If you see many ants in your house or yard over a period of time, then you probably have an ant nest in your home or on your property. This nest may be:
- A mature ant nest, with at least one queen (but probably more) laying eggs in there to keep the ant colony growing, or
- A satellite nest: These are small nests that workers build near to a mature ant nest. Sometimes a queen or several queens live in a satellite nest, and other times there are just workers living in there.
The ants you see running around are workers. You will never see queen ants roaming freely outside with these workers.
A queen spends her days laying eggs. She stays deep inside the nest and only leaves when she has to, such as when the nest is under threat or if she wants to start a new nest somewhere else.
Worker ants do all the labor in the nest and outside, such as cleaning and feeding the queen, taking care of the young, going out to look for food, or farming food for the colony.
Killing the worker ants that you see will not get rid of your ant problem because the queen lives and will keep on laying eggs, so more and more ants are born.
If you kill the queen ant, the workers that are alive will live until they die off or are killed. After that, the ant colony will be gone because no more ants are being born. The challenge is that there is often more than one queen in a nest, so you need to make sure you kill all the queens.
Here are eight proven methods and some popular products on Amazon that will help you kill all the queen ants in a colony (and many of the worker ants at the same time):
Place ant bait traps near the nest and ant trails
One of the best ways to get rid of queen ants and worker ants is ant bait traps. Ants collect the sweet poison in these traps thinking it is food, and they take this “food” back to the nest.
The ants eat this food and share it with the other ants living in the colony, including the queen. This poison kills all the ants in the colony over a few days or weeks, depending on the size of the nest.
For the best results, place these ant bait traps near to the ants’ nest and the ants’ trails, where you see ants walking behind each other in a line.
Make sure that animals and children cannot get to the ant traps because they contain poison.
If you want to try making your own ant bait traps, here’s an easy ant bait recipe to try:
- 2 tablespoons of borax or boric acid
- Half a cup of sweet food, like jelly, peanut butter, or sugar
Mix the borax with the food. If you want to use borax and sugar, dissolve the mixture in a little warm water, to form a thick goo.
Split the mixture into smaller portions and put each portion on a small plate or piece of cardboard.
Your DIY ant bait traps are now ready to be placed near the nest and along ant trails.
Drench the nest with insecticide
If you know where the ants are nesting and where the queen ant is hiding, drench the nest with this Demand water-based insecticide from Amazon. It’s safe for use indoors and outdoors. This product kills ants immediately on contact, and it will continue to kill any ants that move around inside the nest for the next 90 days (destroying any surviving workers).
If you can’t get to the ant nest because it’s hidden or is in a place that’s hard to reach, try this spray foam insecticide. It has a long, slender nozzle that gets into difficult-to-reach places, such as cracks and crevices. The foam kills ants for up to 18 months, which is long enough to kill the queen and any worker ants in the colony.
Release beneficial nematodes
Nematodes are insects. When you release good nematodes into your soil near an ant nest, the nematodes enter the nest and start killing the ants in there. They do this by releasing bacteria inside the ants, which kills the ants within a few days.
Make sure you release enough Hb nematodes to kill all the ants and the queen ant in the colony.
To get the best results:
- Don’t release nematodes if you have other chemicals, pesticides or insecticides in the area as these will kill the nematodes.
- Release the nematodes on a cloudy day or early in the morning when the soil isn’t very hot.
- Apply a lot of water to the area after releasing the nematodes.
If the nematodes don’t manage to kill all the ants, there’s a good chance that they will at least chase away the ant colony or those ants that do survive.
Use a bug bomb to kill the queen
If the ant infestation is severe or the queen ant is hiding in your walls, under your floorboards, or deep in your cupboards, you can try fogging your house.
If you want to do this yourself, I recommend trying this odorless and film-free bug fogger from Amazon.
Be sure to follow all the instructions on the label. You will need to set aside four hours for fogging – two hours for the actual fogging and two hours to air your house after.
Rent an ozone machine
Some people have had a lot of success in getting rid of ants in their house with an ozone machine.
You can rent or buy your own ozone machine, which will kill bacteria, mold and all insects, like ants, in your home.
Follow the instructions carefully as this is a lot like fogging your house (but it takes a little longer): Depending on the strength of the machine, you’ll probably need to leave the machine on inside the house for at least ten hours, then open all the doors and windows to air the house for a good hour or two before you or anyone else goes in.
Pour boiling water into the nest
Ants are cold-blooded insects that need sunshine and external heat to stay warm. But even if it gets very cold, ants don’t usually die. They just go into a lazy mode to save energy when they have time to adjust.
On a warm day, ants that are underground will come up to the surface and workers will carry young ants up into the mounds of the nest, where it’s warmer. Mounds are the piles of sand on an ant nest that you can see above ground.
Pouring boiling water into an ant nest will immediately kill any ants it comes into contact with. The only problem with this method is that ant nests often run deep, and boiling water doesn’t penetrate deep enough to kill all the ants or the queen.
But this method can still be effective on a warm day that’s between 75 and 95°F (24 – 35°C), when many ants are sitting high up in the mounds, and with a small or young nest that isn’t as deep underground as a mature nest.
Inject orange or neem oil into nesting holes
Some ants don’t make nests underground – they chew tunnels into wood and live in them. These ants are called carpenter ants, and you can click here to get a list of all the signs that you have carpenter ants and not termites.
If you do have carpenter ants, inject pure orange oil or neem oil into all the holes in the wood, wherever the ants have made tunnels. These oils kill ants.
Carpenter ants are one of the few types of ants that have only one queen, so you need to make sure you get the oil in every tunnel to find the queen.
The oils do get absorbed by the wood over time, so it’s important to inject the oils regularly and into any new holes as you find them.
Call in a pest controller
If all of the above methods fail and the ants keep coming back, then the easiest and most effective way to kill the queen and get rid of the ant colony is to call a professional pest controller.
They will come to inspect the problem and suggest the best way forward based on how bad the infestation is, what type of ants are in the colony, how many queens and nests there are, etc.
Alternatively, you can wait for the ants to move on to a new nesting area, but there’s no guarantee that they ever will and no way to know how long such a migration might take.