When you observe their movements closer, you notice that they seem to follow an invisible path. They follow a pheromone trail left by other ants, which enables them to find food and water.
The best way to eliminate ant pheromone trails is with soapy water and to apply deterrents such as vinegar or cinnamon. Spray or spread it around all their paths and entry points. Since they are sniffing out the pheromone trails, the best way to stop them is by introducing another strong scent to cover the smell of the pheromones.
Ant invasions have a lot to do with the weather. Different seasons will see ants moving into your home either in search of heat, a little breeze, or mainly food. Some ant invasions are too severe to eliminate by using primary deterrents, so we will provide some alternative remedies for those cases.
What Is an Ant Pheromone Trail?
Pheromone trails are a mixture of chemicals that ants produce and leave behind as they move around. This is one of the ways ants communicate with each other.
If one ant finds food, it will leave pheromone trails so other ants can find it. These trails lead the ants to food sources and act as a territorial mark for other insects.
How Do Ants Use Pheromone Trails?
Ants use pheromone trails to communicate within their colonies. Individual ants secrete pheromones, and other ants in their colonies have sensory organs that pick up the pheromone smell. The scouting ants leave a pheromone trail toward a food source so other ants can find nourishment, too.
Ants exude both distressing and helpful pheromones. These pheromones are released to notify the colony of danger or the need for assistance from a particular ant. When an ant is in danger or under attack, the colony will swarm to defend it.
There is evidence that ants communicate by sound as well. In order to send messages and exchange information, different species touch each other. You may observe ants marching in a line approaching a food source if there are ants in your home. An ant trail is being followed by these insects.
How Long Do Ant Pheromone Trails Last?
The duration of the ant pheromone trails depends solely on the type of ant. Different ant species have different durations of pheromone trails. For example, some ant species can leave pheromone trails that can last for days, while others will produce a pheromone trail that lasts only 10 minutes.
The best example of this is the carpenter ants. Their pheromone trail must be dealt with because it can last a few days. This is why carpenter ants are one of the most annoying ants to get rid of. On the other hand, the pheromone trail of pavement or fire ants lasts only for 10 minutes.
Getting Rid of Ant Pheromone Trails: Step-by-Step Instructions
Ants are attracted to our homes by the food crumbs we leave lying around after we eat. Most pet owners or people with toddlers often find themselves fighting ant invasions. Our adorable little humans and our furry friends have more than their cuteness in common. They are also messy eaters. So messy in fact, that the pet food companies have come up with anti-ant pet bowls!
The first step towards an ant-free home is by cleaning up. You can eliminate ant pheromone trails using soap and water. You can also try adding some deterrents into the water e.g. vinegar, cinnamon, orange peels, etc.
Spray your mixture along the ant trails. The strong scents in the water will surely deter the ants from their previous path.
Ant Deterrents for Getting Rid of Ant Pheromone Trails
Most of us have used vinegar before, and chances are you probably have it in your home. If not, it can be easily bought in the local grocery store. Mix vinegar with water (50/50) and spray along the ant pheromone trails. Remember that, generally, vinegar is very acidic and thus may chew through some of the surfaces.
Do your research and see if the vinegar mixture can affect your tabletops, floors, tile grout, or even window seals.
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Cinnamon is the next best thing after the vinegar concoction, and it doesn’t even come with the disclaimer on corrosion. Sprinkle the cinnamon on the ant trails in generous amounts and ensure you cover all areas.
Cinnamon isn’t dangerous when consumed by pets or children. This is to say that while the pets/ kids shouldn’t be given free rein to mess up your cinnamon-covered trails, you shouldn’t panic if they ingest small quantities of it.
Draw Chalk Over the Trail
For some reason, chalk works magic with ants as they cannot seem to cross over the line. Ensure that the chalk line covers the pheromone trail well to ensure that the ants cannot sniff the trail.
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This happens to rank as one of the best solutions for your ant problem, right along with cinnamon and vinegar. It deters the ants away from their path and keeps them away. Like when using cinnamon, peppermint oil leaves your house smelling amazing.
This has the same effect as the others above, but be careful when using it around your kids and pets for obvious reasons. This isn’t the go-to method, but if you already have it at home, give it a try.
Fresh lemon juice also comes bearing a strong scent that can certainly work. However, spraying your floors and surfaces with lemon juice means you have to think about the surfaces getting sticky, so use lemon only on surfaces where this is not an issue.
While the smell produced by ground coffee would also keep the ants away, this would be a tricky choice. The coffee would also leave behind its scent, which might not appeal to some.
Like all the above options, the smell will deter the ants from their trail. Choose whatever option you like, be it ground, crushed, or preserved. Whichever gives off the most scent will be the better option.
This concludes the list above and even gives room for more. Remember that you are looking for something that will give off its scent to cover the pheromone trail. Choose a scent you can stand because after you have applied/ sprinkled it all over your floors, surfaces, or entrances, you will have to leave it there for a while before cleaning it up.
Do the Deterrents Kill the Ants?
The list above summarizes all the deterrents you can use to keep the ants out of your home. They are called deterrents because they do not kill the ants. All they do is keep them away; if well applied, you can keep the ants out of the house.
How? You may ask. Applying them with every entry point in the house, doors, windows, vents, cracks, etc. This will certainly keep the ants out of the house because they will turn around when they get close to their entry point.
Deterrents, however, only help when the ant problem is a mild one. If the problem becomes significant and unbearable, it is wise to locate and eliminate the colony.
Outside Ant Pheromone Trails | Prevention
You should continue getting rid of the ants outside. This would be the time to use hot water. Boil a pot of hot water and go outside, where the locked-out ants are busy trying to figure out their next step.
After finding their trail, pour the hot water along with it. This will certainly kill the ants on the trail and will also get rid of the pheromone trail. The hot water should be used with caution and should certainly not be used indoors.
You can also set up ant baits if you have no idea where their nest is located. They will carry the bait into the nest, and the entire nest will die from consuming it. Knowing the location of the ant trails works really with ant baits.
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After a while, the deterrents will lose their scent, so you must take precautions to keep the ants out of the home.
List of Sources
Czaczkes, T. J., Grüter, C., Jones, S. M., & Ratnieks, F. L. (2012), Uncovering the complexity of ant foraging trails, Communicative & integrative biology
Choi, M. Y., & Vander Meer, R. K. (2012), Ant trail pheromone biosynthesis is triggered by a neuropeptide hormone, Center of Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Florida
Choe, D. H., Villafuerte, D. B., & Tsutsui, N. D. (2012), Trail pheromone of the Argentine ant, University of California
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