HOW TO FIND AN ANT NEST
If you’re besieged by ants, then you may know that the best way to deal with them is to go after the entire colony. It’s a great strategy, but finding the colony can be a lot more difficult than you would expect. After all, ants can disappear into places where it’s impossible to follow them – whether it’s behind a baseboard or deep into the ground.
CAN YOU FOLLOW ANTS BACK TO THEIR NEST?
Trailing ants back to their nest is possible, but it can be very difficult. Ants are often hard to track due to their size and ability to sneak into spaces were humans cannot. Still, if you have patience and determination, you can try following the ants you see. With luck, they will take you back to their nest site.
However, you should be aware that ants rarely walk in a straight line from a food source to their colony site. Instead, many ants walk a zigzag pattern — the result of previous ant-explorers searching for something to help feed the colony. Those scouts laid down a pheromone trail for other ants to follow. Since these trails often meander, it can take an ant a long time to cross even a short distance.
HOW TO FIND AN ANT NEST INDOORS
Tracking ants to a nest inside your house is very important. You want to address these house ants as soon as possible to eliminate the colony that could be damaging your structure and polluting your food and water.
Look for Wood Shavings – This could be a sign of carpenter ants. These shavings will often appear underneath beams in your cellar or attic.
Look for Swarmers – First, determine if the “ants” are really ants and not termites. Assuming they are ants, be aware they may be nesting outside and entering through a crack beyond your foundation. Indoor swarmers may be a sign of pharaoh ants or carpenter ants.
Look for Dead Ants – Piles of dead ants, particularly around a window, is another sign of an interior infestation nearby. Once again, check to see whether these bugs are ants or termites, and then take the appropriate steps to further locate the nest site.
Look for Moisture – Aside from food, ants need moisture. Inside your home, wet wood can invite an ant invasion, so study these areas for signs of these insects. Leaky pipes or pipes that get covered in condensation may also be an attractant to a variety of ant species, including odorous house ants. Since a route to water should be well established, it should be easy to follow these ants back to their nest site.
How to Find an Ant Nest: Common Places Where Ants Hide
Curious about how to find an ant nest? If you really want to nip your ant problem in the bud, then you might want to start looking for them in the kitchen. This is the most likely place in your house where an ant problem will begin.
Let’s face facts here. Ants live for feeding on our spare food and drinking up our stagnant water. So, what better place to find ample water and food supplies than your kitchen? The kitchen is a fave hangout for ant colonies everywhere. Want to prevent them from slipping into your pantry? Make sure that you clean up any spills or crowns immediately.
As often as your bathroom gets used, chances are that there’s a buildup of excess water and moisture in your washroom. Naturally, ants are attracted to water. In case you didn’t know, that means ants will be racing to lap up the pooled water and accidental leaks in your restroom. For those of you who want to stop and colonies in their tracks, be sure to clean up any spilled water after taking a shower or a bath.
Pet Food and Water Bowls
Attention: your pet food and water bowls are no longer safe from ant invasions. Since ant colonies are so intelligent, they’ll be able to find any leftover food that you have around your house, including pet food. Whenever your cat or dog leaves their chow in their bowl, you can add a bit of petroleum jelly to it.
Can ants live in walls? The answer is yes. When it comes to ant control, inspecting the inside of your walls for ant invasions should be one of your first priorities. You might be surprised to find out that damaged or cracked walls provide the perfect crawlspace for ant colonies to populate and nest. Although certain ant species prefer to build outside colonies, inside walls give them the chance to find more sources of food while still remaining inside of your home.
Ant Inspection Guide
Ants can make a nuisance of themselves because they can nest both indoors and outdoors and the nest or entry points can be hard to find. If the ants are indoors, finding the entrance points will be extremely helpful in the ant control process as you will be able to seal them off to help prevent future ant infestations. Locating the nest outdoors can allow you to directly treat the nest for faster elimination.
Most ant species prefer moist areas to nest and hide eggs. Typically kitchens and bathrooms are the first rooms to be infested. Use your flashlight to look for ants behind or under refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, sinks, and cabinets. Ants may also be found in or around floor drains, inside the motor areas of refrigerators and microwaves, behind wall paper and in cracks and crevices in cabinets and around walls.
If you are only finding a couple of ants here and there, you can do the honey and peanut butter test to help attract the ants to one spot so you can see where the trail of ants comes from and also to help detect what type of ant bait would work best in your ant treatment program.
If the ants are eating just the honey, a liquid or gel bait would be a good bait choice. If the ants are more attracted to the peanut butter, a granule or paste bait would be a good choice. You should note that as an ant colony grows and changes their nutritional needs will change. At some point they may only accept sweet or gel bait and at other times they may only accept protein or granule baits.
