Ants are one of those pests that seem to keep coming back, no matter what you do. But just wiping them away won’t actually make them go away. These scouting ants that you see are leaving behind an invisible trail of pheromones for their fellow colonists to follow, so until you assess the infestation on a deeper level, the queen will keep sending scouting ants after the pheromone trail and into your home. To get rid of ants for good, you’ll have to be proactive and follow these 5 steps:

1. Figure out what is attracting them. Is it dirty dishes sitting in the sink? Crumbs all over the floor? A pet’s bowl? Is honey dripping down the side of a jar? Ants’ tastes change with the season, and in the summertime, they crave sweets. Seal up honey, sugar, and syrup in airtight containers and vigorously clean up what is attracting them.

2. Stop scouting ants. Destroy scouting ants’ pheromone trails with 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water. Spray this solution wherever you have seen ants.

3. Repel future ants. A natural poison to ants is lavender and peppermint. Mix either of these with water and spray entry points like windows and doors.

4. Once you set the repellent, avoid the temptation to kill ants that you see. They’re going to bring the poisonous bait back to their nest and do all the hard work for you.

5. Seal entry points. Caulk and seal any cracks or exposed crevices in doors and windows.

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