Pest Issues

Sugar Ants – What Are They And How to Get Rid of Them

whitejellybeans /

The banded sugar ant, or Camponotus consobrinus as scientists call it, is a species of ants that can only be found in Australian homes, but the only sweet thing about it, it’s the name. They reproduce extremely fast and can turn into a real problem in no time.

So if you have any doubts that you have an ant infestation, but don’t know how to deal with it, keep reading. In this article, we’ll discuss the various techniques for removing banded sugar ants, different ways to recognise them, and what to do in case of a serious invasion.

Table of Contents

How to recognise a sugar ant

Banded sugar ants are native to Australia and still haven’t migrated to any other parts of the world. Their size varies from 5 to 15 mm, with the minor worker ants being the smallest, the major worker ants a bit bigger, and the queen is the biggest.

The male ants are almost completely black with only small parts of their thorax and legs having a rusty colour. The female ones are more distinguishable because the only black part of their body is the head, while the thorax and the band around their gaster are orange-brown. In a few words: they are lighter in colour and bigger in size.

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Sugar ants are often mistaken for pharaoh ants or pavement ants as the colour difference is quite small. The pharaoh ants are more yellow-ish and light brown, while the pavement ants are dark, reddish brown or black.

The behaviour of the sugar ant

Banded sugar ants are mostly nocturnal creatures, more often seen pillaging for food at dusk and during the night. Of course, they go out during the day as well, but in smaller numbers. The minor workers discover the safest and most efficient route for the rest of the workers in the colony by leaving a scent trail. They are an omnivorous species that mostly feed on sweet substances.

Although sugar ants are generally not a threat to humans, the major workers do have a very painful bite because of the formic acid that they release when in danger.

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How to identify a sugar ant infestation

It’s not that hard actually and the most common signs are:

  • An increasing number of ants crawling around in your home. Once the sugar ants find a convenient source of food, they will not leave. So, concentrate on inspecting your kitchen in detail.
  • Signs of wooden furniture damage, as sugar ants are known to chew on wood.
  • Visible nesting sites, which could be around your home or inside, usually in crevices or behind skirting boards.

As we mentioned earlier, sugar ants are physically similar to many other ant species. That makes it a bit difficult to determine whether you are indeed attacked by sugar ants or by carpenter ants, for example.

The only secure way of knowing is to call for a professional in the second you think there might be an actual infestation. They have the ability to tell the different species apart and will choose the most effective treatment to save you from the invasion.

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How to get rid of sugar ants

Cut out their food source

Just like many other pests, ants require their daily nourishment, and the place with the most food in your house is, of course, the kitchen. However, as ants are not that big, especially this species, they don’t really need a lot of food to be full.

Even the smallest amount of leftovers is like a buffet breakfast for them. So, the first thing you need to do to get rid of them is to make sure that your kitchen space is wiped clean from all the old food, like bread crumbs on the table and counters.

The second is to free the rubbish bin of any debris and check if all the other food is either in the fridge or in sealed packages/boxes.

Investigate the rest of your home

The kitchen is the most common place where sugar ants go and are drawn to, but it’s not the only one.

A forgotten candy wrapper under your living room sofa can feed a lot of the insects for a long period of time.

Do a bit of investigation to check whether there is another food source that could be attracting the bugs. In case you do find one, get rid of it immediately and thoroughly clean the area around it and just to make sure – the whole house.

There is also the chance that you won’t find any other possible food source, which means that you might be attacked by a different species of ants. For example, carpenter ants settle their homes in damp, decaying, old wooden furniture and will go for any type of food. If you notice a nest of ants in such locations, maybe it’s time to call a professional pest control technician.

Place an ant bait

Ants are not greedy creatures and if they find food, it’s not going to be eaten right away. Instead, they will bring it to the rest of the colony, so that they can eat, as well.

So logically, if you put baits, they will affect not only the roaming ants but the ones in the nest, too.

The majority of these food-based traps are a slow-release poison that contains either Borax or boric acid. Keep in mind that you will not see any results right away, as it will take some time for all the ants to take in the poison and for it to have an effect on them.

How to get rid of sugar ants naturally

If you are not really comfortable using chemicals to kill the sugar ants and you are afraid for the safety of your family and pets, there are still plenty of natural techniques that you can use like…

Eliminate the sugar ants with white vinegar

Vinegar, especially the white kind, is a highly acidic substance that has the powers to dissolve a lot of strong odours and stains. This is why it’s so widely used as the main ingredient in many DIY cleaning solutions for any type of surface.

