A solitary ant scurrying across a kitchen counter is easy to squish. So is a small trail of ants.

But these little guys are scouts for hundreds, if not thousands of their nest mates who are waiting in lawns, walls, roofs, under floors and foundations to follow invisible scent trails inside. When the whole gang arrives they become more than a damp dish cloth and some aggressive wiping can handle.

“We’re moving into quieter time of the year for ant activity,” says David Brittain, technical support manager for pest control company Kiwicare.

“Because of the colder weather outside they’re seeking out warmer places, so that’s why we’re seeing more activity indoors.”

In colder parts of the country ants go into a short hibernation. However, nests in or nearby houses may stay warm enough for foraging to continue throughout the winter months. In some areas, temperatures may not become cold enough for ants to hibernate at all.

Ants make themselves at home anywhere they have access to adequate shelter and sustenance. The first step to remedying a home invasion is to make sure food residue and spills are attended to. Clean the kitchen, clean it well. Pay particular attention to your floor too, and make sure there aren’t any crumbs and scraps hiding in corners. Fatty foods are to ants what a McDonald’s drive-thru is to hungover folk on a Sunday morning; a beacon.

Here are some tips:

1. Bait them

Place ant bait along any trails you can see for a week or two. This could be a door, window sill, or a crack in the wall. Worker ants will deliver bait to queens and when they die, so does the colony. Be careful not to leave ant baits where children or pets can consume them.

2. Repel them

Colonies are incredibly resilient and when threatened relocate — fast. A few survivors are all it takes to build a new nest. Use a repelling barrier spray on all potential entry points to the house (including the base of the house and exterior walls) to prevent a return.

3. Eliminate them

Ant nests are commonly found under pavers, driveways and rocks. If you’re able to locate your nest, apply ant sand one metre around the area to destroy it.

“If it’s a particularly tricky property, there might be a need to contact professional services. But I’d say in 95 per cent of home cases, if people follow this program, they are quite capable of dealing with an ant problem themselves.”

Homemade solution

Brittain advises against trying to make your own ant bait solution with household chemicals borax and icing sugar if you really want to succeed.

“You do have to get the levels of borate, sugar and protein exactly right for it to be effective,” he said.

Non-chemical options 

These days we’re all looking to be kinder to the planet, but Brittain says there isn’t an effective organic insecticide solution that he is aware of.

“Without chemicals, you’ll have to physically prevent the ants from entering your home. Fill up all entry gaps and make sure there is no food residue or spills that will attract them inside.”

This story came from: https://www.domain.com.au/living/how-to-get-rid-of-those-unwanted-ants-850367/