How to get rid of army ants.

How to Get Rid of Army Ants Naturally (Ultimate Guide)

So, you need to get rid of army ants in your home or garden (or both).

They’re giant, aggressive ants. And you’re tired of seeing them all over the place.

Maybe you’re even afraid if they take a bite of your skin at night when you sleep.

Don’t worry. Most species are nomadic and will actually leave on their own in a few weeks.

But for the meantime, let’s find out how to keep them out of your home (and bed).

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How to identify an army ant
  • Why you have them
  • Signs of army ant infestations
  • Ways to get rid of them naturally
  • How to kill army ants with home remedies
  • How to keep them out and away from your property
  • And more

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment for me, as always.

Sound good? Let’s send those ants marching.

Safety first

Always use the right protective equipment before attempting to control or manage them.

Consult with a licensed pest exterminator before attempting anything in this guide. If you don’t know what you’re doing or can’t handle the job, you need to get professional help.

Army ants can and will bite/sting, which can result in a painful reaction. If you have an allergic reaction, it can be severe.

Do NOT attempt anything on your own without consulting a licensed exterminator first!

What’s an army ant?

An army ant is a diverse species of ant with over 200 identified types.

They’re mean, big, and aggressive ants that can take down prey as large as a goat!

These aren’t the typical household ants you find in your kitchen or shower.

These ants can be extremely dangerous to humans, especially those found in the tropics.

Thankfully, here in the US, only southern states deal with them.

And they’re not as aggressive as the ones found in remote areas. But that doesn’t mean you should take them lightly.

These ants will swarm their prey (also called a raid) by the thousands. They also form a wall of ants to protect the queen and larvae if they don’t build a nest.

Army ants are migratory pests because they’re constantly searching for food since their numbers are huge. They can delete an area of food supply quickly so they’re always on the go.

This is exactly who you may find a TON of them out of nowhere seemingly overnight.

And they may disappear a few weeks later. But they’re no joke. New generations may come back to your home on their migratory journey.

Appearance

Army ants attacking.
Army ants are bigger and more aggressive than other ant species.

Army ants have a distinct appearance due to their larger size compared to the typical common house ant.

There are hundreds of different species and they vary in appearance and morphology depending on their evolution to their local environment.

However, most army ants you find on your property will have a few features you can use to identify them easily:

  • The head has a pair of visible antennae, which is used to smell, touch, and “talk” with other ants in their caste system.
  • A visible thorax brings the head and abdomen together, which is also visible with the naked eye.
  • The third and final segment is the abdomen and it’s the biggest out of the three segments.
  • Army ants have powerful jaws that they use to chew, clench, and attack prey.
  • They can also use their stinger to attack, which leads to a painful pinch and may result in a reaction in sensitive individuals. This is why you don’t mess with them if you don’t know what you’re doing, and why you should always ask one first. Consult a professional before beginning any ant control program.
  • Army ants exhibit diversity and different members of the caste system will show different phenotypes as they’re equipped to carry out their tasks.
  • The workers and soldiers have black bodies with reddish heads while the queen is mostly pale white and tan- not to be confused with carpenter ants.

Of course, depending on the environment, their polymorphism changes.

Most people will encounter black army ants in their property. These are the scouts that are foraging for a food source for their nest.

Army ant life cycle

Army ants outside.
Army ants have a unique life cycle.

Army ants have a complex life cycle.

These species will go through two phases of migration and stationary lifestyles.

The reason behind this is because they have huge colonies of ants to feed, so they quickly deplete their available food source in their proximal environment.

Thus, they’re always on the move to the next location to seek out food.

Stationary phase

The queen deposits millions of eggs per month.

They’re laid during the stationary phase, where the army ants are assembled in a barrier to protect the queen and larvae on the inside.

The larvae develop slowly over 1-2 weeks, to which the entire colony stays in one location- hence the name stationary.

This is when you’ll likely notice forager army ants coming into your house and garden.

Nomadic phase

As the larvae develop, they need constant food.

