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Ants are a common nuisance that can invade homes in tropical climates like Hawaii. If tiny ants are crawling over your countertops and making a trail through your kitchen, you likely want to get rid of them fast. Luckily, there are some simple solutions for controlling ants in Hawaiian homes.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: use ant baits, keep surfaces clean, seal cracks and crevices, sprinkle ant deterrents like cinnamon and coffee grounds, and call an exterminator for severe infestations.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover various methods for controlling ants in Hawaii, including natural home remedies, commercial ant baits, tips for prevention, when to call an exterminator, and more.

Identifying the Ant Species

Common House-Invading Ants in Hawaii

The tropical climate of Hawaii makes it prone to ant infestations. The most common house-invading ants found in homes and businesses across the islands are the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), the big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala), the ghost ant (Tapinoma melanocephalum), and the odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile).

These tiny invaders typically come inside looking for food and water sources.

Carpenter Ants

While most ants tunnel outdoors, carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) can damage wood structures by excavating and nesting inside homes. Telltale signs of an infestation include smooth tunnels inside damp wood, large black ants up to 3⁄4-inch long, and accumulation of sawdust-like material near nesting sites.

Getting rid of their nests as soon as possible is crucial before extensive structural damage occurs.

Little Fire Ants

Considered one of the world’s worst invasive species, little fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata) have spread throughout the Hawaiian islands since their introduction in the 1990s. These tiny pests pack a powerful sting, especially when they swarm in large numbers.

Getting stung feels like getting burned, hence their name. Preventing the movement and spread of little fire ants is critical to protect Hawaii’s agriculture, wildlife, residents, and visitors.

Preventing Ants from Entering Your Home

Seal Cracks and Crevices

One of the most effective ways to keep ants from invading your Hawaii home is to seal up any cracks or crevices they can use to enter (Hawaiian Telcom). Ants can squeeze through incredibly tiny spaces, some species even entering via cracks as slim as 1/16 of an inch.

Carefully check places where utilities enter the home, such as pipe penetrations, as these gaps allow easy access.

Caulking, sealing foam, or weather stripping can be used to plug holes along baseboards, under doors, around pipes, and in other crevices. Maintain these seals regularly since pests still chew through over time.

Sealing the perimeter of your home provides a physical barrier preventing not just ants but other bugs too.

Keep Kitchen and Bathrooms Clean

Ants forage for food and water, so keeping kitchen and bath areas free of crumbs and moisture denies them resources (University of Hawaii). Wipe down countertops, sweep floors, clean out the sink and tub drains, fix dripping faucets, and tidy clutter where ants could nest.

A shocking 65% increase in household ant invasions happens when kitchens are untidy! Deep cleaning with vinegar removes scent trails ants follow. Allow no standing water for thirsty ants to drink. Removing what attracts ants makes it pointless for them to march inside.

Store Food in Airtight Containers

Ants can detect food odors from amazing distances outside, so keeping edibles sealed away provides a fix (University of Hawaii). Buy airtight glass, plastic, or stainless steel canisters for dry goods like flour, sugar, cereals, etc. Refrigerate open packages that won’t fit.

An eco-friendly method is freezing vegetable/fruit scraps until trash day to avoid attracting ants gathering food remains. Using lids on pet food/water dishes also prevents ants approaching indoors. Store picnic leftovers immediately after outdoor meals.

Good storage habits prevent offering ants appetizing aromas to follow inside.

Eliminate Moisture Buildup

Since ants need a water supply, eliminating moisture buildup indoors and out removes an essential ant resource. Fix dripping outdoor hoses, sprinklers hitting the house, and clogged rain gutters holding water ideal for ants to drink (University of Hawaii).

Inside, immediately mop up spills and leaks. Run kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to cut indoor humidity inviting ants. Dehumidifiers prevent moisture condensing on surfaces for ants to sip. Vengeful ants may still enter seeking food, but eliminating water access stresses colonies over time.

Trim Plants and Trees Near Home

Leafy vegetation touching exterior walls offers pests a water source from condensation and an insect highway straight into your home. Experts thus recommend trimming back nearby trees/plants to create at least a 1 foot barrier from the structure (Hawaiian Telcom).

