By: Tatum Stafford

If you live in Western Australia, chances are you’ve battled trails of black ants in your house.

Although they’re relatively harmless, ants can become serious pests when they start to infiltrate your house; especially as their colonies are usually permanent and tiresome to remove.

If you’re suffering an infestation, here are seven ways to help eradicate ants from your house.

1. Clear ant-tempting food away

Ants are particularly drawn to fatty and sugary foods, so it’s important to keep your home free of food scraps as much as possible. Use sealed containers for baking ingredients, syrups, and meal leftovers.

Pet food can also attract ants. If ants are infiltrating your pet’s food bowl, create a moat of water so the ants are unable to reach the bowl. Alternatively, try to feed your pet only when it can finish its food in one go. Once your pet has finished eating, give their bowl a rinse to eliminate the scent of food.

2. Clean surfaces vigorously

After preparing or eating food, make sure you’re keeping your surfaces and floor free of crumbs by wiping up mess as soon as possible. Don’t forget to also clean in and around kitchen appliances, chair or couch cushions and rubbish bins.

If ants are already present on your surfaces, wiping them up with a solution of half vinegar and half water is an efficient way to kill them. This solution will also help deter ants from returning to this area in the future, as ants can smell dried vinegar – and don’t worry, humans can’t!

Image of bench being cleaned

3. Remove sources of water

Unluckily for WA residents, it’s common for ants to search for water in warm, dry climates. Ants require readily available water sources to build a colony; so leaky taps or flooded water systems are common instigators for ant infestations.

As such, it’s important to dry any pools that may have formed from water pipe damage, and to inspect your bathroom and other humid parts of your house regularly.

4. Find and seal the exterior of your house

Since ants are so small, finding ways into your house isn’t a tough task. If you’re unsure of how they’re making their way inside, follow any visible ant trails to find their entry and exit points. Common gaps could include cracks in walls, loose window frames and power outlets.

Once you've identified their entry points, fill or seal them with putty, glue or plaster as soon as possible. Weaker materials such as Blu Tack or Vaseline are good temporary fixes, but will need to be replaced with a more permanent solution to avoid the gap re-opening over time.

5. Clear out ant nests

If you notice a visible ant nest near your house, it’s best to cut the critters off at the source. Using a small spade, make a hole in the centre of the nest and pour boiling water in the hole. Repeat this until no more ants resurface from the nest.

However, be wary that if some ants survive during this process, they may be hyperactive. Wear long-sleeved, protective clothing in case of bites.

Image of ant nest

6. Waft strong-smelling substances

To locate food, ants rely on their perceptive sense of smell. So, to prevent ants infiltrating areas with crumbs or food scraps, try wafting strong-smelling substances.

Peppermint, eucalyptus or tea tree essential oils are natural insect repellents, and can be used in spray cans or oil burners to deter ants. However, you should be mindful that many essential oils, including eucalyptus and tea tree, are very harmful to pets.

Ants are also repelled by items such as cinnamon, black pepper and garlic – so storing these in bowls around affected areas may do the trick.

7. Try natural ant control remedies

If you’re still struggling with ant control, it might be time to try a natural or chemical ant remedy. If you’d prefer to go the natural route, a common ant bait recipe is a combination of borax and sugar or peanut butter.

To set up your bait, mix the above ingredients together (one teaspoon of peanut butter or sugar to two teaspoons of borax) and place the mixture into a container with a lid. Puncture several holes in the lid, and place the container near a visible ant trail. It will take between two and three days for the borax to work against an ant invasion.

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Last updated: January 2022