The scouts will forage during the daytime to seek out available food and they’ll recruit others to help bring back any prey (which can be anything from spiders, rodents, and even large animals like goats).

They’ll constantly be on the hunt for food during this phase of their lifecycle to feed the larvae and the rest of the nest. The queen and colony are both mobile during the nomadic phase.

After the larvae are pupating, they don’t need to eat during this phase. The foraging slows down to about ⅔ of the original activity. The queen continues to deposit and the rest of the ants continue their usual activity.

After the adult ants emerge, the queen becomes mobile and the colony begins the nomadic phase once again.

It all depends on the queen:

  • If the queen is laying eggs, the colony is stationary.
  • If the queen is mobile, the colony is nomadic and searching for new food to feed the growing larvae.

Army ants can eat anything and everything since they need to feed a huge population, but the larvae are a priority. They specialize in eating OTHER ant species.

Where do army ants live?

Army ant nest on tree in yard.
Army ants can build their nest high in trees.

Army ants live in the tropics but are commonly found by homeowners in the southern US.

There are over 200 different species of them and they’re unique in habitat, behavior, aggression, and appearance.

The “horror type” you see in movies and documentaries are usually the ones out in remote areas and hardly the ones you’ll find in the US.

You’ll find them out in your yard in above-ground nests.

They can build an ant colony in trees, soil, or within decorative materials. They may wander into your home to forage for food.

Army ants are highly organized and have specialized places in their caste system:

  • Workers
  • Soldiers
  • Queen

They’ll send out scouts to find food and then later recruit others for help to carry the food back.

You may find thousands of them in a clump together called a vicious where they hunker down and build a barrier of ants to protect the queen and larvae.

Army ants rarely stay in a stationary location as they constantly travel to find food sources. They have huge populations and need a lot of food to sustain them. When they locate food, they do a “raid” to swarm it.

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Over 3 million eggs are produced each month from a single queen. That allows the quick reproduction of ants.

Army ants are nomads

These ants cycle between a stationary and nomadic phase. After the queen deposits her eggs, they’ll start to migrate for about 15 days.

They forage, hunt, and build during the daytime and assemble their nest or bivouac during the nighttime.

When the nomadic phase ends, the larvae pupate for 20 days, protected by a bivouac with reduced foraging during this time since they no longer require food.

They’ll be stationary during this time for about 3 weeks. You’ll either find them as they forage to feed the larvae during the 15 days or the 20 days when the larvae pupate.

The army ants leave when the pupate develops into adult ants. The next generation of eggs starts to hatch to continue the cycle. The new works and larvae then repeat the cycle and the ants will leave to their new location.

This is good for most homeowners as they don’t typically deal with army ants for extended periods.

But their home may be constantly under attack by ants on their journey during the nomadic phase.

Signs of an army ant infestation

Army ants leave behind obvious signs of an infestation. It’s not hard to tell if you have them or not because of the giant colony and trail of ants.

Here are some common signs of an infestation:

  • Visible army ant “scouts” foraging for food
  • Ant colonies in your trees or soil
  • Debris or detritus clutter

Why do I have army ants?

Army ants got a bad rep from horror movies depicting swarms of them taking over their prey and killing them.

While this is hardly the case, they shouldn’t be taken lightly because they will sting when disturbed or threatened.

They’re commonly found in tropical areas and people will come across thousands of army ants feeding on prey or forming a protective barrier around the queen and larvae.

Ecitoninae spp. is a migratory ant species and will build a series of temporary nests as they do their nomadic movement.

When food sources are depleted, they leave their nest and move to a new location with a food source.

You may end up finding them in your yard or home when they establish temporary shelter, especially if you live in the southern states of the US.

They migrate constantly and will probably leave your home eventually. If you come across an army ant nest, you’ll see an above-ground colony somewhere in your yard.

You may also see them come into your house through cracks, crevices, and other crawl spaces as they forage for their temporary stay.

