There are many ways to kill ants, and also numerous varieties of ants that may invade homes. It can be extremely difficult to take ants on the outside, particularly since there are so many types and their nests can be huge. Unless the ants are in some way dangerous to people, such as fire ants, it’s unlikely to be necessary to attempt to kills ants that live outdoors. With ants like fire ants, it may also be safer to hire an exterminator to eliminate nests.
For most household ants, resistance should start wherever they enter the house, and it’s important to not tempt ants by leaving food out or crumbs upon the floor. Even dog food should only be placed down for as long as it necessary to feed the dog, and shouldn’t be left down or it’s likely to end up being swarmed by ants. With a long ant trail extending into the house, it’s first important to try to kill ants that are part of the trail. This can be accomplished with a large sponge soaked in some dish detergent or another gentle soap. Simply wipe up the trail, and pause periodically to rinse off the sponge.
This usually will mean getting a few ants crawling on the hands. If they are the type that typically bite, they can be first be sprayed with a common household window cleaner. The wipe up method does tend to work better, though, when there are a lot of ants to eliminate, and a person in fear of bites can wear rubber gloves.
Before the trail is completely eliminated, try to find its source. This is valuable because the next thing people will want to do is put down ant bait like ant stakes where the ants are coming in. As the ants pick up this bait, they’ll bring it back to their nest and it will kill ants in large numbers. This usually ends invasions in a day or two.
Many sources on getting rids of ants suggest caulking walls or cracks to eliminate possible sources for entry too. Yet ants can come in from plugs, through doors, and a variety of sources, even an open window. It would make more sense to suggest that making a dwelling as airtight as possible will help eliminate some ants from entering, but most are very good at getting in from somewhere.
Using ant bait to kill ants is one of the safer methods for using a pesticide in the home. It is generally not considered fully safe to use spray killers in the home as these will then be present in the house, and are a risk to people. The small amounts of poison in things like ant stakes are generally only a potential danger to very curious pets or children. They should be placed out of reach of pets and kids, or access to that area of the house should be barred while the stake is down.
There are some ways to kill ants that completely avoid using pesticides. Placing cornmeal on the ground may help because ants will pick it up but can’t digest it, and pouring boiling water over ants will kill many of them. Some things like coffee grounds, and citrus peels are natural ant repellents, though they may not discourage all ants. A truly natural means of the solving the problem is to encourage a few daddy longlegs spiders to take up residence near when the ants come in. This tends to make ants stay away, and the few that come in as scouts may end up as spider dinner.
Even in the cleanest homes ants may occasionally invade. It helps to make sure all food is in closed containers so it doesn’t become the attractor for ants or get spoiled when ant visitors arrive. If ant invasions are frequent and cannot be controlled with things like indoor ant bait or ant stakes, it may be time to talk to an exterminator about how to address the problem more fully.