In this guide, you’ll find out the differences and similarities between grease ants and sugar ants.
This post on grease ants vs. sugar ants will bust the myth surrounding both the ants, especially sugar ants, in the simplest terms.
Not only that, but you’ll also find out the #1 thing to keep in mind when it comes to getting rid of grease ants.
Keep reading to know it all.
Sugar Ants – The Myth Behind It, Busted!
There are no separate species of ants that go by the name sugar ants.
To make things simple, people of North America use the term sugar ant colloquially to refer to all types of ants that invade homes.
It’s because sugar or sweet products attract ants. Sugar contains cellulose which is the primary food source for most ants.
So, most ants that invade US homes, like pharaoh ants, ghost ants, crazy ants, argentine ants, etc., are known as sugar ants.
But certain ants prefer greasy oily and high fatty foods over sugary food.
Grease ants are one of them. And to an extent, carpenter ants too.
So, how do grease ants look like? And how do grease ants invade your home?
Let’s find it out.
Grease Ants – What Do They Look Like
Grease ants, also known as thief ants, are yellowish and shiny. They’re tiny, and their size varies between 1/32 and 1/16 of an inch.
The go-to place for grease ants inside your home is your kitchen. It’s because your kitchen has all that they need to sustain themselves.
More on that in a minute.
But for now, there’s one thing about grease ants you should keep in mind.
Grease ants are not fond of sweet or sugary foods. That’s why it can be hard to get rid of them by using only sugar-based baits.
How Grease Ants Invade Your Home – Grease Ants Behavior
Grease ants are tiny, and they prefer being indoors rather than outdoors.
Because of their tiny size, it’s easy for grease ants to sneak through the small gaps and cracks in your home.
And their food choices make them more prone to be inside your home rather than outside.
Because outside, they’re less likely to get oily and greasy food. However, outdoors, grease ants feed on dead insects, insect larvae and even invade other ant species to steal their food.
That’s why they’re also known as thief ants.
Indoors or outdoors, grease ants don’t make a central nest where all of them live. They make multiple nests, scattered in various sections of your home, with a queen ant in each of these nests.
That’s why locating their nests and getting rid of them from the source can be a challenge.
Grease ants can connect all these nests through underground tunnels to transfer food from one nest to another.
Another behavior that is very typical of grease ants is that they’re trail following ants. They travel far and wide, searching for food by secreting scents, known as pheromones, for the other ants to follow.
Inside your home, grease ants will use the same method to reach the food source or the nesting place.
That’s why you’ll find grease ants walking in a single line behind each other.
How To Get Rid Of Grease Ants?
As we mentioned earlier, both indoors and outdoors, grease ants live in different nests.
To get rid of grease ants and their nests, you need to follow the trails of these ants that lead to their nests and food source.
Following the trail of grease ants and pinpointing the exact location of the nests is a skill that professional pest controllers know.
So, it’s always the best idea to hire a pest controller to get rid of grease ants.
However, there are three DIY ways to get rid of grease ants.
They’re effective in killing the majority of the grease ants, but you won’t be able to find their nests with these methods.
Mix Borax With Fired Food And Keep It Where You’ve Spotted The Grease Ants
Grease ants love fatty and oily food. And one of the ways to kill grease ants is by mixing borax with a small portion of fried food.
That fired food can be anything, meat, fish, or even potatoes.
Mix borax with fired food and keep it in the place where you’ve spotted a trail of grease ants.
Two things to keep in mind when you do it.
First, the fried food is oilier than it should be. Don’t make it deep-fried. Fry it a little bit so that it’s raw.
And second, don’t pour a lot of borax on the food. Else, it’ll repel the ants. Make sure that there’s a thin coating of borax on the food.
It’d be best if you chop the fried food into small pieces so that the grease ants can carry the chunks to their nests.
The worker grease ants will carry the fried food to their nests, consume it, and they will die.
Borax destroys the ants’ digestive system, disables the ants from consuming more food, and causes a slow death.
It’ll take a few days for most of the ants in the nest to die.
Words of Caution – Keep the mixture of borax and oily food out of reach of pets and children. If pets consume the mixture, then it can cause severe organ damages to them.
Use A Sugar-Free Ant Bait To Kill Grease Ants
Sugar-based ant baits work on sugar ants, not on grease ants. It’s because grease ants are more prone to take the bait with oil or butter than sugar.
Iowa state university’s etymology department highly recommends using chemical ant baits like Terro and mixing it with butter or vegetable oil.
Keep the mixture in places where you’ve spotted the trail of sugar ants.
The chemical and bait works in the same way as the ant bait made with borax.
Use Insecticide Spray To Kill Grease Ants
It’d be best if you use insecticide sprays outdoors rather than inside your home.
It’s because grease ants build nests in multiple places.
It wouldn’t be safe for you to use insecticide sprays in random places inside your home without knowing their nesting place.
Outdoors, try to follow the ant trail. It’ll lead to their nest.
Spray the insecticide right on the nest.
You can also shovel the nest a bit so that you can spray the insecticide deeper into the grease ant’s nest.
Remember, always read instructions on the label of insecticide spray before using it.
Do Grease Ants Bite?
No, grease ants don’t bite humans or pets.
But grease ants carry pathogens that cause diseases from food poisoning to breathing problems.
If grease ants come in contact with your food, then they can transfer those pathogens to your food.
How To Get Rid Of Sugar Ants?
As you know, many people use the term sugar ants to refer to almost any ant that they see inside the home. It’s because sugar attracts these ants.
So, there’s no better way to kill sugar ants than by using sugar-based bait.
Using a bait made of sugar and borax is an effective way to kill ants.
But there’s one crucial thing to know while preparing the bait. And that is how much sugar and borax you’d need to mix to kill the ants.
Add either of them too less or too more, and the bait won’t work.
The effective combination of sugar and borax that kills ants is five parts of sugar and one part of borax. In other words, the ratio between sugar and borax is 5:1.
Watch the short five-minute video below showing how effective the 5:1 ratio of sugar and borax is in killing the ants.
Another alternative is to use gel ant baits that attract sugar ants.
These gel ant baits come in a syringe. You’d need to put a few drops of these gels on the places where you spotted sugar ants.
Conclusion: Grease Ants Vs. Sugar Ants – 6 Differences
|1. An ant species
|1. Collective term used to refer to most ants in homes
|2. Small in size
|2. Can be of different sizes depending on the species
|3. Don’t bite humans and pets
|3. Can bite humans and pets
|4. Make multiple nests and live in small groups
|4. Make one single nest
|5. Not fond of sugar. Prefer oily and fatty foods
|5. Attracted to sugar
|6. Prefer living indoors
|6. Can live both indoors and outdoors
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.