Have you ever been enjoying a chill at-home spa day only to see an ant crawling across the side of your bathtub? It's a terrifying sight, and what's more, it could be the first sign of a major ant problem.
Many of us have seen an ant or two in our homes. However, a real ant problem is much more serious.
Regardless of where you live, you should know what to look for to determine whether or not you have an ant problem. Doing so might just save you the time and expense of pest removal down the road.
Signs You Have an Ant Problem in Your House
Chances are, you've come across a rogue ant in your kitchen or bathroom. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky.
While a single ant isn't always a sign you have an ant problem, it could be the start.
Don't worry. Ants aren't out to get you. In most cases, ants are looking for food or a break from the outdoors.
Still, an ant problem can happen at pretty much any time and in any place. So, when you spot that lone ant running around on your kitchen counter, you should look for signs he has some friends.
In your walls
As scary as it sounds, ants can take shelter inside the walls of your home. Carpenter ants are especially problematic. They're bigger than other ants, and while many of them are black, some can look red.
Carpenter ants like to live in wood, so they often live in the walls and floors of your home. You won't always see carpenter ants, but you can listen to your walls and floors. If you get close enough, you'll be able to hear the colony.
Rotting areas on the outside of your home could also be a sign that ants are living inside.
If you see stray ants, especially carpenter ants, it's worth checking it out further. A professional can help you determine the extent of the ant problem if one exists at all.
Seeking food or refuge
Another reason you might see ants around your home is that they're looking for food. Worker ants will go out to find food to take back to the colony. Many of these ants come from outside, through small cracks or crevices in your foundation.
Leaving food out in the open can be especially tempting for ants. If the ants have invaded your cabinets, you'll want to protect that food, too.
You also might see ants around your pet's food bowl. If that's the case, avoid leaving the bowl out during the day. You can also spray a mixture of one-part vinegar and three parts water around the bowl.
While food is the most common reason ants invade the home, weather changes could also be to blame. Whether it's cold, hot, or stormy, ants might not want to stay outside.
No Corner Left Untouched
One or two ants isn't a sign of an ant problem. However, spotting multiple ants or an entire ant nest probably means you have an infestation.
Most ant nests are outside. But if they're close to your house, your home will become their prime hunting ground for finding food.
If you have a full-on ant problem, you should do whatever you can to get rid of the whole colony. Finding the ant nest is a great first step in eliminating your ant problem for good.
Nesting in your yard
Tackling the ant nest first will help you get rid of the source of your ant problem. While it can be challenging to find, doing so will prevent more ants from making their way indoors.
Look around your yard, especially near the exterior walls of your home.
Ant nests are small and look like mounds of dirt. If you see one or more ants around the mound, you've probably found an ant nest. Sometimes, though, you won't see any ants outside of the nest.
Don't be afraid to contact a specialist for help in finding the ant nest and getting rid of it.
Nooks and crannies
Once you eliminate the ant nest, it's time to work on the rest of your ant problem. There are tons of things you can use to trap and kill ants, from store-bought traps to D.I.Y. alternatives.
However, you probably don't want to cover your entire home in ant traps.
Instead, you should focus on corners and other points of entry. If you see a crack in your wall, you should get that repaired. And if the crack is in the caulking in your bathroom, fill the crack with caulk.
Once you find where ants are entering your home, you can set up traps to keep them from infiltrating the rest of your home.
5 Reasons Why You Might Have an Ant Problem
Ultimately, there are many reasons why you might have an ant problem. Some are as simple as open food containers, while other causes are more complicated.
The specific reason will depend on your home's location, the condition of the wood in your home, and whether or not you leave food out. Still, sometimes an ant problem will develop for reasons even the experts can't explain.
Either way, determining the reasons for your ant problem could help you select the best course of action in getting rid of the ants for good.
1. Dirty dog dishes
If you feed your dog and leave the dish out all day, those crumbs can attract ants. After all, food is a significant motivator for ants, and they'll take anything.
Crumbs are small enough for ants to handle, so smaller bits of food are especially attractive.
While it can be tempting to leave your pet's food bowl out, pick it up after your dog finishes eating. If your dog doesn't finish eating in one sitting, consider bagging up the leftovers and saving them for later.
You can also clean the bowl to make sure there aren't any crumbs leftover.
Of course, don't forget about your own dishes and crumbs. Ants aren't picky, so no food is safe.
2. Your food isn't safe
That's right! Your dog isn't the only one to blame for ants in the house. If you don't package and store your own food properly, it can attract ants.
We've all left out food at one time or another, but don't make a habit of it. Instead, invest in some airtight containers. Make sure the lid fits tightly so ants won't be able to sense the food or get into the container.
You should also avoid keeping food out in the open. Store your food in cabinets or in the fridge whenever possible.
3. Sugar high
Just like how you should store food properly, you should also get rid of it properly. Ants love sticky foods, and they have no problem getting into your garbage.
To mitigate this issue, rinse out containers before you throw them out, especially those containing soda and other sticky foods or drinks. You should also clean out the inside of your garbage can regularly.
Of course, all food is attractive to ants. However, sugar is especially tasty.
4. Wipe it down
After you make food or eat it, wipe down your counters and tables. We can easily leave crumbs behind, which attract ants. However, ants also like grease and other residues from your food.
Be sure to wipe off containers, counters, and other surfaces after food come in contact with them. You should also wipe down bowls, cups, and silverware. Another good place to clean is your stovetop and microwave.
If food has been in or on something, you should wipe it down.
5. Maintenance madness
All of the other reasons we gave for an ant problem are pretty easy to fix. However, ants can easily get into homes that are in disrepair.
If you have leaky pipes or faucets, ants can get in that way. Along with food, ants need water, and a leaky faucet gives ants a consistent supply.
Make sure windows are closed and keep moisture at bay.
Another maintenance issue that could attract ants is decaying wood. If you have leaky pipes, they can also cause wood to break down.
The wood around your home is the perfect space for ants to nest, and it can quickly lead to an ant problem. Similarly, keep any firewood away from your home.
If you have leaky pipes or decaying wood, contact an expert to help you fix the problem.
A Clean Home Keeps Ants Away
Keeping your home clean and neat is the best way to prevent an ant problem in the future. But you should also know what signs to look for in case it does happen.
If you see ants moving around your house, you might have an ant problem. And if you can hear an ant colony in your walls, you know it's bad.
Now, ants are just doing what they're supposed to. That is, they're looking for food. Although, that doesn't mean you have to put up with it.
Getting rid of an ant problem could be as simple as putting food away and cleaning up after you eat. After all, prevention is the best solution to any problem.
Have you had an ant problem in your home? What signs did you notice first? Let us know in the comments!