How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants (Chemical and Natural Methods)

How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants

Nobody likes bugs in their house, but ants are not so bad, right? Well, yes, they can take over pretty quickly because there are so many of them. Sugar ants really like sweetness so even if you only drop one granule of sugar on the floor or counter, they will find it if there are any nearby. And as soon as one ant finds food, they let off pheromones to attract other ants to let them know where the food is.

There are dozens of ways to get rid of sugar ants from deadly ant sprays to natural things like cinnamon, coffee grounds, and essential oils. You can use ant traps, ant deterrents, or even Borax. How you get rid of the ants depends on many factors like whether you have kids and pets and whether you want to kill them or not.

There are natural and humane ways to make your ants move out. But they are persistent and will likely keep coming back if you do not keep your house immaculate all the time, which is impossible. And if you were thinking that ants are not a big deal, you need to know that they can do a lot more damage than you think.

What Harm Could Little Sugar Ants Cause?

The first thing that sugar ants do is contaminate your food. If you see an ant in a box of cereal, you are not going to want to eat it, right? So there goes a box of cereal. And where there is one, there are more. So, unless you have the rest of your food in airtight containers, you are probably going to find more.

These little pests can also carry viral and bacterial illnesses to humans. In fact, some ants eat dead meat, which can carry all sorts of disgusting diseases. Some of the illnesses that they can share with you include:

  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Clostridium
  • Shigella
  • Dysentery
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus

Different Kinds of Sugar Ants

Another thing to think about is that there are different types of sugar ants. The name “sugar ants” is really just a general grouping of a bunch of different species. There are indoor and outdoor types, which are:

Indoor Ants:

  • Pharaoh ants
  • Pavement ants
  • Odorous house ants
  • Carpenter ants
  • Argentine ants

Outdoor Ants:

  • Rover ants
  • Little black ants
  • False honey ants
  • Cornfield ants
  • Acrobat ants

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants

First, we can look at the most effective ways to get rid of ants. The best way to get rid of them for good is to give them something they will bring back to the colony and share with the other ants. Something that does not kill them instantly. Like borax.

Borax is the Most Effective

There are many ways to get rid of ants with borax. The main thing you want to do is mix it with what they want to eat because they are not attracted to borax on its own. Mix it with some of these ingredients for an effective attractant. Be sure to wear gloves when mixing these baits.

Type of bait Ingredients How to Use
Syrup and borax 1 tsp. of syrup

1 Tb. of borax

Stir the borax into the syrup to make a thick paste. Spread some on plastic lids and leave them around the ant trails.
Jelly and borax 1 tsp. of jelly

2 Tbs. of borax

Mix the borax into the jelly and place some on plastic lids around the house near the ant trails.
Peanut Butter and borax 1 tsp. of peanut butter

2 tsp. of borax

Stir the borax into the peanut butter and spread it onto some plastic lids. Put them around the house where you have seen them.
Sugar mix 3 tsp. of sugar

1 tsp. of borax

Mix well and sprinkle it around in areas where the ants walk.
Sugar water mix 1 cup of sugar

3 cups of water

3 Tbs. of borax


Stir the borax and sugar into a spray bottle with the water until it dissolves. Fill up small plastic lids with the mixture and leave them on the ant trails.

Because borax can make kids and pets sick, you have to make sure they cannot get to any of these baits you set out for the ants. You may want to put them inside cabinets with locks or on upper windowsills where your pets and kids cannot reach.

Ready-To-Use Borax Baits

If you are wanting to save money (and who isn’t?), you can use borax and make your own bait from the chart above. But if you are looking for the fastest and easiest way to get rid of those sugar ants, we have a list of ready-made ant bait systems that work wonderfully.

  • Terro Liquid Ant Baits
  • Hot Shot Liquid Ant Bait
  • Combat Ant Killing Bait
  • Raid Max Ant Baits
  • Harris Ant Killer
  • Kness Ants-No-More Ant Bait Stations
  • Amdro Ant Killing Bait
  • Maggie’s Farm No-Spill Ant Kill
  • InTice Gelanimo Ant Bait
  • Pic Plas-Bon Ant Control System

Of course, there are other insecticides and chemicals that work on sugar ants. Here are the top five insecticides and chemicals that you can buy at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Type of Chemical Important Information
Permethrin Since permethrin kills sugar ants on contact, it does not get rid of the whole colony. This is good for killing ants you see here and there that you just want to get rid of, but if you do not take care of the colony, they will likely keep coming back. It is also toxic to pets and kids, so you have to be very careful with this chemical.


This chemical is also known as imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, nitenpyram, and dinotefuran. The drug causes aggression in the ants, which induces them to attack and kill each other. However, it does not always effectively kill the whole colony.


This is a toxic chemical that kills ants on contact by attacking their nervous system. But it does not prove effective on the rest of the colony since it kills on contact and the queen never leaves the nest. You have to be very careful with Fipronil though because it will make pets and humans seriously ill.


This is another type of poison that kills on contact, so it is not completely effective in getting rid of all the ants. But it will kill the ones who come in contact with it and it is not toxic to humans and pets.


