If ants arrive before you’ve put these preventative tactics in place, you’ve got a few options to get rid of them.
Place ant bait where you see ants gathering—the ants will bring this poison back to the nest. Make sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets, cautions Marbut. “Generally, the ant bait is low in toxicity but can cause nausea or skin irritation,” he says. Sprays will kill ants on contact but won’t end their presence in your home, since the colony won’t be affected.
You can also hunt down the ant trail, which signals to ants that a food source is available, says Marbut. “Follow the trail to identify the entry point, or place ant bait along the trail,” he recommends. If you find the entry point, you can seal it up using caulk, Marbut says.
You can use a disinfectant wipe or spray white vinegar to remove the trail. You might also add an ant deterrent on the path. “Certain safe household items such as chili powder, cinnamon, lemon juice, and peppermint oil will deter ants from the area, and are non-toxic,” says Marbut.
But in some cases, you may need more help than hardware store bait traps. “If the inside of your home has a significant number of ants, even after tackling the ant trail and attempting to eradicate them yourself, you should call a professional,” Marbut says. Licensed pros will identify your ant species and respond with the best treatment, along with identifying (and removing) the ants’ entry point.