How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in the House | Natural and Humane Solutions

Written by George Climer | checkbox Reviewed by Articles on Pest Samurai undergo a rigorous evaluation process by our Science Editors. Each article is scrutinized prior to publication and upon significant updates. Learn more about Pest Samurai Editorial Process. Paul Hayes

Sugar ants can invade cupboards, jars and trash cans in your house in no time. Not many people take them seriously, but ants can transmit diseases and even destroy some electronic devices, and because of that, they must be dealt with.

So, how to get rid of sugar ants in your house? You can use ant aerosol sprays, ant baits, glue traps, electric traps, insecticide pencils and chalks, and natural home remedies such as essential oils, diatomaceous earth, and many more!

This article will discuss everything you need to know about identifying sugar ants, getting rid of them, and preventing them from ever coming back to your home and property. Let’s begin!

What Are Sugar Ants?

What Do Sugar Ants Look Like?

Sugar ants are small, mostly black-looking insects. They have 3 pairs of legs and long antennae that help the insects recognize air currents, ground motions, and aromas. Male ants are, in general, smaller than females. The length of the latter can reach 4.5 mm, while the males are around 1.5 to 2 mm.

The truth is that the real sugar ants (banded sugar ants or Camponotus consobrinus) are native to Australia and don’t live elsewhere!

We are used to calling pharaoh ants or pavement ants that invade our houses in search of food ‘sugar ants.’ Do not worry as this article is meant for them as well.

Related: How Many Types of Ants Are There: Ant Identification Chart

Can Sugar Ants Damage My House?

Can Sugar Ants Damage My House

Sugar ants start invading your house only for food. These insects can’t cause any structural damage to your property. However, there can be unpleasant consequences.

The creatures can gnaw through paper, cardboard, and even thin plastic. So, different packages and jars you keep your food in can be damaged. Moreover, sugar ants can attract other pests into your house (like centipedes or spiders, for example). Also, some electrical devices can be damaged as well.

How Long Do Sugar Ants Live?

Thankfully, sugar ants do not live long. Only the females live up to 10 months. Worker ants live for about two months, while male ants live just 20 days. However, the bad news is that sugar ants grow quickly.

The eggs will develop into larvae to pupae then they will become either an adult male or female (queen or worker), and the process takes only 38 days. One colony can have around 350,000 ants, usually with 100-200 female adults, and any one of those ants can leave the colony and start one of their own.

Do Sugar Ants Bite?

Normally, sugar ants do not bite. However, they might use their upper mouthparts to scare away anyone who tries to ruin their nest. But even if a sugar ant bites you, it is not painful and will not sting.

However, those who are allergic to these ants can end up developing an allergic reaction their bites. Additionally, sugar ants may contaminate food. Always throw away the food you think might have come in contact with the pests.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants – Step by Step Instructions

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants – Step by Step Instructions

Always carefully read the instructions before trying out any of the sugar ant killers mentioned in the following sections below for safety purposes:

Ant Aerosol Sprays

One of the most popular products is an aerosol spray. You can quickly kill the worker ants with the help of these sprays. The insects will die within 2-3 hours after being in the area of action.

All you have to do is spray the spray over the ants. Unfortunately, this won’t destroy the actual colony. You will be able to get rid of all the ants, in case you know where the anthill or the nest is.

However, this method is highly toxic. You will have to leave the room (or even the house) for a few hours until your home is fully ventilated. Aerosol-based sprays work great as a preventative measure. If there are only a few ants in your house, you should thoroughly spray their trails and the entrance points.

Sugar Ant Bait | Gel Droplets

Choose places where sugar ants tend to spend most of their time. The insects eat the gel and then carry it to their nest and feed the others.

In about 2 weeks, all the insects will be poisoned. Two months after, there will be no more sugar ants in your house. You might need a lot of gel droplets in case your house is severely infested.

Insecticide Pencils and Chalks

You can use pencils and chalk to draw ‘lines’ in the places where you have seen the insects. The ants will, in most cases, step on the substance and carry the poison to their nest.

However, you would have to repeat the treatment regularly, and the chances are high that, with time, the ants will become accustomed to the active substance, so you would have to change things up.

The product is very toxic and dangerous for people if used near food. Due to this, you should use a plastic cover over the actual chalk to prevent accidentally ingesting it.

Glue Traps

As soon as the insects get in the trap, they get stuck in the glue. One trap can help you catch a few dozen ants. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to attack the actual ant nest with these things, so a glue trap will work great only if you don’t have a severe infestation.

