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Ants are among the most common pests found in homes across the U.S., climbing up walls or marching across kitchen counters. During the spring and summer, ants might try to invade your home, and fighting an infestation can be an uphill battle.

However, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), there are five simple steps homeowners can take to prevent unwelcome ants from moving in.

1. Know the Popular Hangouts

It’s probably not surprising to hear that ants most frequently infest kitchens. After all, kitchens are full of food and water–everything ants need to survive. Other common ant hangouts include bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, basements, inside walls, and in or around air conditioning and heating units.

2. Eliminate Water Sources

Reducing moisture and standing water around your home can significantly help prevent the appearance of ants. Repair leaky pipes, and routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.

3. Eliminate Food Sources

Keeping your kitchen tidy will help discourage ants from coming indoors. Wipe down counters and sweep floors regularly to eliminate crumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Wipe down sticky jars, especially any containing honey, syrup or other sweets. Finally, use a lid on trashcans and dispose of garbage regularly.

4. Don’t Discount Your Pets

Cats, dogs and other pets can inadvertently invite ants into your home. Their food and water bowls are an attractant for pests, so be sure to keep pet bowls clean and clean up any spilled food or water promptly. Store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bag it often comes in, which can be easily accessed by ants. Inspect dog or cat doors to ensure pests can’t get through. Remember that ants can fit through even the tiniest openings.

5. Block Off Access Points

Take time to inspect the outside of your home for easy access points. Trees and bushes should be trimmed away from the home, as branches can provide highways for ants to travel indoors. Seal any cracks and crevices on the outside of the home with silicone caulk, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter.

If you do find ants in your home, there are several consumer products and DIY treatments that might help you get rid of them. But the NPMA suggests contacting a licensed pest control company, which will be able to identify the ant species, spot likely entry points and determine an effective course of treatment.

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