and inject acid. Fire ants are aggressive and have a tendency for swarming in big groups. Small animals can be killed by several stings.

Are Red Ants Harmful to Humans?

When it comes to ants, red ants are among the most feared. These ants may be small, but their bite is extremely painful. They carry a venom that causes a burning sensation on the bitten area when injected through their bite. There have been reports where a huge number of fire ants have bitten a single individual, resulting in severe anaphylactic shock resulting in death.

Related: How Strong Are Ants? | Incredible Strength Explained

What Causes Red Ants in the House?

Red ants are most likely entering the house because they’ve discovered food. Even a single amount of food can attract ants. They may also be looking for water, which is why they are commonly found in bathrooms and toilets. Another reason red ants might be inside the house is they are hunting for a new shelter, particularly during the winter or on wet days.

How to Know If You Have A Red Ant Infestation?

The most obvious indicator of red ants is finding a few of the brightly colored insects inside or close to your home. Small heaps of earth outside your home can be the entrance to an ant colony. Keep a close eye out for ant activity in the hole, but try not to disrupt it to avoid provoking these stinging insects. 

Red ants may consume the leaves and stems of your indoor plants, thus damage to these areas, especially on young plants, could be an indication of an infestation. These ants have a reputation for gnawing on electrical wiring insulation, which might potentially harm your gadgets and house utilities. 

If you place your ear close to the walls and pay close attention, you might be able to hear ants that are staying inside your interior walls. Small rustling noises are a sign that ants are moving about within your house or perhaps residing there. 

Finding Red Ants on Your Property, Indoors and Out

Red ants can establish a presence almost anywhere but their nests aren’t always easy to see. A warm climate is preferred for fire ants.

Although they may travel indoors, they don’t actually construct their nests there. There is an attraction for these ants if you see one or more of them inside your house. Typically, it’s unopened food, like fruit on a tabletop.

The best times to see red ants searching for food are early in the day or late in the day. Avoid getting too close, but follow their trail to find their nesting area. 

The most straightforward method for locating their nest outside is typically to look for the distinctive nest mounds that they construct. Despite favoring sunny environments, they don’t have a preference for any particular sort of soil. 

Get Rid of Red Ants in Particular Areas

How to Deal With Red Ants in the House?

The following are multiple ways how to deal with red ants in your home:

  • If the red ants are already inside the house, natural ingredients are the best way to kill them. Pouring boiling water or spraying them with vinegar is very effective in killing red ants. Ants can also be repelled by using odors that ants despise, such as tea tree and peppermint oil, cinnamon, and pepper.

How to Get Rid of Red Ants Outside?

Using items with a strong smell and chemical component that red ants hate is the most convenient way of getting rid of them. You can use the following:

  • Peppermint oil or tea tree oil
  • Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol, or even hand sanitizer

How to Get Rid of Red Ants in Yard?

Getting rid of red ants in the yard may be easier since you can use extra measures like chemicals or products that have strong ingredients that can instantly kill red ants. To get rid of them:

  • You can use products with insect-killer chemicals. One of the most effective ways to get rid of ants is to pour borax or boric acid into holes or regions where red ants are swarming.
  • Red ants can also be easily killed by pouring boiling water on them. This is a very effective and inexpensive method.

How to Get Rid of Red Ants in the Garden?

Though using boric acid can be effective in getting rid of red ants, it may cause harm to your land and plants. Instead, you can use natural ingredients such as:

  • Vinegar, tea tree, peppermint, and cinnamon leaf oil.
  • You can also kill red ants by sprinkling cornstarch on them and pouring water after.
  • Boiling water can also instantly kill red ants; just make sure garden plants are safe before doing so. 

On the other side, using baits will require some patience from your side, but worker ants will distribute the insecticide among the colony, and eventually, it will get to the queen. That is the safest and the most efficient option if you want to resolve your fire ant problem forever.

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Related: How to Get Rid of Ants in Vegetable Garden: A Complete Guide

How to Get Rid of Red Ants Naturally?

Getting rid of ants naturally is the best way. Below are some ways in getting rid of them:

  • Boiling hot water is at the top of the list. It is just water, without any poisonous chemicals. You just have to be careful and make sure the boiling water harms only the red ants.
  • Vinegar is also one of the best ways to get rid of red ants naturally. It kills red ants and prevents them from returning. However, some people may perceive the strong scent of vinegar within their homes to be a downside of the process.
  • Natural essential oils can also be effective in getting rid of red ants. Tea tree, cinnamon, and peppermint oils are most effective since ants can’t stand the scent, and they will not be able to return if the smell is still present.
  • Using diatomaceous earth. By soaking up the oils in their exoskeletons, which dry them out, it kills ants. Diatomaceous earth is irritating, therefore you should avoid inhaling it or touching your skin with it.
  • Mixing a glass cleaner and liquid detergent. When they move, ants leave a fragrant pheromone trail behind them that serves as a guide. With this technique, you can get rid of the smell and stop the ants from returning to your house. In areas where ants appear to emerge from or gather, mist the mixture there.
  • Consider scattering the newly brewed coffee grinds on throwaway materials and placing them in ant-attractive locations, such as pet bowls. Make sure to switch up the grounds frequently because they could lose their effectiveness once they’re dry.
  • Lemon juice can be used topically or sprayed on surfaces to repel ants by eradicating pheromone trails and concealing the aroma of food.

What Are Tiny Red Ants Called?

What Are Tiny Red Ants Called

There are multiple types of tiny red ants that are often seen. They are smaller than fire ants. The most common tiny red ants that are usually seen in your house are called “Pharaoh Ants.” They are light yellow to red in color, with black lines on their abdomen.

Though they have a wide range of food, their top favorites are sweets, protein, and fats. That’s why they are prone to be seen lurking in your kitchen. Tiny red ants are always present when a sugar packet or container is not sealed properly. They are mostly the ones that will be feasting on your unsealed chocolates and bags of chips.

How to Get Rid of Tiny Red Ants?

Usually, tiny red ants can be seen in the kitchen or bathroom. You may also notice that these red ants are smaller versions than the typically called red ants or fire ants. Even though they are smaller in size, they can still be annoying. To get rid of tiny red ants, you can do the following:

  • In the same way, to get rid of red ants, you can get rid of smaller red ants in your kitchen by pouring hot water or spraying vinegar to kill them, and it’s a safer approach.
  • You can also use essential oils like peppermint, tea tree, and cinnamon oil.
  • Boric acid is especially useful in situations where these small red ants are already overwhelming.
  • You can also use commercial bait for ants. These baits are sweets to tiny red ants and will poison them to death. Just make sure these baits are out of the reach of your children and pets.

Related: How to Get Rid of Fire Ants: A Complete Guide

How to Prevent Red Ants at Home?

Start off by maintaining a clean environment in and around your home. To prevent red ants at home, you may do the following:

  • Clean up dirty dishes, making sure no leftover food is accessible to red ants.
  • Wipe down all surfaces that are exposed to food, especially sweets.
  • Make sure all food containers, especially sweets and sugar containers, are properly sealed.
  • You can place natural things with odors that red ants despise throughout your home, particularly in locations and areas where you think red ants are active. The items that you may use are peppermint oil, cinnamon, pepper, and tea tree oil. 

Related: How to Get Rid of Ants | Ultimate Guide

List of Sources

Winged Carpenter Ants. Michigan State University.
Ants, University of Minnesota.
Cathcart F., Ants don’t have to be a bother inside. Get rid of ants naturally, Metro News.

Thomas Matthews
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