If you find the ants marching two-by-two through your kitchen, you probably don't care where they're going. All you want is for them to be gone. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to control ants.

What You Should Know About Ants

How are those ants staying in such a neat line as they invade your home? They're following a trail laid by scout ants who preceded them. Those scouts laid down an invisible trail of pheromones to help the rest of the colony head straight to the food. The lesson here? If you see one or two ants, get rid of them fast so they don't call the others.

Even if you don't see how the ants are entering your home, the ants can find a way in through almost microscopic cracks. They're attracted by water and also by sugary or fatty foods. That's why you tend to find them in the kitchen.

Ants live in colonies of up to 500,000, and they'll set up shop anywhere: under your lawn, inside your wall, under your home. While an ant colony can live many years in one place, it can also uproot and move quickly if threatened.

What Can You Do to Stop Ants?

For the most part, any do-it-yourself approach limits you to killing the ants you actually see, and it doesn't affect those tens of thousands of ants from the same colony. Because different types of ants require different treatments, calling a professional for help may be necessary if you experience persistent and recurring ant invasions.

In the meantime, take steps to keep ants from moving in. Remove any standing water around your home so they're not attracted. Trim tree branches that touch your roof to cut off the easy highway leading ants to your kitchen. Move firewood away from the house for the same reason. And be ready to call an exterminator when needed.