When people talk about getting rid of black ants, they are generally referring to one of two different species. The first is the carpenter ant. If you need to learn more about them, check out the entire piece we did on the topic.
The second of these is the little black ant. Yes, that’s what they’re actually called. Blows the mind, doesn’t it? Anyway, little black ants (Monomorium minimum) are are persistent and found in great numbers. Although they can be found almost anywhere they are more commonly found in the yards of houses out East or in southern California. Being active both day and night with nest populations of more than 2,000 each they can produce a nightmare for anyone.
These small ants are related to most other ants found in North America and Europe, ants with similarly vague names like the tiny black ant, the little yellow ant, and such.
Unlike many other ants that are picky where they build their nests, the little black ant is home almost anywhere which makes them difficult to control. They will take up shop in the ground almost anywhere outside as well as in trees. To make matters even worse they can move right into your house and nest in cracks in the basement, in carpets and even the spaces in your walls. To make getting rid of little black ants even harder they have an impressive ability to survive eating almost anything. I mean everything. Including grease. Everything.
Getting rid of black ants for a time isn’t that hard but keeping them away for good is almost impossible. They are versatile and persistent which will make them a lifelong adversary. Just keep some of the following tips on file and get on the infestations quick before they have time to grow.
Little Black Ant Identification
Jet Black / Tiny
Workers are about 1/16th of an inch. The queens are nearly twice as big but you’ll probably only ever see the workers as they venture out for food. They look like the stereotypical ant with big heads, tiny legs and giant antennae. An interesting fact about these little black ants is that they can live nearly anywhere, as long as moisture exists. Therefore, reducing moisture is key to reducing this ant in your home.
Best Methods of Black Ant Control
As mentioned above, little black ants will eat anything. It’s important to cut off their food supply as completely as possible to make your home less appealing to them.
They especially tend to like anything sweet, and can seemingly smell or sense sweetness from a mile away. In particular, make sure that things like fruit or fruit juices are sealed and away. If you spill any food in your kitchen, make it a habit to promptly clean it up so not trace is left.
Do the Dishes
The smallest trace of food left behind will attract the ants. Rinse dishes thoroughly if you can’t do them right away or make sure they get into the dishwasher ASAP. Ants love it when you let dirty dishes sit out after a meal, or when you have a trash bin in your kitchen that is uncovered. Make it a habit to clean up promptly after eating. It will make your kitchen look better, too!
Ants don’t need much to eat and the crumbs on the floor are more than enough to attract them. Sweep the kitchen floor a few times a day and try to vacuum daily. You might want to think about mopping every few days to really keep things extra clean.
Rinse and Throw!
Completely rinse out all bottles and cans before going into recycling or the trash. You’ll also want to take out the garbage and recycling daily. Get it out to the curb or a can far from the house.
Try to find a trash bin that can be covered, if you do not have a layout that allows you to close off your trash area. We like the Umbra model that seals up when well closed, looks good, and can open with a foot pedal when your hands are full of trash. Find it here on Amazon.
Any food will attract little black ants so don’t give them the enjoyment of a free lunch. Food needs to be gone after eating, and it needs to be stored in a place that is uninviting to ants. Leaving bread, sweets, bananas, etc. out will only encourage the ants to find them. Ants have way more odor detectors than other insects and bugs — about 4-5 times as many! This means that the typical ant is able to find food quite easily. They hardly have to work to detect it.
Seal all food in containers so little black ants can’t get inside. Plastic containers with locking lids are best but you can also you metal tins or those fancy glass jars with the locking tops. When I say all food I mean all food. Little black ants will run off with anything so if it doesn’t seal in it’s own containers put it in a new one. Even a leaky bottle of oil will attract them so wipe down liquid containers after use and make sure the caps are screwed on tight. If you don’t have a lot of cupboard space, I recommend the Rubbermaid Modular canisters (you can get them at Amazon), they’re great for keeping out unwanted insects and easily stack.
A great bi-product of sealing your food is that, in most cases, you will help the food last longer before it goes bad or molds. What’s not to like — longer-lasting food, and fewer ants!
Sealing Your House Against Black Ants
If ants are coming from outside then you’ll need to seal up their access points. Do a thorough check of your house near the ground to see if there are any cracks in the foundation that need to be patched. Also look at any place wires or pipes are coming in through walls. If these are not properly sealed they can act as a highway for little black ants right into your home. Of course you’ll also want to keep an eye out for ants crawling around. If you see some watch where they go they might just lead you to their secret entrance.