There’s nothing specific other than providing them a suitable environment with debris to build a nest and a food supply. If your yard has both of these requirements, then it’s favorable to army ants and that’s why you have them.

Southern states provide suitable environments and this is why they’re commonly found in yards and lawns as they do their migration across the land.

Are army ants dangerous? Can they bite?

There’s a lot of downplaying about the threat of army ants online. If you do a search, you’ll likely come to conflicting information.

Based on what I’ve seen personally, I would NOT want army ants near my home.

These buggers can destroy and kill slow-moving prey easily as they swarm it in huge numbers.

Although it’s more common in remote, rural areas with heavy infestations, you should NEVER assume army ants are harmless.

ALWAYS consult with a licensed exterminator first before attempting anything on your own.

They can give a nasty bite which can trigger an allergic reaction. If you have allergies or you’re unsure, you should AVOID contact with army ants at all costs. Get a professional exterminator to handle it for you.

Army ants can and will feed on humans when they get the chance. This doesn’t happen often in the regular household, but out in the rural areas, this is common- especially in areas where the army ants are aggressive.

This video depicts what we generally see about these ants (and why they have a bad rep):

They’re dangerous to deal with and not to be taken lightly, no matter what species you’re dealing with.

The tropical species are very aggressive and will bite, sting, or swarm. If you don’t know what species you have, hire a professional.

Additionally, army ants will bite and feed on prey many times their size. They don’t care how big their target is since they work together to take it down.

Sleeping, unconscious, or even drunk humans can all be a potential target for army ants. Never underestimate their power in numbers.

Lastly, army ants can spread bacteria and viruses. They forage and crawl and consume anything from small rodents to other insects- dead or alive.

This can track around tons of bacteria on their bodies and they can easily bring it into your home and contaminate surfaces and food. So their presence shouldn’t be ever taken lightly.

Before attempting any DIY remedy on your own, consider your level of expertise, availability of protective equipment, and how confident/knowledgeable you are about the situation.

Consult with a licensed professional before attempting any plan of action on your own. Most consults and evaluations are free from larger pest control companies.

What do army ants eat?

Army ants eating a leaf outside in the garden.
Army ants eat anything and everything.

Army ants are known for eating other species of ants, small rodents, reptiles, and medium-sized animals.

These are aggressive and carnivorous ants that will show no mercy for other species and attack them without holding back. If you think fire ants are aggressive, army ants are right up there in the ranks.

Adult army ants will only eat liquids, but younger ants can attack other ants, consume solid foods, and more.

Some of the common species army ants can kill and eat are:

  • Lizards
  • Snakes
  • Chickens
  • Goats
  • Pigs
  • Birds
  • Skunks
  • Possums
  • Raccoons
  • Spiders
  • Skinks
  • Wasps
  • Bees
  • Other ant species

They do “raids” and swarm prey, which allows them to take down larger predators many times their size.

Their forage trails can be over 100m in length and use their pheromones to travel.

Over 500,000 prey can be consumed by a single established nest per day, which is why this particular ant species needs to be on the move. They eat up prey like crazy.

This is why you need to start a plan of action for army ants right away, as they can quickly reproduce and establish a colony of ants rather quickly.

And after that’s done, they’ll hang around your home and garden and pose a threat to you, your pets, and other people.

Army ants are carnivorous, meaning they eat “meat.” This is usually the meat of other ant species, bugs, and solid foods.

Do army ants migrate?

Yes, army nats are highly nomadic and will move from one area to the next.

They don’t establish long term nests and can easily relocate if their nest is disturbed or if there’s not enough food. They have a period where they migrate during the night and rest during the day.

This will last for a few days until they reach their new destination.

Army ants construct many temporary nests during this period, so you may end up only seeing them crop up for a few days and then suddenly disappear.

It also explains why you may have army ants show up suddenly.

Where are army ants found?

Army ants infesting the yard outdoors.
Army ants live in the southern US.

Army ants are found all over the world and are highly diversified to live in a variety of environments.

