When To Call an Exterminator for Ants: 8 Signs You Need Ant Pest Control Pro

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | January 4, 2024

Man being carried off in his chair by ants wonders when to call an exterminator for ants and ant pest control options, as well as signs of ant infestation, and how to kill types of ants, when to call pest control for ants.

Knowing when to call an exterminator for ants can be crucial in maintaining a pest-free home, as a few stray ants in the house generally don’t pose a significant threat.

Ants may seem cute and harmless, especially when you meet them outside the field. They are hardworking and tend to mind their business.

However, if they focus this hard work on any structure or home, they can cause serious damage.

Homemade remedies can easily deal with some ant infestations. But others are serious and need the intervention of a professional.

This guide outlines the signs that indicate when to call an exterminator for ants, and offers practical options for controlling ants before it gets to that point.

Do You Need a Professional Ant Exterminator?

Yes, if you have an ant menace, it is advisable to seek a professional exterminator. They have immense experience handling ants and the dangerous chemicals used to kill them.

Something which not everyone is well-versed in.

Plus, an exterminator not only kills the ants but also ensures that re-infestation does not occur. If you are still debating on when to call an exterminator for ants, do it as soon as you spot the ants.

Graphic of ant prevention methods, showing illustrations of individuals sealing access points and cleaning to remove food sources as strategies to prevent ant infestations.

How do you know when to call an exterminator for ants? Well, this piece unravels 8 signs that show you need more than just a do-it-yourself remedy.

When To Call Pest Control for Ants: 8 Signs You Need Ant Pest Control Pro

If you notice any of the following signs, do not hesitate to take action and call an ant pest control pro to prevent serious pest infestation:

1. Ants In and Around the House

The first sign of an ant infestation is when you continually see ants in your home. Ants are usually attracted by food sources.1

Therefore, the most probable place to find them is in the kitchen.

If you spot a trail of ants swarming the kitchen cabinets or even floors,9 take a step. You need to deal with the problem as soon as possible.

Yes, they might seem few and harmless, but they could be a sign of a bigger problem.

Ants run complex ecosystems, where each ant in the network has a specialized role. If you see a few ants around the house, do not assume they might be there to survey.

They might have been sent to scout for food.

If your home presents a good food source for them, be sure that more are coming. As worker ants leave their nests to scout for food, they leave behind a trail of distinct scents for others to follow.

When they find food, they mark the area by secreting large amounts of pheromones.

The other ants can then follow the scent trail to the pheromones and invade the place. Therefore, never wait until the entire colony is on your doorstep.

Use your homemade pest control remedy or call a professional when you see the ants.

2. Anthills Around Your Home

Anthills are a sign of ants in an area.2 Ants make their nests underground; the anthills are just the tip of an iceberg.

What lies below those nests is undoubtedly a shocker.

An ants’ nest can hold more than 50,000 ants. This means that a few of them around your home pose a real issue.

Sometimes, the nests are not as close to the house, and you might tend to assume them. A piece of advice: do not.

These ants or the ant mounds can easily cause harm to children or animals in your home.

It is always better to take haste action and deal with the menace before it reaches your indoors. Also, ensure you continually do a thorough inspection around your home to identify even the hidden ant nests.

3. Sins of Sawdust or Wood Shavings

You should never ignore any trails of wood shavings or sawdust in or around your home. Why?

This could be a sign of carpenter ant infestation brewing.

Carpenter ants are known to build their nests in wood-made structures. They are also famous for their love of chewing wood, leaving a trail of sawdust.

Carpenter ants can be a serious danger to your home. They could cause serious damage to wooden structures, leaving you with huge, unplanned repair bills.

Subsequently, you need to deal with this ant issue as fast as possible. In fact, if you were wondering when to call an exterminator for ants, a sight of carpenter ants is.

4. New Bad Odor in the House

If you notice a new irritating odor in your house, you might be having an ant infestation. Some ants, like the odorous house ants, produce a terrible odor when crushed.3

Since ants are small insects that usually roam the floors, stepping on them and crushing them is common. When you do, they produce that terrible smell comparable to that of rotten coconuts.