Also, some ants create nests inside thick vegetation, so pruning plants eliminates this ready shelter next door. Professionals advise examining your landscaping to reduce hiding spots for ants near entry points.

Isolated stands of bushes/trees discourage ants marching right over to invade indoor living spaces.

Using Natural Ant Deterrents


Cinnamon is an excellent natural ant repellent. Its strong scent confuses ants and disrupts their scent trails, making it harder for them to follow pheromones back to food sources. To use cinnamon, simply sprinkle it around areas where ants are spotted like countertops, door frames, and windowsills.

You can also make homemade cinnamon repellents by mixing ground cinnamon with water and spraying it directly onto surfaces. Studies show cinnamon repels many ant species like Pharaoh ants and odorous house ants. Just be sure to reapply after cleaning.

Coffee Grounds

Like cinnamon, sprinkling used coffee grounds in problem areas helps mask ant scent trails, preventing them from returning. The caffeine and smell deters ants. Focus on applying along common ant trails and entry points like cracks.

Unfortunately this technique may only temporarily confuse ants in Hawaii, but when combined with other methods like sanitation and cleaning it can be quite effective for ant control.

Lemon Juice/Lemon Peels

The strong citric acid smell of lemons confuses ants and deters them from following pheromone trails back to food. For best results, routinely spray a 50/50 lemon juice and water solution on ant trails and around entry points. You can also rub lemon peels directly on surfaces.

The peels can then be left in problem areas for longer repellency effects. Like other DIY ant deterrents, reapplying lemon juice every few days may be needed.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is a natural insect repellent for many pests like ants, spiders, cockroaches and even mice. For ants, mix 15-20 drops of peppermint essential oil with water in a spray bottle. Then spray on surfaces where ants are spotted or entry locations like small cracks and crevices.

You can also soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and leave them along trails. The strong minty smell confuses their scent trails. According to pest control companies, peppermint oil can deter even difficult ant species like Carpenter ants.


Similar to lemon juice, vinegar emits a strong odor that disrupts ant scent pheromone trails. A 50/50 white vinegar and water solution works best. Simply mix and directly spray on surfaces where ants are spotted.

Focus on spraying along ant trails and entry points like small cracks and crevices in walls, floors or baseboards where ants may come from. Vinegar may also help erase remaining ant scent trails. Like other natural deterrents, reapplying every few days may be necessary for maximum effectiveness.

Talcum/Baby Powder

Ants dislike walking on baby powder and talcum powder. Simply sprinkle it around ant trails, entry points and countertops to deter ants. Both contain fine particles that also help erase scents from ant trails.

Over time, ants may avoid areas lined with these powders since pathways are harder to follow. Remember to reapply after cleaning and ensure powders do not get wet or they will be ineffective.


Common classroom chalk is another cheap home remedy. Like powders, chalk makes it hard for ants to walk and pick up scents from pheromones. Outline frequent ant trails and entry locations with chalk lines.

The calcium carbonate particles also stick to ants’ bodies, making it uncomfortable to traverse areas lined with chalk. Reapplying chalk lines every few days maximizes results. Wet weather can erase chalk, so reapplying after rain is recommended.

Employing Ant Traps and Baits

Liquid Ant Baits

Liquid ant baits like Terro Liquid Ant Baits are an effective way to get rid of ants in Hawaii. The bait contains sodium tetraborate decahydrate, a borax-based ingredient attractive to ants. Worker ants ingest the product and bring it back to the nest to kill the queen and colony.

Place tiny drops around ant trails, nests, entry points. It may take days to fully work. Advantages are inexpensive, easy to use, and colony elimination.

Ant Traps

Sticky ant traps capture foraging worker ants attracted to the bait in the center. Brands like Raid Ant Traps contain 5 traps per pack for under $10. Place them along walls, cabinets, countertops, and anywhere you see ant activity. Traps allow you to monitor and analyze the ant population.

However, they may not eliminate the entire colony if the queen is not captured.

Borax and Sugar Solution

Mixing 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 2-3 teaspoons borax powder creates a DIY ant killer solution. The sugar attracts ants while the borax poisons them. Place it in bottle caps along ant trails. The solution is swallowed by ants and taken back to feed the queen and colony members.

Pros are inexpensive and easy to make. Cons are it works slower than commercial baits and may not fully eradicate ants.

