How to get rid of sugar ants – a simple step-by-step to eliminate the pest quickly

The professional response to the common pest is simple – and the results are fast

Ant sitting on a spoon full of sugar
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Knowing how to get rid of sugar ants is an undeniably tedious process – which many homeowners may hope to avoid. However, if you've had a sighting of this sweet-loving pest, there is no reason to panic. While the creature is annoying and certainly uninvited, it does not tend to sting or bite. 

Plus, if you've sited one sugar ant, there is a high chance that you will see a multitude around your home – as they are known to travel in large numbers – especially after rainfall. The ant native to Australia (also known as the banded sugar ant) is also odorous, meaning it may leave an unwanted aroma around your home.

If you've read up on how to get rid of ants before, you're in a good position to regain control over your home quickly. But it's important to note that each species vary slightly. So if you know how to kill carpenter ants or pavement ants in your garden, it's important to take note, as these tips may differ.

How to get rid of sugar ants – quick responses to the annoying pest

Ant sitting on a spoon full of sugar

(Image credit: GettyImages)

While sugar ants are a nuisance, they are easy to remove from your home. Here's how the professionals respond to an infestation.

1. Remove food sources

If your research 'why do ants come into the house' you will quickly find that they are primarily attracted to food sources. And sugar ants are certainly no expectation. This is why Megan Wede, a co-owner at Done Right Pest Solutions, recommends eliminating their food as your first job. 

'This means storing all leftover food, goodies, baking goods including sugar and honey, in an airtight container the ants can't get through,' she says. 

Entomologist and National Training Manager Scott Svenheim from Truly Nolen of America similarly suggests removing all sources of sugar, or sweet foodstuffs (especially honey, sugary treats, and fruit), which are the main staple in their diet.

'Keep all food tightly sealed in airtight containers, and be sure to thoroughly clean surfaces after meals; good housekeeping is your friend when dealing with ants,' Scott says. He also recommends using household cleaners to wipe down areas where they are trailing can help deter them.

2. Seal openings to your exterior

If you suspect the sugar ants are coming from outside, you should keep doors and windows tightly sealed; and ensure cracks are sealed securely. 'Vegetation and [garden landscaping ideas] should be trimmed away from touching the house (this just gives the ants outside direct passageways to get into the home),' Scott adds.

3. Add natural repellents

After removing their sources and entry points, you should place natural repellents such as salt, pepper, chalk powder, or peppermint oil around ant-infested areas. Using peppermint oil to get rid of mice and other forms of ants such as getting rid of flying ants and killing red ants is similarly effective, so it's worth investing in bulk if you have a problem with pests. What's more, peppermint scents can be used to keep crickets out of the home to prevent pest problems before they can take hold.

'Remember that if you simply repel the ants, you aren't getting rid of them at their source. And keep in mind that if you wait to bait the ants, you shouldn't use repellents either, or they won't be attracted to the bait,' Megan says. 

Ant sitting on a spoon full of sugar

(Image credit: GettyImages)

How to find a sugar ants nest

You are most likely to find an ants nest outside, where they are still attracted to sugar. Therefore, a thorough inspection of your yard and around your home will help you identify ant activity. 'If the nests happen to be located inside, they could be found anywhere, but generally, they would be in a wall void, ceiling, or crawlspace,' Scott says. 

Megan adds that ant nests are also commonly found in wall voids, under cement slabs, and in the ground, where it is hard to find the nest. Therefore, you may need to put out bait for the ants to take back to the queen and their nest. 'Once you kill the queen, you kill the whole nest.'

Ant sitting on a spoon full of sugar

(Image credit: GettyImages)

What natural repellents do ants hate? 

Peppermint oil is perhaps the most effective organic ant repellent. However, it's not the only way to keep the pest away. 'Many essential oils can work to repel ants, albeit with short-lived results,' Scott explains. He suggests using other pantry staples such as vinegar, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, or even black pepper can help temporarily. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.