Ants are infuriating. You get rid of infestations every day, but they keep finding new ways into your kitchen. You look down at the floor and see a long chain of insects robbing the dog’s food bowl or joining their colony mates around a dropped piece of candy.
Ants invade pantries, gardens, trash cans, and structural wood. Keep ants away by practicing integrated pest management (IPM) at home using these four tips.
1. ELIMINATE WET AREAS IN SOIL AND WOOD
Ants that invade homes are led to the property by an enticement. Damp soil is one of the siren calls for ants. If you have an outdoor faucet that leaks or a pipe in the crawl space that has a slow, steady drip, an ant colony has a ready supply of H2O to hydrate the population.
Inspect your home in the spring and autumn to find places where the soil is moist or you have standing water near the home. Tighten up leaks, repair cracked pipes, and tighten fittings on fixtures and your plumbing lines.
2. KEEP FOOD AREAS TIDY & CLEAN
Ants are a lot like humans. They adore sweets, fats, and proteins. Ants send out foragers to find these delectable foods near their colonies. If their colony is within the foraging range — or inside your own four walls — your food supplies become the ants’ food supplies.
Did you drop a trail of cookie crumbs on your way from the cookie jar to the counter? A scout ant will find the trail and use pheromones to guide the rest of the food foragers straight to the snacks.
Practice the following IPM (Integrated Pest Management) methods to reduce your kitchen’s desirability to ants:
- Keep all food in airtight containers.
- Wipe crumbs and spills immediately.
- Sweep the floor after meals and food prep.
- Mop the floor daily.
- Wipe down kitchen shelving weekly.
- If ants can’t smell or access food in your kitchen, they will look elsewhere for their nutrition.
3. DEFEND THE PET FOOD
If you store bags of pet food in the garage or pantry, ants will find the kibble and make themselves right at home.
Ants also invade food bowls. You may see your normally ravenous dog staring down in confusion at its bowl. Step closer, jiggle the bowl, and a horde of ants comes pouring over the sides of the pet dish.
If ants have invaded the pet food bag, you can recover the food by placing the bag in the freezer. When the food is frozen, so are the ants. Strain the frozen food a bit at a time with a colander so the ants are separated from the chunks or bits.
Since ants are drawn to the easy pickings around the pet-food bowl, follow the following precautions to keep ants away:
- Sweep kibble from around bowl.
- Wash pet bowl after meals.
- Use mat under bowl while feeding.
- Mop pet food area with vinegar.
- When you find ant trails that lead to and from your pet food, swab the trails with soapy water, peppermint oil solution, or vinegar to remove the pheromones.
Small amounts of dry cat food can be stored in a large plastic bottle with a wide screw-on lid. Large amounts of dog food should be stored in tubs that have locking, airtight lids. Pet food should be stored off the ground on either pallets or heavy-duty shelving.
4. SECURE THE ANT OPENINGS
Ants are as tiny as 1/12 inch in length. They don’t need a set of double-hung French doors to slip inside your space. If your home is in need of fresh caulk around the windows and seals around the basement joints, your home has an open-door policy toward ants.
If you’re not sure where to look for ant entrances and exits, schedule a professional pest inspection of your home. The pest-control tech will show you the places where you need to pay attention. Vulnerable areas include:
- Cracks in concrete or cinder blocks
- Gaps in door and window frames
- Unsealed openings for pipes and ductwork
- If your home has large gaps under and over exterior doors, use barriers to remove the gaps. For example, you can use door sweeps made of brush material on the bottoms of exterior doors to deny entry to ants.
Ants can hide or nest behind trim and siding, so seal up any gaps between trim and exterior walls. Use a garage door sweep and seal up gaps in the garage exterior to keep ants out of your storage areas.
Contact American Pest Control Inc. to schedule a summer ant inspection of your home. We help you practice IPM for ant control by using various expert treatments, which may include destroying nests, setting bait, and using chemical agents in key areas around your property. Our ant-control services are available for residences throughout Central Illinois.