Ants are taking over, how can I survive this invasion?

kitchen
Photo credit: Teresa Trimm
Q:

Is there a way to control or eliminate ants in the kitchen or anywhere, for that matter?

- Multnomah County, OR
A:

I assume you’re asking about odorous house ants, Tapinoma sessile. If so, you will be able to limit their activities in your kitchen. At the same time, please understand that they will return. Repeatedly. Thus, you must decide how you will survive in spite of them.

The most effective means of managing house-invading ants is by using commercially formulated baits, combined with sanitation. Baits are effective because the ants take them home to share with the rest of the colony. Even so, the population dynamics of an odorous ant colony mean that they will return. When that occurs, reactivate your bait-plus-sanitation program.

Sanitation *must* be part of the program. In other words, everyone in the household needs to clean up after themselves – crumbs, dishes, glasses, and empty beverage cans or bottles. It might help to address the issue with a bit of humor. For instance, a friend has a sign that says “This isn’t a self-cleaning kitchen!”

If the ants are still coming indoors after the commercial bait has been in place for three weeks, obtain fresh supplies of a commercially formulated ant bait containing a different active ingredient. Such baits are readily available at hardware stores and big box stores. A liquid product has been found to be especially useful against odorous house ants as are products containing fipronil.

Bug bombs won’t be effective because they will only kill the visible ants – that is, only a very small percent of the colony.

If the above methods don’t work to your satisfaction, consider hiring a pest control company as they have materials unavailable to home users. Even then, sanitation is important.

Here is a link to a resource for you.

Jean R. Natter
Master Gardener Diagnostician
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