This method is relatively cheap and safe for your health and the well-being of your pets. The worst thing that can happen is that your cat or dog can also get glued to the trap. You can easily remove them with some vegetable oil.

Electric Traps

These traps can be expensive, but remember that they can work for years. There is a special bait inside the electric trap that attracts ants. As soon as the insects crawl inside the device, they get killed.

Of course, the trap won’t be able to destroy anthills, but it works effectively against the workers. Always read the instructions and follow the safety rules. It is incredibly important to place electric traps only in dry places.

Related: Ants in My Garage | How to Get Rid of Ants in Garage

What Kills Sugar Ants? Best Sugar Ant Killer Products

1. Syngenta Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box | Sugar Ant Bait

This product promises to help you get rid of annoying sugar ants quickly as it is capable of killing the nest and the queen, as well as the workers. If you can’t locate the nest, this is the perfect option.

Syngenta - TRTD11568 - Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box - 4 Tubes w/ Plunger - 30g each tube, White
  • Target pests: For indoor and outdoor control of...
  • Highly attractive formula promotes ready transfer of the active...
  • Powerful, active ingredient knocks out workers, brood and queens
  • Approved for use indoors and outdoors, applied in cracks and...
  • How does Optigard Ant Bait Gel work? Ants that feed on the gel...

Here are other products that work similarly to the product mentioned above and still gives flawless results:

Homeplus™ Ant Killer AB, Metal Ant Bait, Ants Killer for House, Ant Traps Indoor & Outdoor, 4 Pack
  • Metal Ant Killer Bait: Attracts and kills many different species...
  • Food Lure Ant Bait: The child-resistant metal bait stations use 4...
  • How it Works: Worker ants carry and share the bait with the rest...
  • Quick Results: Starts killing worker ants within 24 hours; you...
  • Usage: Homeplus Ant Killer AB baits are great for getting rid of...
Combat Max Ant Killing Bait Stations, Indoor and Outdoor Use, 6 Count
  • Kills the colony.
  • Provides long-lasting ant killing power
  • Kills ants quickly
  • No vapor, fumes, or odor.
  • This package contains 6 ant killing bait stations.
Terro T334 4 5 Pack Multi-Surface Liquid Ant 20 Discreet Bait Stations,White
  • Attracts and kills the ants you see and the ones you don’t
  • Discreet, two-color design blends in with your décor
  • Adhesive Strips attach ant baits to walls or under cabinets
  • Worker ants carry and deliver a lethal dose to the rest of the...
  • Stay-fresh twist tab keeps liquid bait fresh until opened

2. HARRIS Borax Liquid Ant Killer | Borax for Sugar Ants

This liquid ant killer includes 9 bait trays and can kill all common household ants (including the queen). You can spread all 9 bait trays over a large area both inside and outside your house.

Harris Borax Liquid Ant Killer, 3oz - Includes 9 Bait Trays
  • 9 Bait Trays Per Pack - Spread bait trays over a large area for...
  • Kills All Common Household Ants - Harris bait is intended for...
  • Contains Borax - Borax, a naturally occurring mineral powder, is...
  • EPA Registered - Registered with the Environmental Protection...
  • Kills the Queen and the Colony - Because borax works slowly to...

The bait is sweet, and the ants would be happy to bring it back to their colony. The product kills the ants slowly. That’s why the workers will have plenty of time to poison the entire colony.

The bait will kill the ant within 48 hours. It might take the product around 2 weeks to fully eliminate a mild infestation. Make sure to remove all food sources. Otherwise, the ants might get distracted from the bait.

3. Zap-A-Roach Boric Acid Ant Killer | Boric Acid for Sugar Ants

A non-staining and odorless product that can be used on various surfaces. It is made of 100% boric acid and can be easily distributed by a spoon in cracks, under and behind pipes, drains and large appliances.

Zap-A-Roach Boric Acid Powder Roach & Ant Killer - (2-Pack) 16 oz - Easy to Spread Ant and Cockroach Killer Indoor Home
  • PUT THE PESTS IN THEIR PLACE: Boric acid ant and roach powder...
  • PROTECT YOUR HOME IN EVERY WAY: Boric acid is a non-staining and...
  • UNDETECTED ROACH AND ANT PEST CONTROL: Discreetly keep up with...
  • DIRECTIONS FOR USE: Shake well and twist the cap until fully...
  • SAFETY: Apply boric acid powder for bugs only in areas...

You can also mix the product with water and use it as a spray to get to the hard-to-reach areas. Boric acid needs around 2 weeks to 1 month to start working its magic, so be patient. Ensure the product is distributed in places your children and pets can’t reach it.

