Ants – you expect to find them in your yard, but in your car? If you’re having ant troubles in and around your car, you’re not alone.
In our detailed guide, you’ll learn:
- Why ants invade cars
- What happens if you don’t fix the problem
- How to get rid of ants in the car
Ants are crafty little creatures. They can infest all kinds of places, including your car. Once they’ve made themselves at home, it can be really difficult to evict them. But with a little patience and persistence, you can get rid of these pesky creatures for good.
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Why are Ants in Your Car?
Before we even talk about getting rid of ants in your vehicle, we need to discuss why they’re there in the first place.
Ants invade cars for the same reason they invade houses: food.
If ants are coming through your dashboard or finding other creative ways to get into your car, they’re probably there for one of two reasons:
- To search for food. Worker ants may have been sent to your car to look for food. Someone in the colony may have sniffed out something interesting near your vehicle, so a group went out to see if they could find something – anything – tasty inside.
- To keep eating the food they’ve already found. Ants already scouted out your car while you were away or sleeping, and they found exactly what they were looking for. They sent more worker ants to the food source to bring some back to the colony.
If you don’t have any food sources in your car, the ants will probably move along and never return. But if you have some traces of food anywhere in your vehicle, those ants may stick around for a while – or until you kick them out.
Your car may be a target for ants if it has:
- Food wrappers
- Sticky soda residue on the dashboard (or anywhere)
- Pet food kibbles
Your car may also have another food source that you may not have thought about: its wiring. Did you know that some newer cars have wire insulation made from soy, wood, rice husks, corn, peanut oil and other sugars? Some experts say that the insulation emits a slight vanilla scent when warm. Ants can sniff these wires out, and may try to make a meal out of your car’s wires.
What Happens if You Don’t Fix the Problem?
Ants aren’t poisonous. They live underground, so they won’t make a nest inside your car. What’s the big deal if you don’t get rid of them?
For starters, you probably don’t want ants crawling all over your legs and arms – or the legs and arms of your passengers. And while most species of ants don’t bite, some do. If you’ve got a fire ant infestation, you’re going to be in for some pain when they start stinging and biting. Ponerine and carpenter ants are also notorious for their painful bites.
Even if you don’t mind carpooling with ants, you should be concerned about the damage they can do to your vehicle. Fire ants and other ant species can eat up your car’s wiring, leading to costly repairs.
Car ant infestations can get pretty bad if you don’t fix the problem. With severe infestations, it’s possible to have hundreds of these pesky creatures moving in and out of your car at any given time. If you’re driving while ants are crawling all over the place, it can become a serious safety hazard.
You owe it to yourself, your car and other drivers to fix your ant problem.
4 Simple Steps to Get Rid of Ants in Your Car
It’s not easy to get rid of ants, especially if they’ve found a reliable food source. To succeed, you’ll need to take a multi-prong approach to extermination. Sure, you can lay down traps, but if you don’t take other steps to fix the root cause of the problem, more ants will find their way into your car.
If you want to get rid of ants for good, you’ll need to do a few things.
1. Move Your Car
Before you do anything else, move your car. You’re more likely to get an ant infestation if you’re parked near an active ant hill. Ant hills are commonly found near shrubs, trees and bushes.
Find a new place to park in the future, or until you can get rid of the ants outside.
2. Clean Your Car’s Interior
The absolute most important step – clean out your car. Be thorough. Don’t leave any mat, corner or crevice unturned. If the ants are sticking around, they’ve obviously found some food source in your vehicle.
Eliminate the food source, and the ants won’t have a reason to come back.
- Remove any food wrappers, packaging or leftover food items in your car.
- Remove any drink cups, cans and/or bottles.
- Vacuum every possible inch of your car, including the floorboards, upholstery and trunk.
- Use a chemical cleaner to remove stains and clean the interior of your vehicle.
When we say to clean every inch of your car, we mean it. Don’t forget to clean:
- The glove box
- The center console
- Those crevices next to the emergency brake
- Underneath the seats
- Underneath the mats
Ants can fit into the tiniest of spaces, and they can find the tiniest specs of food. Vacuuming will not only physically get rid of the ants, but it will also remove any and all crumbs that may be attracting them in the first place. Use as many different nozzle attachments as you can to clean those hard-to-reach places.
3. Wash Your Car’s Exterior – Including the Tires
Next, you’ll want to clean the exterior of your vehicle. This is a really important step that shouldn’t be overlooked.
You know how you see trails of ants coming into and out of your car? When ants make these trails, they leave little pheromones behind that let other ants know to follow their path. Basically, it’s a big neon sign saying: “hey, there’s food here.”
Washing the exterior of your car (either with soap and water or some other cleaning solution) will destroy these pheromones. Other worker ants won’t be able to find these trails anymore.
Make sure that you’re really thorough when cleaning your car. This means cleaning:
- The undercarriage
- Wheel wells
- Under the hood
It’s really important to clean your tires well. Why? Because your tires connect your car to the pavement. They’re basically the bridge that lets ants cross into your car.
You may even want to treat your tires chemically to deter ants from climbing the wheels.
Take your time when cleaning your car, both inside and outside. If you do a really thorough job the first time, you shouldn’t have to go back and do it again.
4. Use Ant Traps
A good cleaning should be enough to deter the ants from coming back, especially if you’ve removed all traces of food. But what if this doesn’t work? What if the ants are attracted to your car’s wiring?
If the infestation is bad, you may need to use ant traps to completely eliminate the problem. Maybe the ants are coming from your backyard, or your car is now overrun with ants because you didn’t fix the problem earlier.
You can use the same traps that you would use in your house. We recommend using pre-filled liquid bait traps because they’re so easy to use and are really effective against most species of ants. They’re not messy either, and the opening is small enough to keep curious kids and pets away. With that said, you still want to make sure that the traps are out of reach of humans and pets because the bait is toxic.
Liquid bait traps have a solution that’s attractive to ants, but also poisonous. They bring the bait back to the nest, sharing it with other members of the colony and the queen. Eventually, the entire nest dies from the poison.
For these traps to work, the ants have to be able to find them. Place them along ant trails or where you see ant activity. Cars have relatively small interiors, so the ants should be able to find them pretty easily. If they’re coming out of the dashboard, you may want to use traps with adhesives on the back. This way, you can stick the trap to your dashboard without having to worry about it sliding everywhere and causing a mess.
It will take a little time for the traps to work because all members of the colony need to eat the bait. But you should start seeing a steady decline in your ant population after just a few days. It may take a week or two get rid of them all.
Ants can be a serious pain to get rid of, especially if they’re in your car. But following these four steps will help you exterminate these pests for good. To keep them from coming back in the future, try to avoid eating in your car – or at least throw out your trash when you’re done. Keeping your car clean will prevent future infestations. If there’s no food, there’s no reason for ants to come back.