Getting Rid of Sugar Ants

Category Ants
Sugar ants can take over an area in a very short amount of time. They are an annoyance to have in the house. This is a page about getting rid of sugar ants.

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Sugar ants are a real nuisance and hard to get rid of. We've fought them off and on for the last 4 years. I've even posted on here before (as have many others) about using a solution of Boraxo/boric acid mixed with sugar for them to take back to the nest. Unfortunately, I have found that this is usually a temporary fix, as they just keep coming back. I've even heard they'll build nests in your walls.

To get rid of them on a more permanent basis, you're going to have to treat outside around your house too. The summer before last, we had a real problem with them. We'd get rid of them, but they'd be back in a few weeks in another area of the house. Finally, I bought a bag of insecticide granules and sprinkled it completely around the foundation of the house out to about a foot away, making sure to get it right up against the foundation too. To easily sprinkle, put the granules in an empty Pringles-type container and poke holes in the lid. Be sure to read the directions on the insecticide to see if you need to wet it afterwards.


I also continued to "feed" the little monsters in the house. Also, doing as I usually do, I kept a spray bottle of soapy water on the kitchen counter to spray any I saw. Within days, they were completely gone and never came back the rest of the year!

This spring, we didn't treat around the house and as soon as it warmed up, here they came. By mid-summer, they came back with a vengeance. I'd never seen it so bad! I'd spray, kill, and wipe ants away every time I'd go in the kitchen, but when I went back in, there'd be more. At one point, I sprayed more than 50 ants on the counter and 15 minutes later, there were more than 50 more, for hours! They spread from one counter to the other and into my stove. It was a nightmare!

And no, my kitchen was not dirty and I had everything in plastic. We've had a major drought here and they were coming in for water (one year we even had them build a nest in the dishwasher).


It took me a month to remember that we hadn't sprinkled around the house; they were coming in through the foundation. I was outside at midnight with a flashlight and my insecticide taking care of it! Within days they were almost all gone and within a week we didn't see another ant and haven't seen one in months!

This spring, I'm going to be shaking my can as soon as it stops snowing!

By Judy = Oklahoma from OK

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September 29, 20111 found this helpful
Top Comment

No need for poisons. They are a danger to you, your pets and harmless critters. Better 20 mule team Borax solution that kills queen ants is about 10% 20 MT in squeeze bottle with Karo syrup. Warm a few seconds to dissolve. Squirt in cracks and areas where pets will not lick.


This solution will not kill your pets but enough eaten and they will have a sore tummy. Worker ants will carry sweet solution back to nest. Queens will die. nest will die. queens can produce many more queens in the 20 years they live. When you see the workers eating, let them continue for a few days. Poof - nests are dead.

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April 22, 20140 found this helpful
Top Comment

Sorry everyone, I didn't realize there were questions here :)
I don't think it matters what you use, as long as it's an insecticide that works on ants & you spread it around the foundation of your home.
I was using granules from a big bag of insecticide you use in a spreader on your grass. Right now I have a bottle of Green Light powder, but I don't think it works as well, probably because the lightweight powder doesn't spread as well & stays on top of the grass.


The granules are spread around the ground, then I think with all of them, you have to wet the ground so they melt & sink in. I usually wait until I know we're going to have a light rain, then spread it - it also worked on the hordes of crickets we had invading our home & nesting at our foundation a couple of years ago. You can also get the liquid that you hook up to your hose, or the premixed in a spray canister & spray, but it takes a lot to go around your house - I think that works well, because you can spray your walls up to the windows, the foundation right up against the wall, then about a foot from the walls.

The borax/sugar combo works amazingly well for short term, but it will not get rid of them permanently - I tried for many years. The ants will take it back to the next & kill the ants there - then in 2 weeks the eggs hatch & you have more ants. They will build nests in your house & walls, but it seems they like to build them right up against or under your foundation. We've even tried using the foam sealer spray in cracks in our foundation, but they find another place to come in.When you have them crawling on your kids in bed, or on you sitting on the couch - enough is enough & you need to use the chemicals.


That's interesting information about these not being real sugar ants, I'm going to have to look them up. Thanks.


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We have been battling sugar ants all month long. We started noticing them coming into the house late in February, when the spring rains started. As this is a yearly ritual, I put ant bait in the usual places; on my kitchen windowsill, near the dog's food, under the fridge. I didn't see too many around so I felt like I was on top of things. I was wrong.

