Where do they come from? What do they want? How do they get in? How can I get rid of them?
Most common ants live outside in the ground, in nests or ant hills. Several hills and nests can make up one colony. The queen ant (which can live up to 30 years) runs the place and is responsible for making new ants. In the spring as things start to warm up, ant colonies send out scouts to find food and fuel. These foraging ants leave a scent trail so they can find their way home and so other ants can follow.
While foraging ants may be attracted to the food inside your home, however ants don’t usually nest indoors. Ants can be attracted to a little juice or pop spill on the floor or on a table top or a lost jelly bean between the cushions (or Joan Collins – see Empire of the Ants 1977).
Ants are very tiny and very clever and for this reason there isn’t much hope of keeping them out of your house. The key is to not give them a reason to come inside. Don’t leave attractants for them – clean up all spills, don’t let pets or kids carry food around the house, discard rotting fruits and veggies, keep sugar containers and jam jars sealed and keep food preparation areas very clean.
This being said, ants will show up in even the cleanest kitchen or basement (they are foraging).
Once you spot an ant, it’s time to act. Do not just kill the ant and think you’re done with it. Ants never travel alone, they always leave a trail for others to follow and once you kill an ant it sends out a scent signal to call for other ants.
Here’s what to do when you spot an ant in your home..
- Kill the ant and remove the carcass.
- Clean the area around the ant with a strong soap or window cleaner to remove the scent.
- Try to determine what the ant was after.
- Remove the attractant and clean the area.
- Look for others (there’s never just one).
- See if you can determine the path the ants are using.
- Clean the ant path with strong soap or window cleaner.
- Find the entry point (where they entered the house).
- Fill any cracks or patch any holes and then apply bait or ant powder near the entry point.
- For best results use an ant powder or bait on the outside of the entry, that way the ants won’t need to enter the house to get the bait (Hardware stores sell ant killer/bait powders. Do it yourselfers use boric Acid (Borax) and sugar in small amounts. Here’s a recipe…
- Ants will continue to show up for some time. Keep cleaning the area around any dead ants, clean the trails and the entry points.
- Most ‘ant killer’ is made up of an attractant and an ant poison. Ideally the ant is attracted to the poison and carries it back to the nest where many ants will be killed.
You will never ‘kill all the ants’. They will make more! You can only hope to keep them to a minimum in your home. Most attempts to control ants are temporary at best so be careful with poisons and be wary of false claims.
ps/ Ants perform many ecological roles that are beneficial to humans too, including the suppression of pest populations, aeration of the soil and an occasional Pixar movie.
- This article is written in the most general, non scientific terms for people who have spotted a few ants in their home and would like to get rid of the ants.
- This article is not meant to deal with major ant infestations in out buildings or ant colonies near bio waste facilities in the Florida everglades (see: Empire of The Ants 1977)
- Ants are everywhere. Ants thrive in all ecosystems, and form 25% of the terrestrial animal biomass on earth.
- Getting rid of all the ants in your yard is impossible. However you may be able to stop them from showing up in your home.
By: Mike Benny
Please let me know if this article has been helpful.
A 54 minute look in to the secret society of ants..
As it starts to warm up in the Spring (or even late winter) ants will start to become more active in their nests. Some will even venture out onto the snow if it’s sunny enough.
After four or five days of above freezing temperatures (+5 c / +41 f) you could start to see ants inside your home.
At the first sign of ants in or around your home you can start to take action:
- Identify the entry points (where they’re coming in)
- Identify the attractants (why they came in)
- Clean up entry points and areas of attractant (using Windex or any strong smelling cleaner)
- Place bait at entry points
Check out this article “How to get rid of ants in your house” for more help.
Remember: There is never just one.
Comment below and let me know the date you see your first ant…
From the article “10 Frightening Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Ants“.
10) Ants are as old as the dinosaurs
…ants first arose in the mid-Cretaceous period — about 110—130 million years ago…
9) Ants have already survived a mass extinction event
The Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event…
8) Ants have conquered almost the entire globe
With the exception of Antarctica, the Arctic, and a handful of islands, just about every piece of land on Earth harbors at least one native ant species…
7) One group of ants conquered six continents
6) The total ant population makes our 7 billion look weak
In their Pulitzer-prize winning book The Ants, researchers Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson estimate that there are upwards of 10,000,000,000,000,000 individual ants alive on Earth at any given time.
5) Some ants are quite large
3) In some regions of the world, ants can account for over a quarter of the animal biomass
4) Ants have a hive mind
2) Ants cooperate with other species
1) Ants practice slavery
Many species of ants are known to raid neighboring colonies and steal eggs or larvae in a practice known as “dulosis”. The forcibly acquired young are then either eaten or put to work.
Check out the complete article here…
Well, if Harrison Ford says it – it must be so. “E.O. Wilson’s fascination with little creatures has led him to some very big ideas.”
The word “ant” means “the biter”.
Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period.
Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands.
Ant societies have division of labour, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems.
Ants are distinct in their morphology from other insects in having elbowed antennae, metapleural glands, and a strong constriction of their second abdominal segment into a node-like petiole.
More from wiki…
Ants just seem to go away in the late fall and we don’t see them again til spring. So, where do they go? Are they hibernating?
I found the answer to that question at AntWeb.org, thank you Ben Rubin.
… As I am sure you know, ants, like most insects, don’t do very well in the cold. But ants are always around in the spring when the weather warms up, so how are they surviving the winter? In general, the temperature underground is quite a bit higher than the air temperature. Ants take advantage of this by moving deeper underground in the winter. Some ant nests can be over 15 feet (4.57 meters) below ground level. They can also stay warm by grouping close together and sharing body heat.And ants in places where it is too cold to gather food during the winter may store food in their colonies and fill their crops (an extension of the gut used to store food and water) so that they do not starve.
So generally, ants hibernate during the winter, moving deep underground, grouping together, and generally limiting activity to conserve energy. Ants that live in particularly cold climates, like Leptothorax canadensis from Québec, Canada, and New England, USA, produce their own biological antifreeze so that the water in their bodies does not freeze. These ants are sometimes exposed to temperatures below -20° C (-4° F) but are able to survive even long cold winters by combining all of these methods for staying warm.
- Ben Rubin & the AntAsk Team