ant control

Asked October 1, 2020, 8:02 PM EDT

Hi, we have recently been getting ants in our kitchen. Food is not sitting out; counters are not dirty. They just roam after coming out from under electrical socket plates. Terro Liquid Ant Baits seemed to work. Then when they came back, we put the batis out again, but the numbers are not abating. I don't see any big nests outside. Our house will be 2 years old in January. All of the landscape was done from scratch around then, so a lot of disturbance of soil that was previously here. The foundation is free from resting vegetation or heavy mulch. Should we perservere with the Terros or get the yard and house sprayed professionally.? We have had a few ants here and there over the past 2 years, but nothing like this. Thanks!

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Greetings.

I am sharing this answer from Jean Natter, Master Gardener.

The bare-faced truth is this: It’s impossible to get rid of ants. Most people tolerate ants while they’re outdoors, but the majority are more than happy to evict them when they come indoors. Believe it or not, ants are a mixed blessing; they're beneficial in our environment because they help get rid of considerable unwanted trash.

And no, snow won’t get rid of them. Whenever conditions are unfavorable, ants simply hunker down until the threat passes. And if your ants are anything like those which we acquired when we bought our current house, after the thaw, they came out in droves to find food.

The most effective way to manage house-invading ants of any kind whenever they come indoors includes several strategies plus using a suitable commercial ant bait. The reason to use baits is that the ants take it home to share with family and friends, eventually killing many more of those little 6-legged fellows than you’ve ever seen indoors or out. Even so, you must be prepared for the ants’ return. You must have ant bait available that you can place in strategic areas when the ants reappear.

Although I don’t know which particular ants are at your place, “tiny black ants” in our region are often identified as odorous house ants, Tapinoma sessile. (See “Identifying odorous house ants” http://ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/ANTKEY/odorous.html) A borate-based bait such as the commercial formulation of Terro, a liquid, has been found to be quite effective against odorous house ants.

Even so, if the bait doesn’t stop the ant traffic within 3 weeks, obtain another kind which has a different active ingredient. Homemade concoctions often fail because they are either so strong they kill the ants on the spot or, worse yet, they’re so weak that it’s a nutritious food when shared with the colony.)

Here are some management strategies to use in addition to baits:

- Seal and caulk all possible entries. (Doing so can be frustrating because ants can squeeze through hairline cracks!)

- Strict sanitation, but realize that the ants may continue to come indoors in spite of the most rigid sanitation measures.

- Commercial ant baits will help limit the invasion, at least, temporarily. When the ants return – and they will -- put out fresh bait.

- If all else fails, consider hiring a professional pest control company because they have baits unavailable to the public. But, at the same time, realize that odorous house ants are currently the Number One call-back for pest control companies across the country. We don’t recommend specific pest control companies but suggest you ask neighbors, friends, and relatives who they may have worked with successfully. “Selecting a Pest Control Company” may be helpful: http://npic.orst.edu/pest/selectpco.html.

Also see “Ants” (http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7411.html) and http://ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/ANTKEY/odorman.html.