The Homeowner’s Guide to Ant Pest Control | Family Handyman

Recommended by Dikshit Aryal, Published on November 18th, 2020

Amazingly cooperative, impressively diligent and annoyingly invasive, ants are complex and fascinating creatures. There are an estimated 22,000 different species of ants worldwide. Nearly 1,000 varieties live right here in the U.S.

From their characteristics to their behaviors to their habitats, our guide contains a wealth of information about how to co-exist, control and, if need be, get rid of ants simply and safely.

Not to be confused with termites, ants are between 1/16-in. and two inches in length with big heads, elongated bodies pinched at the waist, swollen abdomens and six spindly legs. They sport threadlike elbowed antennae, come in colors ranging from white to jet black. Some have wings, and some have stingers. Most people recognize an ant when they see it. Do you?

Plus, heres more information on how to get rid of ants, as well as other pests.

According to, the three most common types of ants in the U.S. are carpenter, odorous and pavement. In warm tropical climates such as in the South and Southwest, youll find an abundance of red fire, ghost and big-headed ants. However, no matter where in the country you live, there are certain things that all ants have in common:

Plus, are ants dangerous to people, pets and property?

The first step in fighting an infestation in your home or garden is to know what type of ant youre dealing with. Identifying ant species can be complicated. Luckily, we put together a comprehensive list that explains how to identify different types of ants you may encounter in and around your home. Heres how to identify different types of ants.

Lurking inside cupboards, under rocks and in woodpiles, youll find ants almost everywhere in the city and on the farm. Their nests can be found in above-ground mounds, burrowed in tree trunks or located deep underground, their extensive network of chambers unseen by the casual observer. Possessing an insatiable appetite, if food sources are plentiful, ants wont hesitate to take up residence in your house or garden.

The easiest and most obvious way to know if you have an ant infestation is by sight. If you find live ant trails, especially inside your home, theres a good chance you have a problem. For certain types of ants, like carpenters, you might hear rustling noises in the walls or see wood shavings scattering about.

If you smell rotten coconuts or a distinct musty scent, odorous or citronella ants may have invaded. In the yard, look out for mounds in the garden or holes in your lawn both can be an indication of an ant infestation.

There are many ways to rid yourself of ants:

Experts often recommend mess-free bait stations and stakes because the poison works at the source, killing the queen and her colony.

Keep in mind that ants can build nests in hard-to-reach places, like inside walls or under foundations. If you suspect an infestation, consider calling in a professional pest control expert right away. A knowledgeable ant exterminator can quickly assess the situation and recommend a method that addresses your particular pest problem.

Many ants sting or bite, but not all. Most of the time bites and stings may be painful (from red fire and leafcutters especially) but they are rarely serious. People allergic to bee and wasp stings, however, should take extra precautions when working in the garden near mounds. Pharaoh ants, for instance, are known to carry diseases and should be dealt with at the first sign of infestation.

Most ant repellents and insecticides are made of toxic or poisonous ingredients, so its probably best to opt for eco-friendly, organic remedies if kids and animals are about. If youre not sure how to proceed, contact a professional exterminator for help and advice.

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The Homeowner's Guide to Ant Pest Control | Family Handyman

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