An ant infestation can be an annoying thing to deal with. These creeping and crawling insects are too tiny for the naked human eye to spot when there are one or two. By the time the ant population increases to any extent where they can be easily spotted when moving in lines, the problem becomes too severe to handle.
The kitchen is a very common spot of ant infestation because of all the food and food waste it generates. And some of these ants may enter the kitchen through the kitchen sink drain. You may spot ants in the kitchen sink and turning on the faucet and flushing them down the sink drain will solve the problem. But that is a far cry from reality.
If you are seeing ants around the kitchen sink, then chances are that the infestation has already reached past simple solutions to kill the ants with water.
Can Ants Come Up Through The Kitchen Drain?
Yes, ants can very well crawl through pipes and enter your kitchen through the drain.
Needless to mention ants are tiny creatures that can crawl anywhere as long as there is an opening. Ants move in groups to forage for food and whatever crumb of food they can find, they will pick up.
They use their sense of smell to detect food and if you have an ant infestation in your kitchen then you only have to put down your food unguarded for a little while before the place is run over with ants.
The kitchen drain acts as a connector between the interior of your house and the outside but the thing is ants are not tough cookies like some other insects like bugs and cockroaches who can survive in the most unlikely of conditions. Therefore, the drain pipes are actually perilous places for ants to be.
However, it is also true that the sides of the kitchen drain pipes accumulated waste food that was not properly washed away and ants will get attracted to this leftover crumb and move upwards in search of more.
So if you have ants coming out of the kitchen sink, then chances are there are unwashed dinner plates or leftover food inside the sink.
Of course, an ant infestation will not happen if you put unwashed plates inside your sink for an hour or two for the first time. But if you do it regularly, ants will mark your kitchen drain as a source of food.
How To Get Rid Of Ants Around The Kitchen Sink?
Ant infestation is a serious problem. Although the creatures are tiny, they are capable of bringing pathogens into your living space that may cause health hazards. That is why we must treat an ant infestation with urgency.
Now the first method of removing ants may be spraying insecticide inside the kitchen drain or just in the sink. It will no doubt be effective but will have other side effects which you don’t want to deal with.
Firstly, it may end up polluting the water in the pipe system since insecticides are often made with toxic chemicals. Second of all, if you spray it inside the sink, you cannot wash food inside the sink any longer unless, of course, you do not mind consuming chemicals.
But something has to be done about the ants because they won’t stop at your kitchen sink drain and will expand their colony in the entire kitchen and crevices of the wall or some corner of a wooden cabinet.
Ants do not have any pain receptors, and therefore they have no ability to feel any pain when harmed. However, they are sensitive to irritating smells that hinder them from intaking oxygen.
Kerosene has a smell that is considered too strong even by humans, so imagine what it does to ants. When you pour kerosene on ants or cover their usual trajectory with the oil they cannot inhale oxygen with the air as it also brings in the smell of the oil.
This irritates their senses and eventually suffocates them to death.
The effect of kerosene is instant and all you have to do is pour small amounts of kerosene into the crevices around the kitchen sink from where the ants seem to emerge. You can also take a cloth and douse it with kerosene and run it along the edges of the sink and near the drain.
However, since this is the kitchen sink we are talking about, make sure to thoroughly wash the sink off of any traces of kerosene before you wash your vegetables or raw meat/fish inside it as consuming the oil can prove harmful.
Here are a few safer alternatives and methods to get rid of ants in the kitchen sink:-
Keep the sink Dry
As we already know, ants are attracted to moisture. Thus the most logical way to avoid ants should be to make sure the area in question is kept dry when not being used.
This means that any leaking faucets that keep dripping water directly onto the sink drain at irregular intervals must be fixed. Ants mostly come out during the night or in the afternoon when some take naps, so keeping the sink should especially be kept dry then.
Do not leave Unwashed dishes inside the Sink for long durations
If you leave plates in the sink that still have leftover food in them, you will begin to spot tiny ants in and around the sink after a few hours and their numbers only increase. This is because ants work in a very organized and industrious manner.
If one or two ants spot food, then they take what they can and leave for their nest while leaving a pheromone trail behind so that the remaining ants in the colony can follow it to the location of the food. More and more ants are thus informed of the food and then come and go in straight lines carrying as much as they can.
If dishes with leftover food are left unwashed in the sink overnight then it gives the ants the perfect opportunity to plunder as much as they can because no one is going to use the sink at night and their scent trail will remain intact.
Calcium Carbonate chalk boundaries
Chalks made of calcium carbonate are specially sold to deal with ants. Since ants move forward using their sense of smell, they cannot go over substances whose smell irritates them.
