How Much Does an Ant Exterminator Cost?
The average ant exterminator cost falls between $80 and $500, which makes calling a pro to take care of an ant infestation a relatively affordable option for homeowners.
- The typical cost range for an ant exterminator is$80 to $500, with homeowners around the country paying an average of $150.
- Ant exterminator costs depend on several factors, including the type of ant, the size of the home, the size and location of the infestation, the extermination method, the frequency of treatments, and the pest control company that is used.
- A homeowner may need to contact an ant exterminator if they notice sawdust trails, dirt piles, rustling noises, ant sightings, hollow-sounding wood beams, crumbling wooden structures, or discarded wings.
- Homeowners can likely handle minor ant infestations on their own, but for larger colonies or certain types of ants, it’s recommended that the homeowner hire a professional ant exterminator.
Ants are a seasonal fact of life for many homeowners. They’re small; they can squeeze through tiny cracks and crevices in search of water, food, and shelter; and they’re really difficult to get rid of completely. Many people regard ant extermination as a DIY project—the rows and rows of bug sprays, bait traps, and poison solutions line the shelves at home improvement stores for a reason. However, DIY ant removal can be surprisingly expensive and often involves spraying, dripping, or positioning toxic and smelly chemicals all around the home, creating no-go zones for pets and children. Professional ant control services can use methods that are cleaner, more environmentally friendly, and safer for the home’s residents. But just how much does an exterminator cost? According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, ant exterminator cost can range from $80 to $500, with a national average cost of $150.
Once the ants have been removed, it’s critical for a homeowner to take steps to prevent reinfestation. Ants are smart and adaptable, and they work together seamlessly to build new or different nests, find different ways around obstacles, and avoid traps once they realize what they are. As a result, if extermination misses just a few ants, a whole new colony will crop up in another part of the home. A professional ant control service can help with follow-up methods such as sealing the home and closing off entry points, removing food and water sources that attract ants, and preventatively applying barrier sprays to make it less likely that the ants will return. As every infestation is a little different, and those differences can affect the exterminator prices for ants, understanding the factors that determine the total cost can make it easier for homeowners to plan and budget, especially if ants are an annual challenge.
Factors in Calculating Ant Exterminator Cost
Every type of ant and every type of home presents a different challenge when homeowners are planning extermination methods. The degree of difficulty in exterminating the ants will determine the cost, as infestations that are more complicated will take additional time and material to treat. What follows are some of the most influential factors in determining ant extermination cost.
While most ants have generally the same shape, they’re not all the same—there are a few hundred species that are native to North America. Fortunately, not all of them are interested in sharing a home with humans, but the 25 or so species that are happy to cohabitate have different qualities and characteristics, so the type of ant that has infested the home will affect the cost of removal. In general, carpenter ants are the most expensive to remove.
Ants don’t stay in one location: Once they’re in a home, they have myriad ways to travel from place to place inside walls and under floorboards. Larger homes make it more difficult to track and exterminate the ants as they travel, so more material and a considerably greater level of effort are required for successful treatment and prevention. Smaller homes are less challenging to address and so are less expensive to treat.
Infestation level is one of the most influential factors in determining the cost of an extermination plan. One small colony will price out at the lower end of the range. But large or networked colonies spread through the structure and through the walls of the home, or massive infestations in the soil underneath the home that have connected into the house itself, will be very difficult to treat and manage and will therefore be more costly. Severe infestations can cost up to $1,200 to remove.
The method of extermination will depend at least partly on the type of ant that is present and the size of the infestation. The following table shows the average cost per pest control method.
|Extermination Method||Average Cost|
|Barrier sprays||$80 to $150|
|Mound treatments||$100 to $500|
|Bait traps||$120 to $200|
|Two-step methods||$500 to $1,000|
|Fumigation||$1,300 to $4,000|
- Barrier sprays are used around the perimeter of the home or in locations that are appealing to the ants as a repellent after existing ants have been killed and the nest has been removed. If that’s all that is needed to solve the problem, homeowners can expect to pay between $80 and $150.
- Mound treatments, often used for fire ants and other similar species, involve the application of a chemical powder that is drilled into the ants’ mound. It kills the queen, which destabilizes the whole colony. The cost usually falls between $100 and $500.
- Bait traps are often used in conjunction with other types of treatments to lure any remaining ants in, coat them with poison, and allow them to carry the poison back to their colonies to kill the ants remaining there. This is an inexpensive and manageable option, costing between $120 and $200, even for larger infestations.
