7 Things To Do If You Find Ants In Your House

Ants crawling on wall

Ants can be found in almost every climate and an infestation can go from manageable to uncontrollable in no time. A single colony of ants can last for generations! For this reason (among many) you want to get your ant problem under control as soon as possible.

If you find ants in your house, you want to check how they are getting in, identify the size of the infestation, clean the areas where they have been, and begin setting baits to eliminate the problem. You also want to seal any holes or gaps where you see ants coming in.

Ants may not cause larger issues like other pests, but you still don’t want them hanging around your home. If you find ants in your house, it’s important to remove the problem and work on preventing a future infestation. Read on to learn more about how to do just that!

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How Do Ants Get Inside Your Home?

It sometimes seems like ants appear out of nowhere. Almost like the worst magic trick ever! But ants have to get inside your home somehow, right?

Ants often will come in through cracks in door frames or windows. You may find them on a leaky pipe under your sink. While they don’t need much, ants do need water for survival and will seek out moisture where they can find it. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that ants often are found inside a home after a rainstorm. The ants likely were nesting outside your home and sought a dry place when the rain started. If there is a nearby gap or hole in the wall, they can easily make their way inside. 

In addition, if you have left your house plants outside for some time, there is a chance ants have taken up residence in the pot. You should inspect any plants before bringing them back inside. 

To remove the ants from potted plants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests creating a moat-like barrier by putting the potted plant in a larger container filled with water and detergent. You’ll want to make sure that there aren’t any holes or cracks in your plant pot for this method.

Finally, while you can see ants any time of year, they are most active in the summer. Ants tend to search for water during the dryer parts of the year and may seek out humid spots in your house, like a bathroom. 

What Attracts Ants To Your House 

A red apple being eaten by ants

Ants usually will enter a house to seek shelter, food, and water. They also aren’t too particular and will try to eat almost anything. However, there are several types of foods that are most attractive to ants. 

Sugar, crumbs, pet food, carbohydrates and starches, and decaying plant matter are just a few of the things that an ant will be looking for in your home. In addition, ants seek out proteins like meats and won’t always be swarming the typical sweet foods around your house. 

Ants are guided by their pheromones and use them to guide other colony members to resources and have a stellar sense of smell. They definitely don’t have a hard time finding something appealing! Vanderbilt University reported that ants have four to five times more odor receptors than the majority of insects and have special proteins that can detect various odors. 

There are specific types of scents that attract ants, and it’s best to keep your house clean to avoid ants from finding their way inside. Check out our article on the 9 Types of Smells That Attract Ants (Avoid These Scents) to learn more!

How to Identify Ants In Your Home

According to Ant Web, there are thousands of types of ants in the world. However, there are certain ones you are more likely to find at home. 

It’s important to identify the type of ant inside your house because it will help determine your line of defense. These are the four main types of ants you might encounter inside your home:

  • Carpenter ants tend to seek out wood and they can be very destructive if left alone. Carpenter ants can have a blend of dark and lighter colors like black, brown, red, or yellow.
  • Pavement ants are between 2.5-3mm in length and have a stinger but tend not to be aggressive to people. Pavement nests will feed on various foods including meats, greases, honey, and cheese.
  • Odorous ants can be found all through North America and their colonies are often found under debris or rocks and logs. Odorous ants are usually black or brown and measure between 2.4 to 3.3mm in length.
  • Fire ants can be found near exterior walls and can enter through cracks in the foundation. These pesky ants have a reddish-brown color and are equipped with a stinger, so be careful around them. 

Ants have four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Once an adult, ants will either live their life as a queen, worker, or male ant.

All workers are female and queens were fed more as larvae and are larger than the workers. Queens lay all the eggs and can end up laying millions, depending on the species. Male ants have wings so they can fly to find the queen and mate. 

Queens are the most vital member of a colony and everything pretty much revolves around them. It turns out it really is good to be queen! The queen has a larger midsection than the other ants. 

Finally, the queen must be eliminated from the colony to stop the ants from returning. While you don’t often see the queen come out of the nest, you may catch her trying to move the colony if she feels threatened.

You may also notice that the ants in your home are flying. If that’s the case, you can read our guide on identifying flying ants here.

7 Things To Do If You Find Ants In Your House 

So, what do you do if you find ants in your house? Since they are relatively harmless, there’s no need to freak out. As with any pest, the sooner you address the problem, the quicker it will be resolved. 

Ants can be tricky because sometimes you think you solved the issue but realize quickly, they still have a way inside.

