WHERE DO ANTS NEST INDOORS?
By Chris Williams on July 26, 2017.
We have a terrible problem with tiny ants, lots of them, so I’m pretty sure they must be nesting in our house somewhere. We keep watching them to see if they disappear into a hole somewhere but we can’t figure anything out. Are we missing something? Y. M., Westwood, MA
You may not be missing anything at all. It’s very possible that the ants are not nesting in your house. At this time of year, ants are actively and randomly foraging. If a scout ant finds a good food source in your home, it will recruit others from the nest, following a trail back to the food. The ants may be collecting food and returning to the outside nest. Sometimes ants will forage inside temporarily when conditions change outside, for example when the nest site is too wet or too dry, or when a food supply disappears (see What Causes Occasional Indoor Ant Problems?).
Ant control is always more successful when you can find and treat the nest, or nests, directly rather than just killing foraging ants. That’s why a professional pest control inspection is important. Determining whether the nest is inside or outside is a big first step (see Where are Those Pesky Ants Nesting?).
ANTS LIKE AREAS OF HIGH MOISTURE
Knowing the type of ant helps us identify possible nest sites. Since you mention that the ants are “tiny,” we can probably rule out larger carpenter ants. Their indoor nest galleries are often in moisture-damaged wood. Other ants will also nest in water-softened wood, even though they don’t actually excavate galleries as carpenter ants do. Most ants that are nesting indoors gravitate towards higher moisture areas and that’s often where we start our inspections.
A moisture meter can be a useful tool when searching for nesting ants. We would want to know if you’ve had any water damage or moisture issues such as plumbing or roof leaks, condensation problems, or areas with high humidity and mold. We would check for ant activity around bathtubs, shower stalls, toilet bases, in laundry rooms or utility rooms, and where there might be water-damaged wood such as around window frames and in hidden voids.
The ants may not be nesting specifically inside your house but may instead have established a nest in the crawlspace or under the slab and are then entering your home through expansion joints or foundation cracks. Ants also trail along pipes, electrical lines, cables, and along edges of baseboards, or under carpet. We can often pick up a trail and follow the ants to a food source or nest site.
YOUR VISITING ANTS MAY BE NESTING OUTSIDE
A second approach would be to find out what the ants might be feeding on in your house and removing access. If they are foraging in from outside, you might be able to get rid of them by taking a few simple steps such as cleaning up spills and crumbs, keeping pet dishes off of the floor, storing bird seed in sealed containers, emptying garbage cans frequently, etc. (see How to Keep Ants Our of Your Home). If their food source disappears, ants will begin foraging elsewhere, hopefully outside.
Give Colonial Pest a call. Our ant experts will inspect your home for ant activity and ant nest sites. Even if we can’t locate a nest, we can still eliminate your ant problem through a baiting and/or perimeter treatment program. Locating and treating or removing the nest is always our goal since it helps insure permanent ant control.