There are over 200 unique species of army ants that have adapted to their environment. This makes them one of the most aggressive ant species that have a global existence.

In the US, they’re mainly found in the southern states where temperatures are warmer.

They’re also found all over Africa, South American, Central America, and even Asia.

Army ants do well alone in the wild and can be found in a wide variety of biomes, such as mountains, rainforests, swamps, volcanic islands, deserts, and tropical forests.

And of course, they can be found in homes also. If you live in a remote area, you may have army ants marching on nearby your home.

They may decide to establish a colony near your property which will then lead to an influx of ants daily. This is when homeowners usually first notice them because they march at night so they go unseen- until they build their nest and start foraging during the daytime.

Where do they build their nests?

These ants build their nests in elevated areas.

You may find their nest in your trees that are a few feet above the soil. Typically when you see a string of ants climbing up and down a tree trunk, it could very well be a nest of army ants.

During times of distress, army ants can hunker together and form a barrier by attaching themselves to protect the queen and larvae. This is called a bivouac and is a remarkable feature.

Does squashing ants attract more?

Yes, squashing ants may attract more to your home or garden because ants are cannibalistic and will eat their kind. Most people will squish ants and not clean up the dead carcasses.

This is a nutritious food source for the ant colony so they’re inclined to harvest the ant bodies and bring them back to the nest. If you squish ants, just make sure you wipe them up with an alcohol wipe or you can use vinegar and a napkin.

Both of these will clean up the ant guts and disinfect the area.

Vacuuming rarely works well because the ants are stuck to the surface.

And even if you vacuum up live ants, they can usually find their way out of most vacuum cleaners since they’re not completely sealed.

How to get rid of army ants naturally

How to get rid of army ants home remedies.
Here are some techniques you can try at home to get rid of the army ants.

Here are some tips to get rid of army ants in your home. Most of these require hardly any materials and you should have most of it already available in your kitchen pantry.

The key is to not rely on a single technique and try out a bunch of them to see what works best for you. Use them together for best effect.

Start with the easiest one and slowly move up to the more “extreme” ones.

Keep your home clean

Army ants are always on the hunt for new sources of food to sustain their ant colony.

You should keep your home clean and free of food sources that can easily be accessed by ants.

This will help get rid of army ants outside your home because they have nothing to eat from the inside of your property. If you see scouts foraging inside your home, there’s a good chance they’ve depleted all their food from the outside.

Here are some tips:

  • Never leave food out overnight
  • Remove and dispose of food immediately
  • Secure your trash can
  • Add natural ant spray or repellent around your disposal areas
  • Clean up any spills thoroughly
  • Clean up food crumbs, bits, and stains right away
  • Regularly vacuum your home
  • Eat at the table
  • Wash your dishes right after eating
  • Check your yard, basement, bathroom, and garage for food sources- army ants don’t only eat from the kitchen
  • Clean up all debris that could be eaten by ants around your property

As obvious as it sounds, keeping your home free of food will naturally keep the army ants away.

They don’t establish an ant colony where there’s no food available. This is THE most effective method to get rid of ants permanently and stop them from ever infesting your home entirely.

But it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Food crumbs get under the couch. Sticky beverage spills stain the carpet.

And that microwave won’t clean itself.

So it’s important to always keep your home clean as much as you can. Just make sure you don’t leave out obvious food sources that are easily accessible by ants.

And don’t forget- debris and detritus are also food to army ants.

This means if you have ANYTHING edible to them, it should be disposed of:

  • Food
  • Pet food
  • Bird feeders
  • Sticky residues
  • Dead pests
  • Leaf litter
  • Small rodents
  • Small animals
  • Livestock
  • Poultry
  • Trash
  • Plant debris

The most obvious, but overlooked method in the book.

Remove mulch

Remove any mulch where possible.

This material makes it easy for pests to infest and holds excess moisture which is known to bring in a variety of moisture-loving bugs.

Ants can easily dig and unearth mulch, which makes it a good material for constructing nests. Army ants may also encounter other ant species here or other bugs that they may attack.

