Ants crawling into your home - through floorboards, door openings, and window cracks - is a nuisance, to say the least. Yes, they may be beneficial insects in nature, playing important roles in the ecosystem as soil improvers, but they can become a real problem if and when they start invading our living spaces.
Our homes are attractive spots for ants to take up residence, providing food, water and shelter. Understanding their behaviours and why they keep returning can help you to implement effective strategies to discourage them from making your home their own.
We’ve had a look into efficient and successful ways to keep any ant invasions at bay, from natural home remedies and shop-bought repellents to keeping your home clean and tidy. Read on for our top tips and eliminate the annoying pests.
Why can ants be such a problem?
Here we’ve rounded up just a couple of reasons why ants can be such a nuisance to our homes.
- Building and furniture damage: Certain ant species, like carpenter ants, can cause damage to wooden structures. They may nest in furniture, wood panelling, or even load-bearing beams, resulting in significant structural damage.
- Foraging: Ants are always on the lookout for food sources. Once they find one, they leave scent trails to guide other ants to the food. This attracts more ants, leading to an entire ant colony invading our homes.
- Garden damage: Ant infestations can also occur in gardens. Ants can "farm" plant pests such as aphids, hindering plant growth. They can also damage seeds, seedlings, and roots.
Top tips to keep ants away
To prevent any unwanted ant swarms in your home, start by following some of these top tips and remedies and enjoy a pest-free home.
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- Keep your home clean: Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in your household helps prevent ant infestations. This includes keeping countertops and surfaces wiped down and clean, clearing away any food scraps/spillages that could attract the ants, and sealing tempting entrances for them, for example, open food boxes. Use food containers to cover foods and regularly vacuum your home.
- Seal your entrances: Seal any leaks in windows and cracks in doors and walls to prevent ants from being able to subtly enter your home.
- Use ant repellents for control: Sprays and powders specifically designed to deter ants will help stop their temptation from entering your homes. These can be bought from shops and sprayed/sprinkled directly onto ant trails, nests or other affected areas. Make sure you read and follow the product instructions carefully.
- Try household remedies to deter ants: If you prefer natural or environmentally friendly methods, several home remedies can help prevent ants. Use simple household ingredients such as baking soda, chalk, cinnamon, vinegar and sage to create your own ant-preventative solutions - these will disrupt ants’ scent trails and discourage them from entering. Sprinkle cinnamon, baking powder, or herbs such as mint, thyme, and sage down in the affected areas to put off ants from entering.
Recommended products to prevent ant infestations
If choosing ready-made products to put a stop to your ant problems, check out some of our top recommendations to kill ants and prevent them from coming back into your home.
- CLEAR Ant Control Spray, £8.52 from Amazon: Suitable for indoor use around the house, spray directly onto ants and their pathways, and they will be killed within minutes of application.
- Nippon Ant Killer Powder, £5.29 from Robert Dyas: Sprinkle along openings such as cracks and crevices, doorsteps, and window frames for an effective repellent, killing ants in no time and preventing re-entry.
- Pestmactic Anti-Ant Repellent Spray, £13.90 from Amazon: Target entry points such as doorways or spray directly on ants, their paths and nests, and wash away ants to keep your home pest-free. This non-toxic solution will keep your home safe.
- Raid Ant Killer Powder, £3.25 from Amazon: Ward off ants from your home with this powder, promising to provide continuous protection for up to 12 weeks. Use indoors and outdoors, kill ants within 30 minutes and prevent re-infestation.
- Spear & Jackson Ant Repellent, £9.99 from DIY at B&Q: Use on all species of ants, inside and outside, and keep the pests away thanks to the peppermint scent.
- Home Defence Ant Stop Ultra, £7.99 from Amazon: Kill off ants and protect against their return with this defence spray - easy to use and odour free.
How to identify an ant infestation in your home
Spotting an ant infestation early can save you from bigger problems later on. Look out for small trails of ants, especially near food sources, and check for any visible nests or mounds. Different types of ants can have distinct characteristics - keep an eye out for carpenter ants near wood debris or house ants emitting a strong smell when crushed. Early identification will help nip the infestation in the bud and prevent these tiny intruders from taking over your home.
If you want to see more household tips and recommendations, head over to our household section. Here you can check out our round-up of the best cordless vacuum cleaners, our guide on decluttering your home, and our spring cleaning checklist.
Cordelia Aspinall is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media, working across brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeForMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. She has previously worked and written for digital publications including Condé Nast Traveller, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and several other lifestyle brands.