4 Reasons Why Ants Come Into Your House

by | Ants, Insects

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If you find that ants have come in from your yard, you’re probably wondering what attracted them to your house in the first place. If you know what the ants looking for, you can take steps to stop more of them from coming in.

There are 4 reasons why ants go into homes: to find food, to find moisture, to find a place to build a nest, and for protection from the weather outside. Each ant has a job, and some leave the nest to find what they are looking for. If it‘s in your home, they call more ants or start a new nest.

The truth is that ants don’t just come into your house looking for food. There are other reasons why you might suddenly see a few ants walking around your bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom, but I’m afraid that sometimes there are signs you already have an ant infestation.

Knowing what to look for and how to use the right technique to kill the ants will help you deal with ants before they become too much of a problem in your home.

Ants are attracted to food

Photo of ants entering a home under the door

The main reason why ants enter people’s houses is to find food. Ants send out scouts to look for food, and these worker ants have many tricks up their sleeves to find it.

The scouts can find both large and small amounts of food – from stockpiles in the pantry cupboard to a few crumbs from your pet’s food.

With a sense of smell that’s up to five times stronger than other insects, you are more likely to have a problem with ants raiding your home and food supplies than other insects.

Most ants are attracted to sugary and sweet foods, but ants are opportunistic eaters and will eat just about anything they can find, especially when food is scarce. Ants also eat dead insects, plant sap, fruits, vegetables, meats, and honeydew from aphids.  

Click here to find out what ants really do with all the food they collect in your home.

With over 10 000 types of ants in the world, it’s understandable that not all ants eat the same foods. Exterminators categorize ants into two main food-eating groups: those that eat sugars and those that like greasy foods.

Sugar ants tend to nest in the ground or near a food source, and they include many ants you probably know like carpenter ants and pavement ants.

Grease ants are also known as thief ants, and they love to eat meats, oils and fats.

Most ant bait stations that kill ants, like these highly effective ones from Amazon, are designed for sugar ants because most ants that come into people’s houses like to eat sweet things.

Once ant scouts find food in your home, they return to their nest and tell the other ants about it. You’ll soon notice countless ants arriving to collect the food and take it back to their nest.

Click here to find out how ants find food so quickly and easily using ant trails.

Ants are attracted to moisture

Ants, much like the rest of us, need food and water to survive. And they’re willing to enter your house to find it when they have to.

Ants don’t need large pools of water to get the moisture they need as they usually get enough from the food they eat. But when there’s dry, hot weather outside, ants might come inside to look for moisture in your home.

Other ants don’t come looking for water at all – they come looking for clammy, rotten wood to live in. These ants are called carpenter ants, and they often move into the damp wood near a water leak.

Then there are the ants who look for humid places to build nests. They are called moisture ants or yellow ants, and they need water to survive. You will often find these ants in your bathroom near toilets and tubs, close to leaking sinks, or in crawl spaces where there’s wet or rotting timber.

Closeup photo moisture ants who move into bathrooms and crawl spaces
Source: Picture sourced, with thanks, from David Cappaert, Bugwood.org

If you need to get rid of moisture ants in your home, you can try the following products that are all available on Amazon:

  • this Demon Max insecticide to kill the ant nest from the outside by saturating the wood or soil with it
  • this Home Defense foam spray that gets into cracks, crevices, and hard-to-reach places, where moisture ants have built a nest
  • these bait stations if you cannot find the ants’ nest. The ants will carry the sweet bait back to their nest and the poison will slowly kill the egg-laying queen and the ants inside

If you aren’t sure if you have moisture ants or not, squash one of the worker ants and smell it. Some moisture ants give off a lemony citronella smell when they are crushed.

Ants are attracted to new living quarters

Ants live together in a group called a colony, and each colony needs somewhere to live. Sometimes ants build nests in the wild or in a backyard, and sometimes they move into people’s houses looking for shelter.

Once a year, usually in late spring or early summer, an established ant colony sends out a large group of swarmer ants. These ants are a lot like swarmer termites – they also have wings and fly from the nest to start a new colony. Most people call these ants flying ants.

Photo of a flying ant that's labelled for easy identification
Swarmer ants, or flying ants, have bent antennae, a thin, pinched waist, and front wings that are longer than their back wings.

If a swarmer ant lands inside your home, it is very likely to start its own nest in there.

You might get a fright when you see these flying ants and think they’re termites, but they’re not. The unfortunate news is that they are often a sign of an existing ant infestation in your home or yard, and you will need to take steps to locate the nest or get an exterminator in to treat the area for you.

Ants are attracted to stable temperatures

Ants might come into your house looking for more stable conditions in their surroundings.

When the weather is bad, and there are storms or a long drought, ants could enter your home looking for safety and shelter from the heat, cold, or wetness outside.

Stanford scientists have found that ants are most likely to try to escape cold, wet weather than hot, dry conditions. But ants don’t like extreme temperatures either way.

At the end of the experiment, the scientists could tell that weather plays a major role in increasing and decreasing the number of ants coming into people’s homes:

They come in because of the weather, and they go out because of the weather.

Source: Stanford News Service

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