So it’s best to eliminate mulch entirely. Never place mulch by your home and never place it within contact of your foundation.

Switch to another material that’s non-organic if you’re using it for decorative purposes. Decor is not worth the hassle of dealing with bugs found in mulch like jumping spiders, asparagus beetles, crane flies, and even sawflies. You can use sand, pebble, river rocks, or stones as a substitute.

Keep your yard tidy

Your yard is where the ants will first become attracted to your property. If you have a favorable environment for army ants, you can be sure there will be scouts that’ll scour your home for food or suitable shelter for an ant colony.

Army ants are nomadic and will build temporary nests as they migrate.

So you may have a temporary ant problem.

But even then, you shouldn’t just ignore the issue because allowing them to build a nest somewhere in your garden means future generations of army ants may also use your yard as a temporary ant “hotel.”

Besides, you don’t want to end up being the person with the stationary nest and deal with them. So get rid of them as soon as you notice signs of an infestation. Don’t wait.

Keeping your yard clean and tidy is one of the MOST effective things you can do to get rid of and prevent army ants in the first place.

Other than pruning, mowing, and regularly trimming your plants, you should also remove any and all unnecessary foliage. Plants that you no longer care for, weeds, and any overgrown foliage should be removed.

This will help keep your yard pest-free because there are fewer plants that contribute to debris- not to mention make your job of maintaining your garden easier.

Keep plants pruned

An unkempt garden proves to be a breeding ground for ants (among other pests).

With leaf litter, plant matter, and foliage everywhere, this offers them plenty of areas to hide, look for prey, and utilize for building ant colonies.

Not to mention that all this debris around the garden attracts other bugs such as plaster bagworms, soldier beetles, and carpenter ants who all love a messy yard.

Keep your yard clean by doing regular maintenance (which you should already be doing). If your garden is a huge mess, spend a weekend (or two) dedicated to just cleaning it up. Or hire a gardener to do the work for you.

Here are some pointers to keeping your yard army ant-free:

  • Get rid of or secure any water features (bird feeders, ponds, fountains, etc.)
  • Keep wood on a raised platform
  • Secure your trash bins
  • Mow the lawn regularly on a schedule
  • Keep your plants pruned
  • Harvest your fruiting plants
  • Pick up any leaf litter immediately after they shed
  • Clean up any gutters
  • Make sure drains are working
  • Avoid over-fertilizing
  • Don’t overwater your plants
  • Keep patio furniture clean
  • Keep a routine schedule for cleaning the yard
  • Remove any unnecessary plants
  • Consider replacing pest-attracting plants with pest-repelling plants like marigold or wormwood

Get rid of foliage that touches your home

Plants that grow around your house and make contact with your home’s foundation, walls, or windows are just bridges that army ants can use to come inside.

Think of them like pathways that make it easy for pests to climb in and get access to your home.

You should prune or remove these plants.

Any foliage that makes contact with your home should be monitored for pest activity. It’s best to just get rid of them altogether or relocate the plant entirely.

Check for plants that crawl on your walls, trellises, and fences.

Prune tall trees

Since army ants generally establish their nest in a tree, you want to make sure that no tree branches offer a “bridge” to your home. If you have tall trees with foliage that touches your roof, walls, or exterior, ants may use this to cross over to your house and get inside from your attic vents or damaged roofing.

Keeping your trees pruned helps- and it prevents leaf litter from falling all over your lawn as well.

So you’re killing two birds with one stone. Good for your home. Good for getting rid of army ants.

This is one way to keep army ants out of your house.

Can salt kill army ants?

Regular table salt works effectively as a DIY natural ant killer you can easily make at home.

You just need any generic table salt to make this.

Here’s how.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup table salt
  • 4 cups water
  • A boiling pot
  • Spray bottle

How to make it:

  • Add the salt to the water and stir gently.
  • Pour the mixture directly into a pot.
  • Bring to boil while stirring.
  • Let it cool to room temperature after all the salt is dissolved.
  • Pour into a spray bottle. You can store the rest in a safe container.