Both of my teenage sons were complaining about having ants crawl on them when sitting in their rooms. I figured there was probably some source of leftover food in there and set them both to find it. My oldest started cleaning around his desk and garbage when he noticed a trail of ants going into one of his drawers. We discovered an entire ant nest layered between stacks of leftover papers. Yuck! I didn't have the presence of mind to take a photo before we cleaned it up for that one. After that, both rooms have been kept much cleaner. But we were still seeing ants around.

About a week later, we were doing some cleaning and rearranging in the living room, preparing for a family visit. My younger son discovered a small trail of ants climbing between a stack of tiles and the window molding, in the back corner. The tiles are on a low plant shelf which contained several different potted plants. Under the tiles were hundreds of black ants and what appeared to be just as many yellow eggs. The ants had made another nest!

We have cleaned up this new nest and the surrounding area, and have left the houseplants outside for the time being. There are still new ants wandering around though so I'm keeping an eye on the different places they might try to live next. In past years, we have found ants making nests under our spare refrigerator, inside our coffeepot (yuck!) and inside houseplants. They are always looking for areas that are dry and warm, with access to a food source.

Like slugs and aphids, ants are a part of a healthy ecosystem. Instead of eradicating them, we simply want to keep them out of our living spaces. Here are the three steps to discouraging these unwanted pests.

Remove Food Sources

Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean and organized. Make sure food waste is not left in bedrooms, especially sticky wrappers or fruit peels. Rinse dishes and recycling and take garbage and compost outside regularly. Raise dog and cat food off the ground. I keep my fruit bowl in the center of the kitchen table and the ants almost never climb up.

If you see wandering ants, wipe down the area with vinegar or an all purpose cleaner to prevent others from following their path. If you see a line of ants, note where they are coming inside so you can stop them at the source before you wipe it down.

Keep Them Outside

There are people who recommend planting strong smelling herbs, like mint around your house to deter insects. I have not found this to be effective as I often see ants right near my patch of mint all the time. I know that certain types of flowers and fruit can attract them, like peonies. I would keep plants like these away from the foundation to help keep the ants outside, where they belong.

Cinnamon is my favorite way to discourage ants from certain places. You can get very cheap spices at the dollar store. I bought a giant size cinnamon powder at Costco awhile back which I have been using with abandon whenever I see ants that I can't deal with right away. The cinnamon scent seems to really confuse them and they have trouble with powder substances, which is why chalk lines are sometimes effective. In my experience, nothing will keep them away forever.

I have also used pure cinnamon oil to wipe down entry points. Other strong smelling oils, like tea tree oil, are said to work as well. The oil itself makes it difficult for the ants to cross. But these are only deterrents, you really want to make sure to get poison back to the queen or it is a never ending battle.

Kill The Queen and Nest

The most sure way to get rid of ants is to hire experts in pest control to take care of them for you. Most companies have special rates to come out every year. They often spray around the foundation and also leave special bait which kills the queen and nest at the source. But there are other ways to accomplish this at home, especially if you are on top of the first two ways.

I have had good success with boric acid based baits, like Terro brand. You can make this bait yourself with borax and sugar but I haven't tried to make it yet. I have also heard people recommend mixtures of baking soda and sugar, Splenda or other artificial sweeteners or cornstarch. I know from experience that ants are very attracted to artificially sweetened mouthwash but it appears to kill them almost immediately.

Another good tip is to pour boiling water into all your sideway, driveway or patio cracks. The ants live on the underside of the concrete slab of our patio, which you can tell by the small piles of dirt which pile up. The non toxic boiling water will kill the entire nest and is very effective for weeds.

If you have any other tips about dealing with these tiny black pests, please share it in the feedback. Good luck!

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March 31, 20162 found this helpful
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My home sits on a half acre parcel of land. During the Summer, there are thousands of ant hills, all around. It's difficult to walk just about anywhere on my property without stepping on one. As you might guess, I've had a lot of experience in dealing with ants.

With a couple hundred potted plants sitting around, there will be at least 20 to 30 with ant nests in them. The ants are literally everywhere.

It would be cost prohibitive to try to treat my whole property. The best I can do is submerge the potted plants in water, overnight. I have to do this to many pots several times a season. I have lost many potted plants to ant infestation, over the years.

I am able to keep the ants out of the house. I do this by using a boric acid/sugar mixture. The mixture must be placed absolutely everywhere that it is practical and safe to do so.

I have never had a roach infestation. I have though, a few times, seen one or two in my home. When I do, I immediately refresh all the boric acid/sugar mixture that's around. No more roaches.

I think a boric acid/sugar mixture is the cheapest, most effective treatment one can use, for both ants and roaches. I will add that it's effectiveness is totally dependent on proper application.

