How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants in the House: A Complete Guide

Have you spotted a few sugar ants running around your kitchen? You have to act fast! Otherwise, these creatures can invade cupboards, jars and even the trash can in your house in no time. Having ants in your house is a serious problem as they can negatively impact your mental and physical health.

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. In this article, we are going to focus only on sugar ants.

How to get rid of sugar ants in the house? There are a variety of methods and products for getting rid of the sugar ants in the house. Some of these methods include the use of ant aerosols sprays, different types of baits and even natural home remedies for getting rid of sugar ants. They can attack different parts of the house and because of that depending on the type of the room, different methods and products should be applied as some of them can be very toxic. Prevention is always the best remedy but if the disaster has already happened, make sure to choose one out of many methods in our article that would suit your situation.

With that being said, aerosols sprays for ants are the most popular product for fighting them. You can, for example, spray it directly on the worker ants or follow them to their nest or anthill and apply it there. The sugar ants will mostly die on contact and the rest will be dead in about 2-3 hours.

This only works on the ants that you can actually see, because of this it is better to also use the ant bait. The workers will carry back to the nest and poison the whole colony.

Sounds extremely simple, right? But those are certainly not the only methods that will help you get rid of sugar ants in the house. If you want to become a real sugar ant expert and also find out what natural solutions and home remedies work against these annoying creatures?

Then keep on reading because this is going to get a lot more interesting!

What Are Sugar Ants?

Of course, before learning how to get rid of sugar ants in the house, you should know what exactly are those creatures.


What Do Sugar Ants Look Like?

Sugar ants are small mostly black looking insects. The truth is that the real sugar ants (banded sugar ant or Camponotus consobrinus) are native to Australia and they don’t live anywhere else! We are used to calling pharaoh ants or pavement ants that invade our houses in search of food ‘sugar ants’ as well. Do not worry this article is meant for them as well.

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

These creatures 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 1.5-2 mm.


Can Sugar Ants Damage My House?

Can Sugar Ants Damage My House

Sugar ants start invading your house only for the food. These insects can’t really 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 that you keep your food in can be damaged. Moreover, sugar ants can end up attracting 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 and then – pupae.

The latter will become either an adult male or a female (queen or worker) and the whole process takes only 38 days. One colony can have around 350.000 ants. There usually are around 100-200 female adults and any one of those ants can leave the colony and start one of their own. That’s exactly why it is important to get rid of sugar ants in your house in the shortest terms possible.


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 it will not sting. If a person is highly allergic, then he or she might end up developing an allergic reaction to the bite of a sugar ant.

There is one more health risk concerning these insects that should be mentioned. If your house is contaminated, the sugar ants will end up running all around your food and might contaminate it. Make sure to always throw away the food that 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

The sooner you start the battle with sugar ants – the better. The great thing is that there are many methods that can help you get rid of the insects. All you have to do is choose the one that you think would work best for your specific situation. Always carefully read the instructions before trying out any of the sugar ant killers mentioned in the following sections below.


Ant Aerosol Sprays

One of the most popular products is an aerosol spray. You can easily 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 for sure where the anthill or the nest is.

Moreover, this method is extremely 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

You would need to wait for a bit longer with this method, but gel droplets have proven to be very effective. 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.

The trick here is that the bait needs some time to kill the ants. In about 2 weeks, all the insects will be poisoned. Two months after, there will be no more sugar ants in your house. Bear in mind that you might need a lot of gel droplets, in case your house is severely infested.


Insecticide Pencils and Chalks

This might not be the best method for fighting sugar ants, but we felt like we should mention it anyway. You can use pencils and chalks 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 in the course of time the ants will become accustomed to the active substance, so you would have to change things up.

Some people use Chinese chalk to fight sugar ants. Bear in mind that it is banned in the United States and in a lot of European countries, the product is very toxic and can be dangerous for people, if used near food. Moreover, the users should use a plastic cover over the actual chalk. Due to the fact that the active ingredients are very toxic, the method has proven to be effective.

But ask yourself if you are ready to take the risk. You can also use regular chalk to draw a line on your porch, for example. Sugar ants might get intimidated by the strange powdery thing.


Glue Traps

If you are looking for an eco-friendly way to get rid of sugar ants, you have to give glue traps a try. These things use a special formula that attracts pests. The ones made especially for sugar ants have a strong smell (well, at least it’s strong for the ants, as they have a great sense of smell). 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 in case you don’t have a severe infestation.

This method is relatively cheap and absolutely safe not only for your health but also for the well-being of your pets. The worst thing that can happen is that your cat or dog can get glued to the trap as well (you can easily remove it with some vegetable oil).


Electric Traps

These kinds of traps can be expensive but bear in mind 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.


What Kills Sugar Ants? Best Sugar Ant Killer Products


Syngenta Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box | Sugar Ant Bait

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  • How does Optigard Ant Bait Gel work? Ants that feed on the gel...

Syngenta Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box promises to help you get rid of the annoying sugar ants in a very short period. The best thing about ant bait is that these products will kill the nest and the queen, as well as the workers. If you can’t locate the nest, then this is the perfect option for you.

Additionally, we suggest taking a look at Home Plus Ant Killer as it also works flawlessly.

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HARRIS Borax Liquid Ant Killer | Borax for Sugar Ants

HARRIS Borax Liquid Ant Killer, 3oz - Includes 9 Bait Trays
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  • Kills the Queen and the Colony - Because borax works slowly to...