- Two-step methods approach larger infestations with the idea that combining more than one method will more effectively eradicate the colony. The cost will largely depend on the combination of methods, which are generally barrier sprays and bait traps, and mound control and bait traps. The cost will range from $500 to more than $1,000, partly because the two-step method is often reserved for large infestations that are already more difficult to approach.
- Fumigation is a last resort: It is generally used only when other methods have failed or when the infestation is so large that fumigation is the only likely solution. The home is sealed and pumped full of chemicals to kill the ants, left to sit for several days, then cleaned. Because fumigation is usually only part of the solution for a huge colony, there will likely be follow-up treatment as well. The cost will range from $1,300 to $4,000.
Some smaller infestations can be completely exterminated with one treatment costing about $150 and some follow-up prevention strategies. More complex or larger infestations, or homes that are often damp or that are difficult to seal off, can require several treatments or seasonally scheduled treatments of ant pest control to fully protect the home. Often, exterminators will bundle or package multi-treatment plans, so while the total cost of the treatment will be higher than the cost of a single treatment, bundling will be less expensive than a series of single treatments at full price.
Quite simply, accessible areas cost less to exterminate: An ant nest in a kitchen cabinet is much easier and less time-consuming to remove than a colony that has developed underneath the home’s foundation or in a tiny crawl space. Professionals can place baits and sprays directly where the treatment is needed without having to squeeze into tight spaces or excavate soil.
Pest Control Company
The company that is hired to perform the extermination will affect the total cost. Because the treatments provided by most companies are more or less the same, the cost difference is in how each company bundles and packages its treatment plans. If the infestation is small and likely requires a onetime treatment, the cost differential matters less, but for significant infestations or recurring problems, homeowners are advised to compare the options provided by the best pest control companies, such as Orkin and Terminix, along with smaller, local pest management companies. Homeowners can also read Orkin reviews and Terminix reviews to determine if either would be a good fit.
Additional Costs and Considerations
While actually killing the ants makes up the majority of the cost of extermination, there are some other factors that can add to the cost, sometimes significantly. These are important to factor into a budget, because they’re necessary parts of the job.
Infestation Prevention Methods
Even the best extermination job won’t last forever. If the ants got in once, they will find their way in again unless appropriate measures are taken. Homeowners can plan to spend money on some barrier sprays, sealed containers for food storage that isn’t already sealed in plastic, and possibly some bait stations to prevent an early, unnoticed infestation from taking hold. Sealing leaks, removing damp wood, and especially fixing leaks around or in the foundation and around doors and windows will go a long way toward preventing reinfestation. Costs will vary based on a homeowner’s specific needs.
Before homeowners treat for ants, either DIY or professionally, it’s best to determine what kind of ants are infesting their home—or if they’re ants at all. Termites and ants are easy to confuse; they look surprisingly similar from a distance, and ant treatment is significantly less costly than termite treatment. Most pest management companies will offer an inspection as part of their costs, charging only if the homeowner doesn’t hire them to do the extermination. Other companies may offer inspection for a separate fee of $60 to $200. This inspection will identify the type of ant present and also check for any other pests.
Signs of carpenter ants include sawdust piles and rustling noises in a home. Carpenter ants can do significant damage to homes, sheds, decks, and other wood structures. The cost to repair that damage will vary based on the amount and type of damage that is present. It’s important to note that the process of extermination can also cause damage: If a nest is deep enough in the walls, sections of drywall may need to be removed and replaced. Costs will vary, but it’s important to inspect the damage to assess what needs to be done.
Ant Exterminator Cost by Type of Ant
Ants come in a surprising number of shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities. Identifying the type will help determine the urgency of extermination and also some of the challenges that will accompany the job. When the ants are the type that dig or tunnel, or they pose a physical threat to humans, the cost will invariably be higher than it is for other types.
|Type of Ant||Average Extermination Cost|
|Carpenter ants||$250 to $500|
|Fire ants||$100 to $300|
|Pharaoh ants||$200 to $250|
|Sugar ants||$200 to $250|
Tiny (only about ⅛ of an inch long) and dark brown or black, Argentine ants are common pests found in households. The treatment is pretty simple and straightforward, so the cost is typically about $150.
These ants usually nest outside in wood that has died or is decaying as they seek the dampness. Industrious carpenter ants will often build a second nest inside a home for easier seasonal access to water and snacks. However, carpenter ants are excessively destructive to wood and framing. They can grow up to ½ inch long and can be all black or black and red. They have a rounded thorax and create a truly unpleasant smell of rotten coconuts when frightened or disturbed. Because of the multiple nests and difficulty completing the job in one visit, hiring an exterminator for carpenter ants lands on the higher side of the price range with an average exterminator cost of $250 to $500.
