How To Prevent and Get Rid of Ants in The Basement

Noticing one or two ants in your home may not seem like a big deal, and it typically isn’t. However, sometimes seeing only a few ants could mean that you might have a problem starting soon. Those lone ants could be scout ants searching for their next home, and if they think yours is suitable, then the entire colony is moving in. To avoid this, you need to find out what is attracting the ants inside your house and address that.

So, what attracts ants in your home, you ask? Here are a few things that you can address to help prevent an ant infestation.

Ants will likely want to nest in your home if they have easy access to food. Making sure to clean areas that you have eaten is always a great first step in preventing ants. Ants are highly attracted to the smell of sugar and grease, so it is important to clean spills and messes quickly and keep surfaces free of crumbs. Even pet food can make ants want to invade your home, so cleaning up after your pet is another way to prevent ants. Make sure to store all food securely in tightly sealed plastic containers or the refrigerator and don’t leave food in the trash can for too long.

Another reason why ants may enter your home is to have access to water. Areas in your house that have excessive moisture like, bathrooms, kitchen sinks, and basements are locations where ants would want to nest. Make sure there is no standing water anywhere in those areas and fix leaks/cracks as soon as possible to avoid nesting.

Ants will sometimes come into homes to find new shelter. They will likely nest in walls and baseboards by entering through small cracks or holes. Making sure to seal areas where they can enter your house is important to prevent them from nesting. Seal windows and doors with weather stripping and fix holes and cracks in the walls or floors to prevent them from coming in the home.

The weather outside can play a role in why ants are coming into your home. If it’s too hot or cold outside, ants will try and find new places to settle with better temperatures. If it has been snowing or raining a lot, ants will try and find a dryer area to nest in. The same goes for if it’s too hot and dry outside, they will constantly be looking for water and shade. If ants do enter your home, they will not stay long as it won’t be suitable for their colony if the items mentioned above have been addressed.

How Do You Get Rid of Ants in The Basement?

Ants are small, but they can become a big problem if you don’t get rid of them right away. To get rid of ants in your basement you are going to have to kill the colony and remove their pheromone trail that will attract other ants from coming back.

Step 1 – Figure out where the ants are getting in and block their path. Ants tend to walk in a line along a trail that a scout-ant has created for them. See if you can find that trail of ants.

Step 2 – If you can see a trail of ants, take a wet soapy sponge and wipe away the ants. Rinse the sponge in the sink to get rid of the ants that you have gathered, and then go back with the soapy sponge and do it again. Repeat until the trail of ants has been wiped up.

Step 3 – Use a cloth with some bleach solution and go back over the trail that you have just wiped up. The bleach will help eliminate the pheromone.

Step 4 – Use a commercial bait trap to target the colony. Place bait traps around areas of your home where ants will likely go, such as; under any water pipes, in bathroom cabinets, crawl spaces, and anywhere food is stored. If you have small children or pets, make sure they can not get to the traps, and always wash your hands after handling them.

Step 5 – If you are dealing with carpenter ants or the ants are not going away after putting out traps, then it is best to hire a professional exterminator to help get the job done.  

How To Stop Ants From Coming Back

Once you have killed all of the ants on the inside of your home and you’ve washed away their pheromone trail, the last step now is to make sure that they don’t come back. To do this, you can take some preventative steps.

  • Seal any cracks and holes with caulking.
  • Spray a 4-inch wide strip of insecticide that contains permethrin, bifenthrin or deltamethrin around the outside of all exterior doors and windows. Make this a habit every spring.
  • Store food in well-sealed containers, and clean up crumbs after yourself.
  • Running a dehumidifier in your basement can help draw out moisture from the air, which will make the place less hospitable for those little ants.

Can Ants Live in Walls?

Ants usually live outside in and around wood or wet/damp areas, and occasionally you will see a few come into your home looking for food, shelter, or water. A lot of people tend to find the ants in their basements due to that area usually being ground level or lower and is usually a bit damper than the rest of the house. Seeing a few ants usually isn’t an issue, but if you see many, then there may be a colony living in the basement or some other part of the home. Finding the ant’s nest and knowing where to look is key in getting rid of them.

If you have searched everywhere like, under sinks, around baseboards, cabinets, etc. and still can’t find them, there is one more place you should check — your walls. You might ask, “Can ants live in walls?” and the answer is definitely yes. Ants are tiny creatures that can fit through tiny spaces, and your basement walls are great areas for nesting.

Ants can live within the foundation walls as well as any insulated drywall. It is important that you rid your walls of ants as soon as possible because there are a lot of different species of ants that can damage the walls because they will begin to eat away at the studs which could lead to more serious issues like ruining structural parts of your house. Carpenter ants will even chew through insulation and can cause major issues within the walls.

How To Check For Ants in Your Walls

Here are some tips to see if ants are nesting in your walls.

  • If you see any carpenter ants, then they are probably in your walls. These ants like to live in the wood, so if you see one, chances are you probably have some more.
  • Listen for activity. If you suspect ants are in your walls, you can place your ear near the area and listen for insect movement. If the nest is big enough, you will hear noise and know they are there.
  • Look for areas that may have rotted. These damp wooded areas are a prime location for ants, so if there is rot; there are probably ants lurking nearby.
  • Hire a professional. Companies can come and inspect your home to locate and get rid of ant colonies easily.

Other than hiring a professional to get rid of the ants, here are a few options you can try yourself.

  • Bait traps. These traps will lead the scout ants to them; they will then take the poisoned bait back to the nest, which will then kill the queen and colony.
  • Dust or spray boric acid powder around cracks or holes, this will cause nerve damage in the ants, and they will eventually die. You may even have to drill holes yourself to get the powder behind the walls where the colony is.

Why Are There Ants in My Basement During The Winter?

Ants are most active during the spring and summer months due to the abundance of food and warmth. They are busy creatures, and the weather conditions allow them to be more active and do what ants do. As fall and winter approach, usually, ant activity will slow down so it may be a surprise to you seeing them in your basement during this time of year.

There are a few reasons you may find ants in your home during winter months, and one of the reasons is due to the cold weather. Ants do not survive well in freezing temperatures and will seek to find warmer shelter. If you see a few ants in your home during these colder months, usually that means that they are nesting within your home. They will build their colony typically around the slab of the floors, door/window frames, and behind the walls.

Warmth may be the main reason they invade your basement during the winter, but they will stay if they can easily find food. Keeping your basement free of food crumbs, leftover pet food, and things ants will eat will deprive them of energy, and they will either die or move out. If the ants manage to stay throughout the winter months, you could potentially have a large problem as it warms up outside.

Thankfully, if you do find ants in your home during this time, they are usually easily managed. Their nests are typically isolated to one area, and they don’t want to forage as much to conserve energy. Placing traps or spraying those areas can get rid of them, and it’s not likely more will come in. Here are a few more tips to prevent ants from coming in your basement.

  • Seal any cracks that you can find around floors, doors, and windows.
  • Make sure your plumbing is not leaking and clean up any pools of water.
  • Store food in sealed plastic containers.
  • Clean any area of food debris.
  • Wipe surfaces that food was on and vacuum crumbs off the floor.
  • Remove trash promptly.
  • Remove leftover pet food in dishes.

Of course, you could always hire professionals to check your home for ants and use their tools to help get rid of them. Combined with the things mentioned above, that is a great way to keep your basement free of ants and for it to stay that way all winter long.

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