How to prevent ants
Remove Food Sources
If there is nothing in your home to provide sustenance for ants, they won't target your house.
- Keep your house clean. Sweep up food spills immediately. Wipe counters and other surfaces with mild bleach or a vinegar solution. Vacuum regularly. Keep the sink clean and clear of food and standing water.
- Store food in airtight containers. Cupboards have cracks and other tiny spaces through which ants can travel and smell food.
Physically Keep Them Out
This is particularly important if you have seen an ant or ants coming in from a certain entrance.
- Block all gaps through which ants can enter. Fill gaps in windows, doors, walls, etc. with caulk.
- Line the kitchen with double sided tape. Target the areas you think are most susceptible. You will literally stop ants in their tracks. Double sided tape is better than single sided tape (the sticky side would be what is exposed) because ants can't climb under the tape.
- Be careful with anti-ant chemicals and deterrents. Substances like diatomaceous earth (which sucks all the moisture from the ants' bodies), ant poisons, and talcs can be dangerous to curious pets and children.
- Consider natural, non-toxic deterrents. These include spices like cayenne pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and bay leaves, and pungent aromatics like vinegar and peppermint oil.
Break the Trail
Ants need the pheromone trail laid down by the scout ant to locate your home. By breaking it, you will prevent them from finding their way there.
- Squish the scout(s). As soon as you see a lone ant milling about, kill it so that it can't make it back to its hive. If there are more, make sure none of them survives. One way is to throw some water on them and wipe them up with a paper towel. If you use a vacuum, you will need to add salt or diatomaceous earth to ensure that survivors don't crawl out of the vacuum.
- Spray with household cleaner or mild bleach. Then, wipe the area down.
This works by giving the scout ant(s) a poisonous substance to take back to the hive, where it will spread and kill the colony over time. There are commercially available ant traps, but if you want to DIY, follow these steps.
- Boric acid mixture. The boric acid is the poison; too much and you will just kill the particular ants so they can't bring the poison back to the colony, too little and it won't be effective. Two ratios to try: (1) 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar, 2 tbsp boric acid; (2) 3 cups water, 1 cup sugar, 4 tsp boric acid. Some people use maple syrup instead of sugar.
- Set out the bait. This can be in a low dish or upturned lid. If you have pets and/or children, use a container with gaps big enough for ants to get in but not big enough for pets or children to access. Try this DIY container: Put the bait in the bottom of a can, then smoosh it, leaving a gap where ants can enter.
Seek Out Professionals
If you have more ants than you can handle with these methods, or different kinds of ants, you should definitely call in the professionals.