How to Get Rid of Ants in Electrical Outlets

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

It sounds as bad as it is, having a group of ants crawling in and out of the electrical sockets in your home. This would strike fear in the hearts of most homeowners, and you would certainly be wondering how in the world you could ever solve the problem.

There are so many questions: How did they get inside the outlets? Will they affect the electricity in the house? How can I get rid of them? Although finding ants in your electrical outlets is a daunting problem, there are several good ways to get rid of them, and you can do so efficiently and economically.

Damage Ants Can Do in the Walls

If you see a few ants crawling out of light switches or electrical sockets, you can be sure that there are more where those came from.

Ants inside the walls lead to all sorts of trouble, and it is important for you to get rid of them as soon as possible. Ants can chew the electrical wires inside your walls, causing your power to go off, as well as a myriad of other troubles.

Electrical Problems

If ants end up wrapped up in the electrical wiring, there is a good chance that they will electrocute themselves. If enough ants get killed, their bodies could pile up and cause the power to go out. Having the power go out is never a good thing, and if the reason is ant carcasses, it is even worse.

Building Nests

Another problem with ants in the walls is that they could build nests there. If a queen ant decides to make her home there, it will be difficult to eradicate the ants from behind the walls.

A queen will take workers to create a new nest, and if they build it inside your walls, this will be hard to fix. Because of the difficulty of getting behind the drywall, you might need to call in a professional.

What to Do if Your Electricity Goes Off

If the ants infest your walls, they might short wire the electricity. This happens if several ants end up getting electrocuted by chewing wires or getting too close.

The telltale signs of this would be having your lights flash, or hearing pops or zapping sounds. If this happens there are three things you should do to remedy the situation.

  • First of all, shut off the power to the area affected by the ants. This will ensure your own safety as you try to figure out what to do.
  • The second order of business is to call the extermination company. Although sometimes it is easy to deal with ants yourself (like if you find them in the carpet or the dishwasher,) when ants are electrocuting themselves inside your walls, it is time to call in the professionals.
  • Finally, call an electrician. If ants have chewed the wires you will need a professional electrician to replace the wires. And since you cannot really see what is going on inside your walls, a professional has more tools and more tricks of the trade at their disposal.

Common Types of Ants in Electrical Outlets

Sugar Ants

Sugar ants are a constant source of antagonism for homeowners. They enter a home through cracks, holes, or other imperfections in your home, and are in a constant state of looking for food and moisture.

If you do not clean as diligently as you should, or there are a lot of extra crumbs of food lingering near the outlets, especially in the kitchen, this can draw in the ants.

Ants are also drawn to moisture, so any outlets near bathroom or laundry, or kitchen sinks are also fair game.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are another choice for ants you might find inside your walls. In general, they enter houses when they find rotten wood, and start to chow down. Carpenter ants burrow through wood to make their nests, eating as they go. If this is the case, you need to move quickly to eradicate them and avoid structural damage to your home.

Crazy Ants

Crazy ants are small, less than 1/8th of an inch, but what they lack in size they make up for in swagger. These ants cannot build their own homes, so they swarm into small areas (such as light sockets and switches behind the walls) in order to have a place to live.

What happens next is not for the faint of heart. Often, the crazy ants will get tangled in the electrical wires and end up getting electrocuted when they get caught in the electrical current.

In this case, they let out an alarm pheromone that draws more ants to the scene. When this happens, the new ants are often electrocuted as well. Will a pile of dead ants, turning off the electricity, and calling in the professionals may be your only answer.

No matter what type of ants end up in your walls, it is important to get rid of them as soon as possible. Not only are they unsightly and unsanitary, but they offer a very real safety hazard if they are messing around with your electrical system and the structure of your walls.

Getting Rid of the Ants in Your Outlets

Use Natural Deterrents

If you have small children or pets running around, you really don’t want to be sprinkling poison around the house if you can help it. There are some natural remedies that can kill the ants and also keep your family members safe.


Vinegar is a miracle liquid and can do everything from cleansing your insides to kill weeds. Ants are repelled by it, and so if you put some on cotton balls near your electric outlets, they will likely crawl the other way.


Cinnamon repels ants, and you probably have some laying around the house. By sprinkling cinnamon generously near your electrical outlets, the ants will be sent packing. And instead of the pesticide smell, cinnamon will have a pleasant odor.

Cayenne and Black Peppers

Cayenne pepper and black pepper both repel ants, and can help you rid your outlets of ants without powerful pesticides. Sprinkle the pepper generously near the electrical outlets, and the ants will not be with you very long.


Borax, also known as sodium borate, is an all-natural compound that can help you get rid of your ants. And fun fact, if you have young children around, this is one of the prime ingredients in slime.

Mixing the borax with a sweetener to draw the ants is the best way to use borax for ant killing.

One recipe for borax bombs has you combining borax, water, and powdered sugar and leaving the mixture in corners of the room. The ants will be drawn to the sugar and track the borax back to their nest.

You can also avoid the hassles and just by a ready-to-use borax-based ant killer.

Pay for Professional Products

There are several ways to get rid of ants by purchasing a pre-made product. If you don’t have the energy or know-how to use home remedies, then get this ant bait.

Place the ant bait in a corner of the room near the electrical outlet where you see the ants. The ants take the poison back to the nest and the queen and the rest of the ants will die soon enough.

Another option is to use ant dust. Sprinkle this product liberally near the electrical outlets where you see the ants, and they will track through it, taking it back to the nest and killing the ants there.

Call an Exterminator

Depending on how squeamish you are and how pervasive the ant problem is, you may need to call in a professional to deal with the problem. It is extremely important that you totally get the ants out of the walls, and you may not have the wherewithal to do that as a homeowner.

Exterminators have a large bag of tricks from which they can pull in order to get rid of the ants, and they can do it while keeping you and themselves safe from electrical surges and other troubles.

What NOT to Do

Although powders and traps would work well to get rid of ants in your electrical outlets, do not use a spray. There is a serious risk of electrocution when liquids come into contact with electricity, and it is very difficult to direct a spray. Although you are trying to get rid of the problem of ants, a liquid spray would definitely do more harm than good.

It’s Electric: Circuit Conclusions

Ants are nothing short of annoying, and finding them in sockets and switches is certainly not a welcome sight. Ants find the easiest place to enter a house, and cracks and crevices in the wall might be just the thing they are looking for.

Once ants get inside your walls, though, you have a real problem. They can get tangled in your wiring, get electrocuted, and short circuit the entire electrical system of your home.

Other ants will be attracted to the pheromones and cause chaos, which you will need to clean up. No matter which tactic you use, make sure to turn off the electricity and tread carefully.

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