Ants in the House & Warning Signs
June 25, 2020
What You Need to Know About Ants
Did you know there are more than 700 different species of ants in the U.S.? These small black insects that are often unwelcome guests at picnics in the park and barbeques at home may be living inside a colony of more than one million! One specific kind of ant that plagues homeowners across the country are pavement ants. Pavement ants can be a major nuisance because these insects forage up to 30 feet from home looking for food and water. Pavement ants sneak through cracks in pavement and a home’s foundation looking for food, water, and shelter. Once inside, they burrow inside walls, insulation, and under floors to build nests.'
Another well-known ant species in the U.S. are fire ants, 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 come inside our homes looking for food, water, and shelter. The most common areas to find ants inside a home are kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. But ants can also nest inside walls, under floors, and in crawl spaces – making them harder to spot. HVAC and A/C units provide a common entry point for ants to get inside homes. Rising temperatures and longer summer months mean more A/C use for homeowners, attracting ants to the dampness generated inside them and serving as an “open door” policy to come inside for more.
What You Can Do To Keep Ants Out of Your Home
To protect your home against these small pesky intruders, start by identifying and sealing cracks and holes in your home’s walls, around windows and doors, and in paved areas around a home’s exterior, including driveways and patios. To seal off another common entryway, add new caulking around air conditioning and heating units. In addition, homeowners can prevent moisture buildup that attracts ants by ensuring pipes are insulated and not leaking in basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, kitchens, and in between walls.
Keep a Clean Kitchen
Once inside a home, ants looking for new food and water sources often travel quickly to a home’s kitchen and pantry areas. To cut off their food source and reduce ants in your home, make sure you clean kitchen counters and stovetops frequently, take out trash regularly and seal up all food items in airtight containers. Storing items like sugar inside the fridge is another helpful practice during the summer months when ants are more active. If you have indoor plants, make sure they aren’t being over watered, because this moisture can attract ants. Seal up pet food and wash bowls after your pets’ mealtimes – don’t leave it sitting out.
Pay Attention to Damp, Humid Areas
Additional hotspots for ants are bathrooms and basements. Ants are attracted to moisture from leaking pipes and faucets inside these areas. In addition, cracks in a home’s foundation provide a good entry point directly into a home’s basement. If you do see ants in your home, wipe down the areas with vinegar to remove the ants’ scent – which they leave as a ‘map’ to help their friends find their way to new food and water sources. This will help reduce the chance that other ants will follow.
Adjust Exterior Features
Making small changes to your home’s garden and landscaping can also help reduce its attractiveness to ants. For example, replacing mulch or pine straw around trees and within flower beds with crushed stone or rocks reduces nesting areas for ants. In addition, if your home has a fireplace, stack firewood as far away as possible from the exterior of the home, at least 20 feet away. Ants can nest inside stacks of firewood. Finally, sealing cracks in your driveway, pavement, and the home’s foundation can minimize your ‘open door’ policy for ants, keeping them away.
Remember that ants play an important role in a healthy ecosystem. By fixing cracks and entry points into your home, removing attractive items like food and water sources, and dehumidifying basements and crawl spaces, you can make your home less attractive for these pests. A focus on these less-intrusive methods for getting rid of ants in your home over using pesticides and bait can help protect the environment.
Find out how Groundworks foundation, basement, and crawl space repair experts can help homeowners keep ants and insects from entering their homes with a free home inspection to identify problem areas and offer solutions.