If you’re dealing with an ant invasion, you’re familiar with the skin-crawling feeling you get seeing them swarm an area. It’s unnerving, but easy to handle. There’s quite a few effective ways to remove ants fast!
To effectively get rid of ants overnight, do any one or a combination of the following:
- Deep clean your home
- Use ant foam or spray insecticide
- Pour boiling water on anthills
- Utilize scents that ants hate to disrupt their sense of smell
- Create a chalk barrier
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth near the ants
The rest of this article will go into detail on these overnight fixes and how to implement them against ants. By the end of it, you’ll feel confident and prepared to take on those ants successfully!
Why Are Ants Invading My House?
It turns out it is really easy to get an ant invasion in your house! Largely because most people don’t follow a strict regimen of cleaning and sealing up food.
If you’re like me, you’ve unknowingly dropped a scrap of food on the ground and didn’t discover it until the next day.
That’s all it takes for ants. Their sense of smell is strong so it doesn’t take long for them to head to your house in droves!
Weather also has a significant effect on ant activity, to the point where it sometimes doesn’t even matter if your house is spotless. A study by researchers at Stanford University on Argentine ants found that the majority of ant invasions happen during winter rain storms or summer droughts.
The study also found that pesticides had little effect on preventing the invasions other than reducing the overall number of ants in the home. Luckily, they worked once applied after the invasion.
Take a look at our article on why ants are in your room (even if there’s no food). Even spotless homes are at risk!
Why Are Ants So Hard to Get Rid Of?
Unfortunately, total extermination is not always possible. Ant colonies are widely diverse in numbers that can range from a thousand to hundreds of thousands, meaning it takes a varied amount of time to get rid of them.
Besides the nematode, ants have the largest animal population in the world with up to 10 quadrillion of them roaming the Earth at one time!
There are several reasons why these invaders are so hard to get rid of. It’s not impossible, there are just so many of them! Extermination can sometimes be a big effort.
Getting rid of all of the roaming ants in your house most likely didn’t make a dent in the population of the colony where the invaders came from, so you might have to take it a step further.
You might get lucky and discover their colony housed in an anthill in your yard. Unfortunately, ants are crafty and can make a nest in numerous places in and around your house like cracks in the foundation or crawl spaces, so you won’t always see an anthill.
Single colony houses around a couple of thousand ants, so while you can get rid of all the ones in your house, you can be sure that some will be waiting from the sidelines for you to slip up and leave food unopened.
Even when you destroy the nest, the colony has not been eliminated. As soon as they’re threatened, ants scatter at lightning speed and many of them escape during the extermination process.
And don’t forget there are still thousands of ants roaming about the area searching for food that can easily make a new colony somewhere else.
If you feel defeated after finding out how resilient they can be, don’t worry! There are a variety of fixes, both short and long-term, that you can use to get rid of them. Depending on your situation, sometimes they can even work overnight.
Does this seem too good to be true? It’s not!
Can Ants Even Go Away Overnight?
So, you’re dealing with an ant invasion. It’s annoying, but luckily there are several things to do if you find ants in your house.
Let’s dive into things you can do right now for overnight relief from the invasion.
Yes, in some cases your ant problem can be solved in just one day. This all depends on the size of the colony (or colonies!) that are invading your house.
With the fixes below, it shouldn’t take longer than two weeks to get rid of your ant problem. You should call a professional after this amount of time has passed and you still haven’t seen any changes.
How To Get Rid Of Ants Overnight
Clean and Sanitize Your Home to Keep Ants Away
It will be virtually impossible to get rid of ants overnight if you don’t clean up what brought them there in the first place. So it goes without saying that this is the most important step!
Whether it’s a small honey spill or an overflowing trash can, every scrap of food should be cleaned up and sealed away to keep ants from coming back, according to entomologists at North Carolina State University.
The most effective anti-ant cleaning solution is a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. This is because it both overwhelms the ant’s sense of smell and gets rid of the trail of pheromones that ants leave behind for others to follow.
