Have you ever wondered what attracts ants? If you have discovered ants in your home, you’re likely to be looking for the answer to exactly this question, and ants are anything but welcome guests in many households. They get into food supplies, they bite, and they can be very destructive if they take up residence in the walls or floors.
Many different things attract ants, and if you have ants in your home, you’ll have to determine what has lured them in. You will also need to remove all sources of food, even if they weren’t the original cause of the ants appearing. Often, ants will come in because of spilled sugar or honey, but there are many other things that can attract them too.
Different Types Of Ants And What Attracts Them
There are many kinds of ants, and when asking “what attracts ants?” you may need to take the different types into account. Different ants eat different things, so it’s important to determine what sort of ant you’re dealing with when you’re trying to work out what it is that they are eating.
We’ll cover some of the common kinds of ants that you might find in your home.
European Fire Ants
What they are: these ants can be extremely aggressive and they have a fearsome bite. They are a light orange or brown, and usually about half a centimeter long. They like to come indoors when the weather is cold because they prefer the warmer temperatures offered by a house, and they will often nest in any warm, damp area they can find.
Don’t let the name fool you into thinking that you’re safe if you don’t live in Europe. Plenty of these ants are found in other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada.
What attracts them: usually, these ants are looking for warmth and dampness. They are omnivores and will gather up any edible matter they find, including other insects and spilled food. However, the worker ants get nutrition by drinking, and therefore depend heavily on a moist environment.
Dark Rover Ants
What they are: these ants are usually tiny, but tend to live in large colonies. They do not bite or sting, so they aren’t too much of a problem indoors, but they are attracted to any sweet liquid. That means they can be a nuisance in kitchens, where they like to nest.
What attracts them: spilled sweet liquids appeal to these ants. They will mop them up wherever they find them, and if they get into your pantry, they can wreak havoc in maple syrup, honey, molasses, etc.
What they are: this kind of ant will nest almost anywhere, and likes to get under carpets and in the soil of houseplants. They are not stingers or biters, but they are considered a major irritation in homes. The name comes from the erratic way that they move around when disturbed.
What attracts them: any kind of food. They will eat almost anything, which makes kitchens a popular spot for them. If you have potted plants in your kitchen, you may find you end up with crazy ants invading, and they have large nests.
Asian Needle Ants
What they are: usually an outdoor species, they may take up residence in walls or bricks, especially if you have cracks in your foundations or gaps around doors or windows. They are not usually an aggressive kind of ant, but can sting if provoked, and some people react to them.
What attracts them: they eat insects, fish, and old fruit. They may be drawn into your home by lack of cleanliness creating the ready availability of any of these foods, and they will often create a nest in the wall.
What they are: at up to 1.3 cm in length, these are one of the larger ants that you might find indoors. As the name suggests, they destroy wood, but they don’t eat it; they simply hollow it out to make room for their nests. If you have wooden floors, wooden furniture, or wooden walls, these can be a serious threat.
Some carpenter ants can sting, although not all do. You will rarely have the main carpenter ants’ nest in your home; they make several, and may just make a small nest in your house, with the major one outdoors somewhere.
What attracts them: they will eat almost anything, including sweets, cakes, fat spills, eggs, etc. In the wild, they generally eat honeydew and fruit juices. They are likely to cause major damage to a wooden home, especially if they find a nearby source of food and decide to build a nest so they can access it.
These are not the only kinds of ants that you might find in your home, but they are some of the common ones. Some pose only a minor threat and nuisance, whereas others, such as carpenter ants, can seriously compromise the structure of your home (in extreme circumstances).
Flowers And Plants That Attract Ants
Having flowers and plants in your home is often an element that contributes to ants coming indoors. After all, the plants mimic their natural environment, and therefore they are more likely to come in.
So, what attracts ants to plants? There are a couple of major things: any plant can be attractive to these insects because the soil provides a home and the sap/leaves may serve as food, but some plants are more attractive than others. Many ants particularly like plants that are full of nectar, so if your plants are in bloom, they are more likely to attract ants.
Ants also enjoy honeydew, and you may actually observe ants putting aphids or other sap-sucking insects on your plants so that they can collect the honeydew from them. They are essentially farming the aphids for this sweet liquid, to the detriment of your plant! You will need to remove the plants from the vicinity and wash away aphids with soapy water.
Flowers that are particularly attractive to ants may also be outside the home; if you have lots of ants living around the house, they are more likely to come into it, especially when the weather is cold. Peonies and hydrangeas are both popular with ants, as are hostas, desert willow, and many weeds.