4. Terro Insect Trap | Sugar Ant Traps

If you have a mild infestation and want to go for the most eco-friendly solution, then Terro Insect Trap should do the job for you. This trap can help eliminate all sorts of pests (sugar ants included).

Sale
TERRO T3206SR Non-Toxic Indoor Spider, Ant, Cockroach, Centipede, and Crawling Insect Trap - 12 Traps
  • Say Goodbye to Bugs – Traps and kills spiders, ants, roaches,...
  • Kills the “Big 3” – These traps also capture dangerous...
  • Versatile Design – These easy-to-use traps can be deployed flat...
  • Use Throughout Your Home – Place traps along baseboards, under...
  • Plenty of Protection – Four traps per package allow for...

The product is non-toxic and can therefore be placed in the corners of rooms, in the garage, and so on. As it is very safe, it can be used around pets and children.

Sugar Ants in Specific Places in the House – What Should You Do?

What exactly should you do if you have a sugar ant problem only in one specific room in your house?

  • Identify the ant species you’re dealing with. Ensure that they’re really sugar ants or they may be other species. Once properly determined, you can tailor your control methods accordingly.
  • Find the entry points. You should have to spend some time figuring out where the ants are heading, but be patient, as you would have to focus on these areas in the future. If you are lucky, you can find the ant nest. However, do bear in mind that sometimes the anthills can be hidden.
  • Get rid of the ants using the methods mentioned in this article. Don’t forget to erase the ant trail with the help of a mixture of vinegar and water, for example. Sugar ants leave a special pheromone trail. Other workers follow the trail, so getting rid of it is extremely important.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in Kitchen?

Sugar ants invade your house for food, and the kitchen is where they can find it. However, ants can get attracted to moisture as well. So, what you need to do in your kitchen is always keep the sink dry. Moreover, make sure to dry the dishes. It goes without saying that food residue can attract ants.

Clean up any bits of food that can be left on the floor or underneath kitchen appliances (like under your toaster, for example). Mop the floors frequently. You can use a mixture of vinegar and water to wash your floors and eliminate any ant pheromone trails.

If there is a pet food bowl in your kitchen, you can spray the mixture around it as well so that the ants don’t gather there.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in Bathroom?

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in Bathroom

As you already know, moisture attracts ants, and they will be happy to drink the water. You would have to eliminate any freestanding water in your bathroom to prevent an ant infestation.

Seal all the cracks and openings along the floor and walls and replace the broken tiles. Clean your toilet regularly and use a disinfectant spray whenever you can.

You can use peppermint or tea tree oil in your bathroom to eliminate any ants and make the place smell nice and fresh. Add around 20 drops to a spray bottle, add some water, and spray the mixture over the ants and trails.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in Bedroom?

Please, don’t bring any food to your bedroom. If there is no food or moisture in the room, the sugar ants will have no reason to invade it.

Just to ensure that there will never be an ant problem in your bedroom, seal off any entryways, get rid of the ant trails (if there are any), and use some essential oils. Keep the bedroom clean and regularly mop the floor or use a vacuum cleaner, in case you have carpets.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in Car?

Unfortunately, sugar ants can be found even in your car! As these insects have an extra sensitive sense of smell, they can invade your car if there is a small crumble or spilled juice. However, even if your car is perfectly clean, a few ants might crawl into your car, in case you have parked over an anthill.

Always clean your car and throw away any garbage. Make sure to use a car vacuum for better results. Look for anthills around the place where you have parked the car. You can either get rid of the anthills or simply move the car to another place.

Ants can infiltrate your car through the tires. So, use a special spray to go through the wheels and the parts underneath (don’t spray the brake pads, though).

Home Remedies for Sugar Ants & How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants Naturally

There are plenty of home remedies that you can use to get rid of sugar ants. However, remember that these natural methods work only for initial ant infestations.

If the ant infestation in your house is severe, then experts recommend using chemical methods or calling a professional. However, the combination of natural and chemical methods can also be effective.

Pepper

We all know that pepper has a very strong smell, which is practically unbearable for sugar ants. Of course, using a lot of pepper would be difficult, but you can certainly combine it with other methods.

For example, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to an essential oil and water mixture and spray the ants’ entry points. This makes a potent and very effective ant deterrent.

Coffee Grounds

The chances are high that you have a lot of this substance left after your morning coffee. It can stain many surfaces, so use coffee grounds only outside the house. The great news is that this easy recipe can help keep many pests away from your house.

Bay Leaves

Place a bay leaf in your pantry, kitchen counter, and other parts of the house where there is food constantly present. As simple as that. It acts as a natural ant deterrent.