Ants are opportunistic by nature and can make a nest just about anywhere depending on the species of ant. When inspecting for ants outdoors you should look:
In firewood piles
Under yard debris
In electrical and utility boxes
In dirt mounds in the yard
Under the siding on your structure
Tips for Eliminating and Preventing Ant Infestations in the House
An ant infestation isn’t the worst pest problem in the world since most species of ant commonly found in the home do no real damage. The good news is that out of more than 1,000 or so classified species of ants in North America, only a few species are likely to take shelter in homes, and even fewer are likely to sting or cause damage. The vast majority of ant species are garden dwellers that do more good than harm — such as aerating soil or controlling damaging pests such as aphids.
But ants roaming around inside the home are annoying, and they can sometimes spread unwanted bacteria. Varieties commonly known as carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) can cause damage by burrowing through wood structural elements of the home.
Structure of an Ant Colony
Ants are social creatures that generally form colonies in which individuals assume different roles. One or more “queen” ants are the reproducing individuals that remain in a hidden nest; their role is to simply continue to produce more ants and maintain the colony. The other individuals—which can include several million individuals in larger colonies—are known as worker ants. The younger workers typically remain inside the nest, where they serve the needs of the queen and maintain or expand the nest, while older workers roam out from the nest to retrieve food for the colony. It is these older workers that you see when an ant infestation becomes apparent.
Identify Ant Trails
The key first step in eliminating an ant infestation is to identify the trails used by worker ants to move to and from the nest. Any visible ants moving inside your home are seeking food, and once an ant finds edible material, it carries it back to the nest By doing so, the ant leaves a chemical path, or trail, for its fellow worker ants to follow to collect more food.
Use Ant Bait Indoors
Avoid the temptation to simply use pesticides to spray visible ants marching along trails in your home. Pesticide sprays can eliminate a few visible ants, but more will quickly replace them, and you’ll never make real progress to eliminating the infestation. Instead, use these worker ants as the ticket into the colony by placing ant bait for them to carry back to the hidden nest.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Your House and Yard
Put an end to most ant problems with inexpensive products from the home center or hardware store, and save the expense of hiring an exterminator.
How to Identify Ants
Start by identifying the type of ant in your house so you can find out how to get rid of ants, their nesting habits and have a better idea of where they’re living (they may be nesting outdoors). Take a close-up photo of the ant and send it to your local university extension service (enter your state’s name and “university extension service” into any online search engine). The extension service will tell you the type of ant you’re dealing with and where it nests. They may give you fact sheets about the ant species and maybe even some advice on getting rid of that particular ant species
How to Find Ant Nests
Sometimes the solution to an ant problem is getting rid of their nest. If you’re dealing with carpenter ants, which can do structural damage to your house, it’s vital that you wipe them out ASAP. Finding the nest may not be easy and takes some detective work. Ants generally prefer damp areas, such as framing or flooring that’s soft and spongy from a plumbing or roof leak. How to get rid of ants begins by looking for areas with water damage. Attics, bathrooms and exterior walls are obvious candidates. Cut small holes in water-damaged walls to track down the ant nest. (You’re going to have to repair the walls anyway.) When you find the nest, spray it with an insecticide that contains bifenthrin, permethrin or deltamethrin (look on the label)
Ant Removal: Determine the Best Ant Bait
When you see an ant, your first impulse is probably to step on it. But don’t. You’ll kill it, but for every ant you see, there may be hundreds more hiding in the house. The ones you see are scout ants, foraging for food to take back to the colony. Use these scouts to wipe out the entire colony. Prebait ants in areas you’ve previously seen them. Ants’ tastes change during the year. They usually prefer protein in the spring and sweets or fatty/oily foods in the summer. Set out sugar or honey, fried food and peanut butter, then see which food attracts ants. Use whichever food they prefer for bait and a DIY way to get rid of ants. Once you know what the ants like, buy and set out toxic ant bait that’s geared to their taste.
Ant Removal: Erase Ant Trails
Where you see one ant, you’re bound to see others. That’s because ants leave a scented trail that other ants follow. Sweeping or mopping isn’t enough to eliminate the scent. Instead, mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water in a spray bottle for a safe way to get rid of ants in the home, then spray wherever you’ve seen ants in the past. This will stop outdoor nesting ants that entered the house to forage for food (ants that come inside are not necessarily trying to establish a nest). Vinegar and water won’t stop ants that are already nesting indoors. You’ll need to kill them with ant bait.