Black ants aren’t dangerous to humans, but they can be a nuisance. From invading your pantry to creeping up around your home, these pests can be difficult to completely eradicate from your home. While some black ants are relatively harmless, some types of ants like carpenter ants can cause serious property damage to your home and belongings. That’s why if you see an alarming number of black ants in your home, it’s best to find the root colony and get rid of it.
So how can you find where black ants are hiding in your home? You might consider steps like following their trail leading back to their entry points, but there are more efficient ways to go about this. Once you find their general location, you can take steps to treat the area and prevent a major infestation from harming your home. Here’s how to find those pesky black ants.
Ants can build their colonies indoors within the walls of your home, or outdoors while finding entry points to regularly invade your home. By knowing their ideal habitat, you can search for them more effectively around your home. Here are some ways to find black ant colonies.
Black ants prefer to build anthills outdoors because of the protection underground living provides them. But if your home has suitable areas that can provide for their needs, they can adapt and start an infestation indoors. The most common rooms they settle in are the bathrooms and your kitchen, as they prefer moist and dark spaces with easy access to food sources.
If you want to find where black ants are hiding in your home, the best places to start are your kitchen and your bathrooms. In the kitchen, check dark areas like your cabinets and pantry, behind appliances, and behind cracks and crevices. In the bathroom, check the areas close to your soaps, lotions, and toothpaste. If you find a trail of black ants, their colony is most likely nearby.
A good way to find your ant infestation is to lure them out and observe where their trail goes. One way to do this is with a honey and peanut butter test. As an ant colony grows, their nutritional needs will change, so they may be more attracted to either honey or peanut butter. Using both at the same time may yield better results.
Place a saucer with half a teaspoon of honey and half a teaspoon of peanut butter on opposite sides of the saucer. Leave it in a place where you’ve noticed regular ant activity. Since ants tend to be nocturnal, wait for the late evening to check if they’ve formed a trail. You can follow the trail back to where their nesting area is.
Another possibility is that the ant colony isn’t infested indoors. Rather, they’ve built their nest outdoors but have an entry point to find food in your home. It’s also possible that their parent colony is outside but has a satellite colony indoors. If you can’t find an anthill, black ants may have built their nests in the following areas:
You can tell you’ve got a carpenter ant nest if you find damaged wood or any signs similar to termite infestations. To find their area, you can use the honey and peanut butter test outdoors, but this can also be prone to other outdoor animals disrupting the test. However, the best thing to do if there is an outdoor infestation is to close up possible entry points like cracks in the walls and tree branches providing upper-level access, and then treat the ant-infested area accordingly.
Once you’ve seen an ant trail, you can start tracing it back to where the black ants go. This can be difficult because of how black ants build their trail. The early stages of the trail tend to be in a zigzag pattern because of how ant-explorers leave pheromone trails in search of resources. Over time, however, these scent trails straighten out as ants find shortcuts to get from the food source to their colony.
A good trick is not to follow just one ant, but the entire trail itself. You should see which crack in the wall they enter, and from there you can act accordingly by closing up the area.
Black ants practice necrophoresis, which is the act of carrying dead ants away from the nest to prevent disease or infection from spreading to the rest of the population. Colonies that have settled indoors tend to dispose of their dead ants out in the open, particularly near windows. If you find a large number of dead ants in the area and you haven’t used pesticides or anything that can kill pests, then it’s likely a case of necrophoresis, which means that the colony may be nearby.
Prevention is much better than the cure. Before your home becomes victim to black ant infestations, here are some ways to prevent ants from seeing your home as a potential breeding ground for their colony.
Not just your kitchen and bathroom, but all living spaces in your home. Black ants and other pests will only settle inside or around your home if it finds suitable living conditions and easy access to resources.
Practices like cleaning your house regularly and storing your food properly can make it harder for ants in search of food and prevent ants from finding the resources they need to thrive in your home.
Using a dehumidifier and having proper ventilation in your home can prevent excess moisture build-up in common areas like your kitchen and bathrooms. In your kitchen, opening windows and wiping away spilled liquids immediately can reduce the moisture in the area.
If your bathrooms don’t have ventilation fans, opening doors and windows or wiping puddles and other standing water can prevent excess moisture. Check for any water leak sources and have them repaired.
Aside from commercial pesticides designed for black ants, you can try natural ant repellants. Ants are repelled by peppermint, citrus oil, and tea tree oil, so using these scents around your home can be a natural deterrent from establishing a colony.
You can use a scent diffuser or mix water and a few drops of essential oils into a spray bottle and spray common areas. Ants are also repelled by diatomaceous earth, black pepper, and white vinegar.
Now that you’ve traced the ants’ trail and found the general area of their colony, what do you do next? If it’s outdoors, you can try to close up any cracks or entry points that they use to enter your home. But for indoor infestations, you can try the following.
Make sure that these pesticides explicitly say they can treat ants, as not all pesticides can. You can find them online or at your local hardware store. Be sure to use these pesticides carefully, as some can be dangerous to children and pets and can linger even hours after application.
Cutting off ants’ resources is a good way to prevent the colony from thriving. In your kitchen, make sure your food items are properly sealed in airtight containers and stored away. Wipe your kitchen counters of any crumbs, spills, and grease, and then sweep the kitchen floor of any debris.
If you have pets, avoid leaving pet food in their bowls around the clock; instead, feed them at designated times and make sure their pet bowls are empty afterward.
Clean your home regularly to avoid crumbs and other organic particles on the ground like dead skin cells and fingernails. Keep moisture to a minimum to prevent them from finding water sources for survival as well.
If the infestation is too far gone to treat with preventative measures and pesticide problems, your best solution is to have a pest control professional handle your ants. Pest experts can track down the colony more efficiently, thin the ants’ numbers, and recommend steps to prevent another infestation in the future.
Black ants are relatively harmless to humans, but they can also be nuisances that can potentially cause damage to your property. Preventative measures can prevent colonies from swarming your home, but in case of an infestation that’s difficult to solve on your own, Positive Pest Management can handle infestations in residential and commercial properties.