June 10, 2021 / Residential Pest Control

Why Do Ants Invade Homes?

Ants invading a spilled bottle of honey in a kitchen.

Humans have explored the globe and settled in all four corners of the earth, but when it comes to the world’s most successful creature, nothing makes itself at home like the ant. Like us, ants have learned how to adapt and thrive in nearly every area and climate around the planet, and in numbers that are nothing short of astonishing.

There are nearly eight billion people on Earth, who collectively weigh around 350 million tons. Compare that to the ants -- all 10 billion billion of them (that’s not a typo -- 10 billion. Billion). What would the scale read if you piled all of them onto it? About 3,000 million tons, or almost ten times as much as us humans.

But the real question is, if ants can call just about anywhere home, why do they seem to insist on always moving into ours? 

When Ants Go House-Hunting, Every Home is on the Market

Unlike some more persnickety homebuyers, ants only care about three amenities -- food, water and shelter. Sure, they have some preferences. Different species enjoy a diversity of cuisines, for example. Some ants prefer proteins, while others like fungi. Yet other species of ants have a sweet tooth and seek out sugary snacks to enjoy.

In the Ant World, Homemaking is a Team Effort

Ant “families” are organized into colonies, with one queen who reigns over hundreds or even thousands of other worker and soldier ants. Ever noticed how five ants can turn into 500 in the blink of an eye? You’re not seeing things -- that’s how they call each other to dinner.

First, ants send scouts away from the nest to search for food. When they find it, they communicate their discovery to the other ants by leaving a trail of pheromones -- a sort of chemical calling card animals use to share information. 

Once other members of the colony pick up on a scout ant’s pheromone trail, that’s when the teamwork begins. Ants form a trail and transport the newly discovered food back to the nest. If the water tap ever runs dry, they’ll employ similar tactics to find more water, too.

And once an ant colony discovers your home is a plentiful source of both food and water, it’s only a matter of time before they decide to move in.

Why Ants Relocate… Into Your Home

Many reasons can lead an ant colony into your home. Too much water for example, like after a heavy rain, is one thing that can make your sturdy, dry four walls especially attractive. An ant colony might also move if their nests get destroyed, either from natural occurrences, human behavior, or other animals digging up where they shouldn’t. Sometimes, several colonies might even combine to form supercolonies, with multiple queens and tens or even hundreds of thousands of residents. Finally, sometimes ants just relocate for no reason whatsoever (at least for no reason that we’ve been able to figure out!). 

Regardless of how or why they moved in, at some point you’re going to want to evict the ants that are living rent-free in your home. In the case of destructive species, like carpenter ants -- whose namesake woodworking skills can cause tremendous damage to your home, removing them isn’t optional.

How to Start the Eviction Process

To make your home less appealing to ants, start by fixing any water sources that may be leaking or depositing water where it doesn’t belong and continue to check regularly for new leaks. Then, seal up cracks and crevices in and around your house and replace any loose weather stripping. 

Keep outdoor vegetation like trees, bushes and ornamental plants neatly trimmed and away from the house’s exterior. Don’t stack firewood near the house either, as they can attract carpenter ants. Finally, use crushed stone instead of mulch or pine straw around the perimeter of your house, which will deter ants from traversing your garden beds.

Call the Pros to Throw Ants Out for Good

Ants are among the toughest pests to put out permanently, which is why it’s almost impossible to eradicate them without help from the pros. Not only is our team staffed with experts at removing them, we also know how to proactively protect against future invasions. 

Have ants gone marching too far into your home? Contact us for a free quote to get them marching right back out.