Don’t use vinegar on granite, marble, waxed wood, or ceramic. It’s acidic and will damage these materials. Use approved cleaners as usual for these surfaces.
Other than that, you can use a regular store-bought cleaning spray or one made with dish soap to clean surfaces and eliminate ants. Simply spray directly onto the ants and wipe away.
A guideline released by the University of California recommends hot, soapy water for cleaning the area for anbots, especially entry points, because like vinegar it also eliminates on contact and removes scent trails.
If you’d like to learn more about the vinegar method, we wrote a detailed guide on how vinegar repels ants here!
Overwhelm The Ants’ Sense of Smell
Ants have an incredible sense of smell. It drives everything they do.
A study conducted by entomologists found that an ant’s sense of smell (pheromones) is so advanced that it drives all of their social behaviors. Everything they do is driven by the odors they give off. They can even detect a foreign ant from a different colony!
If they can sniff out an enemy ant, then they can certainly sniff out that stray pretzel your toddler left on the kitchen floor!
The good news is that you can use this to your advantage. If you overwhelm the ants’ sense of smell, they won’t be able to properly communicate with each other or find food to bring back to their nest.
There are many scents that ants hate. Some of them include cayenne pepper, citrus, and cinnamon.
You can read our full list on the scents that ants hate and how to use them here!
Apply Insecticide In areas You find ants
Using Ant Spray
When you’re spraying insecticide, make sure that all of your food is sealed and any food-related surfaces and utensils are put away or cleaned afterward.
Don’t use it as an area spray. Instead, concentrate on specific areas where ants like to swarm.
Apply the insecticide to the corners, baseboards, doors, windows, closets, water pipes, under appliances, attic, eaves, sinks, drawers, and other areas you’ve seen the ants crawl around.
You may want to try Ortho Home Defense Indoor & Perimeter for this job. It’s odorless, comes with a comfort wand for easy application, and can last up to twelve months.
For an all-natural option, consider Mighty Mint Natural Spray for Pests. It contains a main active ingredient of peppermint oil!
Using Ant Foam
The other type of insecticide you can use for eliminating ants is foam. Foam is a great option because it’s long-lasting and easy to use.
Foam insecticide is specially made to reach into and around the crevices of your home and fill them with insecticide, eliminating ants on contact. It even comes with a thin extender applicator to get into small spaces!
Apply a foam insecticide like Ortho Home Defense for Cracks & Crevices on any surface you’d spray a liquid form of, making sure to get it into the corners and any holes and crevices that ants could use to get inside.
These surfaces include window and door sills, underneath appliances, and around water pipes.
Make sure not to spray this product into the air as it’s made only for surfaces. You should apply it directly to nests or spots you see congregations of them.
Also, make sure the foam is dry before reentering the room you applied the foam!
Drown Out Anthills With Boiling Water
A simple way to get rid of ants is to use boiling water to eliminate ants via their anthills. All you have to do is pour it down the entry hole and let it fill every crevice. The ants will be affected instantly.
Remember that this won’t eliminate all of the ants in that colony because many of them are outside of the nest seearching for food.
Use Chalk To Deter Ants
It may seem odd, but chalk is a good way of keeping ants away from specific areas. There aren’t many studies into why it works, but it’s thought that the calcium carbonate throws off their sense of smell and confuses them.
Basically, chalk disrupts ant communication systems. And it’s pretty effective.
Using chalk as ant repellent is easy enough. All you have to do is draw in areas where you’ve seen ants. Pay special attention to windows, doors, cracks, and crevices around the home.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth Where You find Ants
This is a super cheap, easy, and non-toxic option for getting rid of ants. It is fossilized algae, but the edges have become so jagged and sharp over time that they cut into an insect’s soft exoskeleton on contact and fatally dehydrate them.
I suggest using Safer Diatomaceous Earth Ant & Crawling Insect for this job.
Diatomaceous earth works best in the driest areas. The University of California suggests sprinkling a generous amount of it around in wide, thin layers.
