How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Backyard: The Ultimate Guide

Just the thought of them gives us the heebie-jeebies. The fact that an infestation usually means a lot of them doesn’t help matters, either. Then, there’s the fact that some bite or sting only makes it worse. If you have an issue with them, we have you covered with everything you need to know about how to get rid of ants in your backyard.

Unless you’re dealing with carpenter ants, the good news is that these insects rarely cause damage to your home. However, other than the gross factors, there is a potential risk of spreading disease. After all, ants hang out where the food is, fresh or spoiled. Some species are more likely candidates than others. The fact still remains that ants are the number one insect in the world with over 12,000 species.

And you thought mosquitoes were bad.

We’ll discuss several ways to identify an infestation, along with ways to get rid of these pests and keep them from returning to your house or yard. Fortunately, the behavior and physiology of ants give you an edge in making it happen fast.

Step 1: Identify the Enemy

Your strategy for how to get rid of ants in your backyard depends on knowing the species of insect with which you are dealing. Termites, for example, look similar to them. The plan of action for dealing with them will differ from that of an ant problem. The common household variety has more of an hourglass shape with a thin middle. The termite is the opposite.

Where you find them and what they’re eating can also provide some valuable clues. These factors are important to know because they can help you get the situation under control quicker and more efficiently.

Step 2: Determine What is Attracting Them to Your Yard

Ants are much different than other insects or wildlife species. They need three things to survive:

  • Reliable food source
  • Water supply
  • Shelter

The first one is the money shot for getting rid of ants. It’s one thing to see the colonies scurrying around outside. It’s another thing to remove what is bringing to your home in the first place. The most obvious sign of a pest problem is finding them swarming around something to eat or drink. The use of that word, swarming, is intentional. They are part of the order, Hymenoptera, the same as bees and wasps.

It’s a point worth noting since these insects are social organisms. That means you can concentrate your efforts to eliminate them. The problem you’ll have with ants is that when they find a food source, they get the word out to others in the colony. They leave a pheromone trail that will lead more ants to the goods.

Step 3: Remove the Food Sources

Your next task is to throw out whatever they’ve been eating. If you’ve seen them around your dog’s food bowl in the yard, make sure to check the bag too. We’d also recommend checking other areas in your backyard for signs of ants. Common locations include outdoor garden furniture, the grill, and your fire pit area. Any place where someone has been snacking outdoors is fair game.

You may find it helpful to hose down walkways and your outdoor furniture to remove any traces of food or drink that are putting out the calling card for ants. We’d also suggest cleaning your grill or even replacing it if it’s caked with burned bits. As a side note, dirty grills were a factor in about 25 percent of fires.

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Last update on 2021-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Step 4: Rinse Out Your Garbage Cans

Odors coming from your trash cans will also attract ants. While you’re cleaning the lawn furniture, also take the hose to your garbage cans and recycling containers too. We’d recommend making both these tasks a part of your routine backyard maintenance. A colony of ants can quickly move on to someplace else if the food sources are eliminated. Before you put that hose away, make sure that the faucet isn’t leaking and providing a water source for the ants.

Step 5: Invest in Some Plastic Containers

If you keep your pet’s food in the garage or shed, it’s a smart idea to put the bags in pest-proof containers. Not only will that deter ants, but it’ll also prevent other critters from getting a free meal, like raccoons or rodents. Products with locking lids are best to cut down on odors. You’ll also need a few for inside your house as we’ll talk about next.

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Last update on 2021-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Step 6: Take Matters Inside Your House

Ants are like cockroaches. If you see one, they are like hundreds or even thousands more. One reason that you’re finding them in your yard may lie with what they’re stumbling on inside of your home. We strongly urge you to take to your cupboards and inspect them for any signs of ants. Don’t forget to check other places where food may lurk, such as inside your toaster, bread box, or open snack bags.

However, don’t stop at the kitchen. Look around your dining room table or the living room if household members nosh while watching TV. In any case, it’s a good idea to bust out the vacuum cleaner and broom to give the rooms a thorough cleaning, along with your cabinets and under the sink.

We recommend putting as much of the foodstuffs in your kitchen in plastic containers too, especially anything that is sweet like sugar. It’s a smart plan that will make keeping your cupboards easier to do the next time.

Step 7: Locating Home Territory

Unfortunately, these actions only scratch the surface. The hardest part about how to get rid of ants in your backyard is finding out how they are getting into your house or yard. It’s also essential to know where they’re living when they’re not eating your food or scraps. The problem is that it could be just about anywhere. That’s the shelter part that we discussed earlier.

It’s essential to understand that getting rid of all the ants living in your backyard won’t happen. The uncomfortable truth is that they are vital for the environment. They aerate the soil, which is good for your garden. Therefore, your plan of attack should focus on keeping them from inside your house and regular outdoor pest control practices. Let’s start with your home.

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Last update on 2021-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Step 8: Seal Any Cracks or Openings

Taking measures to keep ants out of your house is probably the safest way to eliminate a pest problem, whether it’s mice or insects. Ants often use existing structures like pipes to get around inside of your house. Make sure to plug up any openings in these locations. Do the same thing inside of your house. Caulk around your windows or doors, as needed.

While you’re inspecting your house, you should also trim back any shrubbery that is to close to your foundation. That will provide a pathway to your home.

Step 9: Protect Your Yard

The best way to get rid of ants is to take a multi-prong approach. The next task involves your backyard, particularly, the trees. Using a product like Tree Tanglefoot provides a sticky barrier that will trap ants that are attracted to other insects living in your trees, such as aphids. It’ll also work on other insect pests too. Replace the band every couple of weeks.

For other plants in your yard, you can apply insecticidal soap. It’s not so much for the ants as it is those other insects we mentioned above. It is also eco-friendly and works instantly. Make sure to check the product’s label before applying it. It can cause leaf damage to some plants like azalea.

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Last update on 2021-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Step 10: Set Up Baits

Using baits, preferably reusable ones, is an effective, hands-off solution for how to get rid of ants in your backyard. Therein lies its advantage over sprays, which can harm non-targeted species. Baits also minimize your contact with the poison.

You’ll find products labeled for either indoor or outdoor use, sometimes both. The difference matters because you’ll need to use them inside and outside of your home. Many are borate-based. The advantage of using them is that you’ll also be eliminating the colony and not just the ones you see in your yard. That’s the goal with pest control.

It’s worth mentioning that it takes time for these pesticides to work. Be patient because you’re taking the right action to get the optimal results. We suggest placing outdoor bait stations on every side of your house and any outbuildings. If you’ve noticed a lot of activity in a particular area, put one there too. Shady spots are another place you can target.

Place indoor-use bait stations in your cupboards where you’ve seen ants. Make sure that they are out of the reach of pets and small children. Wash your hands after you’ve handled them. Also, the best way to get the most out of these products is to eliminate other food sources first as we detailed earlier.

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Final Thoughts

We understand how distressing it is to find these unwanted pests in your yard, despite their beneficial role in the environment. However, you can eliminate them from your house and property by sealing up entranceways and removing food sources. The most effective way for how to get rid of ants in your backyard is diligence and a multi-pronged approach that covers all your bases.