If you notice such a smell, even without a prior sighting of the ants, take another look. The ants may be hiding in clear sight.

Once you have identified the presence of these ants, work out the best solution to handle them. If it is not a serious issue, you can use homemade pest control remedies.

In case of a serious infestation, call your pest control professional.

5. Strange Sounds from the Walls

Ants can easily get into your house walls through the tiniest openings or cracks. As they move within the walls, you might notice new sounds.

You might not see them yet as they travel under the cover of the walls. However, a major ant infestation might be brewing.

While it might be hard to determine with certainty that you are dealing with ants, you still need to take action. Usually, if it is a serious infestation, you can easily hear those noises as the colony moves around.

The best thing is to put your ear against the wall and listen. If there is consistent rustling, then there might be some serious activities taking place within those walls.

In such cases, a professional pest control service is desirable. This ensures that you get rid of the ants without causing any damage to your walls.

6. Ants in Your Food Store

Ants, as with many animals and insects, are attracted to food sources. Your food store is undoubtedly a major attraction.

If you start noticing ant trails in your food store, just know that a major infestation is on the way. As mentioned earlier, ant colonies first send worker ants to do a survey on the availability of food sources.10

Ants on a green fruit dotted with fresh water droplets.

(Image: Alexas_Fotos14)

When the worker ants find a good food source, they send a word to the rest of the colony.

If the entire colony finds its way into your food store, this might turn into an uncontrollable menace. Before it gets to that, take precautions and measures to control or combat the ants.

The best route to follow here is to call a professional ant exterminator.

When To Call an Exterminator for Ants (Potential Damage)

Identifying the signs is not enough. You must know when to call an exterminator for ants or when to handle the problem yourself.

The truth is some infestations are not too serious, and home remedies can work.

Here are the instances when calling a professional exterminator is the most viable solution:

7. When You Are Worried About Damage to Your Home

Ants do not eat wood, which is unlike termites. However, wood-dwellers can cause substantial damage to buildings as they chew the wood to create their nests.4

A good example of such ants is the carpenter ants. These ants love to build their homes in hollow spaces.

They chew through wooden structures to create their nest. This continues as the colony grows and poses a serious danger to a building.

Therefore, if you notice some sawdust trails around a structure or your house, be alert. Identify the cause, and if it is wood-dwelling ants, call your pest exterminator.

If not controlled early, carpenter ants can chew their way through an entire building. Before you know it, they have already caused serious structural damage.

8. Persistent Ant Infestations

Sometimes, ants, like most other pests, can be persistent.5 You eliminate them today, but tomorrow they are back.

If you experience such a scenario, then your methods are not working.

You need to call an ant exterminator to help solve the problem for you. A licensed professional has the knowledge and remedies to ensure that your persistent problem is solved.

They can also offer advice on how to best prevent a recurrent infestation of these ants.

How To Get Rid of Ants: Best Ant Pest Control Methods

How, then, do you end this menace?

Thankfully, there are some treatments for ants that you can do before calling in a professional exterminator.

Graphic showing the best ant pest control methods, including chemical pesticides, organic solutions, ant baits, ant fumigation, and homemade repellents.

Unravel the best control methods that have been proven to work.

Use Chemical Pesticides

Chemical pesticides are the easiest and most common ways of combating ants. These chemicals can kill ants and disrupt their scent trails, preventing colonies from reaching your house.

Therefore, if you notice a few ants in your house or outdoors, you can try chemical pesticides.

The only danger with chemical pesticides is that they are environmentally unsafe. Some might also pose a significant danger to animals or kids in your household.

Various studies show that pesticides contain harmful chemicals. They can easily cause respiratory, neurological, and reproductive issues.

Some pesticides also cause terminal illnesses like cancer.11 In other words, while they get rid of your ants’ problem, their continuous use can cause devastating problems.

Organic Ant Control Methods

No one wants to harm themselves or their families in the name of eliminating ants. Also, many people now acknowledge the importance of protecting the environment.

