How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants – 3 Tips Before you call the Exterminator.

Sugar ants are the annoying little critters that come in their droves and are never a welcome guest in any situation. If you have a problem with Sugar Ants in your Home, our guide will give you 3 reasons not to call the Exterminator.

how to get rid of sugar ants
Damon Lovell

by Damon Lovell |

September 5, 2022 | Last Updated September 5, 2022

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants – In 3 Quick and Easy Steps!

Three steps that you need to be doing to remove sugar ants.

  1. Remove Their Food Source.
  2. Use a Non Repellent Ant Killer.
  3. Use an Ant Bait to take back to Colony.

“To fully understand the process of getting rid of sugar ants we firstly need to understand a little more about this species of ant and how they differ from the common household ant.

how to get rid of sugar ants

What is a Sugar Ant

Sugar ants are a common household pest that can cause real havoc if left untreated and allowed to manifest in or outside of your home.

Commonly known as Sugar ants or odorous house ants, their scientific name is Tapinoma sessile. They are not harmful to humans or pets, do not sting or bite and if left unchecked can infiltrate the family home in very large numbers.

Sugar ants are a real nuisance in the family home as they can swarm over leftover food and crumbs in very large numbers, especially after rainy weather and in Springtime.

Sugar ants love sweet foods and scraps. Once they find a food source, they’ll haul food back to their nest for the rest of the colony and return for more creating a sugar ant infestation.

budding ants

Why is a Sugar Ant different from a normal ant?

In order to try to eliminate our Sugar ant problem, firstly we need to understand how they differ from our normal household ant.

A sugar ants, also know as odorous house ants are a Multi Queened ant species that can have colonies that number in the hundreds of thousands. They are also known as Budding Ants, meaning they are very content to share multiple queens rather than being devoted to only the one queen like the common ant colonies.

Odorous house ants are not fussy when determining where to make their nest. Locations include…

  • Wall Cavities
  • Under Sub Flooring
  • Under pavement.
  • Under stacked fire wood.
  • In vacated termite nests

The Sugar ant colony relies on multiple queens as a means of reproduction and protection, and in many cases one or more of the queens may leave the group to establish a sugar ant nest of their own somewhere else.

What do Sugar Ants look like?

It is important to be able to identify sugar ants so that we can take the correct approach in the treatment.

The male and female sugar ant look different from each other. The male sugar ant is winged and is completely black The female sugar ant however is wingless and is more of an orange brown in color.

Sugar ants will be anywhere from 2mm to 5mm in length and can have a real rotten coconut smell to them when squashed. 

Why is it so Important to treat Sugar Ants differently from normal ants?

Because sugar ants are a “Multi Queened” species, or what is commonly known as a “Budding Ant”, it is extremely important to understand how fragmenting or fracturing can occur within the colony.

Fragmenting is when the sugar ant colony splits into two, three or even more individual colonies when one or more of the queens detect a threat.

This occurs when the various queens within a nest detect that there is something foreign or detrimental in their environment, such as a barrier treatment that you have put down in a door entrance or crack somewhere for example, and then they spread. Each queen will go in a different direction and start a new nest.

What is Insect Budding?

Insect budding occurs whenever one group of social insects splits and some of its members depart to start a new colony elsewhere. Often, a queen is needed, and only certain classes or castes within the colony are able to colonize in this manner.


We have all probably experienced this without realizing it. The sugar ants started in the kitchen, you sprayed down the area, they’ve left but now you have them in the bathroom as well as the garage.

If budding occurs, your ant problem will grow exponentially and spread throughout the entire home.

What is the best treatment to use to avoid this Budding from occurring? Use a Non Repellent product in conjunction with ant baits.

When used properly, these products are not detectable by sugar ants or any other type of ant and will not cause this budding to occur. Once you have applied these products, the sugar ants will continue their daily business completely unaware of the treatment.

Will Home Remedies work to Eliminate Sugar Ants?

Everyone will be familiar with the following home remedies….

  • Spraying White Vinegar on all the ants pheromone trails.
  • Using ground coffee beans to repel the ants.
  • Making a lemon and  water mix.
  • Sprinkling ground pepper or cinnamon over the surfaces.
  • Using a Repellent spray around door openings.