Small, fiery red, and vicious, fire ants need to be removed as soon as they are discovered and hopefully before some unfortunate resident of a home has accidentally drawn their attention. These ants are fierce defenders of their turf and will sting and bite anyone they can catch. Because it’s hard to know who will have severe reactions to their bites, it’s best to contact a professional to handle the ants’ removal at a cost between $100 and $300 on average.
Also offering an especial challenge to exterminators are pharaoh ants. They ride in on packages, clothing, or shoes and can squeeze through minimal entryways, then immediately find a location for the nest hidden deep inside the walls, making it very difficult for exterminators to get to the nest for extermination. They are not aggressive toward people, but they do carry bacteria through a home. Because of the added complexity to get rid of them, pharaoh ants are expensive to remove, with a cost of $200 to $250.
In the right season, a small spill of sugar will alert the sugar ants that the party has started. They love anything sweet—desserts, sugar, syrups—and can often defeat jars with screw-top containers to get to their sugar high. Professionals who know how to remove sugar ants generally charge between $200 and $250 for removal, partly because of the ants’ ability to get inside packaging and move quickly through a home.
Because there are hundreds of species of ant, each with its own defining characteristics, quite a few have been lumped together based on size and habits. Of the ants that invade human houses, odorous house ants, thief ants, rover ants, and others don’t present particular extermination challenges and ring up around $150.
Do I Need an Ant Exterminator?
The first sign many people have that there’s an ant problem is an ant. Despite being highly mobile, ants don’t make a particular effort to hide unless actively threatened. There are, however, other telltale signs that there’s a problem, including those detailed below.
Carpenter ants burrow deep into wood both inside and outside the home. Tiny piles of sawdust beneath wooden beams, or on windowsills and wood flooring, can indicate that ants have been burrowing nearby. Because carpenter ants can cause such terrible damage, sawdust piles are a sign that an expert needs a phone call very quickly.
Typical anthills look like tiny volcanoes with ants traveling in and out with some speed. But any small pile of dirt on the ground can be indicative of ants. Basements with soil floors, yards, and gardens are typical places to spot these small piles of dirt. A crack in a driveway or patio is an open invitation for these kinds of ants to push the dirt up and through their tunnel system.
It’s horrifying to think about, but if there are enough ants in the walls, residents will be able to hear them moving to and fro inside the walls. The rustling can be caused by the ants brushing against each other or the interior surface of the wall, or it can be the sound of ants traveling between a wall and the wallpaper covering it. An infestation large enough to hear warrants a call to a professional exterminator, because it means the colony has already spread.
One ant or two ants could be a fluke. A straight line of ants walking along a wall, precisely in a line, means it’s likely that the pheromones of ants that have traveled there before are leading the new ants toward a nest or a food source. Watching where they go and where they came from can provide good information about the location of the nest.
Hollow-Sounding Wooden Beams
Especially if carpenter ants have been spotted or sawdust piles have multiplied, it’s important to check the beams of the house for structural soundness. Tapping on the beams that are holding up ceilings, walls, and flooring is a good place to start; if a beam has been destroyed or weakened from the inside, it will sound hollow. At that point, it’s time to call in an exterminator—but homeowners are advised to prepare to pay for significant structural support as well.
Crumbling Wooden Structures
If an ant colony has truly invaded a piece of wood (tree, beam, railing, shed, etc.), it’s possible the wood holding up the structure has been hollowed out—the ants entered the wood, tunneled extensively through it, and then left, leaving a perfect surface with absolutely no structural integrity.
Some types of ants have wings but shed them at certain points in their life cycle. Piles of wings are often found on windowsills or on the floor near windows. This can also be an indicator of termite infestation, so piles of discarded wings should inspire a home’s residents to seek an inspection immediately by someone who is well versed in both ant and termite infestation.
Ant Extermination: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Small, undeveloped colonies of ants can be taken care of with a $5 can of ant spray or a package of bait stations. Removal of a large colony, or any ants at all that sting or bite, should begin with a call to an exterminator to perform an inspection and confirm what kind of ant is present. Once that observation is in place, the home’s residents can make choices about whether or not the infestation can be a DIY job. If the colony is sizable or the ants are carpenter ants or fire ants, it’s best to trust that the professional can get the job done more effectively than the customer can. The pros have access to a wider range of treatments than a weekend warrior and can map out a treatment plan that is most likely to work and truly rid the home of ants.
How to Save Money on Ant Exterminator Cost
Hiring a pro to remove an ant infestation is most often worth the expense, especially given the cost of DIY supplies. However, there are some easy ways to save significantly on extermination costs.
