To most people, ants are considered more of a nuisance than a dangerous pest. While certain species can carry painful bites or cause property damage, these factors can seem minor compared to the extensive damage and danger that other household invaders can pose.
However, ants can endanger households they invade in one major way: tampering with food items. If your food items aren't carefully protected, ants in your kitchen can contaminate them with anything they might have brought inside with them, and leave chemical trails so that their brothers and sisters can follow right behind them.
In this blog, we'll look at some simple DIY steps homeowners can take to keep ants out of their food.
If you've got an ant problem, no matter what other steps you take, it'll never really go away until the ants can no longer find a source of food. That's why the first step is always to move all food items in your home into sealed containers that ants can't rip their way into.
Start putting food in airtight plastic containers or mason jars, as their materials are too thick for ants to chew through and their airtight design won't allow food odors to escape and attract pests in the first place. Since pet food is a common target for household pests, you'll want to transition any dog or cat food into airtight containers as well.
Keep any items that can be refrigerated or frozen in plastic bags in the refrigerator or freezer as much as possible. The fewer opportunities you give ants to get to it, the lower the chance that an infestation can take hold.
Ants navigate and communicate with one another primarily using their sense of smell, detecting pheromones in the air with their antennae that they can interpret as directions, warnings, and so on. However, savvy homeowners can play ants' keen sense of smell against them by using odors they can't stand.
Coffee grounds and peppermint essential oil both give off smells ants hate. Place some in the corners of pantries and near suspected entry points to make ants avoid the area. Lemon juice is another good deterrent, and carries the added benefit of destroying odor trails that ants leave behind.
Vinegar is one of the best and most well-known natural ant deterrents, carrying yet another odor that ants can't stand but that also destroys odor trails. By wiping down surfaces in the kitchen with a half-and-half solution of white distilled vinegar and water, you can all but ensure that ants keep a comfortable distance away. Don't forget to wipe down storage and trash bins as well.
Keep it Clean
Remember that any insect or animal that breaks into a home is ultimately looking for a food source and that they'll never stop trying to break in if they smell food inside. Sealing food you intend to eat in airtight containers is an important step, but you also have to consider food that's leftover or discarded.
Use the garbage disposal after big meals instead of leaving food sitting in garbage bins, and make sure to keep up with taking out the trash. Wash dishes after every meal and clean up any crumbs. Vacuuming the house often can help you smaller items you might have missed while simultaneously sucking up smaller bugs that might have taken refuge in your carpet.
Seal up any holes throughout the house that you can find that lead to the outside. Use caulk to seal any windows, doors, or cracks in the walls that ants might crawl through. In the winter, this step will also help you save money on heating expenses by allowing less heat to escape.
Kill the Ants
The best way to keep ants out of the kitchen is to kill the colony they're coming from, and the best way to do that is always by using a good ant bait. While household ant sprays only kill the ants they come into contact with (usually workers), bait poison is taken by workers to the queen and spread throughout the entire colony and take down the whole nest at once.
Of course, if you want an ant problem to be truly eliminated for good, it's always in your best interest to hire a licensed and certified pest control professional to handle the job. A professional will have the training and experience necessary to find the source of your ant problems along with the specialized tools to eliminate the nest and keep another one from ever taking its place.
For more great tips and strategies you can use to ant-proof your home, check out our free informative ebook, How to Keep Ants Out of Your Atlanta-Area Home, and send invading ants packing today!