Essential Guide on How to Get The Best Ant Control

by | Feb 13, 2021 | Ant Control, Pest

If you’re in Portland OR, ant control in the springtime can be a struggle. Kitchen windowsills, counters, sinks & showers start crawling with ants. Sugar ants aka odorous house ants are tiny pests that get into food and create a nusiance to people & pets. This article is part of a complete guide on how to get rid of sugar ants.

Best Way to Control Ants

The best way to control ants is always to track down & bait the colony.

Odorous house ants (tapinoma sessile), often called sugar ants are persistent household pests due to the colonies that they make in our houses. These colony structures mean getting rid of sugar ants can be serious work sometimes.

Sugar Ants Extermination

If you have a South facing kitchen windowsill in Portland OR, chances are you’ve met odorous house ants (aka sugar ants). Sugar ants stink!  Sometimes sugar ants extermination can be a relentless chore to get right.

So whether you’re ready to call a professional or not, here’s the background you need to get the best odorous house ant (aka sugar ant) control.

Safe Ant Control.

What Do Sugar Ants Eat?

  • Odorous house ants are scavengers and detritovores, eating seeds, dead bugs, fungi and just about anything they can forage.
  • Odorous house ants love honeydew (the sugary liquid produced from aphids), and nectar from flowers.

In fact, adult ants have a liquid only diet. So when you see them carrying a crumb in their mandibles they’re certainly carrying it back to the colony. The larvae chew, process, and feed back to the adults through a process called trophylaxis. Which is essentially “baby birding.”

Gross, I know.

    Learning Best Ant Control

      But this is actually important for us if we want to get the best ant control.

      Recognizing that the ants crawling on your counters rely on their larvae back at the nest for food is key. For the best ant control we should start to imagine the ant colony working more as a whole, instead of individual ants we see on our countertops.

        Where Do Sugar Ants Come From?

          Sugar ants might actually be coming from inside your wall voids, not from outside.

          Ants take advantage of the constant moisture & temperature that insulated wall voids provide for them. There they build nests.

          They basically nest wherever they want inside. Common areas are in the walls around South facing kitchen windows sills, electrical outlets or near plumbing at sinks and showers. Anywhere where there’s a little extra heat or condensation.

          If you see a Portland ant control company drive by every day, sugar ant control is a major reason why.

            Take the Test: Is There An Ant Colony In My Walls?

            Are you seeing ants coming through the walls?

            Odorous house ants love setting up entire ant colonies inside your walls. Here’s a simple test to determine if you have odorous house ants in your wall voids:

            First: take a look at the weekly night time temperatures.

            Then: If temperatures are below 55 F at night, and you’re still seeing ants inside: congratulations. You have an odorous house ant satellite colony in your walls.

            Last: Verify by timing their response to a dropped crumb, if ants swarm any food within 6-12 hours, you have ants living in your walls.

              Ants Living in Walls

              What’s an odorous house ant satellite colony doing in my walls? 

              • Odorous house ants aka sugar ants have multiple queens and multiple colonies, with one central main colony that supplies other smaller ones. A satellite colony is one of these smaller ones.
              • Other species of ants usually have only one queen and one colony.
              • Odorous house ants main colony is usually outside, and is largest during summertime.
              • When food is abundant in one area, they pick up part of their nest and set up a satellite colony nearby to start reproducing.

              So if you’re seeing ants coming from your walls, electrical outlets, light switches, smoke detetctors or light fixtures, you probably have ants living in your walls.

                Ants Coming Out of Eletrical Outlets

                  Electrical outlets are common areas for odorous house ants to nest near. Many people report ants nesting in and setting off smoke detectors with their pheromones.

                  There is almost nowhere odorous house ants wont nest. Once a nest was found in an empty DVD case laying on a garage floor. Underneath potted plants is also a common. 

                  Gamers might think of an ant colony as a player in a real-time strategy game like Starcraft or Command & Conquer. The colony expands territory, moves bases, harvests resources and subjugates its enemies.

                  However you can visualize the ants as one or more interconnected colonies, hidden away in your walls, will help.

                    Thinking of them less as tiny individuals on your counter tops, and more as a bunch of colonies, will help you get the best ant removal. You’ll also be on your way to the most natural eco friendly ant control, because you won’t end up using a lot of chemicals in the long run. 

                    pesticide spray bottle in the kitchen

                      How to Clean Ant Trails

                        It’s always good to keep your kitchen tidy and floors swept. In all reality though, cleaning alone probably won’t provide ant control long-term if there’s a nest inside. Likely the main ant colony is outdoors somewhere nearby, and they will send more ants if they choose. You might reduce a significant portion of the food they sense, but you won’t remove all the attractive scents. And you’ll never remove their abundant habitat as long as you have insulated wall voids in your home. (Hopefully that’s everyone here.)

                          How to Seal Out Ants

                          Sealing crevices around doors, windows & openings is a good way to keep moisture and spiders from entering your home. Ants are a different story. Odorous house ants disappear into the tiniest cracks in your foundation that may not even be visible to the naked eye.

                          Since you’re unlikely to effectively exclude ants from entering, attempting is probably not worth your while. To seal out ants, you’d probably want to remove any interior ant colonies beforehand, so there isn’t an active colony trying to get out or in.  Or better, just monitor the crevices where you notice ants entering, and place bait there.

                            How to Stop Ants Getting in the House

                              Now we know where ants are lurking and what they’re doing back there. How do we stop ants from getting in the house? Always aim to bait the whole colony and do not take half measures.

                                Best Treatment to Get Rid of Ants

                                  The best treatment to get rid of ants is recruiting the ants themselves to help bring some bait back to their colony. Terro or other borax based liquid baits work well for most cases. Try baiting when ants are most active. If the main colony is numbering in the thousands, you may still need a professional treatment.

                                  Over the counter ant killer sprays should be avoided since they won’t necessarily treat the colony, and may actually and interfere with control later. Avoid organic essential oils, cinnamon, diatomaceous earth and other repellents for the same reason.

                                  How to Get Rid of Ants.

                                  Eco Friendly Ant Control

                                  Remember that ants live in colonies just like honeybees do. Use abundant caution if applying any over the counter pesticides outdoors. Use extra caution or do not spray if there are flowers blooming around the foundation of your home. Do not allow spray drift to come into contact with blooming flowers.

                                  For more information and safety tips please refer to our Guide to Pesticides. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to call the ecologically conscious Portland ant control professionals at Pest & Pollinator LLC. We’ll help you finally get rid of sugar ants inside the home while safely managing any hazard to wildlife, pollinators and beneficial insects.


                                  Pest & Pollinator LLC logo with phone number