Since ants can easily locate and live off even the tiniest food source, the first and best thing to do is to get out of the ant hospitality business. If ants are getting in and swarming around dropped morsels of food, it's time for you and your family to step up the cleaning habits.
Store and seal food containers. Put away food and store it in airtight containers, especially pet food. As one researcher put it, an ant has a “high definition” sense of smell, and uses “chemical communication” to keep their operations going.
Clean up regularly. Get everyone at home in the habit of wiping spills and sweeping crumbs off tabletops, countertops and floors after every single meal or snack.
Clean in every nook and cranny. Every month or so, look through your cupboards to find and clean spills and wipe down jars. Also pull out your kitchen appliances from the wall so you can sweep and mop under and behind them.
Take care of trash. Make sure to use well-sealed plastic bags for garbage. As food and other garbage breaks down, the smell can be a powerful ant attractant.
Keep an eye on summer produce. In one day, your fresh fruits and veggies can go from ripe to rotting, which will send the ants marching in.
Block ant access
As far as keeping them outdoors where they belong, look for entry points and fix them. Search around the outside of your home for cracks near air vents, windows and doors. It’s a good idea to seal these off for many reasons, but barring the ant entryway is just one of them. Also, patch screen holes and repair gaps in windows and doors.
If you see ants
If you come home to an ant gathering in your kitchen, cleaning up the ants themselves is pretty easy. Once they're cleared away, it's especially important to spray and wipe the entire area of the infestation. Ants leave a trail of chemicals called pheromones that help them find their way home and communicate to their colony mates the location of a feast. Clean these surfaces along with any discovered ant entryways so you can disrupt this path and keep newcomers from making their way inside.
Then, sprinkle a pet-safe ant repellent around the perimeter of your house, reapplying every few weeks. You can also consider a natural ant repellent such as a white vinegar spray, food-grade diatomaceous earth or certain essential oils. Learn more about natural ant killer and repellent solutions.