Ants in the House During Summer

Ants provide a useful function by aerating the soil and feeding on pests like fleas and termites.

Why Ants Enter Homes

Ants usually nest outdoors and only enter a home for food or water.Ants usually nest outdoors and only enter a home for food or water.
Most live underground and out of sight. When they come indoors, though, it's a different story. Once inside, ants can contaminate our food and even spread disease. For these reasons, it's important to understand how and why ants enter our homes and how to keep them out.

According to Colorado State University Extension entomologist W.S. Cranshaw, ants usually nest outside and only enter a home in search of food or water. Most ants like the same foods that we do: those high in sugar, grease and protein. They will also eat dead insects, which can often be found along windowsills in homes. In addition, ants need water. They will use any source of freestanding water or water found around dripping faucets and leaky pipes.

How Ants Get In

Ants are small creatures and adept climbers. They can use almost any crack or hole to enter a home. Areas around windows and doors are common entry points. They can also enter through cracks in foundations, brickwork or walls. Pipes, wires and branches are often used by ants as a method of climbing from the ground to your home.

Preventing Ants from Entering

To prevent ants from getting into your home, it's important to block any entrances they might find. Ants can squeeze through holes and cracks in the foundation or around windows and doors. Use caulk to seal these entrance points. Also, seal the area around pipes and wires. If you have pets, place food and water dishes in a shallow pan filled with soapy water. The water will provide a moat that protects them from ants.

Getting Rid of Ants

Ants use scouts to hunt down sources of food and water. Once found, the scouts lay pheromone trails that worker ants follow. You can eliminate these trails with soap and water, but that's only a temporary fix. For long-term control, baiting is more effective, providing you have eliminated other sources of food for the ants. Ant baits can be purchased or be made using borax (boric acid) and a food source like sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup or bacon grease. University of Nebraska Extension educator Barb Ogg recommends a mixture of 4 tbsp. peanut butter, 6 tbsp. honey and 3/4 tsp. boric acid. Place the bait on index cards in areas where ants have been seen. Replace bait that has gotten stale or been eaten, and leave it out for at least three to four weeks.

About the Author

Darcy Logan has been a full-time writer since 2004. Before writing, she worked for several years as an English and special education teacher. Logan published her first book, "The Secret of Success is Not a Secret," and several education workbooks under the name Darcy Andries. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in special education from Middle Tennessee State University.