So, how to get rid of ants with these in mind?

The answer: organic pest control.

There are several organic ant control options that have become increasingly popular because they are deemed safe for both humans and the environment. Usually, they use natural, non-toxic ingredients to eliminate the ants.

For example, you can use substances like vinegar, borax, essential oils, or diatomaceous earth.

All these substances are easy to acquire and are also inexpensive. This way, they save you money and health complications that might arise from the use of chemical pesticides.

Use Ant Baits

Instead of using pesticides, you can also use baits to kill the ants. This method involves poisoning the foods that ants like and using them as bait.

You can mix sweet or sugary carbohydrates with toxic substances that kill ants. The ants are attracted by the bait, and when they consume it, they die.

If they take this back to their queen, it can help eliminate the entire colony.

Boric acid is an excellent substance to use to eliminate the ants. It is safe for animals and humans, making it a better option.

Ant Fumigation

If you are dealing with an entire colony, then this is a serious infestation. It requires a more serious approach than just the use of pesticides or home remedies.

Ant fumigation can help you to eliminate large ant infestations permanently. This means you get rid of even those ants hiding deep in their nests.

The process involves spraying ant nests with potent pesticides to destroy them right from their source.

However, some nests might be hard to reach, especially the ones built within the walls, roofs, or floors. That is why you need to call in a professional fumigator.

In most cases, other remedies like borax or essential oils eliminate ants in open spaces. Those hidden deep in the nest, including their queen, need a more effective method like fumigation.

Otherwise, the problem keeps coming back as you have not dealt with the root cause.

Homemade Ant Repellent Solutions

Even without killing the ants, you can still keep them off your property. You can do this by using homemade solutions that are both effective and environmentally friendly.

Black or red pepper is a potent solution here. They act as a natural repellent or deterrent to the ants.

Ants find the smell of ground pepper irritating and, hence, avoid going near it.

All you have to do is to sprinkle some of the ground pepper in areas where you notice ants’ activities. This could be in the kitchen cabinets or behind appliances like the refrigerator.

Peppermint can also be an excellent ant repellent. You only need to make a solution with around 20 drops of peppermint essential oil and two cups of water.

Then, use a spray bottle to spray the mixture around your home.

Spray in areas around windows, baseboards, and kitchen cabinets. Do this regularly to keep the ants off your house.

Main Types of Ant Infestations

Dealing with ant infestations is much easier when you have unraveled the type of ants you are dealing with.6

A close-up view of ants gathering around a pile of granules in a plastic spoon on a brown surface, illustrating the need for ant pest control measures.

(Image: 471756215)

Here are some common ant infestations and how to handle them:

1. Carpenter Ants Infestation

These types of ants are pretty easy to identify with their black or red and black color.6,12 They are also among the biggest species, making them easier to spot.

Carpenter ants are common in states like Florida but are not as easy to eliminate as they are easy to spot.

These types of ants love wood, especially wet or moldy wood. They chew their way through the wood, creating a network of nests, which continues to grow as the colony enlarges.

Since they also like wet areas, you are likely to find them in areas with water sources.

If you do not deal with the infestation hastily, you might end up with huge damage to your wooden structures. They might not eat the wood, but they use the chippings to make their nests.

When To Call an Exterminator for Ants: How To Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are not easy to eliminate. They build their nests inside wooden walls, roofs, or floors, making them hard to access.

Therefore, while using home remedies or pesticides kill some, the larger colony is not affected.

Thus, for those thinking how to get rid of carpenter ants effectively, the answer lies in professional intervention.

If you were not sure when to call an exterminator for ants, carpenter ants call for just that. The exterminator can fumigate them with more effective pesticides to get rid of the entire colony.

Carpenter Ant Treatment Cost

Getting rid of carpenter ants is not cheap. The average price for a single treatment can range from $80 to $500.8

You might need to do more than one treatment if the infestation in your home is massive.

You can easily be required to conduct up to four treatments depending on the size of the infestation. This can cost you between $400 and $1,400.

