A recent survey of pest professionals across the country, conducted by the National Pest Management Association, found kitchens (96%) and bathrooms (89%) to be particularly vulnerable to ants.
It's probably not a surprise the kitchen is considered a favorite ant hangout. In addition to food access, the sink provides a water source that ants need to survive. If you're lax about immediately cleaning up crumbs and spills, you may be inviting ants in. Here are a few tips to keep ants out of the kitchen:
- Store sweet staples like sugar, syrup and honey in plastic containers that snap shut, and wipe them down to remove any sticky residue. You can also place a bay leaf inside canisters of dry goods like flour to keep the ants out. The herb's pungent scent repels ants and other common pantry pests.
- Clean up grease spills from countertops and floors as soon as they happen.
- Any empty juice or soda containers should be rinsed out before recycling or throwing away. And, make sure to take the trash out regularly.
- Check the fruit bowl – any over ripe fruit will attract ants.
- Keep an eye out for water buildup in the sink and leaks around the faucet.
- If you have pets, be sure to pick up any leftover food and wash the bowls regularly.
Areas around the house with excess moisture are known to attract ants, so bathrooms are highly susceptible to an infestation. Carpenter ants, for example, often build nests in damp areas like behind bathroom tiles or under sinks. To prevent an infestation in the bathroom, homeowners should:
- Occasionally, inspect sinks, toilets and tubs for any leaks or drips.
- Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning by scrubbing the floors with disinfectant cleaner, and wiping down the inside of drawers with warm soapy water.
- Check to ensure shampoo, lotion and soap bottles are secured and no contents have spilled out of their containers.
Other Common Hideouts
Ants can easily find a way indoors through even the tiniest cracks, so other areas of the home are also common hideouts. The NPMA survey revealed ants are also found in the following areas:
- Inside walls (73%)
- Bedrooms (61%)
- Living rooms (60%)
- Basements (54%)
- Air conditioning and heating units (37%)
To keep ants from finding a way inside, homeowners should pest-proof around the outside of the home. Experts recommend sealing any cracks with silicone caulk, repairing holes in window and door screens, replacing weather-stripping, fixing loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows, and keeping tree branches trimmed back and away from the house.