It should not surprise you, but ants are attracted to food. What may be surprising is what foods interest ants. Some of them are things you would not consider to be food. So, if you've been thinking that you'll remove food sources around your home to reduce ants, you need to take a minute to learn what ants like. Let's break it down.

ants in bathroom
ants looking for food


Some ants are drawn to foods that have carbohydrates. When they get into your garbage, they're looking for starchy and sugary food remnants. But the foods you throw away are not the only food they'll eat. One of the most attractive food options for ants that like sweets is a substance called honeydew. This is produced by aphids, scales, and other ants that damage the plants in your landscaping. If you want to reduce ants, you need to make an effort to reduce plant-damaging insects. Here are a few tips:

  • If you only have a few aphids now and again, you can pick them off by hand or wash them off with water.

  • If you tend to have lots of aphids, you may try mixing an essential oil with some water and spraying them.

  • Peppermint oil and water works pretty well. Aphids don't like the smell and may avoid your plants if this scent is on them.

  • EPA approved products can be applied to general landscaping to knock down aphids. These should be selected and applied by a licensed professional. 


Some ants are attracted to protein sources. They'll be lured to your exterior by meat remnants on your grill, or by pet food placed down outside. But they don't just eat the food you or your pet eats. They'll eat dead bugs. If you have bug activity around your home, you're going to have a food source that is interesting to this type of ant. We recommend taking steps to reduce bugs.

Reduce moisture to reduce bug activity. Your gutters are a great place to start. Remove clogs and fix any breaks. This will reduce perimeter dampness and oversaturation of the ground near your home.

Reduce shade. If you have densely shaded areas, these can promote damp conditions and inspire bug activity.

Reduce lighting. Some bugs are attracted to light. If you keep lights off at night or switch white lighting to yellow lighting, you can make your exterior less attractive to bugs at night.

Reduce leaf litter. When leaves cover the ground or fill in underneath exterior structures, these create the perfect condition for bugs. This will also attract ants.

Insect Eggs

Ants aren't only drawn to eat dead bugs, but they feed on their eggs as well. The more pest activity you have around your home, the more likely you are to have trouble with ants. The best way to address this is to seek the assistance of a pest control company and invest in a year-round pest control program.

Bird Seed

If you feed birds seeds or sweet liquids, you're going to attract ants with those feeders. Workers will scale your walls, climb across whatever is holding the feeders up, and access the food inside. We recommend putting bird feeders away from your exterior walls to make it less likely that ants will establish themselves near your home.


The smell of decay is strong. While this is unpleasant to you, and you're likely to put rotting things outside, some ants are drawn to the smell. A dirty trash receptacle attracts ants even if there is no trash inside. Keep your receptacles free of odors to reduce this type of ant. It is also important to keep your home, garage, and other spaces as clean as possible. There are few things that will prevent ant problems more effectively than good sanitation.

When Direct Control Is Necessary

No two properties are exactly the same, and one size pest control doesn't fit all. You may be able to easily reduce food options and make your ant problems go away, or you might have conditions around your home that make it difficult or impossible to resist pests. If ants keep creating an issue for you, you're going to need direct control. If you live in the Phoenix area, reach out to Overson Pest Control for assistance. We can identify the ants that are creating the problem and develop a treatment program to address the colonies that are in your yard.

If you have questions about ants, or any other Phoenix pest, connect with us by going to our contact page and reaching out. We'll get back to you and let you know what the next best step is. You don't have to live with ant problems. Take your backyard back, starting today.


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