The ants will need to walk across it to be affected, so they suggest applying it along their trails too. It will take up to 48 hours for them to dehydrate and be fully affected.
The best part about diatomaceous earth is that you’ll never need to switch to different formulas because ants will never become immune to its effects!
As a bonus, as long as it stays dry, it works forever! You’ll never need to apply it again because the edges of the earth will always be jagged, cutting into the insect’s exoskeleton with ease.
Long-Term Solutions For Keeping Ants Away
Most of the methods above will work over time, but there are other things you should do on top of them to lower the chances of ants coming back again.
Use Bait Stations
Using bait is a really simple way to get rid of ants that requires virtually no effort. For the TERRO T300B Liquid Baits, all you have to do is open the bait station and place it somewhere that a lot of ants can get to quickly.
When you use bait stations to eliminate ants, be prepared to see a lot of them. It can’t work if it doesn’t attract the horde that’s invading your home. But as long as they are heading to the bait, you know it’s working.
They’ll ingest that bait and bring it back to their colony, causing devastating effects and taking out thousands of them.
You should also be prepared to see ants for up to a couple of weeks after you’ve placed the bait station, as they are slower acting than sprays or foam that eliminate on contact.
You can read our guide here to learn more about the smells and scents that attract ants to know where to put these stations!
Sealing Your Home to keep Ants From Getting In
There’s no better way to keep pests out of the home than sealing it up. Plugging up or closing any holes, gaps, or cracks that expose your house to the outdoors and provide a highway into your house goes a long way for pest prevention.
Use caulk to plug up these areas. Pay special attention to the holes that pipes and wires go through as they are one of an ant’s favorite gateways into houses. For larger holes and gaps, use foam sealant.
Check the windows and doors for damages that expose the home to the outdoors. Make replacements as needed. Lastly, weatherstrip the doors to close the gaps between them and the floor.
If you’re also using an exterminator for long-term ant prevention, they might inject a special pesticide made with silica aerogel into these cracks and crevices before caulking, which shuts ants out for good.
Harness the Power of Nature against ants
Filling your house with plants can have more benefits than just improved air quality and visual appeal as there are many indoor plants and houseplants that repel ants.
If you catch a swarm of ants in your garden you can use the methods above to get rid of them, like cleaning up the area and applying insecticide. Some are specially made for use in the garden as well.
You can learn more about the reasons why you have anthills in your yard to clear them out and keep them away for good!
When Should I Call in a Professional?
Getting rid of ants isn’t a process that follows a rigid schedule. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks to fully get rid of ants from the house.
The best way to figure out how severe your situation is and how long it’ll take to eliminate them is to call a professional pest control service.
If you’ve tried everything you can to get rid of the ants in your house and they’re still crawling around, it’s time to call the professionals. You can use our pest control finder service to find an exterminator near you!
So, you’ve set up ant traps, sprayed repellents and deep cleaned your home. Now what?
The next steps are simply to wait and keep clean. Food left out will only worsen the problem and the methods above might not always work overnight. The key is patience.
With or without a professional, getting rid of ants can be a difficult task that takes longer than we’d like it to. But now that you’ve read this article, you’re ready to take on the challenge and exterminate the invaders!
Alder, Patricia, and Michael Waldvogel. “A Guide to House-Invading Ants and Their Control.” NC State Extension College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, North Carolina State University, 30 June 2018.
Gordon, Deborah M., et al. “Effect of Weather on Infestation of Buildings by the Invasive Argentine Ant, Linepithema Humile (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).” The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 146, no. 2, Oct. 2001, pp. 321–28.
Miller, Earlene. “Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control.” UC Master Gardener Program, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, 17 Dec. 2011.
Rust, M. K., and D. H. Choe. “Ants Management Guidelines.” Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, Oct. 2012.
Sharma, Kavita R., et al. “Cuticular Hydrocarbon Pheromones for Social Behavior and Their Coding in the Ant Antenna.” Cell Reports, vol. 12, no. 8, Aug. 2015, pp. 1261–71.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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