How to use it:

  • Simply spray the salt and water mixture wherever you suspect the army wants to be entering your home. You can use it both outside in your garden or your home.
  • Be careful about sensitive surfaces, like granite or paint, which can be damaged by salt.
  • Clean up any salt residues left behind before applying more.
  • Reapply as needed- usually when you don’t feel any more moisture.
  • You can also spray saltwater directly onto ants to kill them.
  • Army ants can bite and it can be very painful. So be careful and wear the proper protective equipment if you plan to spray them directly.
  • Consult a pest professional if you have any questions or have no idea what you’re doing.
  • This will kill army ants when used correctly.

Does vinegar kill ants?

White vinegar can be used to kill ants instantly. The lasting sour scent of vinegar can also be used as a natural repellent to keep ants away.

You can mix pure vinegar with water in equal parts and use it to clean up surfaces that have food on them.

The vinegar will clean most residues off and leave behind a scent that’s hard to detect by humans, but easily sniffed out by army ants. This will keep them out of your home without any additional effort on your part. Just use vinegar to clean your home like you usually do.

Over time, you’ll have vinegar all over common surfaces and this will act as an ant repellent.

After vinegar dries, most people can’t smell it.

Use apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be a lethal liquid to army ants.

You can spray it directly onto any ants you come across. Or you can pour it directly into the ant colony if you locate it.

The ACV will disperse through all the ant tunnels and the high acidity of it will wipe out any ants it comes into contact with. You can dilute it with equal parts water if you don’t have enough.

ACV is a natural and non-toxic pesticide that makes an effective alternative to ant poisons.

Use dish soap

Dish soap has always been a tried and true ant killer for decades. Ask any home savvy person and they’ll tell you all the bugs they’ve killed with just dish detergent.

All you need is a few cups of water and just a tablespoon of dish soap. There’s no exact formula and you can find all sorts of variations online. See what works for you.

The dish soap can be sprayed onto the army nats to kill them AND disinfect the area at the same time. The soap’s slippery texture makes cleaning up dead ants super easy also.

You can also make a big bottle of the mixture and pour it into the ant colony to drown them all.

Dish soaps work by trapping the ant into a bubble of water because of the high surface tension of soap. It prevents them from escaping and eventually kills them.

You can try different kinds of soap and adjust the concentrations as needed. Try using more soap if the army ants aren’t killed.

Here are some soaps you can use:

  • Dish soap
  • Laundry soap
  • Hand soap
  • Soy soap

Use a sugar lure station

This method works by forcing the ants to relocate to another location. Since army ants are already nomadic by nature, this may work on them. Here’s what you need to do.

Get a bag of table sugar and a shallow bowl. Add 1 part of boiling water to 1 part sugar into the bowl and stir. This will make sugary syrup water, which can be an effective way to lure the ants (or any ants) out.

You may have to experiment with the ratios to see what works. If you get no results after a few days, try more sugar and less water.

Be sure to mix it very well. It should be somewhat sticky and paste-like when you’re done mixing. Not too gooey and not too runny.

Go outside and find the army ant nest. Find a place outside that’s about 8 feet away or so and put the bowl down. Leave it out overnight.

Wait 2-3 days and be patient. Check on it daily to see if ants are eating the sugar mixture. If there are, then it’s working. The army ants will be lured to the sugar and this is when you relocate it again.

Move the bowl FARTHER away by another 8 feet or so. You’ll need to make the mixture again if it’s diluted or evaporated by then. The sunlight or rain can affect the concentrations and mess them up.

So keep the original bowl there and make the new mixture.

Then remove the old bowl and put the new one down farther away. You can make a “trail” between the two bowls to get the ants to recognize the new location.

Check to see if the ants are eating from the new bowl. If they are, then the army ants will likely relocate their nest closer to the new bowl and away from your home.

