Ants are amazing and complex insects -- but that probably doesn't impress you when you're dealing with a huge infestation of them in your house. But if you take the time to learn a little more about ants and how they behave, you may be able to use that to your advantage to get them out of your living space.
Ant Scent Trails
Ants use very sophisticated chemicals called pheromones to communicate with each other. The insects will each add their own unique chemical scent to a trail on which many ants travel. That trail tells them where to go and how to get back.
While researchers don't completely understand how ants utilize these trails and other tricks to help them find their way back to the colony, enough is known to make removing the ant trails a possible way to confuse the insects and upset the colony.
Tricks for Removing Scent Trails
You can't see or smell the scent trails that ants leave. But you can use cleaning agents and other scents to remove or mask that scent trail and make it impossible for the ants to find their way home. Once they are lost, they'll die without the support of the colony. And, if you're able to remove the scent trails that guide the ants into your home, you'll keep them out for good.
Here are three ways -- of many that you may discover, these are most likely to disrupt the pheromone scent -- to remove ant scent trails:
- Use soapy water with a bit of vinegar. The soap removes the pheromone, and the vinegar makes it impossible for the ants to find another trail.
- Make a baking soda paste. The scrubbing nature of the slightly gritty baking soda can clean up residue that you can't even see that the ants are leaving behind.
- Go with spices. Almost any strong smelling herb or spice can be used to eradicate the ant scent trail. Some popular options are lavender, cinnamon and chili powder. Sprinkle them over the areas where you see the ants and around windows, cracks and openings.
Getting Serious About Ant Removal
Eradicating ant scent trails works best if you do something before you get a full-fledged ant infestation. If you've tried cleaning and masking the scent of the trail to no avail, you need to up the ante a bit. A commercial ant bait that the ants carry back to the colony and which will gradually poison the entire group is ideal. Look for a product that works on ants that like sweetness and those that like grease.
If you have questions about ant removal or can't get them all out yourself, call a professional pest control expert for help.