How to keep ants out of your home
Insects. You can’t live without them. You don’t want to live with them, especially when they find their way into your home. Luckily, if your ants are getting into your home, there’s a fix. Our resident DIY expert Beth Allen, founder of HIP Chicks (Home Improvement Project Chicks), shared the secrets for keeping pesky ants out of your house.
Everyone gets ants
There’s a stigma that comes with finding ants in your house. The correlation is you have an unclean home. While this might be true in some instances, and giving your home a thorough cleaning may help, it’s not a reason to feel shame.
According to Allen, “ants are a perennial problem for everybody.” However, once you discover those little critters in your kitchen, you want to remedy the situation as soon as possible so that it doesn’t get worse.
Are ants good or bad?
If you are a hungry aardvark, an ant colony makes a delicious meal full of protein. However, if you are a homeowner with a carpenter ant infestation, you might not regard the troublesome insect so kindly.
The truth is, in the grand scheme of things, ants are beneficial creatures. First off, they are an integral part of the food chain. They provide nourishment for spiders, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, skunks, anteaters, bears and even humans. Flipping the perspective, ants are fearsome predators that feed on tiny organisms, as well as larger insects, making them a crucial key to maintaining ecological balance.
Beyond that, these tireless workers are champions of the environment. Ants love to dig, so they are responsible for aerating the soil. The tunnels they make allow oxygen, water and nutrients to access the roots of trees and plants more easily. Because their activity is primarily earth-based, ants are also responsible for moving large quantities of organic matter into the ground. This matter decays and creates fertile soil that constantly needs replenishing so that things grow.
While ants can be a nuisance when found in your home, in the big picture, they are the foundation that maintains the global ecological balance. If ants went extinct, biologists believe it could impact every living organism on earth.
Why do ants come into your home?
Ants may be tiny, but they have the same needs as people. Your home can be an appealing place to visit or live because it can provide food, water and shelter. Since ants are foragers, they search for food and bring it back to the colony. This is why you may see ants lugging around pieces of food. Since an ant only requires about 2 milligrams of food, it can survive on morsels that are too small for you to notice. So again, it’s not your fault that ants find your home inviting. It just means you have food, water and shelter.
Where do ants enter the home?
Now that you know why ants behave the way they do, Allen said the first thing to do is watch and learn. You need to pay attention when you see them. Look for where they are coming from, then go outside and see if you can learn where they are entering. Allen said ants enter your home through doors, windows and tiny cracks. On the inside, the number one spot for ants to come in is “the underside of windowsills because contractors and carpenters caulk the top and the sides, but they don’t often caulk the bottom. How many people get on their hands and knees and look up at the underside of a window?” Outside, look for ants crawling in a line toward your home or up an exterior wall toward a window.
Allen also pointed out that “another big spot for them to come in is the hole around the pipes under the kitchen sink.”
Strategies for keeping out ants
Eliminate the temptations
When you find ants in your home, besides looking where they are coming from, you should also pay attention to where they are going. Clean any area where there is a spill, a leak or some crumbs. Put sugar and other baking items in glass jars and store pet food in sealable containers. Removing the reasons ants find your home so appealing may keep them from coming inside in the first place. Allen calls this “eliminating the temptations.”
Seal the holes
After you study the ants and determine where they are coming in, you need to seal those holes. Allen said to fill the gaps and cracks on the outside with exterior caulk. If the holes are larger, she said expanding foam works great. Inside, Allen prefers using painter’s caulk because it is ideal for sealing that spot beneath the windowsill or any openings inside cabinets or gaps in trim work.
Create a barrier
Sometimes, you can be at a loss of where the ants are coming in. When that happens, you can take a larger-scale approach. Allen said there are many ways to do this. “Draw a chalk line around the cement base or the foundation,” she instructed. “Ants typically do not like to cross chalk. Another product that they don’t like is borax detergent. You can sprinkle borax around the perimeter of your house in the dirt or in the mulch.”
“Diatomaceous earth is also great at solving your ant problem,” Allen added. “You can buy a bag of it in the garden section. It’s organic, and it is safe around pets. You can literally sprinkle it around the property to keep ants from entering your home. And, apparently, ants don’t like cinnamon either. Some people use cinnamon on their countertops to keep ants away.”
Products that keep ants out of your home
This sealable mason jar set is perfect for airtight storage to help keep your food items from attracting ants. The four jars have an embossed design and must be hand-washed. Sold by Wayfair
To patch those outdoor cracks and gaps, you need a durable sealant. DAP’s Dynaflex Ultra provides a weatherproof seal that is permanently flexible. For convenience, it is ready for paint and rain in an hour. Sold by Home Depot
This interior caulk can be painted with a brush in 20 minutes or sprayed immediately. It is crack resistant, making it ideal for sealing gaps around windows, doors, molding, trim and more. Sold by Home Depot
To apply caulk cleanly, you need a quality caulking gun. This model offers smooth, drip-free performance with a 10-to-one thrust ratio for easy application. Sold by Amazon
When the gaps are a little larger, caulk won’t do. This expanding foam sealer comes in a new smart dispenser, which means the foam stops when you release the trigger, so there are no drips. It can expand to fill gaps up to 1 inch and is tack-free within 15 minutes. Sold by Amazon
If you want to try chalk, these jumbo sticks are highly affordable, making them an economical choice. Each pack contains five jumbo chalks in assorted pastel colors. Sold by Amazon
There are no additives or preservatives in this pack of borax. It is an odorless, opaque white powder that can help control your ant problem. Sold by Amazon
If you want to take more drastic measures, this 4-pound pack of diatomaceous earth will not only deter ants, but it can eliminate them. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Sold by Home Depot
If you’d like try cinnamon, Amazon has a solid option. It costs just $1.24 per ounce, and if it doesn’t perform as expected, you can always use it for baking. Sold by Amazon
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