Kitchener-Waterloo

It's the most wonderful time of the year (to be an ant)

Alex Smith, an associate professor of biology at the University of Guelph, says hot, humid weather is bringing out the ants in droves.

"The heat and the high humidity means [ants] are not as prone to drying out and desiccating"

Carpenter ants like to build their nests by burrowing into wood. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

The ants, it seems, are everywhere. 

They're crawling over sidewalks, making their way into kitchens and clustering in basements.

But that isn't because of an ant invasion—it's because they're being drawn out by the hot, humid weather, according to Alex Smith, associate professor of biology at the University of Guelph.

If ants lose too much moisture, they can dry out and die, which makes the muggy summer heat especially appealing.

"That's a great time to be an ant," said Smith. "So really, what people might be seeing is more worker ants ... scurrying around and looking for food." 

Ants like a 'common cold'

Getting ants in your house is like catching a common cold, Smith said. If you own a house, it's bound to happen sooner or later.

Just like a common cold, most ant "outbreaks" go away on their own, he said.

"They'll come in and they'll go away," said Smith.

Homeowners should only be worried if their home becomes infested with carpenter ants, which build their nests by burrowing into damp wood.

If you're not sure whether your ants are carpenter ants, Smith said to pull out your phone and snap a picture.

Apps like iNaturalist can help identify whether a particular ant is a carpenter ant or a harmless worker ant, he said.

At-home ant remedies

To keep ants away, Smith recommends being vigilant about clearing crumbs off of countertops and sealing food packages entirely.

"It might be things that are less apparent to you like pet food that's not completely sealed," he said. 

"Ants will find that and they'll take advantage of it."

If you do wind up with ants in your kitchen, non-toxic remedies like Borax powder and diatomaceous earth—a kind of soft, sedimentary rock—can be used as insecticides.

And if you're fed up with ants already — winter will return soon enough.

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