After the house is sealed up take a look for common hiding spots outside. Little black ants like to hide under rocks, wood piles, dead trees and sidewalks. Pull up rocks and logs to see if ants are hiding underneath. Also keep an eye out for classic ant hills around sidewalks and driveways. Once you spot a little black ant nest you can get down to cleaning it out.
If you’re not finding them outside you might have them living inside. It’s less common but it can happen. Check basements and crawlspaces for signs of ants. Cracks in the floor or rotten wood can be a home for little black ants.
Pestblock is a sealant product made specifically for sealing cracks and crevices around the house and keeping ants and insects out. We think it works well. Find it here on Amazon.
Getting Rid of Little Black Ants
Tracking down where they’re coming from will the be the toughest part of this job. Since little black ants are found all across the country there are many products that you can choose from. They can be found online, at the hardware store or at pretty much any big-box store. Ant poisons come in a few different forms such as sprays, baits and poisons.
An important disclaimer -- poisons are, well, poisons. They are not safe for humans. If you use baits, sprays, or poisons, carefully follow all instructions on the label and be especially careful if you have young children around.
These are a convenient way to kill black ants outdoors. Mix up the solution, put it in a sprayer and let the genocide commence. This is the best method for kitting those colonies that have taken up residence in your mulch or yard. If you did as I suggested above and spent some time looking for colonies you’ll have a pretty good idea where to start. When you find a nest, spray it down directly and the surrounding area. You can also spray the base of your foundation as well to catch any stragglers.
A great, home-remedy ant spray simply includes water and vinegar. Back before the days of high-effective insect sprays, this is what the old-timers used.
Any spray or liquid works best if you allow it to soak into the nest.
Using the ants’ instinct to gather and carry food back to their nests, baits trick little black ants into carrying poisons back home. Once the poison is inside the entire population will be hit and hopefully wiped out. Put bait traps near food that you’ve sighted ants around or directly on a path that you know ants walk along. This is an easy way to control ants since they’re doing the hard part of getting the poison back to the nest for you.
Our favorite ant bait is the Terro Ant bait (find here on Amazon). It is easy to use, doesn’t stain if spilled, and most importantly, it works!
For inside the home, after you’ve figured out which crack the ants are disappearing into or you’ve discovered the wall they’ve set up camp in, you might as well throw some poison at them. There are several aerosols that work well for this and you should find them at most home improvement stores. For these same situations you may also choose to place or blow some dust into the cracks. Look for Drione Dust, Delta Dust Insecticide, Tempo 1% Dust or EcoExempt D (here on Amazon).
Please be careful with any poison! If you can use a different method first, please do.
Best Natural Little Black Ant Control Methods
This is a simple and inexpensive natural black ant deterrent that many people swear by. Simply place bay leaves wherever you have seen black ants. Put them in corners, in windows, in front of entry points and scatter some around in your cabinets where food canisters are found. If you have a major ant problem, you may need to use ant bait first, but after that, the Bay leaves will work to keep the occasional ants. away.
A note – you will see dueling opinions on if mint really works on ants or not. Natural mint is purported to be a very effective ant deterrent. Mint oil can be used in front of ant entrances and in places where ants have been seen. You can also plant live mint around your home to help keep them out to begin with. If you go this route, put in plants near windows and doorways where little black ants are most likely to sneak inside.
Red Chili Powder
Use the red chili powder as a dust and put it and around the areas where ants are entering your home. It can also be used outside along the perimeter of the house. I have read that making a paste of red chili powder and water and applying at at entry points works well too. Amazon sells a decent red chili powder, for a good price.
Grits, as in the kind you mind eat? Yes, amazingly. They work on ants.
Now, we realize we just got done telling you to keep your house clear of food and not have any crumbs laying around. Instant grits, though, can be a secret weapon on black ants if you don’t mind having a few laying around your house.
They work by dehydrating the ants. Instant grits are basically a dehydrated food that will absorb whatever water is around it. The ant will come along, see the grit, and eat it. Then, the grit will basically absorb all of the fluid in the ant’s body and dehydrate it to death. Just be sure you don’t have a water source for the ants nearby — then you would only be giving the ant a great meal.
Set grits out along baseboard, walls, and in corners, and let the ants go to town on them.