There are nearly 1,000 ant species found in North America. That means if you live in the U.S. and your home has openings, the chances are pretty good that sooner or later you may be dealing with an ant infestation.

While most ants are harmless and not all of them enter buildings, the last thing anyone wants is to see them crawling on countertops, walls, and furniture.

Here’s how to deal with ants in your home fast

Bait, Don’t Spray

For many people, their first reaction when encountering ants in the home is to spray them with bug poison or stomp on them. The problem with this technique is it only kills the ants you can see.

Ant colonies can grow to hundreds or thousands of insects in size. Any ants you see in your home are worker ants foraging for food. Meanwhile, the colony is multiplying inside your home, and killing worker ants with poison is just going to result in seeing more of them as they make their way into your living quarters.

This is why using an ant bait product is a much more effective solution than spraying. Ant baits contain a substance that is poisonous to ants, such as Borax, mixed in a sweet solution to attract them.

Bait takes advantage of ant biology and behavior. The worker ants eat some of the bait and bring it back to the other ants in the colony.

They lay down a trail so other ants can find the bait. Follow this trail so you can see where they’re coming from (and seal it after they’ve all died.)

The poison is then shared with the rest of the ants, including the queen. Without a queen, the colony collapses. These baits also work slowly, giving the worker ants enough time to keep bringing it back to the other ants in the nest.

When buying bait, be sure to choose one intended for the type of ant you’re dealing with. Not all baits can kill carpenter ants, for example.

Ant bait helps kill the entire colony so the ants stop appearing in your home. It may take a few days or weeks for them to completely disappear, so refresh the bait if necessary. Many exterminators such as use baits to remove ants from a home.

Seal Openings

Ants can get through the tiniest of openings. Once you’re sure the ants are completely gone, seal up the opening where they were coming into the room. You may need to use putty or a caulking gun to fill in small holes and cracks.

You should also try to determine where they were entering your home on the outside of the structure and seal up these openings as well so another colony can’t move in.

Keep Your Home Clean

Ants enter homes in search of food. Minimize their presence by keeping all surfaces of your home clean and free of food and beverages. Avoid leaving out dirty dishes and cups that can attract them.

Wipe down all surfaces, clean dishes right away or place them into the dishwasher, and take out the trash regularly.

Protect the Outside

You can help prevent ants from entering your home again by laying down a product meant to form a barrier around your property. You should also inspect your yard for any anthills or mounds or any crawling on the outside of your home. Use a bait intended for outdoor use to help kill them before they become a problem inside your home.

Remember How to Deal With Ants

Knowing how to deal with ants quickly will prevent more worker ants from showing up in your home. If you think you’re dealing with an extra-large infestation, however, you may want to contact an exterminator to ensure you get them all.

For more tips on keeping pests out of your home, check out our Lifestyle section.

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