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April 1, 20161 found this helpful
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One part boric acid to ten parts sugar should be OK. If too much boric acid is used, the ants wont eat it. I think powdered sugar works best. Ants are attracted to a sugar/protein mix more so than a sugar/boric acid mix.

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August 5, 2009

Very finely ground (espresso fine) caffeinated coffee, before brewing, works wonders on killing and eliminating ants. Apparently their systems cannot handle the caffeine and they die.

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September 21, 2011

I mixed an equal amount of sugar and dry Boric Acid powder and place the mixture in a secure place; safe from children and pets. The ants carry it into their homes, and it kills the queen ant.Keep this mixture away from animals and kids.

Boric Acid and Sugar for Ants

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With warmer weather here, a lot of us are going through the annual invasion of ants into our homes. Trying different means of eradication helps you find what works best for you.

A bottle of Roach and Ant Killer containing boric acid, next to a paint brush dipped in boric acid powder.

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Sprinkle ground cinnamon along cracks, windowsills, or wherever you find the ants. It doesn't take much, and it makes your house smell good while getting rid of the ants.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

December 14, 2009

How can I get rid of sugar ants that have been appearing on my body? I usually see one at a time 4 or 5 times daily. Are there any soaps or solutions to apply?

By charlie from Pompano Beach, FL


December 14, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try wiping down every thing with bleach.

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December 18, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

We use Neem shampoo and soap for our body. Works for all kinds of different critters, bugs. We also use it on our dogs. As far as getting the bugs to stay out. We do NOT use chemicals what so ever and have had great luck with cinnamon and diatomaceous earth. I even put that stuff in the couch to keep out the kissing bugs, works great! Sprinkle both together along the windows and doors and anywhere critters get in. I've seen the Diatomaceous earth kill black widows! We also use it in our chickens food and dogs food to rid of internal parasites and worms. For some reason, even if your house is clean, bugs still find it nicer to come in!

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Answer this Question...

February 1, 2018

Short of calling an exterminator for sugar ants, boric acid or even 20 Mule Team Borax laundry powder mixed with Karo syrup can be used to eliminate the ants. Take care to keep the mixture away from areas accessible to children and pets. This is a page about getting rid of sugar ants in the kitchen.

Sugar Ants

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

September 21, 2009

I have these small beige ants in my pantry. They are about 1/8" long. I have caulked around cupboards, put down new liners, everything is stored in Rubbermaid, Tupperware, and sealed bags. Today I took a can of sauce out of pantry and the ants were everywhere on it, and in the granola bar box as well.

What can I use to get rid of them? They are nowhere else in the house. The cat food is now stored in a container in the garage as well. I even used Windex thinking it would de-grease. Help.

By Joyce Trujllo from Turlock, CA


Tiny Sugar Ants

I don't know if this will be helpful or not, but I just read this person's response right before I read your plea for help and it sounds like this might be helpful for you. I live in North Carolina and I use borax. I don't know if it would work for you or not, but here's the other person's post that I mentioned. (notice your both for CA.)

"RE: Infestation Of Tiny Ants

The type you describe is probably "Argentine". They are a big pain where I live in California. They came from South America, but were accidentally introduced to the USA (plus many other areas) where they've thrived. The colony/nest often spans entire city blocks underground, and out here they're also all related so there's no inter-colony warfare to reduce numbers like elsewhere. They usually start sending "scouts" into houses in search of food (or water, if it's a dry climate) from late Spring through Fall, and invade (often with a double-size queen) if they find anything attractive. They're not poisonous as far as I recall, rarely bite, taste extremely hot to most animals, and (weirdly) are the cobweb/daddy-long leg spider's favorite food.

As far as getting rid of them is concerned, I've tried every darn trick I read about, because I don't dare use anything that might trigger my (severe) asthma or hurt my cats. As far as I know, almost nothing works, they're super-hardy little buggers. I finally found a brand with safe ingredients called "Poison-Free Ant Killer" that works really well. I spray any trails I find back to their entry points, they die instantly and those spots seem to stay ant-free for another year or two. Their website seems to be There's a useful FAQ about what's in it there, if the person you know is curious. Hope this was useful."
Posted on 05/06/2009

By the way, I check and the web site that he/she lists is valid and looks like a great site. They boast their products as being organic. Gotta love that if it's true. Good luck. (07/21/2009)

By Shelly Cole

Tiny Sugar Ants

I live in a wooded area and I get those little ants as well. What I did was get some sidewalk chalk and crushed it up till its a powder and then I put a line of chalk on my window sills my doorways anywhere they will get in and it stops them. I got this idea from my sister when I called her and asked her what she was doing she said she was playing with an ant by drawing a line and the ant was not crossing over it no matter which way she drew the line simple huh and it works. Try it. (07/23/2009)