Now, get a small, dark container like a canned vegetable can and fill it up with some rocks, dirt, and plant debris.

Place it by the new bowl. Most ant species can then leave their old colony and enter the can. Army ants can be hit or miss. They may leave their original colony and establish a new one in the can. Isn’t that cool?

Now the army ants are out of your yard and away from your property! You just forced them to migrate.

You can use other substitutes than sugar, like jelly, peanut butter, and obviously candy.

Here’s a list of ant baits you can use to lure them out:

  • Plants
  • Seeds
  • Fungus
  • Nectar
  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dead bugs
  • Spreads
  • Bread
  • Sugar
  • Soup base

Ants are NOT picky and will eat just about anything. Sweet and scented foods work best to lure them out.

Use borax

Borax and sugar make a deadly combo to use against army ants.

The borax will tear them up internally and the sugar can be used as a lure. Mixing them in equal parts creates the ultimate DIY home solution!

All you need to do is get some pure borax from the laundry aisle and mix it with equal parts sugar.

Then put the mixture around the yard where you suspect army ants to present. The sugar easily lures them out and they’ll end up eating the borax at the same time once they take the sugary bait.

Since ants forage, they’ll bring the borax and sugar back to their ant colony, where all the other ants will be killed at the same time. So it’s totally passive on your part- all you need to do is make the bait.

If the ants don’t take, try mixing in some water to dilute the borax and sugar together. This will make it harder for ants to distinguish between the two substances and easier for them to take the bait.

Block off the ants

Check your home’s exterior for any possible entryways the ants could be using to infiltrate your property.

Since army ants are small, they can use the smallest crack or crevice in your home’s foundation to get inside. Once this happens, that’s all they need to form an organized, scented trail for the rest of the foragers to come.

You should do a complete inspection of your home in common areas that ants use to sneak through the walls.

Here’s a list of places to check and what to do:

  • Replace any damaged or torn window screens
  • Seal up any foundation cracks
  • Check sewage and drains for cracks
  • Check electrical panels for ant activity
  • Caulk up extra space around plumbing outlets or inlets
  • Replace or seal damaged weatherstripping
  • Fix or replace damaged vents, grates, or filters
  • Check your HVAC unit for signs of army ants
  • Look for peeling or torn wallpaper
  • See if your patio door is fully sealed

Spending some time patching up your home will help reduce the chances of ants getting inside. This will also aid to stop other bugs also, as a well-sealed home will naturally be a barrier for bugs that infest homes.

No way inside means no ants to deal with on your morning routine.

Flood the colony

Here’s a fun one. You can flood the entire ant colony with a toxic mixture that’ll wipe out any army ants it catches during the “flood.”

You’ll need a hose sprayer attachment to do this unless you have access to many large containers to store water.

This only works if there’s an actual ant nest. It doesn’t work against ants that have assembled in a barrier of ant bodies around the queen.

Put on your gloves, goggles, and long-sleeved shirt and pants. Wear some closed-toed work boots. And get the rest of your PPE on.

First, make the mixture using water and vinegar. You can also use water and dish soap. Or you can make your own by mixing them. I use 1 part water to 1 part vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dish soap. But you’ll need a lot- enough to fill a few gallons.

After you make 3-4 gallons of the solution, store it into a 5-gallon bucket or some other container. Take it all to the ant colony. For army ants, you’ll probably find it hidden under foliage in a tree in your backyard or front lawn.

You can also add some apple cider vinegar, borax, or table salt. All of these are harmful to army ants and make excellent home remedies to kill them.

Next, take the hose to the ant nest and fill up the hose sprayer with the mixture.

Depending on the volume of your sprayer, this can be very tedious if you have a small sprayer.

And finally, start flooding the colony. Find the area where you see army ants entering and exiting the ant tunnels and shove the hose nozzle into it. Flip on the sprayer and start spraying.

The water will come out of your sink mixed with the vinegar, dish soap, or whatever other ant killers you used. The entire ant colony gets flooded with the stuff and will destroy most army ants that are caught in the torrent.

