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“The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…” may have been fun to sing as a child, but the song paints a frustrating picture for adults if that ant march makes its way through your kitchen. What starts as a normal day can turn quickly if you notice a line of ants casually helping themselves to your pantry or cabinets. Why are the ants there? And how do you get rid of them? Most importantly, how can you prevent ants from ever entering your home in the first place?

Why Are There Ants in My House?

They’re looking for food, moisture, and shelter. Ants aren’t solitary creatures. In fact, they typically reside in colonies that can number in the tens of thousands. Each ant in that colony has a job to do, the most important of which is finding enough food to feed the queen and all of the other hungry mouths in the colony.

The process is simple: Worker ants tasked with foraging for food leave the colony in search of a food source. Once food is discovered, they pick up all the food they can carry and make their way back, marking their path with a pheromone trail. This pheromone trail makes finding that food source simple for the other foragers, the result of which is a marching line of ants. Much like people use GPS to get somewhere we’ve never been, ants follow this familiar scent to and from the food source to gather what they can. Similarly, in drought conditions, ants may search for water in your home as well.

When alates (reproductive ants) fly, a newly crowned queen must find a safe place to establish her colony. While we are all familiar with ant mounds, ants can also establish colonies in a number of places, including man-made structures. All it takes is a crack or gap, and a queen may make her way into a void where she feels she can settle. If you’ve ever seen an ant farm, you know a space doesn’t need to be large to offer shelter for an ant colony.

How Do I Get Rid of Ants in My House?

Ants already present in your home can be tricky business. You want them gone, and you want them gone now, but killing the ones you see is only a small part of the battle. In fact, the ones you kill will simply be replaced by the queen. In order to kill the colony, you have to kill the queen, but she never leaves the nest and is well-protected within it.

Most of the products available from hardware stores offer little-to-no residual protection, meaning they control the ants you see but provide minor (if any) results beyond that. It isn’t if they will return, but when. The most important thing to understand when trying to neutralize a pest is their own habits. Here, at Nature’s Turf, our pest professionals use industry-leading bait products that are appetizing to the foragers, meaning they will carry it back to their queen and tell their counterparts where to find the rest. Once fed to the queen, she will die. Since she is the only reproductive member of the population, the colony will soon die with her.

How Do I Prevent Ants from Entering My Home?

  • Establish quarterly pest service with Nature’s Turf. Not only will we inspect your property and offer suggestions for prevention, but we also apply products to establish a barrier around your home.
  • Stay proactive about keeping your home sealed. Ants can’t enter if there isn’t an entry point.
  • Maintain your landscape, and keep shrubs off your house. Doing so is beneficial in many ways. It reduces the potential for excess moisture and mold, but it also doesn’t offer ants a free bridge to your windows or voids in your siding.
  • Vacuum and sweep regularly. Ants are tiny creatures. They will gladly take crumbs, meaning extra attention should be given to areas where food is consumed in your home.
  • Store your food in a sealed container. It doesn’t take a very large gap in a package for an ant to find its way in. Sealed containers can conceal the scents and thwart any attempts to get your food.
  • Take your trash out daily. Trash cans are full of food sources that can interest ants, none of which are sealed.

Important Takeaways:

  • Ants come into your home looking for food, moisture, shelter, or all three.
  • If ants are in your home, team up with a qualified pest control professional and get access to industry standard products capable of safely killing the queen and controlling the colony.
  • You can prevent ants from entering your home by: signing up for quarterly pest control with Nature’s Turf, ensuring your home is sealed, practicing positive sanitary exercises, and storing your food in sealed containers.