Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Get Rid of Citronella Ants

Even if they do smell like sweet citronella when squished, you probably don’t want big yellow ants in your kitchen. Citronella ants aren’t after most of your groceries, though they will go for sugary stuff when available. They feed almost exclusively on products secreted by creepy-crawlies that they actually farm and “milk” for honeydew. These ants normally spend most of their lives underground. They really don’t intend to remain in your home permanently, just until the weather warms up in the spring. If you simply can’t wait that long, you can use simple home remedies to send these critters elsewhere.

Clear your living area of stray sweet foodstuffs. Wipe out kitchen cabinets, keep counters clean and make the kids stop sneaking cookies into their rooms. While sugar isn’t a primary food source for citronella ants, they will come inside after it if it’s accessible.

Locate the citronella ant nest. It’s most likely outdoors and is easily identifiable by a mound of freshly dug soil from their underground tunneling. Old logs or concrete blocks near a home’s foundation are common locations. Snoop around in the basement for trailing ants or suspicious-looking little piles of soil.

Block any entryways the ants may be using to access the inside of your home. Seal up holes, cracks or weak spots in the foundation and in basement walls.

Move piles of heavy objects like firewood away from your dwelling. Relocate your compost bin a little farther away, if possible. Clear out piles of grass clippings and leaves, and remove any yard debris.

Suck up indoor invaders with a vacuum cleaner. Seal the bag in plastic wrap immediately and discard it.

Pour a 5-gallon bucket full of boiling water into the opening of the outdoor nesting mound. This may be all that’s needed to kill the queen and the entire colony.

Spread diatomaceous earth on and around the mound.

Sprinkle boric acid on the mound.


The only commercially available bait known to be effective for getting rid of citronella ants is Terro.

Garden Guides