How to Get Rid of Ants in My Kitchen
Catastrophe has struck: you see ants crawling in lines all over your kitchen, ferrying small crumbs from the nooks and crannies of your home back to their nest. Getting rid of ants in the house is a daunting task, but how to get rid of ants in your kitchen is a critical part of the process.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to get rid of ants in the kitchen so that you’ll know how to keep your home ant-free and how to fight the infestations which seem to crop up from one day to the next.
How Ants Find Food
Ants may appear to be simple creatures, but they are incredibly complex. When worker ants leave the nest, they lay a pheromone trail, which helps them to mark where they have gone. Pheromones are scent-like chemical signals which tell ants that there is something valuable.
When the ant smells a food source like a crumb or a piece of fruit, it circles around the food, marking it with additional pheromones to signal to its comrades that there is something worthwhile at the end of their initial pheromone trail.
Then, the ant retraces its steps, following its own initial pheromone trail home while laying an additional dusting of pheromones to reinforce the interest of other ants which may have detected the trail. At this point, you have a minimal amount of time before you are deluged by hungry ants.
Pheromones are Key
The next few ants which walk down the pheromone trail will not lay additional pheromones of their own — at least not until they detect the food at the end of the trail. Then, with food in tow, they will follow the path back and reinforce the strength of the pheromone scent, sparking a chain reaction.
Using this method, ants can quickly identify food sources far from home and direct a large amount of labor towards exploiting the nutrients contained within very short notice.
If you see a few ants wandering around your kitchen floor, there’s a good chance that if they find anything valuable, you’ll see three or four times as many within a few hours.
Why Do Ants Like The Kitchen?
Ants love your kitchen for several reasons.
First, your kitchen has plenty of crumbs to feast on, even if you try to keep it spotless. Remember, there only need to be a few crumbs lying around for a few minutes for a couple of worker ants to identify that there is something valuable to eat.
During your food preparation process, there are plenty of opportunities for ants to detect your food. Ants have a keen sense of smell, meaning that they don’t need to be directly adjacent or in contact with food scraps for them to realize that the wastes are there and to mark the territory accordingly.
Cleaning up immediately after dinner will ensure that there isn’t actually any source of food for the scouting ants to find, but it won’t prevent them from looking, especially if you don’t manage to clean up their pheromone trails when you sweep for crumbs.
Ants Enter Wherever They Can
Your kitchen also has a huge number of access points which ants can use to their advantage, which may not exist elsewhere. In particular, ants can enter your kitchen via:
- Cracks in the floorboards
- Cracks in the tiling
- Cracks in the plumbing fixtures
- Cracks in the light fixtures
- Unwashed bulk produce
- Cracks in cabinets
This means that ants like your kitchen in part because it is an easily accessible space that has few predators and few obstructions between their entry point and food sources.
More importantly, the majority of the access points to your kitchen have associated transit routes for ants that are beyond your control. The areas behind your appliances, cabinets, and fixtures are inaccessible to you, but ants can easily lay a robust pheromone trail.
This means that if you kill the ants which are visible, they’ll still send more and more as a result of their superhighway beyond your reach. If you block the cracks where they’re accessing your kitchen, they’ll probably be able to find another way around.
Finally, while ants don’t need much moisture to survive, they will find the perfect amount in your kitchen.
What Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Ants In The Kitchen?
Now that you know about why ants like your kitchen so much, it’s time to learn how to get rid of ants in your kitchen with a few simple steps.
Deny Food Sources
The first step in the ant control process is to deny the food sources, which will draw ants to your kitchen.
If you have fruits on the countertop, protect them from ants with a container. If you have crumbs on the floor, sweep them up. If there are sticky residues from sugars or syrups on your counters or floors, wipe them down with soap and water.
Control access to your trash by covering exposed trash bins and using new trash bags.
Make sure that the areas underneath your chairs, rugs, refrigerator, and other appliances are clean and that they have no errant crumbs or residues which ants might find palatable.
Try to clean up the dishes immediately after dinner, or put the dishes in the dishwasher. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, even if they get cleaned a few hours later.
Pet food is fair game for ants. Keep your pet’s food bowl clean and empty between meals, and try to make sure that they don’t leave any leftovers behind. To maintain control over your bags of pet food, which may not close completely, purchase a container with a screw-on top piece.
Plug the Cracks
The next step is to plug as many of the cracks which ants use to access your kitchen. Basic epoxy or caulk will do the trick.
Ants can slip between cracks as narrow as under a millimeter, so you should use a nozzle with a narrow tip on your caulk or epoxy gun to ensure that you can fill the relevant areas. If you don’t have these tools on hand, taping over the cracks is a good short-term solution.
Pay special attention to baseboards, the back of your cabinets, and the areas surrounding your plumbing and electrical fixtures. If you can see a few ants walking near a crack, you know that the crack needs to be filled immediately.
Be sure to clean up any excess epoxy or drywall after your filling session, as some ants may be able to eat it as food when it is broken down into dust.
Destroy the Pheromone Trails
Pheromone trails laid by ants are invisible, but if you have spotted ants in your kitchen, you can be sure that there are pheromone trails all over the place in your home.
Thankfully, you can destroy pheromone trails, which are already established by wiping down the area with soap and water. You don’t need to scrub or mop too intensely — just a quick swipe or two will do the trick.
Pay special attention to swabbing areas where ants are likely to find entry points into your kitchen. Wipe down the baseboards, your tiling, and the areas around your fixtures. This will destroy the active pheromone trails, which are acting as exits from the ant highway.
There isn’t any way to stop ants from establishing new pheromone trails into your kitchen, but they will find it slightly more complicated if the surfaces have been recently cleaned because they will need to establish new pheromone trails from scratch rather than reinforcing old ones, which is typically smoother.
Set Ant Traps
Perhaps the most effective way for how to get rid of ants in the kitchen is to lay poisoned bait traps near areas where ants are entering. These traps do not kill the worker ants immediately, nor do they prevent them from forming pheromone trails.
Instead, ant traps are a slow-acting poison that prevents ants from functioning only after they have had enough time to show all of their ant friends to the location of the trap. This means that the ant queen will be able to eat the poison and die, along with the majority of the workers in the colony.
Ant traps are cheap, effective, pet safe, and child safe. Opt for the traps which have a small enclosure for the bait so that there isn’t any chance of the bait getting brushed away or accessed by anything other than the ants that are looking for food.
Once the main colony harassing your kitchen has been destroyed, it will be much easier to perform maintenance to your home to prevent any new ants from returning.
In the spring, when ants are the most likely to try to establish new colonies and to hunt for new food sources in your home, you can deploy leftover ant traps to ensure that you never need to worry about how to get rid of ants in your kitchen ever again.
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