Several factors influence exterminator prices. These include the number of treatments, extermination method, nest accessibility, and the type of ant infestation.

2. Fire Ants

Fire ants are smaller than carpenter ants and come in reddish-brown skins. However, despite their small size, they are more aggressive and ready to attack.

Fire ants love tropical climates. They are also fond of open, outdoor spaces like yards.

Here, they can easily build their ant mounds using sand.

Unlike many other ants, fire ants are venomous.7 This means that when they sting, they leave an itchy feeling on the skin.

If a human is stung by several fire ants, they might need to seek medical attention.

How To Get Rid of Fire Ants

Due to their aggressive nature, fire ants are harder to eliminate using home remedies. You want something that can get rid of them once and for all to eliminate the danger they pose.

For example, they can be quite dangerous to your household, especially to people with allergic reactions to their biting.

In this case, the best way to deal with fire ants is to call a professional exterminator. You should do so once you notice their nests outdoors or once they start encroaching on the house.

3. Sugar Ants

Sugar ants are small types of ants that are usually harmless to humans. They are also known as ghost ants and mostly love humid climates.

Sugar ants feed mostly on plant foliage and,13 hence, are more prevalent outdoors.

Once they feed, they produce a substance known as honeydew, which they leave sticking to the plants. Honeydew attracts other types of insects and ants, leading to larger infestations.

Sugar ants can also get inside your house as they look for food. Your kitchen, cabinets, and behind appliances are the most common areas to find sugar ants.

How To Get Rid of Sugar Ants

Trimming the bushes is the first solution when combating sugar ants. Since the ants love eating plant leaves, eliminating their source of food means no infestation.

If the infestation is already significant, googling ‘how to get rid of sugar ants’ won’t be of any help. Call an ant exterminator right away to help solve the issue for you.

Ant Prevention Methods

Prevention is always better than cure. If you can prevent ant infestations before they occur, the better.

A group of ants in sharp detail, providing insight in the development of ant prevention methods.

(Image: gamagapix16)

This section unravels the best solutions to help you with ant prevention:

Remove Food Sources

Ants follow food sources. Keeping your home tidy without food lying around can help to keep off the ants.

The first step here is to ensure you wipe clean the kitchen floors, counters, and dining areas. Keep your food in sealed containers to prevent the ants from accessing them.

The fruits should also be hidden in the refrigerator.

Also, always ensure that your garbage cans have their lids on. This way, they do not act as a nest site for some stubborn ants.

Block Off All Access Points

Sometimes, you might not notice an infestation until it is too late. However, taking time to inspect in and around your house can help identify them early.

This way, you can take necessary measures to prevent significant infestations in the house.

Identify and trim off bushes near your home. These give the ants easy access to your house.

You should also trim trees as the branches offer an excellent highway for ants to reach indoors.

Look for any cracks or crevices on your walls and seal them off with silicone caulk. This ensures that the ants have no easy access to your house.

If ants persist despite your efforts to seal entry points, this could indicate a larger infestation, signaling when to call an exterminator for ants.

Frequently Asked Questions About When To Call an Exterminator for Ants

Which Are the Best Pest Control for Cars?

There are numerous ways to eliminate pests from your car, depending on the type of pest. One method of pest control for cars when dealing with ants, for instance, is to lure them with ant baits or use pesticides and insecticides for effective removal.

What Is the Best Way To Starve Ants?

Since ants invade a home in search of food, you can starve them to get rid of them. The first solution is to wipe and vacuum the floors and the countertops, as even seemingly clean surfaces may harbor sugar particles and other crumbs upon closer inspection.


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14Ants on a Green Fruit Photo by Alexas_Fotos / Alexa. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/peony-flower-bud-ants-rain-1414875/>

15Ants on a Plastic Spoon Photo by 4717562. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/ant-sugar-spoon-cute-nature-team-2647202/>

16Close up of Ants Photo by gamagapix / Gabi. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/ants-water-insects-hard-working-4949166/>