Any houseplants that are vulnerable to aphids will particularly appeal to ants that like sugary liquids, so you should keep an eye out for this. If a plant keeps getting infested with aphids, check whether ants are putting the little bugs there.
Oxalis is one such plant; the ants will transfer the aphids to it and the little bugs will quickly smother the delicate leaves and flowers. Many other plants are also vulnerable to this sort of attack by ants, so keep an eye on your houseplants and check whether ants are living in, under, or near to their pots.
If you do discover ants in your plant pots, the best thing to do is to remove the plant. You can also flood the soil, provided the plant won’t mind a good watering. Ants do not like a lot of water, even ones that prefer moist conditions. If you make their home very wet, they are likely to move.
Alternative, relocate your plant to another room, and cut off any other food sources that the ants may be tapping into. This should encourage the ants to go elsewhere.
Parts Of Your House Ants Are Attracted To
Ants can turn up in any part of your home, although you will usually find them on the ground floor, as the upstairs is quite a trek for them and they will rarely get this far. Often, their nests will be near doors or windowsills, and this will be how they originally entered the home.
Ants In The Kitchen
Ants usually come into the house in search of food, and they often find it. Even if you are careful and houseproud, a scattering of crumbs is all it takes to encourage the ants in. They will find food to eat in almost every kitchen, and no matter how clean you try to keep your house, they’re likely to find enough for their colony.
You are pretty likely to see ants in the kitchen. There is usually a source of water here, and obviously a ready supply of food. Counters that have not been wiped or floors that have not been swept will offer ants plenty to eat. Sticky honey jars, jelly jars, peanut butter jars, etc., will all attract them to your cupboards, too.
Even things like spilled cereals and breadcrumbs are enough to entice ants inside and keep them there. If you have ants in the kitchen, you will have to be extremely vigilant about cleaning up any spill and keeping foods off the surfaces and stored in sealed containers.
Your garbage bin and compost bucket (if you have one) also cry out to ants with an abundance of things they can eat. A tiny smear of waste on a packet is a feast to an ant. Food left down for cats or dogs also provides temptations. No matter what you do, there is a lot of food in the kitchen.
How Can I Deal With Ants In The Kitchen?
You shouldn’t leave anything out, because ants will eat almost everything they find! Even oil spills, coffee stains, and dry grains will attract them. They will use their scent trails to keep finding the common food areas, such as counters, even if you clean up regularly, and it’s nearly impossible to keep a kitchen clean enough to deter an ant infestation.
However, with vigilance and care, you can get on top of ants in the kitchen. Make sure you wipe down surfaces after every meal, sweep and mop the floors, and remove scent trails by using soap and water. You can also put down things that ants dislike the smell of, such as lavender, tobacco, or cinnamon.
Ants In The Bathroom
There might be less food in the bathroom, but there’s still plenty of moisture, and ants can usually find enough to eat even without the rich pickings of the kitchen. Small crumbs that catch on clothes and feet will often end up in the bathroom, and ants will eat these.
They are also likely to come across insects, and there may be plants that they can gather sap or honeydew or nectar from. A lot of people keep plants in the bathroom.
Most ants like slight dampness around their nests, and the bathroom is the perfect place for this. If you have cracks in your sealant or lino, ants are likely to take advantage, and they will have all that they need to drink.
While you may not spill water, showers create humidity that then condenses on the walls and gives the ants plenty of moisture. Bathrooms also tend to be cool, somewhat dark, and often quiet places with lower footfall than the rest of the house. All of these things make them perfect for ants to enjoy.
If you have pets and they are fed in the bathroom, there is also a high chance that this will provide the ants with all that they need to eat.
While many cosmetics are not going to appeal to ants, fats from any leftover products can attract them, and they will very happily eat toothpaste, which tends to have syrups or sweeteners in it. Tiny splashes of mouthwash will also bring them running, although the alcohol in the full bottle may put them off.
How Can I Deal With Ants In The Bathroom?
Cleaning your bathroom thoroughly with scented soaps to remove their trails will help get rid of ants in the bathroom, but the key thing is to reduce the available moisture. If you have a dehumidifier, use it. If not, try to dry the walls and shower cubicle after a shower.
Put damp towels elsewhere to dry, mop the floor with a sterile solution, and hang up any wet mats. Remove plants and pet food, and keep the bathroom nice and clean.
