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. 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.
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.
Best Methods of Black Ant Control
Clean. 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.
- 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.
- Sweep / Vacuum. 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.
Food Any food will attract little black ants so don’t give them the enjoyment of a free lunch.
Use Containers. 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.
Sealing your house against black ants
If ants are coming from outside then you’ll need to seal up their acces 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.
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.
Ant Sprays. 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 colones 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.
Ant Baits. 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.
Ant Poisons. 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.
Best Natural Little Black Ant Control Methods
Bay leaves. 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.
Mint. 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.