If you've spotted winged Formicidae, you’ll want to know how to get rid of flying ants pronto. Alates can usually be seen in summer, due to a spike in hot or humid weather that encourages colonies to emerge from their nests, and they swarm mid-air to reproduce (known as the 'nuptial flight'), which honestly isn't romantic in the slightest!
Little did you know however, that there are lots of ways to eliminate them from your external walls or inside your home using natural deterrents like mint and cayenne, not to mention, you could even call on your best cordless vacuum to 'gently' relocate them...
Unlike getting rid of ants, these critters are a little harder to control - namely because of their ability to fly. Size-wise, they’re typically a lot larger than their wingless counterparts, so you’ll need to be a little braver when dealing with this type of flying insect.
What do flying ants look like?
Identifying these bugs is the easy part, it's getting rid of them that people struggle with. They’re often found in large crowds, getting up to you know what, and their large, papery wings can literally create the illusion of a moving carpet when they're on the ground.
They’re a fan of flying into every nook and cranny (notably wall cavities), though we probably all have first-hand experience of them landing haphazardly into our hair, and sitting on (or inside) our cars.
So if you're looking for ways to eliminate them from your external walls or inside your home, we've got some lethal ways to move them along, plus natural deterrents including mint and cayenne that you'll most likely already have in your pantry.
How to get rid of flying ants in the home, and outside
So there are plenty of different methods to try, all with varying success rates, it depends on what you're dealing with.
Be warned, you might need to be a little creative with your pest control methods. While we’re all for you destroying these creepy-crawlies, this shouldn’t come at the detriment of other, more helpful insects in your backyard (like bees and ladybirds for example). Nor, should you use toxic methods that children or pets might accidentally ingest.
1. Wipe them out with a DIY dish soap spray
Your dish soap can go beyond the call of duty when it needs to. Aside from keeping your best dinnerware set clean, it can also be used to make a soapy spray to coat the flying Formicidae. And, you don't have to use your expensive eco-friendly dish soap - the cheap stuff (for example, Dawn (opens in new tab)) on Amazon will do.
Gardening experts love this multipurpose pest control method: ‘This trick works just the same way as it would be used on your plants to get rid of aphids – just add a generous squirt to a spray bottle (opens in new tab) filled with water, shake to disperse, and get spraying those ants.’ advises Chris Bonnett, CEO, Gardening Express (opens in new tab).
2. Kill flying ants with a DIY castille soap spray
Alternatively, you can also use a little Castile soap in the same way, you'd use liquid dish detergent above. Dollar for dollar, it's significantly more expensive, but the Dr Bronner's brand (available on Amazon) (opens in new tab) claims up to 18 different ways to use this product, including as a laundry detergent, wood floor cleaner (when used with your best mop), window cleaning solution, and even as a toilet cleaner to keep your restroom hygienic. So by investing in this option, you could be saving money on loads of individual cleaning products.
'When made with 1/4 cup (60ml) Castile Soap, this spray eliminates ants and other insects and removes their scent trails so their compatriots can’t follow.' explains Lisa Bronner (opens in new tab), blogger, and granddaughter of Emanuel Bronner, founder of Dr. Bronner (opens in new tab). 'A more diluted version of this spray (1 Tbsp (15ml) of Castile Soap) makes a good pest spray for plants, as well. The lesser dilution ensures the soap does not burn the leaves (though spot testing is always wise). With either concentration, it only works when it contacts the pests wet. Its residue is not effective.'
3. Make a diluted vinegar spray
We're never going to turn down a way to clean with vinegar. It's cheap as chips, great on fries, and acetic acid (as it's technically known as), can burn them on contact. What's more, this tart condiment doubles up as a natural, antibacterial kitchen cleaner too, so you can use the remaining solution to wipe down your kitchen and create a germ-free environment that you can cook and eat in with confidence.
‘Similar to the washing up liquid trick, simply fill a spray bottle with a mixture of water and white vinegar and get spraying. If you find you need something stronger you can ditch the water and spray affected areas with white vinegar alone.’ says Bonnett
4. Drown and kill with boiling water
Hot H₂O is a budget-friendly pest control option when you think about it. And, unlucky for these insects, this quick and easy method of pouring it over them is lethal. Simply fill up your tea kettle, or use your boiling water tap instead. ‘This trick is particularly good for cracks in garden paving designs or nests in lawns where any activity is spotted. Simply pour boiling water onto the area; this should not only get rid of any flying ants you can see, but any pupae it touches as far as it penetrates the ground. Try to avoid your flower beds and borders, or any planters, as you don’t want to steam your coleus in the process.’ says Bonnett.
Take care not to scald yourself when doing this, making sure to wear heatproof gloves (opens in new tab) and appropriate footwear (sliders and flip-flops not recommended) to protect you from hot splashes.
5. Sprinkle spices where you've sighted them
Many of us carry an impressive array of seasonings in our spice rack to flavor our food. But did you know that there are some aromas that could alleviate your flying ant problem? According to Bonnet, sprinkling cayenne pepper (opens in new tab) and cinnamon (opens in new tab) around your plants and yard space will help keep flying ants at bay, adding how 'Ants also hate the smell of things mint, and garlic.’
6. Soak cotton balls in a sugary-borax solution
This next hack is good to use inside the home, but do approach with caution if you have pets or kids around.
What you want to do here is create a sludgy mix of table sugar (opens in new tab) and borax powder (opens in new tab) (3:1) with a little warm water and dip the rounds of cotton into the paste until they are sufficiently saturated. Then dot them around areas you've seen the flying ants, and invite them for their (hopefully) last supper!
