To rid your home of ants, you can choose to set your own bait or hire a professional. In this article, we expand on these options and discuss how much you can expect to pay for DIY and professional ant extermination.
Reviews by This Old House Reviews Team 01/31/2023 12:00 am
Ants are one of the most common insects, known for their large colonies and elaborate dirt mounds. Removing a few ants from your countertop or window sill is simple, but you may need to call in some backup if you notice more than a few ants around your home. In this article, we’ll help you better understand the cost of DIY and professional ant extermination and provide tips on how to prevent future infestations.
Signs and Causes of an Ant Infestation
There are a variety of ant species, each with its own set of characteristics and behaviors. Below are common species you’ll find in and around your home, along with tips on how to identify signs of an infestation.
As their name suggests, carpenter ants love wood and tunnel through it to make their nests. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t consume wood and instead discard it as sawdust that’s visible outside their burrows.
If you notice trails of sawdust around floorboards, window sills, and wooden beams, contact a professional ant extermination service immediately. If left untreated, these ants can damage your home’s structure, causing expensive repairs down the road.
Known for their reddish-brown exterior and painful sting, fire ants are commonly found in parks, playgrounds, and yards. These pests favor warm conditions and are attracted to scraps of food and garbage scattered around your home.
Fire ants are easy to spot, building ant mounds as high as 7 inches and as wide as 24 inches. These sandy mounds are even easier to spot after rain and are typically surrounded by worker and swarmer ant activity.
While a fire ant sting is painful, it’s rarely a life-threatening experience. However, a fire ant’s repeated attacks can be dangerous to small children and pets. In rare cases, these bites can trigger infections or allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention.
Pharaoh and Other House Ants
Pharaoh ants range in color from tan to brown and are known to eat almost anything. From sweet treats to meat scraps, these insects track down food and can infiltrate your home. Another common type of house ant is the odorous house ant, which is known for emitting a rotten coconut smell when crushed. Like Pharaoh ants, odorous house ants are attracted to sweets and water.
It’s common to see these ants foraging for food along your kitchen floor or countertops. While they won’t damage your home’s structure, both species can spread harmful bacteria.
Average Ant Exterminator Cost
According to HomeAdvisor, ant extermination costs between $80 and $500, with an average cost of $150. This cost estimate is influenced by the number of treatments your infestation requires. For example, if you need four treatments over the course of a year, you can expect to pay closer to $500.
You can also opt for monthly treatments to maintain an ant-free home. These regular treatments start with an initial fee before a company charges you month to month. This initial visit typically costs between $150 and $300. After an initial treatment plan is created, expect to pay between $40 and $70 per follow-up appointment.
Factors That Affect Ant Extermination Pricing
The cost of ant extermination is influenced by a variety of factors, such as ant type, the severity of an infestation, the square footage of your home, and necessary treatments. Below is a breakdown of each factor and how it impacts your total estimate.
Not all species of ants require the same extermination methods. For example, you may receive a more expensive quote for removing carpenter ants burrowed inside your home’s walls than you would for destroying a few fire ant mounds.
View the chart below for rough estimates of extermination costs based on ant type.
|Ant Type||Average Cost|
|Pharaoh and sugar ants||$200–$250|
While some companies charge by the square foot of your home, others will do a general price increase or decrease based on how your home’s size measures up to the average home they service. Below is an estimate of how the square footage of your home affects the overall cost of treatment.
|Square Footage of House||One-Time Treatment Cost|
|2,000 square feet||$160|
|2,000–3,500 square feet||$180|
|3,500–5,000 square feet||$200|
Note: This chart is a reflection of how square footage impacts ant extermination costs. Your total estimate will likely be influenced by other factors, such as infestation severity, ant type, and more.
The severity of your ant infestation correlates with the amount of time, visits, and effort required from an exterminator. As such, expect to pay more as the severity of your infestation increases.
Your treatment cost will also depend on the extermination techniques used by your provider. For example, the cost of a treatment spray will be cheaper than a combination of treatment sprays and professional-grade poison traps.
DIY Ant Removal vs. Using an Exterminator
If you have a small infestation and need to get rid of ants in the kitchen or another area of your home, consider DIY methods and products for ant extermination. Here are some of the most common ant extermination treatments, how much they cost, and their pros and cons.
|Treatment||Average Price per Unit||Pros||Cons|
|Granule ant baits||$10–$20||Easy to spread across large areas, including your yard and home’s perimeter||Some granules are for outdoor use only|
|Gel ant baits||$20–$30||Seeps into cracks and crevices to reach hidden areas||Doesn’t cover as much area as other treatment options|
|Bait stations||$20–$30||Easy to use and long-lasting||Can’t reach tight spaces like gel ant baits can|
It’s important to note that these at-home treatments may not work against large infestations. If your at-home remedy isn’t working, contact a pest control company immediately. While the cost of hiring a professional exterminator may be more expensive than handling the problem yourself, you can rest assured that your provider will eliminate your ant problem and answer any questions you have along the way.
Here are some benefits of choosing a professional exterminator:
- Paying for professional services may be cheaper in the long run, since you won’t have to treat repeated infestations.
- Ant exterminators know the best way to treat your home without causing damage.
- A professional knows how to safely handle and use dangerous chemicals and repellents.
- Treating an ant infestation by yourself may require more time and energy than desired.
How To Avoid Future Ant Infestations
Here are a few ways you can prevent ant infestations:
- Wipe down heavily used surfaces, such as countertops and tables, with a damp cloth.
- Sweep and vacuum your home weekly to remove crumbs from your floors.
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in or around the sink. Wash them immediately after a meal or put them in the dishwasher.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Ensure any exposed cracks around your home are sealed with caulk.
Have a pest control company apply a preventative spray around your home.
Best Mosquito Plan
Frequently Asked Questions About Ant Extermination
What do pest control services use to get rid of ants?
To address the ant infestation in or around your home, most exterminators will first create a pest control strategy based on the type of ant. From there, they’ll secure your home’s perimeter with caulk and remove any sources of food around your home. Then, they’ll get rid of ants inside your home by setting up a combination of ant traps and poisoned bait.
What is the best natural way to repel ants?
One of the best and most accessible substances for naturally repelling ants is vinegar. To start, create a solution of one part vinegar and one part water and clean all of the hard surfaces in your home. The vinegar solution will dry, leaving an enduring scent that repels ants.
How long does it take for an ant treatment to start working?
Typically, ant treatments begin to work within 48 hours of application. However, you may see ants for up to a few weeks after the treatment has been applied depending on the extent of your infestation.
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plan options, additional benefits and convenience factors, availability, trustworthiness, and customer service to arrive at a final score out of 100.
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