What Foods Attract Ants?

Red fire ants on the rice in home

None of us want to see ants crawling on our countertops, in the corners of our dining rooms, or inching their way up the legs of our tables. Dealing with an infestation can be both frustrating and time-consuming, and killing ants as you see them can, unfortunately, have the opposite of the desired effect, as dead ants release pheromones that can guide more of the pests into your home. 

Seal Points of Entry

First, make sure that there are no obvious points of entry into your home or apartment. Ants travel on scent trails, meaning you may be able to observe the path they are taking into your home. Make sure that windows fit snugly in their frames, seal up any cracks in window sills, door frames, or floorboards. 

While these things will certainly make it more difficult for ants to enter your home, they may not solve the problem entirely. It is important to know what draws ants into your home to begin with so that you may take measures to avoid wrestling with this issue at all. There are many species of ants and it is possible to get caught in the weeds obsessing over the variety that are troubling you and what their specific habits and diets are in order to eradicate them, broadly it is enough to know that when ants infest your home, they are almost uniformly in search of food and water. 

Take Care of Excess Water

To prevent ants from using your home as a water source is fairly simple; just make sure you are cleaning up any spilled water, and making sure to take care of any leaks in your pipes or faucets that may be creating moist areas or pools of standing water.

Eliminate Food Debris

To prevent ants from accessing food can be a little more time- and effort-intensive. The most important thing is to ensure that you are not making any sugar available to any ants in your area. Though different ant species have different diets, almost all ants are drawn quickly and hungrily to sugar, as it provides them the most calories for the least effort. Make sure that you are carefully watching your fruit; as they start to ripen you should refrigerate them, as the sugars in ripe fruits can be smelled by ants, who will be drawn to the scent. Vigilantly cleaning any spills, and keeping sugar and sugary foods like baked goods, candies, syrups, jams, honey, etc. in airtight plastic containers with sealable lids, rather than in bags or the bottles/jars they came in is also crucial. Bags can easily rip and puncture and are hard to seal, and bottles and jars containing syrups, jams, or honey can easily become smeared with a layer of their contents, which ants will smell and quickly move to eat, retreat to their nest, and alert the rest of the colony, creating an infestation.

Besides sugars, many ants are herbivores in nature and eat mainly grains and seeds, so it is important that these be stored in airtight containers as well, as they will be rapidly discovered and pillaged. Products made from grains and seeds such as flour, cornmeal, granola, etc. should be taken out of their bags and stored in jars or containers as well. Other plant matter like lettuces, greens can also draw ants; make sure you are not leaving scraps available, as many ants will eat leafy greens and any other vegetables they can reach. 

Other ants can and do eat meat and meat by-products, and this should not be neglected either. Grease and meat scraps will certainly attract ants, so make sure that after cooking or frying meat that you wipe down your stove and clean any pans and utensils used thoroughly with a grease-removing soap. 

Do Your Chores

For this reason, it is also important to not leave dirty dishes in the sink; lingering food debris and grease will be readily used as a food source by ants. You should also take out the trash regularly for the same reason; having food garbage consolidated in one region means that ants will certainly seek it out. Having a lid on your garbage can will help, but will not completely safeguard you. Although it may be gross, you should also wash out your trashcan regularly, as the liquid that can seep or spill from garbage will also attract ants. 

While fixing leaks, sealing away food, taking care of food garbage and ensuring any surfaces used for prep are thoroughly cleared of grease, crumbs, and liquids will all go a long way towards alleviating your ant problem, it may not be sufficient to stop it. Ants will eat other insects such as flies and beetles, as well as spiders and other household pests. Not only will they eat the living creature, but they will eat the dead bug or its cast off shells as well. Make sure that you are cleaning any buildups of dust, dead flies or beetles on the windowsill, eradicating cobwebs, and generally trying to keep a clean, pest free home, to ensure that ants cannot use these other creatures in your home as a food source. 

Try to limit your eating and food prep to one place. If you only ever cook in the kitchen and eat in your dining room, you only need to worry about monitoring food garbage in those places. Particularly avoid eating in bed, on sofas and armchairs, and over rugs, as crumbs will get caught in the crevices between cushions and in the texturing of upholstery or carpet. Even if those crumbs are out of sight, ants will certainly be able to smell them, and thus begin to view your home as a source of food once more. 

Call in the Experts

If none of these measures is effective, it may be that the ants have begun to use your house as a shelter in addition to a food source. If this is the case, you or your landlord should contact pest control professionals at once, who can handle the problem in a safe and efficient manner.  At Pure Pest, we love taking care of ant issues!