How to Eliminate Insect Pheromone Trails

How to Eliminate Insect Pheromone Trails

Who hasn’t encountered a steady stream of ants marching along the kitchen floor? These bug trails aren’t just an eyesore, however; they’re also a major clue for homeowners determined to banish these intruders.

Ants and other social insects have notoriously poor eyesight, so in order to colonize, swarm, and build their hives, they utilize a chemical means of communication: pheromones. The release of these natural substances serves as scent pathways for their fellow insects to follow, often straight from their nests and into your well-stocked pantry.

Lucky for us, the pheromone clues left by ants, termites, wasps, bees, and other social insects can be intercepted and disrupted, preventing foragers from finding their way back into places they’re simply not welcome.


While it’s tempting to simply wipe up trailing insects, take a beat before reaching for the mop or broom. Instead, follow these easy steps to ensure that the pheromone trails are adequately managed before the single-file trail of insects turns into an entire swarm. If you don’t get rid of the pheromone trail, you’re likely to have the invading pests come right back.


Not all social insects make their trails as conveniently obvious as we would hope, so a bit of investigative work can go a long way to stop insects in their tracks. Ants may openly parade in their usual straight lines, revealing obvious pheromone trails with observable traffic back and forth, while other paths may not be so clear. Take a good look around the entire area and try to determine if there are multiple paths and where the entry points are. Keep in mind that there can be multiple sources leading to a single infestation.


After identifying them, pathways need to be obscured or eliminated, but look beyond merely using water. Many pheromone trails can be interrupted using deodorant chemicals you likely already have on hand. Disrupting pheromone trails will disorient foraging pests and send them searching for food, water, and shelter elsewhere.

To quickly obscure pest scents, place these highly odorous materials in raw, powdered, or oil form near colonies, hives, potential entrances, or along pathways:

  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Chili powder
  • Lemongrass
  • Clove
  • Tea tree
  • Citrus


If complete elimination is your goal, look no further than these cleaning tips:

  • Glass cleaners such as Windex are highly effective at disrupting pheromone trails, as they both clean and deodorize at once and can be applied and wiped away to clear scent pathways. Make sure you select a glass cleaner that contains ammonia for best results.
  • Vinegar is also a powerful deodorant when applied liberally to the area. Simply dilute the vinegar with equal parts water, spray, and let dry.
  • Baking soda, a well-known deodorizer, can be mixed with water into a thick paste & scrubbed firmly into suspected surfaces, eliminating pheromones and sending insects packing.

In addition to cleaning up pheromone trails, set aside some extra time to deep clean other spaces as well. Insects wandered into your space for a reason, and that reason is most likely food or water. Keep food stored securely in airtight containers, check the floor for any drops or spills that need to be wiped up, and keep up on regular chores to keep insect-attractive messes to a minimum.


After clearing pheromone trails, take extra measures to prevent new ones from being created by keeping bugs away to begin with. Double-check weather stripping, seals around doors and windows, and update any loose caulking or holes that might be allowing insects to march into your home. Tiny insects can squeeze through the smallest of gaps, so any unrepaired cracks or holes should be fixed before any other scavengers can make their way through.

When taking these preventative measures, look both high and low. While ants will trail along on the ground, wasps, bees, and other pests may gather higher up than we can comfortably reach. Cracks and gaps exist all along our homes regardless of height, so take care to check less obvious places as well.

Disrupting the pheromone communication of social insects is a powerful way to prevent their presence. If you’d like a hand eliminating these chemical signals and getting rid of pests, contact our pest control professionals and we’ll gladly take the problem off your hands. Our experts are trained to identify and eliminate pest pheromone trails as part of a multi-faceted pest control approach. Keeping your home free from the worry of pests is our top priority.