Preventing ants from building a nest in your home is preferable to ousting them once they have settled in, perhaps within a wall or in a dark corner of your attic, but exactly how do you discourage these expert tunnel builders from moving in?
Should you Google “protect home from ants,” a flood of creative ideas will flow to your screen, from regularly peeling raw onions in your kitchen to spraying the oil of cinnamon to carefully placing a line of salt on your floor. Hmm.
The simple truth is that protecting your home from ants involves old-fashioned maintenance that addresses the conditions in which ants thrive.
Ants like to build nests in moist wood
We know that ants, particularly destructive carpenter ants, like to build nests in moist wood, so your first priority should be to make sure that there is no moist wood in your house.
Ask yourself these five questions:
1. Does your roof leak? If you inspect your attic and you find damp wood, you know that moisture is finding its way in. To learn more about how to find out if your roof leaks, and how to repair them, read this article by the knowledgeable Bob Vila.
2. Do you have a leak in your plumbing system? Read about how to detect, and deal with, a hidden leak in your home here.
3. Is there a gap where your chimney flashing is attached to your roof? Read about how to determine if water is coming into your home through your chimney here.
4. Are your gutters overflowing? Clearing out gutters is a chore that many of us like to put off, but it is important that water can flow unimpeded through them and away from our home.
5. Are they any visible dark marks on any wood in your home? Any spots of mold? If so, they are to be investigated, as the source of this must be dealt with.
Ants like to use tree branches as transportation bridges
If the glorious branches of your weeping willow are brushing up against your shingles, you have some trimming to do. Ants will walk on tree branches – particularly the dead ones they are attracted to, and then enter your home.
Cracks in your foundation make it easy for ants to enter your home
Foundations can develop cracks over time, or the sealant around pipes or wires that enter your home can crack – sealing your foundation tightly will mean that ants who are out for a casual stroll will not find themselves in your deliciously dark basement.
Floor beds that touch your house can be problematic
If the earth in your glorious beds of flowers physically touches your house, ants may move from the dark earth into the wood of your home. You can move your flowerbed so that they are not in direct contact with your house, or use a non-organic insect repellent in this part of your garden.
Ants love stacked firewood
Build a brick base for any firewood that you store outside, raising the wood from the ground is useful in keeping ants from it, and you always inspect any firewood that you bring inside for insects.
In the end, the maintenance that you do in your quest to keep your home free of ants will keep the wood in your home dry and strong, which means that you will have fewer – and simpler – repairs as your home ages.