Ants in my home in January!

Asked February 5, 2018, 10:29 PM EST

See attached photo, please. I've found dozens of these ants in my Eugene home over the last few days (when this warm weather kicked in)! Can you help me identify it so I may eliminate them? I have a 10 month old son who is in to everything, so I'm hoping for an organic resolution. Do you think I should contact an exterminator? We always have sugar ants during the summer months and late last summer a few carpenter ants appeared near our kitchen. Any advice is welcome!

Lane County Oregon

1 Response

My, this is early for a question about ants, but I suppose the warm weather is bringing them out early, like everything else! I am not able to identify this ant from the picture - there are several different types it could be, and their appearance also varies within species according to their function. Are you sure they are not sugar ants? Those often show up early in spring, and if so, there are non-toxic home treatments that work quite well against them. Many studies have shown the effectiveness of borax against them, and I personally have had very good results against sugar ants with a mixture of borax and sugar or syrup, put inside pieces of toilet paper tube or other disposable material. They take it back to their nest, and within a day or so stop coming. (Of course other nests start up, so they will come in again from other directions. Just repeat.) Here is one rather lengthy description of the method - it is really very easy.

If they are not sugar ants, then how to treat them non-toxically depends on what they eat, so you do need an i.d. I suggest you bring some in to the Lane County Extension Office so they can be examined with a lens. Also, this Extension publication may help, "Identification and Habits of Key Ant Pests in the PNW"

There are also exterminators who specialize in least-toxic methods, and they should be skilled at determining what kind of ant you have (if they just want to spray without identifying it, they may not be a good choice).

Good luck with them! It may be a long ant season due to the early warmth.