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.
What Causes An Ant Problem?
If ants have taken over your home, you might be wondering what caused them to show up in the first place or how it could have been avoided. More often than not, ants show up in masses when food of any kind is left out or when they’re seeking a new habitat.
Ants are not picky when it comes to food, but sugar is typically the highest attractant. When you’re struggling with an ant infestation, it’s important to react quickly and get rid of the ants for good. You need to know how to keep ants out of the house!
When You Know You Have An Ant Problem
There are many signs that you might have an ant infestation in your home. Before you can learn ways to keep ants out of your home, you must first identify the problem and its source. If you spot a few ants and think nothing of it, it could mean a larger problem is on its way. If you notice a trail of ants in corners or entryways, this is a glaring indication that there is already major problem.
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
Various factors entice ants into your home and damp soil is one of their siren calls. 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.
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.
Risks of Unsolved Ant Problems
Though it might not seem like a huge deal to let a few pesky ants come and go, serious problems can arise from untreated ant infestations.
Depending on the type of ant, they can cause damage to the structure of your home as well. Carpenter ants are drawn to your home and feed on the materials that keep it upright and sound. Ants can pose a risk to children’s safety, too. Fire ants are ready to bite any human or animal in their path.
As well as causing damage, ants can make you feel unsettled and unclean. There are several ways to remove ants and keep them out of the house. Ant traps are one such solution. These traps draw the ants to them with bait. When the ants bring the bait back to the colony, it slowly kills the ants, and eventually the nest’s queen.
For ant problems beyond what you can manage, there is American Pest Control. Our team of professionals will address all of your ant infestation concerns and treat areas thoroughly and safely. With our vast knowledge of the various types of ants and our differing approaches and treatments for each infestation, there is no one better for the job than our team!
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.