By margaret spurlock

Tiny Sugar Ants

I had these things that sounded like what you have. Mine were maybe a tiny bit smaller than 1/8th in and very light tan. I live in a very old house and the caulking around the sink was cracked. They would come through these tiny holes and get all over my dishes. They seemed to like meat and grease. I also found them in my living room, climbing from the wood window frames onto my bird's perch, with the seeds and whatnot on the bottom from stuff she dropped. I used Raid Ant and Roach spray. Got it into the cracks and soaked the wood underneath. They were a pain. (07/24/2009)

By christine M. Thayer

Tiny Sugar Ants

I too live in a wooded area and usually when we have a lot of rain out come these ants. I found the product called Terro at Home Depot. It's a small bottle of poison. There are homemade versions, but this is not expensive and it works. It works quicker when you find their source of entry into your home. It's usually near a window. It's just a few drops left on pieces of cardboard and they will be attracted to it and die.


By Heather Krucker

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December 14, 2009

I have what I was told are sugar ants. I have put all foodstuff in jars, etc. Now I found out they are in my carpeting in the living room. I am not familiar with sugar ants, so don't have any idea what to do. I sprayed bug spray on my baseboards, also. Please help.

By Joan Dykes from Praireville, LA


Tiny Sugar Ants

I don't know if this will work, but it worked for other small ants we had in Oregon. Make a slightly stronger than normal solution of bleach water (like 1 tablespoon in quart of water). Draw barrier lines where ever you don't want them with a damp cloth you've dipped and wrung out in this solution. Wipe in front of sliding doors, front door, along the kitchen counter, anywhere you've noticed them trailing in.

They stayed away for a few days at a stretch and we would just repeat. Good to do it when you can then go to another room until smell dies down.

My daughter thought of it, and tried it, and I've used it since. (09/22/2009)


Tiny Sugar Ants

You can get rid of them this way for sure. Using a 50 / 50 mixture of white vinegar and water use a foam paintbrush, they work best for this and literally paint all around the cabinet counter tops with this mixture. Also use a cloth and wash down all of the cabinet tops. Using the paint brush around the edges will get into the little cracks that would not normally be hit with the solution. This works perfectly. Also take bay leaves (fresh is best, but dried will work) and put them into the back of all drawers and inside to the back of all cabinets, the ants hate the smell and won't be back.

Also, if you notice any ants outside you can get rid of them naturally, as well. Use dry cat food 1/2 cup mixed with grape jelly 1/4 cup (they only like grape for some reason) with a tablespoon of boric acid, let it soak until it becomes 'soggy and doughy" and mix thoroughly. Make small little balls about the size of a marble and place around outside of house where you notice any ants. They will take the new food back to the nest and the queen. The mixture with the boric acid will kill them off quick and easy, naturally as well, so as to not hurt any other animals. Stick the little balls into crevices to keep out of site and reach of little fingers.

Good luck. (09/22/2009)

By Beau

Tiny Sugar Ants

Mix about 10% 20 Mule Team Borax in squeeze bottle filled with Karo syrup. Warm a few seconds in the microwave. Shake til dissolved. Spread into cracks and crevices where no pets can lick it. Ants carry it back to nest and it kills the whole nest. Queens can live for up to 20 years, producing many more queens. That is why it is so important to kill whole nest. Takes a little while. Several days to a week. (09/23/2009)

By vicki hood

Tiny Sugar Ants

Sprinkle dry baking soda liberally on your rug. Leave for a few hours and vacuum really well. You may need to repeat this a couple of times, but it should get rid of your ants, and you will have a good fresh smelling carpet to boot. They take it back to the nest and all there eat it and cannot digest it. If this does not completely eliminate them from your carpet then sprinkle with 20 Mule Team Borax, same procedure as soda. Between the 2 you are sure to get rid of them. (09/23/2009)

By Jonnie Shambarger

Tiny Sugar Ants

This is an update on my sugar ants. I did what someone advised. I mixed equal amounts of powdered sugar and borax, then waited till nobody was at my home. Then I sprinkled it by my door jam where they were coming in. I tell you they were having a party. I let them go. The next day they were gone. I still check every day, haven't seen any yet. I'm holding my breath. So far so good. Thanks everyone for your advice. I'm 68+years, never too old to learn.
Joanie (10/06/2009)

By Joan Dykes

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July 21, 2009

Tips for getting rid of ants. Post your ideas.

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