When the sprayer gets low, fill it again with your quick access containers.

You’ll know when the entire nest is flooded because water will start leaking out from the edges of the nest.

As you flood, all the liquid drains from the bottom. But once it REALLY floods, you’ll see it spout from the edges.

When you’re done, the ant nest may fall apart into clumps. You can consider it destroyed. Clean up the bits and pieces and safely dispose of them. Watch out for any army ants that are still present because they may bite.

Hire a pro

If you can’t handle it on your own, consider just hiring a professional to take care of it for you.

Most pest control companies will do a free home inspection to check out the infestation and assess a plan of action. After all, army ants can reproduce quickly so time is critical during the early signs of an ant problem.

Do your research on local pest control companies and see what they offer.

Opt for natural or alternative, green treatments when possible. Get some quotes and compare them.

Most larger companies will have some kind of guarantee where they’ll continue to treat the pest until they’re fully eradicated.

What do ants hate the most?

Army ant nest
Floods are a natural disaster for army ants.

Ants hate being disturbed. If they have a constant disturbance to their nest, such as flooding waters, they’ll relocate to another area.

Food is the primary motivator for their nesting site. Thus, if you remove all possible traces of food and they have nothing to eat, they’ll leave on their own. This is easier said than done.

What is the best homemade ant killer?

For DIY junkies, the majority will agree that borax and sugar make an effective combination to use against army ants.

The sugar draws them in as a bait and the borax will kill them once they bring it back to the ant colony.

Borax is deadly to ants, spiders, booklice, drain flies, flea beetles, concrete mites, and many other pests.

Plus, it’s cheap to buy in bulk. Borax is a common active ingredient used in ant traps, but you’re paying a premium for them to package it nicely into a piece of plastic. Just make your ant trap at home with borax, sugar, and any dark, small container.

Borax and sugar mixed together in a 1:1 ratio will make a quick, effective, and cheap DIY ant killer.

You’ll want to keep pets and people away as borax may be harmful when used incorrectly (such as being eaten).

How do I get rid of ants overnight?

The fastest way to get rid of army ants overnight is to wait until they leave on their own. They migrate often and this can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks.

But if you can’t wait that long, you can consider flooding the nest, using borax and sugar, or lure them to relocate their nest. These are all quick ways to eliminate them from your property.

How do I get rid of army ants permanently?

An army ant macro shot showing the jaw.
Deterring army ants permanently isn’t easy and will require a yard free of debris.

Army ants migrate and even when you drive one colony out, another may infest your property.

After all, it was good enough for one colony, so it’s probably good enough for another. If you don’t want army ants to ever come back to your home, you need to get rid of ALL sources of possible food. No food means no nest.

They only migrate to seek out available food to feed their starving population. If there’s no food, they won’t build a nest.

This means you need to clean up your yard until there’s absolutely NOTHING for them to eat. This is difficult because you need to control all your plants, other bugs, and also watch for any leaf litter.

You should also seal up your home to prevent them from crawling inside to scout for food. Even if you have them in the garden, they still can’t come into your house.

Combining the two proves to be an effective measure to get rid of army ants and deter them permanently.

Further reading

Here are some additional references you may find useful on your quest to rid these ants:

Did you get rid of those pesky army ants?

Army ants marching.
Army ants are difficult to completely eliminate, but you can control and manage them.

You should now have a good understanding of how to control, manage, and eradicate army ants.

Remember that this particular ant species is nomadic, so the ant problems you’re dealing with may soon be over.

But you can speed it up by using a few of the home remedies listed here like vinegar, borax, dish soap, and even table salt to get rid of them quickly.

Try a few different remedies out and see what works best for you. Use a few at the same time to quickly find out what works and what doesn’t.

Every ant situation is different. But by using multiple techniques at the same time, you can be efficient.

If you have any questions or tips to share, post them below. Or if you found this page to be somewhat helpful on your quest to eliminate these ants, let me know also.

Thanks for reading.

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