Dealing with an ant infestation is gross and frustrating—just when you think they’re finally gone, they’re back with a vengeance. If you want to rid your house of ants for good, you need to figure out where they’re coming from and what they’re eating so you can pick the right bait.
Ants may not be picky when it comes to food, but believe it or not, they do have preferences. The species that find their way into your home are usually categorized as either “sugar ants” or “grease ants” depending on which food they’re most attracted to, and there’s a difference in which type of bait will work best. For sugar ants, that’s obviously something sugary, like honey, jam, or even just sugar water. Grease ants tend to like protein as well as fat, so any kind of nut butter is ideal. Just choose your bait, mix it with powdered borax or liquid ant killer (which is also borax, but more potent), drop it on a piece of wax paper, and boom—you’ve got ant traps.
If you’re not quite sure whether to use sugar or grease bait, good news: You don’t have to choose. In fact, you should always use both, at least at first. Set out a sugar trap and a grease trap by the ants’ entrance point, then check back to see which they like better. At worst, you’ll waste a tablespoon of peanut butter or sugar; at best, you’ll actually catch more ants. Some species (particularly carpenter ants) like to eat everything, so using two different types of bait increases your chances of killing them all.
Killing ants takes time and effort, but once you know which bait to use, you’re well on your way. With that said, some infestations are more than DIY solutions can handle. If you’ve cleaned every spill, sealed every crack, and gone through a whole tube of liquid ant killer and they still refuse to die, it’s time to call in the pros. An exterminator will be able to locate the source of the infestation and knock it out for good.