Protein-Based Baits

Certain ant species prefer proteins over sugar. Bait stations like Terro Liquid Ant Killer II contain sodium tetraborate decahydrate and fish oil, chicken fat or egg as protein attractants. The formula kills ants within 24 hours and the colony within 2 weeks.

Protein baits specifically target annoying invaders like Argentine ants. Place them near nests and entry points ants frequent. Monitor regularly and replace bait as consumed.

When to Call an Exterminator

Dealing with ants in Hawaii can be extremely frustrating. While there are some DIY methods you can try, there comes a point when calling in the professionals is your best option.

If You Have a Major Infestation

If you lift up a rock in your yard and find thousands of ants swarming underneath, that likely indicates a major infestation. At this point, DIY sprays and baits may not be enough. A professional exterminator has commercial-grade insecticides that are much stronger and more effective at knocking out huge ant colonies.

If Ants Keep Coming Back

If you’ve tried DIY ant control several times but the ants keep returning, that’s a sign you need professional help. Exterminators can trace ants back to their nests and treat the whole colony, not just the ants you see. This makes it much less likely the ants will return once treated.

If You See Ants Damaging Your Home

Carpenter ants can cause major damage by burrowing into wood in search of food and shelter. If you see carpenter ants marching in a line into or out of your home, call an exterminator immediately before costly damage occurs.

Treatment involves applying insecticides directly into ant nests hidden in wood structures.

If You Want to Prevent Future Infestations

Even if you don’t currently see ants, you may want to have your home preventatively treated, especially if ants have been an issue in the past. Exterminators can apply a perimeter treatment around the foundation of your home as a barrier to keep many ant species from ever entering in the first place.

As you can see, while DIY ant control has its place, there are several situations where calling in the professionals is truly your best bet for getting rid of ants in Hawaii effectively. Don’t hesitate to call an exterminator if you have a major issue on your hands!

Natural Pest Control Services in Hawaii

With over 10,000 known insect species calling Hawaii home, dealing with pesky ants and other bugs is a common concern for residents and businesses in the Aloha State. Thankfully, Hawaii has seen tremendous growth in eco-friendly pest control options that leverage natural solutions rather than harsh chemicals.

Organic Pesticide Applications

Many pest control companies in Hawaii now offer organic pesticide sprays made from plant-derived ingredients like essential oils, soap, and chrysanthemums. When applied correctly, these botanical insecticides can effectively control ant colonies and other household pests without toxic residues.

For example, EcoWise Pest Control utilizes organic pesticides approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) to tackle ant infestations across Oahu. Their all-natural treatments target ants’ scent trails and nesting sites, disrupting the colony so they leave in search of a new home.

Targeted Baiting Systems

In addition to sprays, gel baits and bait stations can entice foraging ants back to the nest to share the toxicant. The key is using slow-acting baits designed specifically for the ant species at hand.

This precision targeting prevents broad applications that could harm beneficial insects like honeybees.

For instance, Green Earth Pest Control, a top eco-friendly pest management firm on Oahu, installs species-specific ant bait stations around clients’ properties. Worker ants take the bait back to feed the queen and developing larvae, eventually wiping out the entire colony including the queen.

Proactive Prevention Steps

While treatments can manage existing ant infestations, proactive prevention is also key. Simple steps like sealing cracks, clearing clutter, and fixing leaky pipes can deter ants by removing food, water, and entry points.

Many natural pest control companies provide a free inspection and recommend customized prevention plans. For example, Maui-based EcoShield Pest Control offers preventative maintenance plans that combine organic treatments with sanitation advice, habitat modification, and exclusion techniques.

Taking an integrated pest management approach often brings the best results. Residents can reach out to green pest control experts for insights on addressing unique ant problems without harmful chemicals.


Dealing with an ant infestation at home can be extremely annoying, but there are many effective methods for controlling ants in Hawaii. Start by properly identifying the species to find their habits and preferences.

Strongly consider ant baits and traps which allow the ants to carry poison back to destroy the entire nest.

Implement preventative measures like sealing cracks and keeping areas clean and dry. For minor ant trails, homemade remedies like cinnamon, coffee grounds, and vinegar often suffice. But if you have a major infestation on your hands, don’t hesitate to call a pest management professional for chemical treatments or eco-friendly pest control services.

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