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Ants crawling on a sugar spoon

How to Deal With Ants in the Kitchen

Picture this: you wander into the kitchen to get a snack, and what do you see out of the corner of your eye? A dark trail of ants marching up and down your kitchen counter! Having ants in your kitchen is no fun – where there’s one ant, there’s bound to be a hundred more. Having a lot of ants around is a sure way for your food to not only be carried away but also potentially contaminated by whatever dirt and bacteria ants carry with them. 

If you want to destroy your ant problem once and for all, there are a few different methods you can use. And, if all DIY methods fail to make a difference, you can always opt for professional pest control instead.

Key Takeaways

  • Ants are typically attracted to food and will often show up when there are crumbs or opened food containers lying around. Once ants discover a food source, they secrete a pheromone to attract more ants to gather food.
  • Entry points for ants are very small and hard to spot, but finding them is essential for avoiding future ant problems. 
  • Common ant infestation solutions include repellent, borax, ant bait, and diatomaceous earth.
  • If your ant control methods aren’t successful or if your ant problem gets worse, it’s probably time to call for professional pest control services.

Home Remedies for Eliminating Ants

Use any of these home remedies for ant elimination to say goodbye to your four-legged home intruders.

Ant Bait

Ant bait is one of the simplest and most effective ways of eliminating everything from carpenter ants to pavement ants and beyond. Ants are irresistibly attracted to the bait and secrete pheromone signals to bring more of their ant buddies around. The bait is laced with insecticide that will kill ants with ease. It is also very effective because the insects bring the bait back to their ant nest and spread the insecticide, fixing your ant problem almost automatically.

Non-Repellent Spray

Non-repellent spray does not deter ants. Instead, it is undetectable by the insects. This allows the ants to interact with the poisonous materials. Ant bait is an example of a non-repellent option. A spray is different because ants walk over it and are eliminated by the poison. 

Just use the spray bottle solution in areas of high traffic the ants use. These may include corners, cupboards, baseboards, countertops, doors, and so on.

Boric Acid

Ants only need to eat a small bit of boric acid to poison and kill them. Boric acid is very attractive to ants, bringing many of them together at once. This poison works by gradually destroying an ant’s nervous system and exoskeleton. It is an extremely effective pesticide and one of the more popular ant control methods. 

Boiling Water

Boiling water is a great method for destroying ant colonies and ant hills rather than small ant populations. It’s also a very easy method. Just boil some water and carefully pour it into an ant hill. It will then destroy the ants inside and also ruin the interior structure of the ant hill.

Of course, use caution when employing this method, as you could accidentally burn yourself if you aren’t careful. 


Vinegar won’t kill ants, but it will keep them at bay. Ants don’t like the smell of vinegar, just as they don’t like the smell of essential oils like peppermint oil. White vinegar can be sprayed along crevices, baseboards, and so on. The scent of vinegar makes it difficult for ants to employ their pheromones, ultimately keeping them away from your home. 

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a powdery, sharp substance that sticks to an ant's legs. Each particle is sharp enough to slice through an ant’s exoskeleton, where it will dehydrate the bug from the inside out. This is an extremely effective method and is sure to kill any ants exposed to this substance. 

Dish Soap

Dish soap isn’t only good for cleaning dishes. It’s also good for destroying ant colonies. Just mix some dish soap with water and pour the mixture over an ant hill. The soap helps the water completely cover the ants and their colony, and the ants will quickly drown in the mixture. This is more effective than simply pouring regular water over an ant hill, and since you would do this outside, you won’t need to clean up anything. 

Coffee Grounds

Using coffee grounds is a natural way to keep ants away from your home. They hate the smell of coffee and prefer to stay far away from it. All you need to do is sprinkle a few spoonful of coffee around your house’s exterior. The smell of the coffee will act as an invisible barrier that keeps ants out. 

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is also very odorous to ants and disrupts their pheromone trails. When their pheromone trails are destroyed, many species of ants find it hard to communicate with each other, which makes it a powerful deterrent. Just add lemon juice to a bit of water and spray it along areas commonly used by ants. 


Caulking is best for physically keeping ants out of your house. You can use it to fill crevices that ants might use as entry points. It is not a repellent or poison but rather a physical barrier, and it can destroy ant trails easily.

Identifying Ants in Your Kitchen

Ants can look identical at a glance, but many types of ants might take residence in your kitchen. You may need to adjust your elimination and prevention strategies based on the kind of ant you’re dealing with. Below are some of the most common ants you might see in Florida.

Sugar Ants

sugar ants

  • Between 7 and 12 millimeters
  • Brown-orange body
  • Black heads

Ghost Ants

ghost ants

  • Very small ants
  • White/yellow body
  • Translucent tint

Big-Headed Ants

big headed ants

  • Unusually large heads
  • Reddish-brown bodies
  • 4 millimeters long

White-Footed Ants

white footed ant

  • 3 millimeters long
  • Black body
  • White feet

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants

  • Yellowish-brown bodies
  • 3.2 millimeters long

Pharaoh Ants

  • 2 millimeters long
  • Yellow to red bodies
  • Black abdomens

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants

  • 3 millimeters long
  • Shiny bodies
  • Dark brown or black

Ant Prevention: Tips & Essentials

Make sure you don’t welcome any new ants into your home in the future by implementing these ant prevention essentials.

Seal Entry Points

As mentioned before, it’s important to seal entry points in your home, lest an entire colony of ants slowly move inside. This is important whether you’re dealing with black ants, fire ants, or other types of ants. Check your house for crevices, and make sure to seal them. 

Dispose of Garbage Properly

Ants love the scent of garbage, so it’s important to throw it away regularly. If your kitchen sink or kitchen countertops have any crumbs, clean them and throw them away, too. 

Clean Up Messes

Even the smallest spills and messes can attract an army of ants. Make sure you sweep the floors, vacuum the carpets, and otherwise make your house as clean as possible if you’re serious about stopping your ant problem in its tracks. If house ants can’t detect any available food, they’ll likely leave your home alone. 

Store Food in Airtight Containers

Because worker ants love bringing food back to their hill, try making it difficult for them to achieve their goal. Store your food in airtight containers so it’s almost impossible for ants (and other bugs like termites) to steal the food. Properly storing your food (in closed, airtight containers) can also help it last longer. 

Keep Pet Areas Clean

Ants don’t discriminate between human and pet food. If you have your dog food out, for example, there’s a good chance that ants will come over and try to have a feast. This can also be true of water sources, like your pet’s water bowl. Make sure your pet’s area is as clean as possible, and put your pet’s food away when it is not in use. 

When to Call Professional Pest Control Services

If DIY methods like peppermint essential oil and lemon peels don’t work, it’s likely time to consider hiring a pest control company. Likewise, if your ant problem seems to keep reappearing no matter what you do, it may be severe enough to warrant a professional evaluation.

Professional pest control can take care of ant problems easily and quickly, and they can eliminate other insects, too. Take a look at the pest control services we offer here at Native Pest Management and see how we’re a step above the rest in terms of quality pest control.