Ants are the number one pest concern in the United States. Americans worry about them more than spiders, cockroaches and termites. While ants may seem relatively harmless, they can bite you, ruin your food or even damage wooden parts of your home. Here are four tips for keeping these troublesome insects outdoors where they belong.
1. Seal Entry Points
To keep ants outdoors, you need to seal any cracks or crevices that they could use to enter your home. Inspect your home’s exterior carefully, and seal any cracks with a caulk or another appropriate sealant. Common entry points for ants include the utility openings for pipes and wires, the areas around your windows and doors, and your foundation. Ants may also crawl under your exterior doors, so install door sweeps to keep them out.
Since ants are so small, it’s not possible to seal every possible entry point. The goal is to to seal as many entry points as possible to make it harder for the ants to come inside.
2. Store Food Carefully
Ants enter homes in search of food, and if an ant discovers that your kitchen is an easy source of food, their friends will be along shortly. Ants lay down pheromone trails as they travel between their nest and food sources, so it’s easy for other ants to find their way into your kitchen.
To avoid luring ants into your kitchen, make sure that your food is inaccessible to them. Pantry staples like sugar, grains and cereals should be stored in containers with tight-fitting lids so that ants can’t access the food. Greasy foods—like butter or peanut butter—are also attractive to ants, so they should be stored in the fridge.
3. Get Rid of Moisture Sources
Ants don’t just look for food when they forage; they also look for water. If you have moisture sources in your home, ants may discover them and decide to move inside. Dripping faucets and leaking pipes are important water sources for ants, so eliminate these plumbing problems from your home.
Some types of ants, like carpenter ants, like to make their nests in moisture-damaged wood. If any wooden areas of your home have been damaged by flooding or leaking pipes, replace the water-damaged wood right away.
4. Clean Regularly
Since ants are so tiny, crumbs of food are enough to provide them with a tasty meal. To keep ants from seeing your kitchen as an all-you-can-eat buffet, make sure to clean up regularly. After you prepare a meal, wipe down your countertops and sweep the floor to get rid of tasty crumbs.
Your garbage can also attract ants, so empty the bin frequently. Wash the bin regularly so that spilled food and drinks don’t provide food for foraging ants. If you have a recycling bin, be sure to empty and clean it often, too.
To keep ants outdoors, focus on sealing entry points that they could use to enter your home and removing access to food and water that could make them want to stay.