Pest-Free Living: How To Prevent Ants In Your Home
While ants play an important role in our ecosystem, most of us don’t welcome them in our homes. In the warmer months, they tend to gather in kitchens and areas where there’s food. And where there’s one, there’s many!
If you want to learn more about ants and how to get rid of them, keep reading.
Why Do Ants Enter Our Homes?
Ants mainly enter our homes looking for food, water, and shelter. In the warmer southern regions of the US, ants can be a year-round problem. In the colder northern areas, they are usually a perennial summer problem and ants will be visible from late spring.
How Do Ants Get into Our Homes?
Any hole or small opening that is slightly larger than themselves will be used by ants to gain entry into your home. Cracks in foundations, and unsealed doors and windows are favorite entry points. Ants also use trees and shrubs that touch buildings as pathways to gain entrance around pipes and electrical wiring. Ants can also be accidentally brought inside unseen on furniture, toys, and potted plants.
Common Ant Types In New Jersey
Common types of ants in the US include the acrobat, carpenter, odorous house, pharaoh, and thief ants. In New Jersey, common ants to watch out for are fire, carpenter, and sugar ants. These names describe the ants well in that fire ants can sting if they perceive you as a threat, carpenter ants’ nest in wood, and sugar ants are after the sweet stuff like sugar and honey.
Where In The Home Do Ants Infest?
Ants favor places with food, so kitchens, pantries, and trash cans are the most likely areas for an infestation. Ants will eat almost anything, but they do have a liking for sweet sugars and starches. Over-ripe fruit and vegetables are another favorite.
Damp bathrooms are another area where ants gather looking for water. Watch around sinks, tubs, toilets, and shower cubicles, particularly if they leak or silicone seals are loose or broken.
Where Do Ants Nest?
Most ants nest in underground colonies they build in the soil. Some ants, such as carpenter ants, nest in decaying wood such as fallen logs and stumps in damp areas. Wood-nesting ants can become a real problem if they nest in the structural woodwork of a home in roof trusses and structural beams.
When ants nest in your home they can be incredibly annoying. The nest is the primary problem, so just storing food safely won’t get rid of the nest. Indoor nests can be found under flooring, in wall voids and rotten woodwork.
The nests are usually close to food and water sources in kitchens, pantries, bathrooms and basements. Ants can also often be found in and around air-conditioning and heating units which create damp areas with waste-water run-off.
Professional Ant Prevention Tips
There are many ways to prevent ant infestations in your home. Tips from the pros include:
- Seal gaps
Use a silicone-based caulk to seal around windows and doors, cracks in the foundations and outside walls.
Replace damaged weather stripping and loose mortar in walls and foundations.
- Eliminate pathways
Trim back trees and shrubbery that are touching outside walls or roofs. Clear mulch and debris away from foundations and outside walls.
Keep firewood stacks and paving stones away from outer walls. These provide shelter for ants from not only predators but the weather too.
- Create barriers
Using crushed stone as a barrier around your home is a good bet as the stone does not hold moisture like mulch or organic matter. Ant repellent products can also be used around foundations.
- Avoid taking ants inside
Inspect all items before you carry them indoors. Any item that has been outside for a while, such as firewood, furniture, toys, and even your laundry can be a means of bringing ants into homes.
If you have potted plants, check the pot bottoms for any sign of ants. Flood the pot with water outside to get rid of the ants before bringing it inside the home.
- Check for moisture buildup
Limit all unnecessary moisture in your home and outside. Good drainage is essential for this, so clear gutters and garden drainage systems regularly. Fix leaky pipes, faucets and unclog drains if needed.
Fans and dehumidifiers can be extremely useful inside the home to prevent excessive moisture building up. This is a good solution in warm and humid climates.
- Keep food preparation areas clean
Seeking food is the primary reason ants enter homes. Kitchens and dining areas should be kept clean. Crumbs and spills (especially sugary, sticky ones) should get cleaned up immediately after they occur.
Wash out inside and outside trash cans often. Non-refrigerated food should be stored in air-tight containers in cupboards that close properly.
Note that ants leave a chemical trail of pheromones so other ants can follow the trail to the food source. Regular wipe downs can help eliminate these trails.
If your pet’s bowls are infested with ants, place them in a shallow pan of slightly soapy water to create a moat-like barrier.
- Use ant traps
Bait stations and sticky ant traps can be very useful in controlling ant populations. Bait stations are considered more effective than sticky ant traps as they kill both visible ants and the ants living in the unseen nest. Ants take the poisoned bait back to the colony where the bait kills the ants that eat it.
Following these tips should help you to prevent any infestations in your home. However, if you have an ant problem that’s out of control or you need professional pest control to eradicate a nest, Twin-Boro can help. Give our expert team a call and say goodbye to ants in your home.