If you don't have granulated sugar on hand, you can use other sweet things including honey, maple syrup, or even simple syrup from your cocktail bar cart.
7. Kill them with sweeteners
You may have noticed that your sugar-free sodas and cordials contain artificial sweeteners that replace the saccharinity of sucrose (aka table sugar). While this may help towards creating a caloric deficit, if drunk as part of a balanced diet, the mind-tricking replacement can be catastrophic for these flying creatures. Aspartame, acesulfame K, saccharin, sorbitol, and sucralose are just a handful of the fake sugars that have been given the green light by the FDA for human consumption (opens in new tab) (notably found in low-cal drinks and 'zero' beverages). But for insects, it's literally like laying down poison.
While these sciency names sound like something you'd find in a pharmacy, you can quite literally pick them up on a supermarket shelf. Sucralose, for example can be picked up when you're at Target (opens in new tab), or if you need the sweetener super quick, try Amazon where you can find their own brand of Aspartame sachets (opens in new tab), as well as Sweet 'N' Low (opens in new tab).
‘This is one to put you off using the stuff yourself, as it is deadly to insects. You’ll need to mix it with something like apple juice (opens in new tab) to make it palatable to the ants, but this then creates a paste that is toxic to them.'
'Simply pour a bit near to nesting sites and the ants will carry it back to the colony – meaning masses of them will consume the poisonous paste and knock back the population.’
8. Move them using a handheld vac
Another vegan-friendly option if you're not a fan of killing these bugs is to suck them up using a handheld vacuum and empty the canister away from your home.
It's not the most effective deterrent (as they could just end up flying back to their original nesting spot), but keeps them alive if you aren't one for sending them to an early grave.
9. Relocate them using tin cans
Placing your rinsed metal cans in the recycling is the done thing once you've enjoyed the contents of your tinned veg, legumes or fruit. But if you've got a flying ant problem, this vessel is also a cheap and clever way to keep them at bay.
‘Place tin cans on top of the ants’ soil mounds in the morning, and they’ll move their eggs into the tins during the day as they heat up. Slide a card under the tin in the afternoon, and you can then dispose of the next generation of ants before they’ve even had a chance to become a nuisance.’ explains Bonnett.
Full equipment list
1. Tin cans – rinse your metal food canisters first
2. Ant powder – lethal bait to take back to the Queen (opens in new tab)
3. Boiling water – use your kettle (opens in new tab) or a boiling water tap (opens in new tab)
4. Washing up liquid – Dawn is super cheap on Amazon (opens in new tab)
5. Artificial sweetener – get an Aspartame (opens in new tab) / sucralose-based sweetener (opens in new tab) from Amazon
6. Apple juice – a cheap concentrate from Amazon (opens in new tab) is fine
7. Cayenne pepper – get a pot of this hot chilli from Amazon (opens in new tab)
8. Cinnamon powder – this warming spice (opens in new tab) can deter flying ants
9. Mint – in the form of peppermint oil (opens in new tab), dried mint (opens in new tab), fresh mint leaves (opens in new tab), or teabags (opens in new tab)
10. Plant-based insecticide – Get Mighty Mint 32oz Plant Protection Peppermint Spray on Amazon (opens in new tab)
11. A spray bottle – we prefer the glass ones on Amazon (opens in new tab)
12. White vinegar – Heinz distilled vinegar is our go-to (opens in new tab)
13. Water – from your kitchen faucet (opens in new tab) or bathroom tap (opens in new tab) is fine
14. A handheld vac – suck up flies with a compact vacuum 15. Caulk – seal cracks and crevices with Gorilla (opens in new tab)
16. Cotton balls – soak these in your DIY borax solution (opens in new tab)
17. Borax – this detergent booster also kills ants (opens in new tab)
18. A piece of card – scrap cardboard or a random playing card will do
19. A fly screen – fit this mesh onto windows and doors to deter flying ants (opens in new tab)
20. Your choice of natural sweetener – choose from table sugar (opens in new tab), honey (opens in new tab), or maple syrup (opens in new tab) on Amazon
Why do flying ants suddenly appear in the house?
The experts at Cooper Pests (opens in new tab) say that: ‘Flying ants are likely to enter your home through cracks and crevices around your home including open windows and around your basement,'
'Your best defense against any type of ant is to seal up these areas using caulk, keep your kitchen countertops clean, and ensure floors are free of crumbs. Without an entry point or a food source, ants will find your home less appealing.’
How do you get rid of flying ants in the house?
Rentokil (opens in new tab)recommends that you install a fly screen (opens in new tab) to stop a swarm from invading your home. This way you can still enjoy having your windows and doors open for ventilation while keeping the critters out.
What is the fastest way to get rid of flying ants?
If rehoming flying ants or using a more natural DIY approach as defined above isn't working quickly enough for you, turning to a powerful ant powder is an option.
Side note, we do always prefer to choose more eco-friendly options that don't discriminantly wipe out other insects/parts of the ecosystem that keep flying ant numbers down naturally...
However, if the problem is bad and/or you're trying to get rid of wasps too, you can kill two birds insects with one stone by using a toxic powder. Take care with the amount you use, and try and place it in isolated areas where you know only flying ants and other bothersome bugs frequent. ‘If you don’t mind using a traditional chemical treatment, dust this around doors, patios or other dry areas where any pathways are spotted. These powders also work on other crawling insects and wasps too.'
'But it’s worth being extra careful how and where you use them, especially if you have young children around.’ warns Bonnett.