Ants in the House & Warning Signs
July 12, 2021
Did you know there are more than 700 different species of ants in the U.S.?
These small insects can be unwelcome guests in your yard, but they can be especially troublesome if you find them indoors. Whether they're crawling toward your kitchen counter or making their home in your basement or crawl space, knowing more about ants and their living habits can help you protect your home from these invaders.
Learn the warning signs that you could have an ant colony and find out what you can do to make it more difficult for ants to enter your home.
Common Ants Found in Homes
Pavement ants are an ant species that plague homeowners across the country. Their ability to find narrow entryways means they can get inside easier than other species. They can travel up to 30 feet from their nest looking for food and water, and they can sneak through cracks in pavement and a home’s foundation in their search. Once inside, they burrow in walls, insulation, and under floors to build nests.
Another well-known ant species in the U.S. is the fire ant, which can cause painful welts and swelling when they sting. Fire ants build nesting mounds near structures like fences, outbuildings, and a home’s exterior walls. Just like pavement ants, fire ants can enter a home easily through cracks in its foundation and walls, in between doors and windows, and through HVAC and A/C units.
Why Ants Come Inside and Where You Can Find Them
Pavement ants, fire ants, and other ant species are looking for food, water, and shelter. They can enter your home during their search, and then they will stay and reproduce.
The most common areas to find ants inside a home are kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. But ants can also nest under floors and in crawl spaces, making them harder to spot.
HVAC and A/C units are common entry points for ants, which can use small gaps to get inside. Plus, the condensation that occurs in units can cause moisture or drips, attracting them to the location.
What You Can Do To Help Keep Ants Away From Your Home
To help protect your home from these small pesky intruders, start by identifying and sealing cracks and holes.
Repair any foundation cracks or pavement cracks. Use spray foam to fill in larger holes, and add caulking around air conditioning and heating units. Look along your home's walls, around windows and doors, and on paved areas around your home exterior. Remember that ants can tunnel through the ground to enter your home in unexpected places.
If you see ants in your home, wipe down the areas with vinegar. This can remove the ants' scent that they leave behind as a map to help their friends find their way back to food and water sources.
Prevent Ants by Keeping Your Kitchen Clean
Once inside a home, ants looking for food and water will often travel to a home’s kitchen and pantry areas. Their strong sense of smell can help them find anything you've left behind. A scout will then bring a sample back to the colony, and then a large number of ants can swarm to devour their new food source.
To cut off their food source and reduce ants in your home, make sure you frequently clean stray crumbs from kitchen counters and stovetops. Vacuum crumbs from dining areas, and seal food in airtight containers. Storing items like sugar inside the fridge is another helpful practice during the summer months when ants are more active.
Keep trash tightly secured, and take it out regularly. If you have indoor plants, make sure you don't overwater them because this moisture can attract ants. Also, think about any pet food or water dishes that could be attracting pests, and seal up food between mealtimes.
Pay Attention to Damp, Humid Areas
Ants are attracted to moisture, and additional hotspots for ants are basements and bathrooms.
You can reduce moisture by using a bathroom vent fan or installing a dehumidifier in your basement or crawl space. Also, repair any water issues such as foundation water seepage or leaking pipes. Even a small persistent leak can be problematic.
You can also create physical barriers against pests by installing insulation panels or encapsulation systems. Not only can this make it more difficult for ants to get inside, but you'll also get the benefit of improved air quality.
Change Yard Features To Stop Attracting Ants
Making small changes to your home’s garden and landscaping can help you reduce ants in the property around your home. This can make it more enjoyable to spend time outside, and it can also help reduce the pest pressure that can lead to ants inside your home.
Start by changing landscape materials. In flower beds and around trees, replace mulch or pine straw with crushed stone or rocks to reduce ant nesting areas. Ants also nest inside stacks of firewood, and keeping firewood at least 20 feet away can reduce the chances they'll get inside.
Finally, stop your open-door policy for ants by sealing cracks in your driveway and sidewalks and repairing foundation cracks.
Remember that ants play an important role in a healthy ecosystem. While you may need to exterminate if you have major ant problems, less intrusive methods can help protect your home from pests without harsh chemicals. By fixing cracks and entry points into your home, removing food and water sources, and dehumidifying basements and crawl spaces, you can reduce the likelihood of pest infestations and make your home more enjoyable.
Learn how the structure of your home can help protect you from pests by scheduling a free inspection from your local basement and crawl space repair experts.