1. Check for Ant entry points

Ants usually travel in a line, making it relatively easy to figure out where they are coming from. However, they may be getting in from more than one place, so you want to look around before treating the issue. 

2. Identify the size of the ant infestation

You want to check all the areas where the ants are coming in from to evaluate the size of your problem. Understanding the size of the infestation will help determine if you can treat the problem yourself. 

3. Look for the Ant nest

If you can identify where the nest is, it will be easier to treat the problem. The goal is to find and eliminate the queen, if possible

4. Clean countertops and floors to disrupt the ants

Disinfecting the areas where you have found ants with vinegar or a bleach solution will disrupt the trail of pheromone the ants are using to find food. 

5. Set ant baits to eliminate the ants inside

Terro Liquid Ant Baits are highly effective at eliminating ants. The ants crawl into the trap and take the sugary bait back to their colony. Keep in mind, you will see a large influx of ants when the bait is first set, but it’s because the ants are basically telling their colony they found something good and everyone is running to find out what it is. 

Borax is the active ingredient in baits and is an excellent mineral to help rid your house of ants.

If you want a more in-depth list of the best ant traps for your home, take a look at our guide: The 12 Best Ant Traps for Tiny Ants and How to Use Them.

6. Seal any cracks or gaps where ants are coming in

It’s crucial you determine how the ants are getting in, so you can seal any points of entry. By eliminating an access point, you will help prevent a future infestation.  

7. Call a professional to take care of the ants

On occasion, an ant problem is more than one human can handle. If you can’t find the location of the nest or the ants keep finding their way back inside, it’s time to contact a professional pest company. They can better help find the root of your problem and get rid of the ants once and for all.

How To Stop Ants From Getting Inside Your House 

As with any pest, preventing the problem before it starts is vital. There are several things you can do in and around your house to keep ants from marching inside. 

Be on the lookout for “Scout” Ants

For starters, you should also always be on the lookout for “scout” ants. These are the initial ants you will see before a full-blown infestation. Thoroughly clean any areas where the scouts are seen to prevent their pheromones from lingering in your home. 

Scouts will return to the nest without leaving a trail if they do not find anything worth writing home about!

In addition to keeping an eye out for the scouts, here are some suggestions on what to do both in and outside of your home to prevent ants. 

Keep A Tidy House 

  • Sweep and vacuum often to keep areas clean of crumbs. If ants don’t find anything appealing in your house, they won’t come back. Also, ensure you clean messes when they occur. It lessens the chance of residue sticking to your floors or counter.
  • Pay close attention to the areas of the house where you eat your meals. There likely will be more food dropped on the food, and even the slightest of crumbs can bring ants in. Take a look at our list of scents that can attract ants here.
  • Clean countertops daily to prevent anything enticing. Any sugar or syrup left on the counter will keep the ants coming. Using a spray with vinegar will help eliminate any pheromones left by the ants.
  • Wash dishes daily. Ants will be attracted to a sink full of dirty dishes. Ensure nothing is left in the sink for too long, and food is disposed of properly. You’ll also want to clean pet bowls to keep ants out.
  • Put food away properly to make it harder for ants to find resources inside your house. You also want to make sure pet food is put away if your four-legged friend isn’t eating from it. Consider putting any dry cereals or pasta in Vtop Airtight Food Containers.
  • Empty your trash can regularly to prevent any additional resources for ants to be attracted towards. If you have had ants in your trash, make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect the can, otherwise, the ants will come right back. 
  • Do not overwater house plants to ensure there is no additional moisture that will attract ants. If your plant has a dish to catch extra water, ensure you are emptying it after watering your plant. 

How to control ants Outside The House 

Black ants swarm on the walls
  • Seal cracks and holes along the foundation of your house. It’s no surprise ants can get through small holes or gaps around your house. It’s crucial to seal any spots you find to prevent any future issues with ants entering your phone.
  • Check for leaky hoses or pipes. Ants are attracted to moisture and are more likely to find their way inside if there is standing water near your home. You should also look for water damage that can lead to rotten wood.
  • Keep trees and bushes trimmed to prevent ants from using them as a way to get inside your home. If a tree is hanging over your roof, then ants can use it as a way to climb inside.
  • Stack firewood at least 20 feet away from your home since ants will often nest inside, and the closer they are to your home, the greater likelihood they will find a way to get in your house.
  • Use a deterrent, like Diatomaceous Earth, outside to help treat and prevent an ant infestation. The powder has no additives and can easily be sprinkled on susceptible places. Ants will absorb the oils and in turn, it will dry them out.