This will not kill ants but simply repel them. You can use the chalk to draw boundary lines around entry points such as wall cracks near the kitchen sink and also on the counter of the sink so that the ants cannot cross over into the kitchen.
Another thing that can be done is by powdering the chalk and pouring it on and around the kitchen sink drain. But this can only be done when the sink is not being used as the water will wash away the powder.
The smell of cinnamon is another such smell that seems to repulse ants.
To use it efficiently, you have to ground the cinnamon sticks into a powder and sprinkle generous amounts in places from where the ants are coming in. In this case the kitchen sink drain.
If the ants have already formed a nest inside the wooden component of the kitchen sink, then you can sprinkle some cinnamon powder there as well.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Since the ants are attracted to the residue food that sticks to the side of the sink drain pipe, it will be efficient to both clean that up as well as to kill the ants.
For this, pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, immediately followed by the same quantity of vinegar. The solution formed by the two will start to bubble and it will clean up the accumulated grease inside the pipes.
Repeat the same process after twenty minutes and wait for another ten minutes after which pour some boiling hot water down the drain. It will clear up the pipe completely as well as kill the ants if any.
Why Are There A Bunch Of Ants In My Kitchen Sink?
Identifying the reason why ants are infesting your kitchen sink drain can give you good insight into getting rid of them. So why do ants choose the kitchen sink of all places?
Let us see.
Like any other living being, ants too need water to survive. That is why it is not unnatural to spot very tiny ants around the kitchen sink and at the mouth of the faucet from where water sometimes leaks.
What is more, is that ants are insects that are drawn to moisture and the damp and wet kitchen sink is thus a perfect spot for them.
The second most important motivator for ants that infest kitchens is food. Ants in the kitchen sink drain are often there because they get the odor of the food that you washed down the drain and which probably got stuck to the side of the pipe.
The people of today mostly lead very busy and fast lives and sometimes we are lazy enough to let the unwashed dinner plates stay in the kitchen sink overnight. If this becomes a habit then after a few days you are sure to see ants all over the plates in the morning.
As already mentioned, ants have a great sense of smell which they utilize to search for food. If ants come across edibles in the drain pipes then it makes them want to crawl upwards to establish a stable source of food for themselves.
On top of everything, the sink happens to be where water is also present, so it makes the perfect place for ants to be.
If the kitchen sink in your home has any wooden components then chances are that the ants are coming for that. Ants do not derive any nourishment from wood like termites do but they destroy the wood from within to build theirs inside it.
Wooden components of a kitchen sink may be exposed to water and start to rot from within. Carpenter ants especially prefer this kind of damp and rotting wood.
They use their strong jaws and teeth to chew through rotting and damp wood to build tunnels into it. They use these tunnels to live and store their food, as well as to lay their eggs.
You can identify carpenter ants easily by their body. They are about ⅜ to ½ inches long. The sizes of one species vary according to what role they have in the colony, i.e, major and minor worker ants. Carpenter ants have a waist with one node and a thorax (the part behind the head) that appears to be evenly rounded when viewed from behind.
Most people think ants are only attracted to sweet and sticky food. While that is not completely true, it is not completely false either.
There are many species of ants and each of them has different characteristics. The black garden ant or the common black ant which is the most frequently seen species of ants seems to have an affinity for sweet things and can be found infesting a place that deals in sweet edibles such as sugar, honey, jaggery, cakes, cookies, etc.
These ants are 0.15 to 0.19 inches long, the worker ants being the longest, and have a glossy black bodies. Garden ants also prefer to build their nests in rotten wood. When they come across something sweet, they leave a scent trail from the food to the nest so that other ants inside the nest can follow it and carry some more in.
This scent trail comes from inside their body and can be biologically termed the pheromone trail. This is why one of the ways of throwing a long line of traveling ants into disarray is to wipe the trail.
Creatures like insects and termites always try to find a safe spot close to food and water to lay their eggs and build a nest. Ants also do the same. If you see very tiny ants around the kitchen sink which seem to be flying, then you should immediately eliminate them because in all probability they are carrying eggs and are looking for a spot to lay them.
Flying ants are not a different species of ants but rather reproductive ants. Ants have different roles in their colony, there are worker ants, the queen, the males, the reproductives, etc. The role of these ants is to further the population and they too prefer damp and moist wood to lay their eggs. Better still if the wood is rotting.
Moreover, the kitchen sink is also where the newest members of the ant colony will get their food and water and that is why such places make it a perfect spot for ants to infest.
Without a doubt, preventing an ant infestation is easier than getting rid of it. Now you know a number of methods to do both.
However, preventing ants does not take as much active effort as eliminating them.
The important thing is to be disciplined about being clean and that is pretty much all there is to it.