- Be proactive. Especially if you’re aware that your home is ant-prone, take aggressive steps to prevent pest infestation, such as fully cleaning counters, tables, floors, and cabinets and attending to spills quickly to interrupt the ants’ food and moisture supply.
- Act quickly. Call an exterminator while the problem is still small. It will take a pro less time (and therefore less money) to exterminate a small colony that hasn’t yet had time to spread, saving the customer money.
- DIY some tasks. Laying down some bait stations along the perimeter of the home may help repel new ants from entering while the exterminator deals with the ones that have already gotten inside.
- Shop around. Get quotes from several companies, and compare the services they provide and the costs very carefully.
- Finish the treatment. If you do hire a professional, be sure to complete the entire process. Ants are like antibiotics: If you don’t finish the whole course, they’ll grow tolerant of the methods, adapt, and return.
- Consider regular treatments. If you have a recurrent problem, ask the exterminator about package deals for regular treatment. Since it’s likely the ants will need treatment on a fairly regular basis, it’s usually cheaper to choose a package or bundle that meets the needs and saves over a series of onetime visits.
Questions to Ask About Ant Extermination
Credentials, experience, references, and safety (along with cost) are pillars of hiring a good contractor, so it’s always good to ask. What follows are common questions to ask when considering ant exterminator options.
- Is everyone who works for the company licensed, bonded, and insured?
- What kind of continuing education or retraining do the workers undergo?
- How will you decide what treatment to use?
- Do you have references that I can call?
- Are your materials environmentally friendly? Are they safe for my children and pets?
- Will you honor your quote if the job turns out to be more complicated than expected?
- What kind of guarantee do you offer? Are follow-up and preventative treatments included?
- What payment arrangements are in place?
Seeing a trail of ants crawling along the kitchen counter or crowded along the edge of the deck is nobody’s idea of fun, but it doesn’t have to result in endless chasing around with a can of ant spray. Professional exterminators can make fairly quick work of a small infestation and are really the best solution for a larger one, but there are factors for homeowners to consider when deciding whether or not to use one and deciding who to hire. These are some of the questions homeowners frequently have about ant extermination, plus their answers, to get homeowners on the road to an ant-free home.
Q. How long does it take for an exterminator to get rid of ants?
It depends on the size of the infestation and the type of ant. Depending on the particular scenario, removal can take just a few days or up to a few weeks. It’s critical not to stint on this and instead to follow through with the recommended treatment even if there have been no ant sightings in days. Ants are extremely adaptable to new situations and may be moving the colony or changing their patterns, so it’s important to continue treatment until the exterminator is confident that the whole colony is gone.
Q. What should I consider when hiring an ant exterminator?
The most important considerations when hiring any contractor, including ant exterminators, are the safety of the home’s residents and the efficiency with which the contractor does their job. You’ll want to check their licensing, insurance, and experience levels and then ask about the eco-friendliness of the products they use and the safety of those products for the children, adults, and pets living in the home.
Q. How can I find where ants are coming from?
Sometimes it’s really difficult to tell. In general, look for trails (where the ants walk in a line or a row, sometimes leaving small marks behind) and also a food source close to the spot where they most often appear. If there’s a central food source, resist the temptation to immediately kill all of the ants with a splash of spray; instead look for the direction from which the ants approach and follow that line back. If there’s no central food source visible, using an ant bait station to create one and make the same observations can work as well. Also, check for cracks and gaps in the wall or small holes in the back of a cabinet near the area where the ants are gathering and seal it with caulk.
Q. What do professionals use to get rid of ants?
The methods and products a professional will use to exterminate ants will depend on a few factors, including the type of ant and the location of the nest or infestation. Pros may use barrier sprays to contain and kill the ants, poisons, ant fumigation, or mound treatment to eradicate the ants, in addition to sealing gaps and entry points.
Q. Will ants come back after the treatment?
When dealing with an ant infestation, homeowners may wonder, “Can exterminators get rid of ants?” It’s not unusual to see ants parading through the home after a treatment. Depending on the type of treatment that was applied, these may be ants that have not yet died but are carrying the extermination chemicals back to the nest (so they will be gone soon). It’s also possible that the treatment destroyed the colony but left some stragglers behind, or it could be that this is a whole new group of ants staking their claim.
Q. How do I prevent ant infestations?
While an exterminator can kill the ants that are present, they can’t ward off future infestations, so taking steps to prevent a recurrence is key. Ants enter in search of food or moisture, so removing the attraction is the most important part of prevention: Clean up spills immediately and thoroughly, wash dishes promptly, seal food containers tightly, keep the trash empty, and clean the top of the stove to get rid of food spilled while cooking. In addition, sealing cracks and obvious entry points can deter the ants from coming into the house.