Sooner or later, almost everyone will get ants in their house, and you'll have to find a way to get rid of them. With over 12,000 varieties, there are ants in every corner of the world. It has been estimated that ants take up more space on the planet than any other species. Avoiding them is akin to avoiding air. But getting rid of ants in your house is a fairly simple, albeit tedious, process. Ants are fond of two things found in most homes: sugar and protein. They will find every drop of spilled syrup, every bit of meat juices, and, if these things aren't easy to find, the ants will invade cupboards, garbage pails, compost buckets, or any place they might find a free handout.
Obviously, once you have ants in your house, you have to get rid of them. Look for a trail of ants and follow it back to the nest. Use your vacuum cleaner to clear out the nest and then set out traps containing boric acid or borax. The worker ants will take the bait back to the nest and share it with their friends. Make sure you dispose of your vacuum cleaner bag immediately in a secure location away from the house. To be extra sure, put the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed plastic bag before disposal.
Once the ants are gone, the next step is prevention. Since they usually infest kitchens or places where food is served (or spilled), clean those areas thoroughly. You may have to go through cupboards, looking for syrup drips, sugar spills, and other temptations. Clean all those spaces completely. Sweep floors regularly. In the places where you've identified ant trails, wipe the area clean using a citrus-based repellant. Citra-Solv and Orange Guard are products available in home and garden stores and some grocery stores. Don't bother with spray treatments as they have been found to be less than 10 percent effective. Just clean and clean again.
One time is not enough. In order to get rid of all the ants and prevent new ones, you need to repeat this deep cleaning process several times over a period of weeks. You also need to prevent new ants from getting in. Ants often enter a home by climbing water pipes and exposed electrical wires. Clean under sinks and anywhere you have exposed pipes or wires. These are often good places to place bait as they are easily accessible by adults but can be protected from children or pets.
Go around your house's foundation and look for chinks, cracks, and holes that may allow easy access to your home. You can buy commercial-grade caulk at home stores that contains agents to eradicate current pests and prevent future ones. Also thoroughly clean any areas close to your home that are attractive to ants. These include garbage areas, compost heaps, and areas where pets, livestock, or native wild animals are fed. If you want to continue feeding pets or other critters in areas that attract ants, you can easily make the area less attractive by building "moats." Put the food in a bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of water, such as a pie pan.
A final strategy is to adopt some new habits. Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Dispose of sweets and protein scraps in a closed container. Don't let your garbage can overflow and keep it tightly covered. Dispose of indoor trash before it has a chance to attract ants. Don't store attractive items, like baked goods, in a cupboard. Invest in a bread box or other container that can be secured.