Similar to most of the other pesticides, Cyfluthrin kills on contact. However, this takes you back to the problem that the queen and most of the rest of the colony will survive and keep on driving you crazy. In pets and humans, it can be serious, leading to nausea and vomiting, seizures, and can even be fatal.

Already Made Store-Bought Chemicals

There are other ways to go about this if you do not want to mess with the chemicals themselves. After all, you are not a chemist. You can buy ant killers in just about any department store, hardware store, or home improvement center. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Syngenta Advion Ant Gel (indoxacarb) is similar to borax in that it is a bait that allows the ants to bring it back to the colony and share. That way, it effectively kills the whole colony and the queen.
  • Amdro Ant Block Home Perimeter Ant Bait (hydramethylnon) is a granulated product that can kill 15 different species of ants. Just sprinkle it around the perimeter of your home and they should be gone in no time.
  • Raid Ant and Roach Killer Spray (imiprothrin and cypermethrin) is inexpensive and kills on contact. Just shake it up and spray it where you have seen the ants walking around.
  • Ortho BugClear Lawn Insect Killer (bifenthrin) comes in three styles: granule, spray, and concentrated. This lawn insecticide kills all bugs including ants, spiders, fleas, and ticks. It kills on contact though, so it will not work on the whole colony.

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Sugar Ants

For those who have kids and pets or just do not want those chemicals in or around your home, there are natural solutions. In fact, there are quite a few of them and many are effective. Some of these are deterrents while others will actually kill the ants.

Get Rid of the Food

The first solution has no repellent or killer, but it does involve a lot of work. You are going to need your super cleaning tools like a vacuum, handheld vac, broom, mop, and plenty of soap and water.

  • Step One: Clean the entire house thoroughly. This includes under and inside furniture, cabinets, under the refrigerator, and anywhere else you can think of. Even in the couch cushions.
  • Step Two: Wash and deodorize all of your trash cans.
  • Step Three: Put all food in airtight plastic or glass containers.
  • Step Four: Do not leave any dog or cat food bowls out after they finish eating.
  • Step Five: Get your carpets professionally cleaned or get rid of them. Ants can find even the tiniest crumb in your carpet that your vacuum may have missed.

Invite Them for Coffee

First, brew yourself a pot of coffee and drink a cup. Then, use the brewed coffee grounds to get rid of the ants. According to many, used coffee grounds repel ants. Just sprinkle them on small areas where you have seen ants and they will stay away.

Neem Oil from the Neem Tree

If you have never heard of the neem tree, don’t worry. Not too many people have. But if you use neem tree oil around your windows, doors, and other areas where ants can enter, this will keep them outside. You can find it online or at a health food store near you.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are great for all sorts of uses. There are hundreds of different oils and some of the many things they can do include helping you sleep, relieving nausea, improving your mood, and getting rid of stress. Some of them even get rid of ants.

Type of Oil How to Use
Patchouli Soak a cotton ball or pad in the oil and rub it along windowsills, doors, and other entryways.
Lemongrass Add one cup of water, one cup of vinegar, and 30 drops of lemongrass oil to a spray bottle. Spray it around the ant trails three times a day.
Eucalyptus Mix 15 drops of oil with ½-cup of water and ½-cup vinegar in a sprayer. Use three times a day on all entryways and ant trails.
Peppermint Soak a cotton ball with oil and place one in each cabinet, drawer, or on the ant trails. You can also rub some on the entryways like windows and door frames.
Cinnamon Mix 30 drops of cinnamon oil with one cup of water and one cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray it around the ant trails and entryways three times a day.

Vinegar is Good for Everything

Similar to essential oils, vinegar has many uses from cooking to medicinal. But it is also effective in getting rid of ants. Follow these three easy steps to an ant-free home.

  • Step One: Mix one cup of water with one cup of vinegar in a spray bottle
  • Step Two: Spray the ant trails three times a day
  • Step Three: Also spray any areas where you have seen the ants recently

Related Questions

Are There Any Other Natural Ant Repellants That Work Right Away?

Some of the other interesting natural ways to get rid of sugar ants include:

  • Citrus: Try citrus oil, orange or lemon peels, or even fresh juice around the entryways. However, do not use sweetened juice or the sugar will just attract more ants and other unwanted guests like roaches.
  • Cucumber peels: You will need fresh cucumber peelings for this, so you need to get a few fresh cucumbers to work with. Just use a grater or peeler to get a bunch of peelings together and sprinkle them around entryways.
  • Herbal remedies: Sprinkle some pepper, bay leaves, or salt around the windows and doors.

Is There Any Kind of Natural Substance That Kills Ants?

Unlike the other natural remedies above, this one kills the ants rather than just scaring them away. Just get some diatomaceous earth. This stuff is made from fossilized diatoms (silica) found in the bottom of lakes, oceans, and rivers.

Diatomaceous earth kills the ants by absorbing all the oils from their body and dehydrating them. But you will need to wear gloves and a mask when using this stuff because it can cause skin irritation and even shortness of breath. Sprinkle it around entryways, but not where kids and pets can get to it.

Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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