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Ants in the house and garden: what to look out for?

Photo: Pixabay.com

Ants are exciting animals, useful and indispensable in nature. In the house, however, ants are usually not very popular. Among other things, animal feed attracts the little crawlers. Read here what owners of dogs and cats should know about ants in the house and garden!

Ants are a valuable part of the ecosystem and fascinate with the complex organization of their colony. It is not without reason that some species, such as the wood ant, have long been protected. Usually, ants prefer their natural habitats. They usually live outside in cracks and niches in walls and stones.

However, if there is a lack of food, it happens that they go in search of the house or apartment. If they find something there, they use pheromones to leave a trail of scents, which masses of workers eventually follow to the food source. A busy ant trail quickly runs through the house.

It’s understandable that you want to get rid of them. But what remedies help against ants? And what should you consider if you have a dog or cat living in the household?

Are ants dangerous for dogs or cats?

Basically, there is no particular danger from ants for pets in this country. Sometimes some dogs even lick the little crawlies enthusiastically. However, diseases are not transmitted. Some species of ants secrete stinging formic acid, which can burn or itch uncomfortably, especially if it gets in the eyes.

Overall, however, it is rather rare for serious irritation to occur. However, if your dog or cat feels itchy or has reddened skin for a long time after contact with ants, then a veterinarian’s advice can do no harm.

Ant Poison Bait – Toxic to Dogs and Cats?

Commercially available ant baits often come in the form of sealed cans, with only an ant-sized opening. There is therefore initially no direct contact with the poison. However, there is a certain risk that dogs will chew up the ant bait in an unobserved moment and also swallow the poison and components of the can.

Therefore, it is not advisable for owners of dogs and cats to use ant baits. Sometimes there are also recommendations to get rid of ants by spreading diatomaceous earth (also diatomaceous earth or mountain flour). In contact with the powder, ants dry out. Although it is a natural ant repellent, pets or small children should not come into contact with it.

Does dog food attract ants?

In fact, since pet food is mostly on the ground, it can attract ants. So that the little animals do not come into the house in the first place, it makes sense not to leave leftover food uncovered for a long time.

Last but not least, this is also not very hygienic for your own pet, because in warm temperatures the food threatens to spoil and also attracts other insects such as bluebottles.

Filled food bowls can attract ants. Photo: Pixabay.com

Store food safely

In general, to protect against ants in the house, you should store food safely, for example in lockable boxes or jars. Incidentally, this also applies to food that is stored in the refrigerator, because here too it is not safe from ants.

In the kitchen and dining area, crumbs sometimes accumulate, the same applies to the area around the garbage can. It is therefore advisable to keep these areas clean at all times, for example by vacuuming them every day.

Food is safe from ants in sealable jars. Photo: Pixabay.com

How to prevent ants in the house?

Prevention is the best protection against ants in the house. Windows and doors should also be really tight when they are closed. Appropriate sealing tapes are available in hardware stores. Cracks in masonry, joints and plaster must be sealed with an appropriate compound so that there is no refuge for ant nests.

Dispose of leftovers in lockable rubbish bins or take organic waste out of the house as soon as possible.

How can ants be fought naturally?

Once ants have found their way into the house, the first steps are:

  • Cut off the access routes (windows, cracks, etc.) they use to get into the apartment.
  • Get rid of the scent trail of the ant trail: simply wiping or vacuuming is often not enough. Essential oils from lavender, lemon peel or the scent of cinnamon, on the other hand, are said to confuse the ants and throw them off their path.
  • A mixture of baking powder and sugar is said to kill ants: Attracted by the sugar, the ants also ingest the baking powder: This leads to gas formation in the ants, from which they die – mean, but effective and non-toxic for children and pets.

If you don’t want to get rid of the ants in the house yourself, you can also ask a professional pest controller for help – if possible without using toxins.

Essential oils help eliminate ant trails. Photo: Pixabay.com

Additional information

You can find more information on repelling ants here.

Author: Pascale Huber, veterinarian, editor-in-chief, vetproduction GmbH
Date: November 2022
Sources:
DFNT: Fighting ants in the house – everything you need to know about defense. https://www.dfnt.com/ratgeber/ameisen-abwehr-in-haus-und-garten/ (accessed: November 2022)
NDR Guide: Ants in the house and garden: How to drive away the animals. https://www.ndr.de/ratgeber/Ameisen-mit-Hausmittel-vertrieben-statt-bekaempfen,ameisen212.html (accessed: November 2022)
Consumer center Hamburg: ants in the house? https://www.vzhh.de/themen/umwelt-nachhaltigkeit/schaedlingsbekaempfung/ameisen-im-haus (accessed: November 2022)

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