Follow lines of ants away from food or water, to trace the ants back to their nest location. It’s also a good idea to search around windows and doors to see if ants are entering your home through cracks around one of these entrances. Then, check under and behind your home appliances, such as your refrigerator, stove, and washing machine. Next, look inside cabinets in your home. Remove items from cabinets in your kitchen, bathroom, and basement to seek out hidden ant nests. Inspect your drains for signs of ant trails—ants may be nesting in your drain. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for mysterious piles of sawdust or wood shavings in your home—these show where carpenter ants or termites have begun nesting. Finally, look outside your home. The ants may be coming from ant mounds in your yard.
Why Do You Suddenly Have Ants in Your House?
Heavy rain is one of the most common causes of ants coming into your house. The ants will find a way indoors for the same reason other animals do—they’re seeking shelter from the weather outside. So, the sudden appearance of ants in your home often has a lot to do with conditions outside. However, ants will also enter your home just to get some of the food stored in your pantry.
- Extreme weather: including heavy rain or drought can cause ants to enter your home to look for shelter or water.
- Ants may be drawn to sources of food inside your home, which is why they often invade the kitchen.
Although heavy rains can drive ants into your home, drought and heat can have the same effect. During an extremely dry, hot period of the summer, an ant colony may lack water. This drives worker ants to infiltrate your home to try to get water from your sinks and other plumbing fixtures.
7 Tips to Find an Ant Nest Indoors
Ants inside the home can be a nuisance. They raid your food and can carry parasites. If you’ve got ants invading your home, use these techniques to find them quickly:
Follow Ant Trails
Ants leave pheromone trails that their fellow ants follow. If one worker ant finds food or water, others will follow the trail so they can all gather the precious resource and bring it back to the nest. If you see several ants in your home, look for a trail with ants moving in both directions. Trace back along the trail, away from the food source, to find where the ants are carrying food back to the nest.
- Search for gatherings of several ants.
- Try to find ants moving in a line, like a highway with traffic in both directions.
- Trace the ant trail away from the food—ants will carry small bits of food back to their nest.
It’s common to find ants in the kitchen, since they are most likely to raid your food there. However, ants can travel surprising distances to gather food. Follow the trail away from the kitchen. It may lead to another room of your house, or to an ant mound outside. If you aren’t sure what ants are bringing food back to the nest, look closely at the ants. You should see some carrying bits of food in their jaws. These are returning to the nest to feed the others.
Check Windows and Doors
Ants often maintain their nests outside even if they are stealing food from inside your home. So, look around all sides of your windows and doors for telltale ant trails. Ants may be entering from an upper corner of a window frame and crawling across the ceiling, or they could be sneaking in under your back door. If you see ants clustered around one of these areas, it’s likely the invasive ants have their home base outdoors.
- Ants inside your home may actually have their nest outside.
- Look for ant trails, clusters of ants, and dead ants around doors and windows.
- Doors and windows are some of the most common places ants infiltrate.
It’s a good idea to take a close look at the windowsills of your home. Ants commonly sneak in around windows and screens. The presence of dead, curled-up ants in a window sill trench means ants are coming in from there.
Look Around Your Appliances
Ants prefer to nest in hidden areas. Look under and behind your kitchen and laundry room appliances. If possible, move your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and even your washing machine and dryer to see if ants have gathered there. In some cases, ants make their permanent home in these spots.
- Ants may nest under, behind, or in the motor compartment of many household appliances.
- Move and check your microwave, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and laundry appliances.
- Use this ant spray to kill any ant nests you find among your appliances.
If you find an ant nest near your appliances, attack it immediately with an ant-killing spray. However, your battle may not be over. Several ant colonies may be competing over the resources in your home.
Sinks and Cabinets
Search under your sinks and inside your cabinets for large gatherings of ants. Moist areas attract ants, since easy access to water allows ants to feed their colony. So, the ants invading your kitchen might be living under your kitchen sink.
- Ants are attracted to cabinets beneath or near sinks due to easy access to drinkable water.
- Other cabinets may be perfect ant nesting zones, since they offer a protected place for an ant colony.
- Remove items from cabinets to make finding an ant nest easier.
Cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom are the most common places invaded by ants. However, basement cabinets and sinks are another popular ant nesting place. Check inside each cabinet just to be sure. Remove items stored there so you can spot a sneaky ant nest.
In dry, hot periods of summer, ants may nest in drains so they can get easy access to water. Look for trails of ants in your kitchen or bathroom, and pay close attention to see if there are ants gathering around the drain. If you see drowned ants near the drain, or a trail leading down to the drain, this could mean you have an ant nest in your pipes.
- Look for living and dead ants gathered around your drains.
- Ant trails leading to a drain may mean ants have built a colony inside your drain.
- Ants are more likely to nest in your drain during summer, when water is hard to find.
Sometimes, ants make a trail to a drain just to gather water. However, it’s not unknown for ants to make their homes right in the drain. If all the ant trails seem to lead to the drain, you probably have ants nesting there.
Look for Wood Shavings
Carpenter ants are home-invading ants that chew through wood. If you notice ants in your home, look around your baseboards for small piles of sawdust or wood shavings. If you spot these, it could be a sign that carpenter ants have started nesting in your home. Those piles of sawdust could be the sign that ants are chewing through the wood in your walls.
- Look along your baseboards for small piles of sawdust.
- The presence of sawdust piles in your home could indicate termites or carpenter ants.
- Work with a professional exterminator to identify and kill whatever pest is eating through the wood in your home.
Make sure to take a close look at the “ants” in your home. If you find piles of wood shavings and spot the occasional ant, you may not be dealing with ants at all. Your home may be infested with termites. Ants and termites can look very similar. If you find evidence of wood damage in your home, contact an exterminator. They can help identify the pest and kill it.
Check Outdoor Areas
Look outside, in your yard, to see if the ants are coming from outdoors. Begin by checking cracks in sidewalks for ant activity, then scan your yard for visible ant mounds. Finally, inspect stumps, fallen trees, and other debris. Ants frequently create nests under the bark of fallen branches or dead trees.
- Check your yard, pathways, and garden for signs of ants.
- Ants often nest in the cracks in concrete, such as in a sidewalk or driveway.
- You may find ant mounds in your yard, which could be the source of the infestation in your home.
- Remove dead trees, branches, and stumps—ants often nest in dead wood.
If you encounter ant mounds in your lawn, you can kill the ant mound without harming your grass. Ants have to invade your home from the outside. If you locate and kill ants in your yard, you won’t have to deal with ants breaking into your home.
How Do You Get Rid of Ants if You Can’t Find the Nest?
There is no need to locate an ant nest in order to kill the ants. If ants are breaking into your home, then you can kill them by using ant baits. Simply place several ant baits in the area where you see ants congregating. These baits contain poison that the ants confuse with food. They will carry the poison back to their colony and feed it to their queen. This will kill the queen and destroy the whole colony.
- Place these ant baits in your home, where you have seen the most ants.
- Ants will take the poison from the baits and feed it to their queen, which can wipe out the whole colony.
- There is no need to find the ant nest in your house if you kill the ants with poison bait.
Although you can destroy an ant nest with boiling water, this isn’t necessary. Poison is almost always the best choice for killing ants. Finding an ant nest in your home can help you prevent future ant invasions, but it isn’t entirely necessary. Usually, you can kill ants without ever knowing where their home nest is located.
How Do You Find the Source of an Ant Infestation?
To find the source of the ants invading your home, follow these tips:
- Follow ant trails back from food sources to the nest location.
- Inspect window sills and around doors, to see if ants are coming in from outside.
- Check for ant colonies underneath or behind appliances, such as refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, and dishwashers.
- Remove items from cabinets and underneath sinks to spot ant nests.
- Look for ants near your drains—in the bathroom and kitchen—for signs that ants are nesting inside the drain.
- Check for sawdust piles along baseboards—this indicates a carpenter ant or termite invasion.
- Check your yard for ant mounds or ants crawling in cracks between concrete. Your home-invading ants may be nesting outside.
Although you can often poison ants to kill them without knowing where their nest is, locating the source of the ants can make killing them a lot easier. Plus, if you know how ants broke into your house, you can take steps to make that entrance ant-proof.