in your home



In Your Home



Around Your Home


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Baits containing borates

Amdro Kills Ants Ant Killer (liquid ant bait), KM Ant Pro ant bait delivery system, Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective No Spill Ant Kill, Terro Ant Killer II Liquid Ant Bait Station (pre-filled bait stations)

Containerized baits containing hydramethylnon

Amdro Kills Ants Ant Killing Bait (bait stations), Combat Source Kill 4 Ant Bait Stations (use only in enclosed bait stations)

Desiccating dust containing diatomaceous earth (DE)

Concern Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer, Safer Brand Ant and Crawling Insect Killer—Diatomaceous Earth, St. Gabriel Organics Diatomaceous Earth Insect Dust

Applicator for diatomaceous earth (DE)

Pest Pistol

Plant-based insecticides

EcoLogic Ant and Roach Killer, Ecosmart Ant and Roach Killer, Orange Guard

Hose attachment

Bug Blaster

Sticky Barrier

Stikem Special pest glue, Tree Tanglefoot Insect Barrier

While they can be pests, ants are helpful creatures, especially outside. Ants kill and eat many pest insects, help to aerate soil, and recycle animal and vegetable material. This is good news, because it’s probably not possible to eliminate ants from their outdoor habitat. The best way to manage an ant invasion is to keep them outside.

Argentine ants are frequent invaders in California homes. They are tiny (1/8 inch). They come inside a few at a time at first (the scouts), and then in long lines, following scent trails to a food source.

A Quick Fix for an Ant Emergency

If you deal with ants when they first come inside, a few simple steps can take care of the problem.

  1. Find what ants are after (usually leftover food) and where they are entering the room (usually through a crack in the wall). Mark the spot so you can find it again. If you can’t find an entry point, see Step in 4.
  2. Spray lines of ants with soapy water and wipe up with a sponge, and clean up any food or spills.
  3. Next, block entry points temporarily with a smear of petroleum jelly or a piece of tape.
  4. If you can’t find an entry point, clean up the ants (Step 2). Place a bait station in an out-of-the-way spot on the line the ants have been following. Remember to remove the bait station when the line of ants has disappeared so you don’t attract more ants into the house. (See Tips for Using Ant Baits.)


Keep Ants Away!

  • Store food in the refrigerator, or in containers that seal tightly.
  • Keep things clean and dry, and fix leaking faucets and pipes (ants come in to find water as well as food).
  • Weather-strip doors and
  • Put pet dishes in a soapy moat—partially fill a wide, shallow container with soapy water and place pet bowls in the water.
  • Man kneeling to caulk the top of a baseboardUse silicone caulk to permanent ly close holes in walls, cracks along moldings and baseboards, and gaps around pipes and ducts to keep ants outside.
  • Use a hand duster, such as Pest Pistol, to apply desiccating dust such as diatomaceous earth (DE) in wall openings and cracks before sealing. DE kills insects by absorbing their outer waxy coating, causing dehydration and death. It has little toxicity to humans or pets but inhaling it can cause respiratory problems, so wear a dust mask and goggles when applying. Be sure to buy food-grade DE, not DE for pool filters.


  • Follow indoor ant trails back to the spot where ants come in from outside, and place enclosed bait stations there.
  • Caulk cracks where ants are entering the house.
  • Ants are attrac ted to the sweet, sticky honeydew made by aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects. Use sticky barriers around the trunk of a tree or bush to keep ants away while you deal with the source of the honeydew. Prune any branches that touch walls, fences, or the ground so ants cannot get around the barrier.

Tips for Using Ant Baits

Baits use a minimum of insecticide and confine it to a very small area. Ants carry small quantities of bait back to the nest to share, which can reduce the local ant population. 

  • Use baits with active ingredients borate or hydramethylnon. Bait stations with hydramethylnon should be enclosed. 
  • Argentine ants change their food preferences frequently. If one bait is not working, try another type. Wait at least a day to see if ants take the bait. 
  • Do not spray insecticide around the bait; it will repel the ants. 
  • Baits may take several weeks to kill the ants. At first you may see more ants coming to the bait, but after a few days to a week you should see many fewer ants.

When ants are gone, remove the bait so you don’t attract more ants. Return enclosed bait stations to the original box to save and use again. Put the box inside a plastic bag, seal it with a twist-tie, and store away from children and pets.

Ants in Your Plants

If ants are nesting in a potted houseplant, move it outdoors. Water it thoroughly and place the pot in a bucket filled with water that comes an inch below the rim of the pot. Use a stick to make a bridge for ants to get out of the pot and the bucket without getting in the water. The ants will soon begin carrying their white-colored young to safety. When no more ants emerge, drain the pot and return it to the house.