The Damage Ants Can Cause To Your Home

While you may think ants are a nuisance because they get into your food, some problems stretch further than that. 

One of the primary general issues with ants is that they can contaminate your food supply. It’s important to get rid of any foods that have shown evidence of ants because if there’s at least a few ants in there, they can quickly multiply and ruin more nearby food.

Carpenter ants can eat through wood and end up causing structural damage if no action is taken. In general, carpenter ants seek out damp wood, so it’s important to keep any wood you have dry to prevent causing an attraction for ants.

Pavement ants can be found in attic insulations, wall voids, and underwater heaters, which can end up causing problems in the home. 

In addition, the EPA reports how fire ant bites can lead to allergic reactions and are fatal in some cases. The ants inject formic acid into the skin and can cause welts or allergic reactions.

Ants can also ruin your grass seed and lawn overall. They also can attract promote aphids in your garden, which, cause more issues than you can count on one hand.

Should You Use Pesticides On Ants?

There are plenty of sprays for ants on the market, but is it worth it? While the spray will help eliminate the ants you come in direct contact with, that’s the only part of the problem you will resolve. 

Using pesticides on ants can help for the moment, but doesn’t solve the issue in the long term. It’s better to use a method that helps eliminate the entire nest to ensure they can’t come back inside. However, if you can locate the nest, you can spray pesticides directly inside. 

In addition, you want to be careful using pesticides inside your home. You’ll want to consult a professional about spraying pesticides and keep anyone or any animal away from them in your home.

As an alternative to pesticides, you can pour boiling water on an ant mound to help eliminate the problem. While you should still treat the inside of your home, this is an effective way to help end the issue outside. 

You can try natural home remedies like cinnamon or corn starch and sprinkle the powder around the areas you see ants entering. Ants are fond of the substances and will avoid crossing over them. If you are looking for other ways to naturally keep ants away, take a look at this article on the 12 Scents That Ants Hate (And How To Use Them).

Finally, pesticides don’t usually work on odorous ants as they will separate and relocate their colony. However, sugar or protein-based baits usually catch these common house ants.

For another natural method of repelling ants, you can read our full list of houseplants that can repel ants here.

the benefits of ants Near Your House  

Wait, didn’t we just say ants cause damage? While this is true, there is more to the tiny pest. Ants don’t have the best reputation and they certainly are never on the guestlist for a picnic, but do they have any redeeming qualities?

Ants are actually predators of smaller insects like spiders and ticks. Ants typically feast on insect eggs as a food source, so, if you have a problem with spiders for instance, ants will actually help you eliminate that issue!

Before you try to eliminate any ants in your yard, first check to see if they are creating a problem. If not, then there’s no harm in letting them be.

Finally, ants can be crucial when it comes to nutrient cycling and pollination. Don’t underestimate these small insects!

Wrapping Things Up! 

In general, ants are a nuisance and it’s best to get rid of the problem before it gets out of control. It’s best to call a licensed professional if the infestation is beyond your capability or you cannot figure out how the ants are entering your home. 

If you find ants in your house, the most effective way to remove them is to set baits, seal any holes or cracks being used as entry points, find the nest, and clean countertops and floors to remove the pheromones.  

It is possible to prevent ants in your home by cleaning messes immediately and staying on top of any cracks or gaps in windows and door frames. 

Finally, always inspect house plants or flowers before bringing them in from outside, as ants can make themselves at home even after a short time.

I hope this article was helpful and you have a brilli-ant time getting your ant problem under control!

References 

Antonelli, A., Glass, J., & REC, W. P. (2006). Pavement ant—an increasingly annoying nuisance pest. Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Pest Leaflet Series PLS19.

Holman, L., Leroy, C., Jørgensen, C., Nielsen, J., & d’Ettorre, P. (2013). Are queen ants inhibited by their own pheromone? Regulation of productivity via negative feedback. Behavioral Ecology24(2), 380-385.

Mailleux, A. C., Deneubourg, J. L., & Detrain, C. (2000). How do ants assess food volume?. Animal behaviour59(5), 1061-1069.

Toennisson, T. A., Klingeman, W. E., & Vail, K. M. (2020). Odorous House Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Colony Movement in Response to Moisture, Shade, and Food Proximity. Environmental Entomology49(6), 1263-1269.

Wheeler, W. M. (1910). Ants: their structure, development and behavior (Vol. 9). Columbia University Press.

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