It is ant season again! As soon as the weather starts to heat up, and particularly after a warm rainy day, ants decide that indoors is a good place to be. Sure, you can kill ants with various home remedies, but are there are lots of other things that you can do to keep ants out of the house? Fortunately, the answer is YES!
What attracts ants in the first place?
If you want to keep ants out of the house, one of the first things you need to know is what attracts them into the home. Just like any other creature, ants search for food and water, and also a shelter of some sort. It is no coincidence that the kitchen and bathroom are places where you will most commonly see ants. These rooms give the ants what they are looking for!
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There are many types of ants and not all of them are attracted to the same thing. Generally speaking though, ants like organic matter of some sort of sweetness. That means that anything from kitchen scraps to a spilled bit of honey will bring them inside. Even old cut flowers in water in a dirty vase can attract them.
All it takes is one ant! If you see a single ant on your counter top and don’t consider it a big problem, think again. If that guy finds a food supply, he’ll go back to his nest to tell his buddies and you’ll be seeing more of them soon.
As soon as an ant finds a food source, he will carry tiny bits of it back to the nest and mark the trail to the food source with pheromones to show other ants how to find the food supply. Squish that ant in his tracks!
Ant colonies can spread rapidly so it is important to do what you can to keep them out of your home. The imported fire ant is actually on the list of invasive pests identified by the US Department of Agriculture.
Tips to Keep Ants out of the House
Eliminate the Food Supply
Ants need food and that is the mean thing that they are looking for. Cookie crumbs on counter tops, food scraps in a sink, open containers and dirty floors are the ants version of an all you can eat buffet. If you have a dirty house, the ants will multiply and before you know it, you’ll have a full blown invasion on your hands. The answer is simple, of course. Take away their food supply and you will have less ants.
Consider investing in air tight containers. I use Oxo containers and love them. They seal easily and my pantry doesn’t have any evidence of ants in it since I started using them.
Moisture is a Problem, too!
The reason you find ants in the bathroom is that they are always on the look for water. Once they find a good source of it, they will return and stay nearby. Don’t let moisture to sit on counters and other sources. Wipe up spills quickly.
Seal off Entry Points
Ants are tiny and their entry point into a house can be small, too. If you see a large number of ants, it is pretty easy to find out how they are getting indoors. Apply caulk to crevices around doors and windows that the ants are using to get inside. Inspect both the inside and outside of your property. The best way to get rid of ants in your home is to keep them out of it in the first place by having well sealed windows and doors.
Make Ant Baits
There are lots of natural ant killer remedies that will kill and repel ants if you do discover them. Borax is a commonly used ingredient to kill ants. If you don’t mind chemicals, retail products such as Terro works well to kill ants.
I recently tested five homemade Borax ant killers against the retail product Terro. It may surprise you to see which one was the winner.
Salt is your Friend but not the Ant’s!
Salt has a drying out effect on ants, and this is especially true if they take it back to their nest. You can spread salt near windows, and doors and along the walls of your home. While the salt won’t kill the ants, they will avoid it.
You can also try making a saline solution to trick ants into thinking it is a water source. Just mix a cup of water with a tablespoon of salt. If the ants do drink it, they will be come thirstier, drink more and will eventually die.
Get Rid of the Nest
To keep ants out of the house, try to find their nest. It takes time and patience to find the ant nest. Contrary to photos of large ant hills, most ants in your back yard are not as evident. You may need to search for it.
Try leaving something sweet outside and watching for ants to find it. Once you see a bunch of them on it, try to follow them back to the nest. This may take a while, but is worth it. Once you find it, you can pour boiling water, boric acid or other ant killers on the entire nest.
Cleanliness is the Key
Keeping a clean house is one of the most important things you can do to keep ants out of the house. Sweep the floor after you cook and after meals. Make sure kitchen counters and sinks are kept free of food particles. Ants are attracted even to small amounts of food, particularly if it is sweet. Wiping counters with a solution of vinegar and water is a short term solution. Ants hate it and will avoid counters but only for a few days.
Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Take the time to wipe down bottles when cooking – putting a jar of honey back into the pantry with drips on the side is just asking for an ant invasion! All foods not kept in the fridge should be put into air tight containers if possible.While it is important for your whole house to be clean, the kitchen is the one that should get the most attention. Since this is where food is prepared, it stands to reason that it will be the most attractive room to ants.
Empty Trash Bins
Garbage bins overflowing with trash, especially if it has food scraps in it, is the perfect way to attract ants.
Empty your trash bins daily, and locate them away from the house if possible. These bins attract ants like nothing else and having them right beside the kitchen door is as good as saying “come on right in” to the ant colony.
Call in Professionals
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to call in professionals. If you have a huge ant invasion, it can be hard to control them yourself. An exterminator can find ant nests that are inside the walls of your home and are trained to deal with this.
Keeping your house clean – especially the kitchen – and sealing off entry points will go a long ways towards keeping ants out of your house. So wipe counters, seal windows and mop and sweep floors and your home will have far less ants this summer.
What methods have you used to keep ants out of the house? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.
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