Whilst all these home remedies will work on the common household ant, They will fail each and every time against a Budding Ant species like Sugar Ants.

All that these solutions are relying on is to repel the sugar ants from the areas that you are treating, and as already mentioned, the Sugar ant will detect this deterrent, relay back to the nest and the colony will respond by splitting up and re-establishing themselves somewhere else.

So the only way to combat the Sugar Ant is to attack them at the source….The nest.

3 Steps How to Get Rid of Sugar ants

how to get rid of sugar ants

Step 1 – Remove Their Food Source.

The very first and easiest step to get rid of sugar ants and to prevent sugar ants is to eliminate their food source. The only reason that they are in your house in the first place is for food.

Sugar ants have a real sweet tooth and love things sweet, such as sugary foods. Eliminate the food source and you eliminate the ants.

Keep food crumbs and spills to a minimum and always clean up all the surfaces after use. Keep all food ingredients such as sugar etc in sealed plastic containers and not just the open bags.

Once a food source has been located by the sugar ant they will relay this message back to other ants in the colony and call in reinforcements creating sugar ant infestations.

Step 2 – Use a Non Repellent Ant Killer

As the name suggests, we need to be using a Non Repellent ant killer. This is critical as outlined earlier. We do not want to be alerting the colony of a threat, our goal here is to go stealth mode and to kill ants from within the nest.

Ants can’t detect these “invisible” insecticides and, therefore, readily crawl through them. As these ants return to the nest, they are unknowingly tracking the insecticide with them and transferring it to their colony. Over time, this eliminates all of the ants including the queen.

Spray around the foundation of your house and other entry points such as around doors, windows and exterior openings such as where electrical or cable wires connect.

Place the non repellent ant killer in places where you can either see the ants making access into the home or where you believe they are coming in. Places such as doorways, cracks in walls etc.

Non repellent products will be in a spray form or Granular form that you can distribute around the perimeter of your home where you believe the ants are making their way in.. The sugar ant will not be repelled by this product, but instead when they come into contact with it they will inadvertently carry it back to the nest and spread it amongst the colony to do its work in killing the ants.

We recommend the Navigator SC for a Non Repellent Perimeter Barrier. You can purchase it here at Walmart

ant bait station

Step 3 – Use an Ant Bait to take back to Colony

In conjunction with the non repellent product we will be also using an ant bait.

An ant bait will mimic their food source, so by removing all of the ants food source earlier, the only option that they will have if already in your home is to eat and carry away the ant bait back to the nest to be eaten by the rest of the colony which will kill sugar ants quickly.

These baits typically come as a solid bait or as a liquid ant bait.

Place your ant baits in strategic locations within the home where you believe the ants have been making access. Make it easy for them to find the bait and return back to the nest with it. Don’t scrimp with it, apply many bait stations around the home.

We recommend Amdro Ant Killing Bait Stations. You can purchase it here at Walmart


Sugar ants are quite different to the common household ant so we need to treat the solution differently.

Forget about Grandmas homemade recipe with this one, although they do work with a lot of things, just not this one.

Eliminate the Food Source, Use a Non Repellent product in conjunction with an Ant Bait and you will eliminate your sugar ant problem for good.


What is the fastest way to get rid of sugar ants?

Eliminate the Food Source, Use a Non Repellent product in conjunction with an Ant Bait and you will eliminate your sugar ant problem for good.

Why do I have sugar ants in my house?

You have sugar ants in your home because there is a food source for them, its as simple as that…

Can I kill sugar ants when I see them

The answer is Definitely NO!….Killing the sugar ants by spraying them or squashing them will not get rid of all of them. The remaining ants will return to the nest and alert the colony of the threat They will then re locate and return in larger numbers to combat the threat.

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About Damon Lovell

Damon Lovell is a Builder, Home Renovator and Interior Designer based in Australia. Damon completed his apprenticeship in Painting and decorating in 1987, has completed numerous Home Renovations and constructions from initial Design, Consultation, Project Management and Construction. Damon has a certification in business management, he is an accredited Interior Designer, Graphic Designer and Registered Builder. Damon is also a Commercial Builder, Retail Shopfitter and Cabinet Maker.  

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