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Ants can spoil more than a picnic. Some species can destroy wood buildings, and others can bite. Although ants play important roles in nature, they don't belong in people's homes. Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to resolve the problem once you know what kind of ant you are dealing with.

Control tips:

  • Knowing what the ant needs is vital to making your home or yard less inviting. Some ants eat wood. Others eat people's food, and some feed on decaying plants and other insects. Check out the resources below or contact your Cooperative Extension Service for help identifying ants.
  • Seal any cracks and crevices that ants may use to enter your home.
  • Wipe up ant trails with soapy water to remove any pheromone trails.
  • Vacuum up ants. Dispose of the vacuum bag right away, or consider adding cornstarch to the bag.
  • Regularly empty and wash garbage cans and recycling bins. Clean up crumbs and spills, especially with sweet liquids like soda.
  • If ants are coming inside, consider keeping food in hard, sealed containers, not cardboard boxes or paper wrappers. Attractive items, such as sugar and honey, can also be stored in the refrigerator.
  • If a potted plant has ants, consider creating a 'moat' barrier around them. Elevate potted plants inside a larger bowl full of water and detergent keeping them above the water line.
  • Keep vegetation around the house trimmed so that ants can't travel from shrubbery or branches to the house.
  • Fix leaky pipes or clogged gutters, replace any moisture damaged wood and store firewood, where carpenter ants may nest, away from the home.
  • Locate and remove the ant nest(s). Different ant species prefer different nesting sites.
  • Consider reading about how to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to prevent and control ants in and around your home.
  • If you decide to use pesticides, try a lower toxicity product first. Always read and follow all label instructions carefully.

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated May 08, 2023


  • Identify the ant species before choosing a treatment strategy. Control techniques may be different for fire ants or carpenter ants.
  • Wipe up ant trails with soapy water.
  • Vacuum up ants and empty the bag or bin outdoors promptly.
  • Clean up spilled or leftover foods and drinks.
  • Remove recycling and garbage often.
  • Store food items in sealed containers.
  • Create a "moat" barrier around potted plants by elevating them inside a larger bowl full of water with a little detergent.
  • Caulk or seal cracks and crevices around your home.
  • Trim back plants that directly contact the outside of your home.
  • Fix leaky pipes or clogged gutters and replace any moist wood.
  • Find and eliminate the ant nest(s).
  • If you choose to use a pesticide, read the label before you buy. Try a lower toxicity product first.

If you have a pesticide product in mind, have your label handy and click here for information about that product.

County Extension Offices

Through its county agents, the Cooperative Extension Service gives individuals access to the resources at land-grant universities across the nation. These universities are centers for research in many subjects, including entomology (the study of insects) and agriculture. Each county within the United States has an Extension office, which is staffed with agents who work closely with university-based Extension specialists to deliver answers to your questions about gardening, agriculture, and pest control. You can find the phone number for your local county extension office in the local government section (often marked with blue pages) of your telephone directory or by clicking on the map below.

Alaska Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Hawaii Arizona Colorado New Mexico Texas Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Puerto Rico Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Mississippi Tennessee North Carolina Alabama Georgia South Carolina Florida American Samoa Guam N. Mariana Islands US Virgin Islands Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Pennsylvania Virginia Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Conneticut Rhode Island Massechusetts Massachusetts Connecticut New York New Jersey Maryland Washington DC Delaware Vermont New Hampshire Maine Vermont New Hampshire Small Map of US States

U.S. States:

AK | AL | AR | AZ | CA | CO | CT | DE | FL | GA | HI | IA | ID | IL | IN | KS | KY | LA | MA | MD | ME | MI | MN | MO | MS | MT | NC | ND | NE | NH | NJ | NM | NV | NY | OH | OK | OR | PA | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VA | VT | WA | WI | WV | WY | Washington D.C. |

U.S. Territories:

Puerto Rico | American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Virgin Islands

Additional Resources:

Information on specific species: