Pest infestations can ruin the enjoyment of your home, but do you know how to spot them?
Some, such as mice, have more obvious signs than others. Spotting an ant problem in your home or garden can be tricky, as there are many signs that are easily missed. Have you just walked past a pile of dirt in your garden, or was that a nest?
Here are the best ways to prevent and spot an ant infestation, so that you can minimize any risk and reduce the damage they can cause.
How to Avoid an Ant Infestation
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to ants. There are a few things you can do to minimize the possibility of ants infesting your home:
- Dispose of food waste appropriately
- Clean up spills straight away
- Store food in airtight containers
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight
- Seal any small gaps around windows and doors
- Store firewood in a shed, and raise it off the ground
- Remove dead tree limbs or those nearest to your home
The main thing to remember is that ants love food, water, and wood. Clearing up food spills and making sure leftovers are secure will go a long way to stopping ants from finding their way into your home.
Doing all of the above will reduce your risk of ants, but – like any pest problem – it won’t eliminate the risk completely.
Be sure to regularly check your home for these seven signs of an ant infestation, to prevent any small problem from turning into a much larger – and more expensive – pest control issue.
Seven Signs You Have an Ant Problem
There are some telltale signs that your home is being invaded by ants, but some of them are easy to miss unless you know what to look for. Check for these seven most common signs of ants to find out if you need to call in a reputable pest control expert.
1. You See a Few Ants
This sounds obvious but it’s easy to write off a few ants near your home as “just one of nature’s things”.
Watch the ants very carefully. Have they formed a trail? Do they seem to be going into your home or up your walls?
Ants will often leave pheromone trails for other ants to follow to get to the food. If you spot a line of ants walking with purpose towards, or away from, your doorstep, then it’s time to find an ant remedy.
2. Sawdust Trails
Carpenter ants like wood (hence the name!). If you see small trails of sawdust around your home, inside or outside, it’s likely that you have ants.
Check for piles of sawdust near wooden beams, window ledges, skirting boards, and wood flooring. This is a telltale sign that you have an ant-type present that likes to burrow into wood, meaning you definitely need to call an expert.
3. Hollow Sounds in Wooden Beams
If you knock on wooden beams or floorboards in your home, or on your exterior wooden cladding, listen for a hollow sound.
Some ants, like carpenter ants, will burrow into wood. This will cause it to be destroyed from the inside out, so you might not see any obvious signs of ants. Hollow sounds on wooden areas that should have a dense, solid noise when you knock on them mean you probably have a pest problem inside your wooden structures.
4. Your Wooden Structures Are Crumbling
A sign of a serious ant infestation is wood that crumbles when you touch it, or that can be easily cut into with a knife.
The weakened structure caused by ants will mean the wood can look fine on the outside, but if you have found hollow-sounding wood that is weak under pressure, then you have ants.
Remember to check the trees in your garden, too. Ants love dead trees and will happily set up home inside the branches and tree trunks. If this tree is close to your home then it is easy for ants to migrate into your property.
5. Piles of Soil or Dirt (An Ant Nest)
Check-in your garden and in your basement if you have a soil floor. An ant nest is easy to miss as it just looks like a pile of dirt.
If your normally perfect grass has a pile of soil on top of it, or your flat flowerbeds have raised humps, check carefully for ants. Look at the pile, don’t touch it: if you disturb the nest you risk angering the ants.
6. Discarded Wings
Some ant types have wings for a short period of time. These ‘flying ants’ will commonly swarm during the summer when young queens leave the nest to start their own colony.
Look out for discarded wings on the floors and sills by windows and doors. This is a lesser-known sign of an ant infestation, but it’s a helpful one as it will help your pest control expert quickly determine which type of ant has invaded your home.
7. Rustling Noises in Your Walls
You might think you’re hearing things, but put your ear to the wall and listen carefully. If you can hear rustling sounds then it’s likely you have ants inside the walls.
Ants can live inside internal walls but they can also travel between a wall and the wallpaper on it. Check for small rips in your wallpaper which may be an entrance point for the ants, and listen for telltale rustling noises if you suspect there are ants nearby.
What to Do If You Find Ants in Your Home
There are a few ways you can try to minimize your ant infestation before you call a pest control expert to fully exterminate the colony:
- Put down ant powder around your doorsteps and entrances
- Pour soapy boiling water on an ant nest in the garden
- Clean the area of any food spills to discourage ants
When you’ve tried these methods to help contain any infestation and prevent further spread, it’s time to have your ant problem solved by a professional!