Essential Oils

The recipe is pretty straightforward – mix around 20 drops of essential oil (peppermint, orange, cinnamon…) with 8 ounces of water and spray this homemade remedy around the places where ant activity is present.

Organic Peppermint Essential Oil 4 oz, USDA Certified Mentha Piperita, Perfect for Aromatherapy, Diffuser, DIY by Mary Tylor Naturals
  • USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC Peppermint Essential Oil Steam Distilled...
  • LARGE 4 oz SIZE: Amber Glass Bottle Comes with a High Quality...
  • PURE PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL: USDA Certified Organic, Free of...
  • AROMATHERAPY USE: Use with a Diffuse for an amazing aroma.
  • Safety Warning: For External Use only. For Other Then...

Cucumber Peels

Did you know that sugar ants hate the smell of cucumbers? You can place the peels around entryways, for example. However, you must ensure that the cucumber peels stay moist. Otherwise, there will be no smell.

Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best ways to eliminate ant pheromone trails. To ensure that the vinegar evaporates, mix it with water and use it wherever you have seen ants. Ants hate the smell of it, by the way.

Soap and Water

Another way of removing ant trails and this time—with no smell. Simply mix the two ingredients and thoroughly wash the floors or surfaces that come in contact with sugar ants.

Diatomaceous Earth

This powder is a soft type of sedimentary rock. The substance can destroy the ants’ lungs, eyes, and skin. However, experts recommend using diatomaceous earth only if you are 100% comfortable with this natural remedy. This is our recommended product for diatomaceous earth.

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade, 5lb with Powder Duster Included in The Bag
  • Natural Product - Composed of 5lbs of 100% ground freshwater...
  • OMRI Listed - Listed with the Organic Minerals Research...
  • Powder Duster Included - Powder duster in the bag for easy and...
  • Supports a Great Cause - Harris donates 10% of profits to support...
  • Made in the USA – Mined in Nevada and packaged in Georgia. Does...

Cornstarch

Cornstarch will kill sugar ants as soon as the insects ingest it. They cannot process it in their digestive systems, and because of that, they can die. Place it in anywhere you see the ants visit.

Boiling Water

The easiest way to deal with ants is by boiling water. Ensure that the water doesn’t damage the furniture and that there is no wiring. We recommend using this method only outside of the house.

Chamomile

You can also use a concoction of wild chamomile to wash the floors or the Pyrethrum powder (it consists of chamomile flowers) to get rid of the sugar ants.

Homemade Sugar Ant Traps

You can easily make a sugar ant trap with the help of a tray, some water, honey, jam, or sugar. The ants will smell the yummy mixture, come closer to the tray and fall inside. Most of the ants will drown then die.

How to Prevent Sugar Ants from Invading Your House

How to Prevent Sugar Ants from Invading Your House.

Step 1: Check for Scout Ants Inside or Outside Your House

A particular type of ant wanders around trying to find new food sources. You can notice a couple of sugar ants running around your house. The chances are high that those are the scout ants. Get rid of them because more ants can make their way inside your house.

Step 2: Always Remove Ant Trails

You can use the home remedies mentioned above (like a vinegar and water mix, for example). If you are unsure where the ant trails are located, it is always better to spray the entire house.

Step 3: Keep Your Place Clean

You should feed your family members but certainly not the ants. Make sure to clean up dirty dishes as soon as possible. Vacuum the carpets and, mop the floors regularly, and wipe the surfaces that have any spills or crumbles.

Step 4: Use Sealed Containers to Store Food

No one wants to find ants in their food. That’s why you must ensure that all your products are correctly stored. Buy a few airtight containers and put any leftovers in them.

Step 5: Make Sure That Your House Has No Cracks

How to Prevent Sugar Ants from Invading Your House

Spend time finding any areas in your house that the ants can use to enter. Look for cracks around doors and windows. The sealants will degrade over time, so remember to reapply the products regularly.

Step 6: Use an Ant Barrier Around Your House

To go the extra mile, you can use an ant barrier around the perimeter of your house’s foundation. In such a case, ants will stay away from your place, and that’s precisely what we need, right?

Related: How Strong Are Ants? | Incredible Strength Explained

List of Sources

Alder, P., & Waldvogel, M. (2023). Tips for Effective Ant Baiting.
Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. (n.d.). Ant Management.
Jones, L. (2014). “Sugar” Ants.
Kay, A. D., Bruning, A. J., van Alst, A., Abrahamson, T. T., Hughes, W. O. H., Kaspari, M. (2014). A carbohydrate-rich diet increases social immunity in ants.