Luckily, white vinegar can also help you prepare a natural remedy to safely get rid of the sugar ants in your home. Just follow the steps below:

  • Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of equal parts of cold water and white vinegar.
  • Apply this solution to all possible entry points and other places where you’ve seen a lot of ants.
  • Check regularly for any victims and wipe them away as soon as they are dead.
Keep in mind that sugar ants are most active in the early morning or late afternoon, so this is when spraying will provide the best results.

Keep the ants away with coffee grounds

Coffee grounds are also a popular deterrent because ants really dislike the smell and they get burned by the high acid levels in the coffee.

This technique will not get rid of a full infestation, but it can keep the sugar ants away from places such as the counters in the kitchen, the pantry, shelves, around the food bowls of your pets, etc. Just spread a generous amount of used coffee grounds in those areas, and again, in all the possible entry points.

Deter ants with cloves, bay leaves, and garlic

As you’ve probably noticed already, ants are quite sensitive to strong smells, which means that cloves, bay leaves, and garlic also have a strong deterring effect when placed around in the house.

You can hang them on strings or just put them in locations that have a stronger ant concentration. The powerful smell will confuse the senses of the ants and throw them off their scent trail.

Get rid of the sugar ants by making your own repellent

Again, the idea of this solution is to confuse the ants and make them avoid certain areas. Pour several drops of lavender or peppermint oil (the more you add, the stronger your solution will be) into spray bottle filled with water. Apply the mixture in your kitchen, front door, and all the other entries.

Make a homemade ant trap

Fill a couple of plastic trays with either corn syrup, maple syrup or honey and leave them in areas where you’ve noticed a lot of ants.

They will be attracted by the strong, sweet smell and hurry towards the bait, but once they go inside, there is no escape. The ants will be stuck there until they die. When this happens, throw away the whole plate and place a new one if needed, repeating the process.

Kill sugar ants with diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a popular pest repellent because it’s dangerous only for small insects, not for your family or pets.

To us, it’s just a powdery substance, but on a microscopic level, it’s actually filled with millions of rough particles that can kill ants from the inside.

Pour a generous amount of food-grade diatomaceous earth and leave it there for as long as needed. Wipe it after a month or so and if there are still ants after that, you can apply it again, or just call a professional to take care of the problem once and for all.

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How to get rid of sugar ants outside

If you have noticed the majority of ants outside your home, the nest is probably also there. In this case you will have to:

  • Go around your garden and see if you can find the sugar ants’ nest.
  • Put a couple of ant baits in your lawn, and spray with any of the solutions mentioned above.
  • Another way you can get rid of an ant’s nets is to flood it with your garden hose. However, flooding the nest will harm the ants inside, but the ones that are out looking for food will still survive and quickly make a new one.

The wisest decision you can take is to let the professionals finish the job for you. The trained staff of Fantastic Services can quickly determine all the entry points of the pest and decide what is the best way to treat the infestation. After the nightmare is done for, the professionals will also give you some helpful and professional tips on how to keep those awful sugar ants away for good!

Read more about our Pest Control service

How to prevent a sugar ant infestation

The following advice can be applied to most other pests and ant species, but there is a reason why these rules are so universal. The best way to make sure that you won’t become a victim of sugar ants, or any other type of ant, is not to give them any reasons to invade your home. Here is what you can try:

  • A quick wipe of the kitchen worktop will keep it clean and prevent food built up, which is the main source of nourishment for the ants and other types of pests.
  • Encourage your family to never leave any food wraps around the house and to always clean up after they have eaten. Regular maintenance can go a long way in keeping the sugar ants away.
  • Check for ants in places they might gather and for possible entry points as well. Once every couple of weeks should be enough. The sooner you notice signs of infestation, the easier it will be to take care of it.

To sum things up…

We advise that you try the DIY methods or the ones including chemicals only if there is a small number of ants in your property. None of the techniques mentioned above will be able to help you in case of a serious infestation. Always put on protective wear when working with pesticides and don’t be hesitant to call a professional when things get out of hand.

Wondering how to handle a banded sugar ant infestation?

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3 years ago

But why would you want to, they are very gentle ants and aren’t in slightest bit aggressive. Leave em alone they’re only after a few scraps.

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