With over 1,000 species of ants living in North America, the chances are good some may invade your home in the spring or summer. While most of these ants are harmless and there are only a few types that enter homes, no one wants these insects crawling around their walls, floors, and furniture.
It may seem like a losing battle when ants keep showing up, but there are a few steps you can take to get rid of them. Here’s how to keep ants out of the house and away for good.
Remove All Traces of Food
Keeping your home free of crumbs and another food residue after cooking or eating is critical if you’re trying to control an ant infestation. Dirty dishes, glasses, and containers are open invitations to ants—especially if they contain something sweet.
Wash anything that food has come into contact with or place it in the dishwasher right away. Put leftover food away promptly in secure containers, then clean your countertops, stovetop, appliances, and kitchen floor. Keep your garbage bag secure, and seal it up and remove it from the kitchen once it’s full.
This cleanliness rule applies to all areas of your home, so resist the urge to leave any dirty plates or cups lying around. If your cat or dog throws up, clean up the vomit right away so ants can’t find it. Even if you have a colony of ants living in your home, keeping food away will help minimize the number of ants you see in your living space.
Keep Your Home Dry
Like all living creatures, ants need water to survive and they will seek it out in a home. You can give them one less reason to invade your space if you can keep moisture from building up in and around your home.
Fix leaky pipes and faucets and clean up pools of water. Use a dryer and dehumidifier or hire a professional clean-up company if your basement or another part of your home has been flooded.
Some species of ants are also attracted to rotting wood, so renovating damaged areas of your home can help keep them away.
Locate Where Ants are Entering Your Home
Ants can squeeze through any kind of tiny or crack or opening and unfortunately, the older a home is the more likely it is to have gaps. If you’re noticing several ants in one area of your home, walk around the outside and try to locate where they’re entering it. It could be along the foundation, a deck or patio, or under shingles—either on the roof or the side of the home.
If you’re able to determine how they’re crawling inside, this can help make baiting them a little easier.
Bait Them Instead of Spraying
It’s tempting to reach for a can of bug spray when you find ants in your home, but the problem with this technique is it won’t kill the entire colony. Spraying only kills the ants you’re seeing—which are usually worker ants that scout for food sources—and not the hundreds or thousands of ants living in your home.
Use an ant bait instead. These products were designed with ant behavior in mind, which means the worker ants consume some of the bait and also bring it back to share with the other ants in the colony. Ant baits usually contain borax which poisons ants slowly enough so that they have time to share it with the rest of the colony.
There are also ant gels that can be used indoors or outdoors. They usually come in a syringe and can be squeezed onto the foundation or another part of your home where you’ve seen ants entering the structure. A good strategy for eradicating ants is to place bait or gel both outside of the home and indoors where you’ve seen them crawling around.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a spike in ant activity after placing a bait trap down—this is a good thing and means the ants that found the bait is laying down a trail for other worker ants to find it. Resist the urge to kill them; leave them alone and let the bait work its magic. Rest assured they won’t come crawling all over the room because they are fixated on the food source.
You may need to replace the bait or gel after a few days depending upon how large the colony is. Be patient and replace it as needed. It can take up to a week or sometimes a few weeks to completely wipe out an ant colony.
Even though borax is safe for humans, you’ll want to keep the ant bait (and ant gel) away from pets and children.
Seal up Openings and Protect the Perimeter
Once the ants are gone for good, you can help prevent another colony from moving in by sealing up gaps and openings both inside and outside of your home. Use a caulking gun or hire a home professional who can eliminate openings. Depending upon the condition of your home, you may need to make some renovations.
It’s also a good idea to apply an ant product around the outside of your home that will protect the perimeter should another colony try to enter it. These products don’t last forever, so you’ll need to reapply them—preferably in the spring when colonies are seeking a home.
Search for Anthills on Yor Property
Walk around your property and keep an eye out for any anthills in the ground. Use a bait product that can be used outdoors and inserted into the anthill using a built-in stake. Killing ant colonies that live in the ground helps protect your home from additional invaders.
Know-How to Keep Ants Out of the House
Know how to keep ants out of the house by following the above tactics, and enjoy ant-free living again!
If you need help getting rid of an ant infestation, we can inspect your home and give you a free estimate for a treatment plan. Fill out our online form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.