HARRIS Borax Liquid Ant Killer includes 9 bait trays and is able to kill all common household ants (including the queen). Borax is the active ingredient used in the product. It is a naturally occurring mineral powder that will help you get rid of sugar ants. You can spread all 9 bait trays over a large area (inside or outside your house).

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.

You have to be very careful with borax and make sure that your children and pets do not come across this substance. Please do make sure that your cat or dog stays away from the poison.


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

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  • PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS: Package contains (2) The Original...

Zap-a-Roach Boric Acid Ant Killer is a non-staining and odorless product that can be used on a variety of 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.

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. Make sure that the product is distributed in the places where your children and pets can’t reach it.


Terro Insect Trap | Sugar Ant Traps

TERRO T3206SR 3-Pack Spider & Insect Trap-12 Traps, 3 Pack
  • 12 spider and inset traps inclued
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  • Safe, toxic, pestide free
  • Safe to use around kids and pets
  • Connient, easy-to-use

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

The product is made out of non-toxic material and can be placed in the corners of the rooms, in the garage, and so on. As it is very safe it can be used around kids.



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?


  • The first few steps are the same for every room in your place. Identify the ants, you need to know that you are dealing with sugar ants.

  • Then 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 will be able to find the ant nest. However, do bear in mind that sometimes the anthills can be hidden.

  • After that, you can use one out of many methods to get rid of the ants. However, 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

The kitchen is, possibly, the place in your house that is most likely to suffer from an ant infestation. After all, sugar ants invade your house for the 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.

Don’t leave any food (even waste) in the dishes over the night. By the way, you can pour just a bit of bleach down the drain, so that the smell of food particles is removed.

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 to get rid of 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 (click here to read more about how to keep ants out of pet food).

And don’t forget to remove your trash as often as you can! You can sprinkle some ordinary baking soda at the bottom of the trash can to keep the ants away.


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 get rid of any freestanding water in your bathroom if you want 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.

The chances are high that your bathroom is the exact place where you want to come and relax. So, you can accomplish two goals at once, if you use essential oils. You can use peppermint or tea tree oil in your bathroom to get rid of any ants and make the place smell nice and fresh. Add around 20 drops to a spray bottle, add some water and use the mixture to spray it 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, then 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 end up invading your car, if there is a small crumble or some 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 are able to infiltrate your car through the tires. So, use a special spray to go throughout the wheels and the parts underneath (don’t spray the brake pads though). We have made a special article for ants in cars, so if you want to know more details on how to deal with ants in the cars click on this link.


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, do bear in mind 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 be effective as well.

When it comes to homemade remedies, they have to be used in the right concentrations and applied regularly. But the best part is that you can certainly find at least a couple of these remedies in your house right now!


Pepper

We all know that pepper has a very strong smell and it is practically unbearable for sugar ants. Of course, it would be difficult to use a lot of pepper, but you can certainly combine it with some other methods. For example, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to an essential oil and water mixture and spray the ants’ entry points.


Coffee Grounds

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


Bay Leaves

Place a bay leaf in your pantry. As simple as that. It acts as a natural ant deterrent.


Essential Oils

The recipe is pretty much 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.

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Cucumber Peels

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


Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best ways to get rid of ant pheromone trails. To make sure that the vinegar evaporates, mix the thing 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 any surfaces that came in contact with sugar ants.


Diatomaceous Earth

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

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Cornstarch

Cornstarch will kill sugar ants as soon as the insects ingest it. They are not able to process it and because of that, they can die.


Boiling Water

The easiest way to deal with ants is boiling water. Make sure 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 the decoction of wild chamomile to wash the floors or the Pyrethrum powder (it consists of chamomile flowers) for getting 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, and 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.


How to Prevent Sugar Ants from Invading Your House

How to Prevent Sugar Ants from Invading Your House.

Of course, preventing sugar ants from invading your house is always better than trying to get rid of an enormous colony. Make sure to follow our tips, if you don’t want to spend a lot of time and nerves in the future.


Check for Scout Ants Inside or Outside Your House

There is a special type of ants, the ones that wander 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 otherwise more ants can make their way inside your house.


Always Remove Ant Trails

You can use the home remedies that we have mentioned above (like a vinegar and water mix, for example). If you are not sure where exactly the ant trails are located, it is always better to spray the entire house.


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, wipe the surfaces that have any spills or crumbles.


Use Sealed Containers to Store Food

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


Make Sure That Your House Has No Cracks

How to Prevent Sugar Ants from Invading Your House

Spend some time on 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.


You Can 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 exactly what we need, right?


Summary

Now, you have a whole arsenal of various tricks that will help you eliminate the sugar ant problem in your house. However, bear in mind that preventive actions should be taken as well if you want to get rid of sugar ants for good.

it is very important to take them seriously if you see a few of them roaming around your house, if the problem gets out of hand we suggest calling pest exterminators. They are well equipped to get rid of them for good. Do not apply home remedies if the infestation has really progressed.

If you found our guide helpful please follow us and share our content so that other people can also find ways to deal with sugar ants. For more pest control related content visit our site regularly. Best of luck!


List of Sources

“Sugar” Ants, Washington State University

Adam D. Kay, Abbie J. Bruning, Andy van Alst, Tyler T. Abrahamson, W. O. H. Hughes, Kaspari M., A carbohydrate-rich diet increases social immunity in ants.

Ant Management, Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

Tips for Effective Ant Baiting, N.C. State Extension