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Why Are There Ants in My Home? (And How to Get Rid of Them)

ants on the floor

Ants can invade your home for all sorts of reasons. Often, it is because of food or nesting habits. Even a small amount of food can bring them in, including pet food. Ants are one of the most successful species on earth, and for a good reason. They can invade a place very quickly—you can wake up one morning and find that your home is invaded with ants!

In this article, we’ll take a look at why ants tend to invade homes and how you can get rid of them. The fix is often related to the cause, so it is vital to figure out why the ants are being attracted to send them away.

Keep reading for everything you could possibly need to know about ants in your home.

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What Brings Ants into Your Home?

There are several causes related to having ants in your home. Ants typically show up because of food. They are nature’s cleanup crew, and they will find even the smallest crumbs. Most species of ants actually grow mold on the food and then eat that, so they aren’t too picky about the items that they bring back (since they aren’t going to eat it anyway).

Ants are more active in the warmer months, as are most insects. For this reason, you’ll likely notice them more in the warmer months.

However, while it isn’t odd to find them in search of food, it also isn’t terribly uncommon to find them looking for water. They may be attracted to kitchens and bathrooms for this reason. If you spot them in a humid part of the house, it’s likely because they’re looking for moisture.

Heavy rains can also drive ants into your home. If their nest is flooded, they may be forced to move into dryer areas, which includes your home. Luckily, they often leave after the rains have dissipated as long as they don’t set up in your home before then.

ants eating leftover food
Image Credit: Marco Neri, Unsplash

How Do Ants Find These Things, Anyway?

Ants can find the smallest crumbs. But how do they go about this?

Ants aren’t terribly intelligent by themselves. However, they are extremely clever and work together as a group. They have what many scientists refer to as “group think.” They aren’t smart alone, but they are very smart in a group.

When ants find food, they mark it with pheromones. Therefore, all other ants in the area will be drawn to it. Ants will follow this trail from the food to the nest. It only takes one ant to find the food and lead the whole nest there. Often, this first ant goes unnoticed, which is exactly why it seems like the ants have suddenly invaded your home—even if they’ve actually been there for a while.

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So, How Do You Get Rid of Ants?

To get rid of the ants in your home, you have a number of options. The one you choose depends on the situation and your preferences. Many people may jump to pesticides. However, if you have small children or pets in your home, you may want to avoid this.

The first step to getting rid of ants is to remove whatever they are drawn to. If it is food, this step is quite easy. Seal all your food containers and put your pet’s food somewhere else. You may want to invest in an anti-ant food bowl if your dog’s feeding area is particularly eaten up with ants.

Be sure that you take the trash out often and keep your bins firmly closed.

With that said, you can’t exactly stop taking a shower or using your sink. If the ants are searching for water, they will likely find it within your home. That’s just a fact with our modern lives. Therefore, you’ll have to invest in another method of pest control.

If you see ants walking in a line, you may want to clean the area to remove the pheromones. This will prevent the ants from coming back, for now, and it may prevent them from re-finding the food. Disrupting their chemical trail is only a temporary fix, though. You’ll need to take other steps as well.

You should prevent ants from entering your home whenever possible. They are extremely small, though, so this in itself can be a challenge. Try to track the entrance of the ants by following their trail and have it sealed up as soon as possible. They’ll likely find another entrance, but it will take them a while. Therefore, you may buy yourself some time.

However, if all of these steps fail, you may need to turn to insecticide.

spraying insecticide on ants
Image Credit: kram-9, Shutterstock

Insecticide: Should You Use It?

You shouldn’t necessarily jump straight to insecticide when you see ants. After all, there are many other ways to potentially curb the ant invasion. However, insecticides may sometimes be necessary if other methods do not work.

If your ant problem is getting beyond your control, you may want to contact a professional. Often, this is better than purchasing insecticides to use yourself, as it is easy to choose the wrong insecticide and overuse it. Overusing insecticides can harm the environment and your health, so it’s best to find a professional that can apply it quickly and in smaller amounts effectively.

Furthermore, insecticides may harm other insects and the land around your home. Therefore, you should be careful to consider whether they are appropriate to use in your area.

Often, a spray itself isn’t effective, as it only kills the worker ants. Most of the ants live in a protected space inside their nest, where this spray will not reach them. Therefore, sprays aren’t a great option. They are a band-aid at most.

Certain species are very good at avoiding harm from coming to their nests. Some even split up their home between multiple nests, which makes them much harder to get rid of.

Poisonous food is often the sought-after method for getting rid of ants. However, not all ants are vulnerable to this method. Some species have “taste testers” that prevent poisonous food from reaching the queen. Often, these ants store food in their stomach and then regurgitate it for the queen. If it is poisonous, then the ant dies before it reaches the queen. In this way, poisonous food does not always work.

Experts will need to determine the species and the best method to remove them from your home. This doesn’t always involve killing them. Sometimes, a deterrent around your home is all that is necessary.

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Conclusion

Ants are a problem that no one wants to deal with. However, they are one of the most common insects and are very prone to find themselves inside our houses. Therefore, it isn’t odd for homeowners to find them at least once, though many people will fight with them nearly every year.

If you do see ants, there are a few simple methods you can try. For instance, you can remove any chemical trail and patch up the hole the ants are coming through.

However, if these basic methods don’t work, your next best option is to call a professional. These experts are best at figuring out why the ants are coming into your home and preventing it from happening further.


Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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