How to get rid of sugar ants

Sugar ant ant and sugar piece.

A Sugar Ant.

When there is a choice between foods, sugar ants will always go for the sweeter option first which is why they are named so.

Being five to fifteen millimeters in length, these ants are relatively large and are orange to brown colored having big black heads equipped with wide mandibles and are known for their love of sugar; they primarily attack sweets, jelly and honey. Since the industrialization, man has started consuming more processed foods which have high concentrations of sugar in them which makes it attractive for the ants to live around humans.

Naturally sugar ants live in woods, forests and uncultivated lands; but, the increased sugar in human food has caused them to live in urban areas and today they are common pests of human houses. Their diet is not exclusive to sugar, they are actually omnivores; they collect nectar and liquid secretions from plants, they farm aphids and collect their honeydew, and they also scavenge dead animal meat. Sugar ants are mostly nocturnal and workers can be seen leaving the colony at the end of the day.

The annoyance they cause

Owing to absence of any stingers, these ants are incapable of harming humans directly and their bites are also not painful but they do defend themselves by spraying acids from their abdomens when provoked. In urban areas, if nests are provoked, these ants attack with full force and can prove a big nuisance. As pests, they attack food materials at night and cause spoil damage, they engage in nuptial flight during late autumn and they seem to be ubiquitous in the house.

When it is warm enough, by the end of autumn, the winged sexually mature males and potential queens fly and enter the human houses because they are warmer and better suited places to engage in coitus, and once the midair sexual ritual finishes, the male has no purpose in life and dies; the lifeless bodies lying in the house require frequent cleaning inflicting intense nuisance and psychological distress to humans. Sugar ants are pests like any other and need to be treated like other pests, though not physically dangerous to humans they need to be kept at bay and cannot be allowed to invade human houses.

How to get rid of sugar ants

To rid the house of sugar ants, you need to scout; know where they attack, know where they come from and go to, know where their colony is and then you can easily finish them off.

1. Limit Sugar ant activity inside the house

The easiest way to win a battle against the ants is to clean the kitchen and house, leaving no debris or garbage in the open and no foods out at night can keep them out of the house. Sprinkling or spraying pepper or vinegar solution or shelves of kitchen and entry points of house can deter them but to win the war, you must stop their activity outside the house by killing them. Even killing hundreds of ants by stomping, crushing or spraying does not get rid of them, only the radical solution of finishing the colony by killing the queens is effective.

2. Locate their source

Sugar ants usually make colonies in moist soils, you can leave sugary food out overnight and surround it with baby powder to know in which direction the colony is, you can do that a few times at different locations to triangulate the location of the colony and once you do, you can decide how to kill them.

3. Exterminate

Create a trap in a box with small holes and put a honey-soaked cookie in it to lure the ants in. Once they enter the box they cannot leave but die because you will pre-mix the honey with boric acid, which is extremely toxic to ants.

Small granular preparations of sugary feed laden with slow acting poisons like boric acid and permethrins can be formulated for ants to carry in their colony which will kill the whole colony including the queens at once. This is the most rational treatment offering the most radical solution.

If you know the location of the colony, you can manually destroy it by pouring boiling water or insecticide on it, and if you like to keep a memorable artistic souvenir of the invasion, you can pour molten aluminum into the colony which will make a beautiful cast in the shape of the colony.