Mosquitoes flying around

Ant Infestations: Facts Every Homeowner Should Know

June 14, 2021

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

You know the drill: one day, you spot an ant or two roaming around your kitchen or bathroom, and the next day it seems like the whole colony has moved in. That’s because ants are social creatures that release pheromones to signal when there is a good food source. One ant can  venture into your home, signal to the others, and the rest will follow soon after. If you’re dealing with an ant problem in your home, this breakdown covers everything on how to deal with an ant infestation.

Red ants eating sugar on a messy table

What causes an ant infestation?

Ant infestations in the house are a common pest problem many homeowners have faced at least once. Knowing why they’re entering your home can be a good start to keep infestations at bay. Here are the top five reasons ant infestations occur in homes:

  • Leaving out food: Ants send out scouts to find new food and water sources to survive and reproduce rapidly. They’re often looking for easily accessible food sources, making infestations in the kitchen common. Food left on counters, ripening fruit, or unsealed pantry items can act as a beacon to ants on the hunt.
  • Grease and crumbs: Surfaces covered in grease or food residue can be just as appealing to ants. An old spill on the stovetop, a bit of juice that wasn’t wiped up, or crumbs from chips, cookies, and crackers easily attract ants.
  • Dirty garbage cans: Garbage bins with food residue, sticky soda bottles, or canned food jars that haven’t been rinsed out are attractive to ants. Since many kitchen items we toss continue to break down in the trash, ants are drawn to that decomposition like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Leaking pipes: Along with food, ant species also need a reliable and constant water source to survive. Your home could attract ants if it has a leaking pipe, faucet, or areas with standing water or moisture issues.
  • Decaying wood: Moist wood in or around your home offers the ideal setting for a colony of carpenter ants. Indoors, leaky pipes or backed-up drains make wood flooring, beams, and baseboards wet. Rotting deck wood, decaying tree stumps, or fallen branches are also appealing.

How to deal with ant infestations in the house

The best way to keep ants out of your house is to make it an unappealing location. Follow these tips to keep ants out of your home:

  • Clean thoroughly: Quickly clean up spills, especially honey, maple syrup, and soda. Vacuum food crumbs and keep your food sealed in air-tight containers. Throw away or compost rotting fruits and vegetables.
  • Remove rotted wood: To prevent carpenter ants, fix leaks from pipes or faucets and replace water-damaged materials. This includes indoor spaces and exterior structures like porches and decks.
  • Remove trash frequently: Take the household trash out often, especially if it contains a lot of food waste. Keep your trash bins clean by rinsing them out at least once a month and cleaning up exterior spills when they happen.

Common types of household ants 

There are over 12,000 species of ants across the globe. While many species are not problematic or invasive to homes, there are a few, in particular, to look out for. Some of the most common ant species you’ll likely come across in your home are below:

Fire ants

Fire ants are an aggressive ant breed that will sting humans and animals when they feel threatened or are hunting. They typically make their homes in hot and sunny areas, so if you’re planning an outdoor picnic, lay your blanket under the shade of a tree to avoid the wrath of fire ants.

Close up of an european fire ant

Carpenter ants

As their name suggests, carpenter ants like to make their homes in wood, typically the damp or decaying wood of a home. They’re commonly found in homes with preexisting moisture or water damage issues.

As they build their nests, they dig tunnels through wood beams, causing significant structural damage to your home.

carpenter ants eating wood and creating sawdust

Pharaoh ants

Pharaoh ants are a major problem in the US. They not only have the unique ability to get into everything, but they also transmit a wide variety of diseases. Additionally, the incorrect use of pesticides to treat pharaoh ants can cause the colony to split in two, potentially doubling the population.

Pharaoh ant walking on a green stem

Pest control service

The best way to remove ants from your home is by hiring a professional pest control service like Hawx Pest Control. If you’ve noticed a few ants scoping your house out as a new potential nest, don’t hesitate to contact our team of professionals right away. The faster we can get to you, the more likely you are to avoid a full ant infestation.

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