If you have an infestation behind some sealant, it will be necessary to get rid of the infestation and then reseal the gaps. Most ants are perfectly capable of eating their way through sealant, so don’t just plug up the hole and hope for the best. They will find their way back out, either there or somewhere else.
Ants In The Bedroom
It’s rarer to end up with ant infestations in other parts of the house, but it could happen if they find a source of food. For example, if you eat in your bedroom and there are crumbs or dishes around, they are likely to investigate and possibly move in.
Fruit juices and cups of tea or coffee that have contained sugar are also big attractions. If you have plants in your room, this may appeal to them too. You are more likely to end up with an infestation if your room is at ground level, although this isn’t always the case.
You might notice ants are in your laundry hamper, and that could be alarming, but you don’t need to worry about ants eating your clothes. What they are likely after is any residual sweat on the clothes. This contains both sugars and salts, and they will happily eat these, especially if other food is in short supply. Discarded clothes may also be damp.
How Can I Deal With Ants In The Bedroom?
The best way to get rid of an ant infestation in your bedroom is to give it a very thorough clean. Remove the laundry hamper and wash the clothes (ants should have minimal interest in clean laundry). Vacuum up any crumbs, and remove dirty dishes and plates.
If you have spilled anything sugary, thoroughly clean the area, and consider putting down scents that the ants will dislike. Lavender may work for you, or you could try tobacco. Make sure you empty the bins and air the room out to reduce any humidity.
If you have any water in your room, take it elsewhere, and temporarily rehouse plants until the ants have gone. This should leave them with little to feed on in the bedroom, and they will hopefully move on.
Ants Attracted To Electronics
Ants in the wiring can cause major problems. They are extremely dangerous and may short circuit your whole system, and unfortunately, they are attracted to electricity.
You might be wondering what attracts ants to electronics, and it’s a good question. Obviously, any food or grease on electrical sockets will appeal to them, and it’s also worth noting that electronics tend to be warm, dry spaces, often with hollow areas between wires. This makes them ideal for ant homes, provided the ants have other sources of moisture nearby.
It’s thought that ants may also respond to the electromagnetic fields. Some people say that this field improves the communication that they have with other ants, but this has yet to be proven in any way.
A more plausible explanation is that when a single ant gets shocked by the electricity, it releases pheromones to alert other ants to the fact that it has been attacked. This summons more ants to offer a defense, and these then are also shocked and release pheromones. This can lead to a massive amount of ants in a very small space.
Ants can be attracted to all kinds of electronics, and can cause major issues. They could burn out devices entirely, or just cause them to malfunction. If you notice ants near your electronics, you need to take very prompt action to deter them. Crazy ants are particularly known for liking electronics, although it is not clear why.
To keep ants away from electronic devices, you should always keep your devices very clean, especially if you are aware that you have an ant problem. Wipe down switches, game controllers, plug sockets, and any other electronics that you are concerned about.
Devices that have possible entry points, such as USB sockets, large power sockets, etc., should be stored where ants cannot access them, and possibly surrounded by scents that repel ants if you are having issues.
You really do not want ants to short out your laptop, Playstation, or expensive television, so keep foods well away from these devices, clean them regularly, and deter ants from going anywhere near them. If you are struggling to control an ant infestation that is putting the wiring of your house in danger, call a company to deal with it rather than risk damage to the house wiring.
Food And Products That Attract Ants
If you need to bait ants, there are many products you can buy that will deal with a colony by giving them poisonous food to take back to the queen. This will quickly kill off an ant colony as the workers will not survive if the queen dies.
You can buy a variety of baits or create your own at home. All you need is a food that the ants favor, and an insecticide such as borax. Add the insecticide, place the bait, and allow time for it to take effect.
Be aware that this is a slow method, and it can take weeks to handle a big colony. However, it will work and should eradicate the ants.
You can also trap ants using commercial traps, although the bait methods are often effective enough without needing to do this.
While you can sometimes live with small numbers of ants in your home and these insects are an important part of nature, they can also be extremely destructive. If they are causing damage, you will need to determine what attracts ants to your home, and how you can get rid of them.
Finding and removing food sources is key to getting rid of an ant infestation. You will also need to reduce the moisture in the environment, and keep it very clean. Wiping up ants’ scent trails and putting down strong and aromatic smells can confuse them and help to keep a colony under control.
In many cases, you can deal with an ant colony without requiring professional input. Sometimes, regular disturbance and a lack of food will be enough to encourage the ants to move on, and other times, you will have to take more drastic measures.