Exterminators for ant problem?

We have a growing ant problem and need exterminators - anyone have recommendations for a good service in the East bay? We’ve tried Terro ant baits with limited success and think we need professional help now. 

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I don't have a recommendation other than to NOT hire Dewey Pest. We had an ant problem that while not huge was persistent that we hired Dewey for. They sprayed the outside of our house and told us we might have a few more ants for the next few days while the ants took the bait and poison. Three days later we had hundreds of thousands of ants in our house, SO many more than we had originally. Dewey was incredibly hard to get on the phone to come again. Finally after the third visit the branch manager came to spray, but the ants came back, again more than we had originally. I called/emailed him and he just ghosted me. I finally got someone on the main line to cancel and get a refund then 3 months later they sent someone out again and billed me for our next service.  It was a nightmare. We finally ended up covering our house in terra traps for a few weeks and now (knock on wood) the ants are gone. Whatever you do, don't hire Dewey. I hope you find a better solution than we did, good luck! 

We’ve been using Aantex for their ongoing service for a few years now and haven’t had a single ant since we started. 

First Select pest control did an amazing job on our ant issues! Responsive, kind and got the job done! 


Terro doesn’t work against Bay Area ants because, thanks to climate change, they’re all part of a non-competitive super colony that stretches down to South America and which is wreaking havoc on native ants. Since there’s no single queen, there’s an inexhaustible supply of new ants. I don’t have an exterminator recommendation, but what did the trick for us was obsessively sealing up every single crack in our floorboards and molding with clear caulk (and putting anything sweet or protein-rich into airtight containers, and cleaning all the crevasses inside the dishwasher). Good luck!

We used Gene Szeto at Capable Pest Control (510-688-8471). He was friendly, professional, and quick to schedule. After he sprayed the ants completely disappeared. I couldn't believe it and was kicking myself over not having called sooner. Best part is he offers a 1-year guarantee in case the ants come back. We're 3 months in and so far so good.

Before you call an exterminator buy a bottle of Orange Guard from a hardware store and spray it around the outside of your house where the foundation meets the soil or concrete or whatever you have which butts up against it. It is made from orange peel extract and is not toxic. It can even be used around animals or food areas. It does not work the you can call Burge Pest Control. I have used them several times for termites, rodents, etc and they are very good.

I’ve done omega twice (two different years) and both times was great! Wasn’t too expensive either around $150

I use Orkin. No complaints. 

If you only have a few ants, orange oil and diligent cleaning will take care of it. You want to wipe off any pheromone trails (with household cleaner) that the ants leave that signal other ants to come inside on the same route. Then find their access point and spray it with orange oil which they hate. Orange oil is non toxic and very effective. This works really well if the colony is outside the house. BUT if the problem is persistent (which it sounds like from your post) the colony may have moved into your house and it’s time to call in the professionals. We use Burge Pest and they are great. They come and spray around the outside of the house and usually that takes care of the problem. If you have a colony firmly established in your house it might take a few more sprays, and they might have to spray inside the house, especially where the ants are entering. One winter we had an especially bad infestation and Burge Pest suggested we actually had TWO colonies in our walls. There was a hole in the garage wall near where I guessed the ants were living and they sprayed into my walls up and down their “highway” of pipes and that finally took care of it. 

Pretty much everyone in the East Bay has periodic invasions of small ants coming to get water or crumbs of food.  After over 20 years here, we have found that these practices work better than exterminators, who cannot get rid of the super colony:

As mentioned, we seal up every crack/hole they come through into the house by carefully observing them before cleaning them up. 

We put down diatomaceous earth around the outside of the house where they are coming in from.  This is a non-toxic white powder that you can get at a hardware store, made of diatom shells that are harmless to people and larger animals but are tiny razor blades to insects. 

We occasionally spray an insecticide outside the house where they are entering.  

When ants are scouting or invading, we keep the kitchen super clean and always wipe up counters.  We use a cat food bowl with a moat around it and don't collect compost.  

We try to remember that we co-exist with a super colony all around us and do our best to give them the message that our house is not a good place for them to forage. 

Best of luck.

The local ants that invade people's homes are almost always so-called Argentine ants, which is one of the world's worst invasive species.  Wikipedia has a good discussion, including pest control. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_ant.

This species of ant is very hard to control.  Most other ants form individual colonies with territorial boundaries, which helps keep them in control. Argentine ants instead form multi-queen super-colonies spanning millions of acres -- the Bay Area and well beyond is effectively one huge ant colony.  Because they don't have territories, they can form little campsites all over, for example, in the soil of a houseplant or a crack in the wall.

The Wiki article notes that in spring, the queen is laying a lot of eggs and the colony will need more protein.

We've had good luck with Terro traps, which are relatively benign as pesticides go, but they only work when the colony is seeking sweets.  If the ants are looking for fat and protein, you will need a different bait. (Bait labels specify "sweet-eating" and "grease-eating" ants.) 

The good thing about baits is that they go back to the local branch of the colony and kill the ants there, including the local queen.  They are both more effective than spraying and don't involve poisoning large areas at random like sprays do.  Baits take a week or so to work (since the goal is killing the local colony), and meanwhile the bait will attract ants so there may be more around.  Spraying is a very short-term solution aimed at individual ants, rather than the colony, and so long as the colony survives there will be more ants.  The local queen is deep underground somewhere, so you can't spray her.

Wiping away pheromone trails with soapy water can help.  If they have colonized the soil right next to your house, you may be able to drive them further away by saturating the soil, not a great option, especially now.  Saturation works great for potted plants.