It’s no secret that ants can find their way inside anywhere. From our desks to our kitchens, ants can pop up all over and invade our homes, offices, and cars. Usually, it’s easy to see a trail of ants in these sorts of living spaces and get rid of them fast, but sometimes there isn’t a simple solution.
I have had ant infestations in my car that were a nightmare to remove. It took months before I completely stopped seeing the occasional ant scurrying across the dashboard. I tried chemical and natural solutions and, through trial and error, learned the best ways to get ants out of my car fast. Here’s how!
How To Fumigate a Vehicle with Ants?
Because a car can be sealed off pretty tightly, fumigation is the best method to completely eliminate an ant colony inside of a car. Hot Shot is an extremely effective chemical product that kills the entire colony of ants and will poison future ants for several months.
To fumigate a car, place an ant fogger (bug bomb) into your vehicle and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to control ants. After the bomb has released all of its gas, wait for the required amount of time before opening the doors. Always ensure the car has been thoroughly aired out before entering the vehicle.
The lingering effect of Hot Shot makes fumigating fast and can help keep your car ant-free for a while. But that chemical residue can be worrisome to folks who want to solve the solution naturally. There are chemical-free ways to eliminate ants, but it might take longer to stop a full-on infestation.
Types of Ants that Invade Automobiles
- Argentine Ants – These invasive ants were brought to the US at the end of the 1800s. Argentine ants love sugar and will farm aphids to eat it in nature. In our cars, they will dine on every morsel of powder sugar that drops off the donuts we just had to have. Water sources, sweets, and wood pile habitats attract Argentine ants.
- Pavement Ants – These small reddish-brown ants are commonly seen on sidewalks and paved paths. They will eat anything but are most attracted to sweet food and other insects. They move into structures and are likely to take up refuge inside your car if allowed.
- Pharaoh Ants – Common ants that are likely to move into buildings or vehicles to survive; these ants love sugar. The moniker, sugar ants, stems from their love of sweets. It is possible for these ants to spread food bourne illnesses such as salmonella and strep. Eliminating them from your car is a must.
- Red Imported Fire Ants – The most dangerous of the ants that are likely to move into your car, red imported fire ants can cause damage to you and your vehicle. Their bites are extremely painful, and when their nest is disturbed, they can be very aggressive. If they do nest in your vehicle, there is a good chance they will damage the electrical wiring, which could cost thousands of dollars to repair. Using bait to kill these ants is a must. Ant bait stations are very effective at eliminating this threat.
Killing Ants in Cars: Natural or Chemical Solutions
Different types of ants and different degrees of invasion dictate different solutions to exterminate pests. Effective chemical and natural solutions eradicate ants that have moved into your vehicle. Choosing the best method to kill each type of ant can help you reclaim your infested car faster.
|Type of Ants||Natural Solution||Chemical Solution|
|Argentine Ant||Clean car and Spray Boric Acid Solution||Ant Fogging or chemical bug spray near entry points.|
|Pavement Ant||Vinegar spray to remove ant trail and boric solution in the ant hole||Chemical granules, ant poison, bug spray|
|Pharaoh Ant||Ant bait stations, dish soap, vinegar spray||Ant poison, pesticide treatment, bug bomb|
|Red Imported Fire Ant||Ant bait station, boiling water or vinegar into the nest, fire||Ant fogging, fire ant poisons, and kill traps.|
How Do Ants Enter a Vehicle?
As the saying goes, a cent of prevention is worth a Washington of cure so figuring out how ants get into your car is a great first step to stopping them forever. Different types of ants may get into your cars through different avenues, so thoroughly checking your car to keep it ant-free is vital.
Some species of ants live underground and will not move into your car for shelter. However, if your car is parked near their nests for an extended period of time, ants may search your car for food and water to take back to their queen.
If these ants find food sources or a reliable trickle of water, they will come in full force. Over time they can build ant nests around your car and take over much of the floorspace inside. To avoid ants entering your car from underneath, you will need to move it frequently or apply treatment around the perimeter of the vehicle.
Ants have a way of sticking around and can set up shop in a car pretty quickly. Air conditioning vents and the heat sources near the engine are likely places for ants trying to escape intimate weather to shelter. You may not even know these insects are there until you turn the heater on and get a face full of ants. Yikes!
To get rid of ants in car vents, it helps to use a spray. You can use a poisonous chemical spray like Hot Shot or Raid to deal with ants in vents. For a safe-for-us but toxic-to-ant approach, you can make a natural insecticide with boric acid, dish soap, and vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with the active ingredient, boric acid, and then add dish soap to help it stick and vinegar to eliminate pheromone trails.
When the wind blows the trees above, sometimes it rains ants. Then they get into your car and build nests. They might hide in your carpet or seat covers or any other warm, soft area. Snack scraps dropped on the ground provide a perpetual food source. They may even move into your center console.
To prevent ants from dropping in unannounced, you can move your car and clean the outside and inside thoroughly. You may need to treat the inside of the car to kill any stragglers after the car has been moved.
What Attracts Ants To Build a Nest in a Car?
Food, water, and shelter are the main things that attract ants to cars. If your car is parked near trees and plants, there is a greater chance of ants making their way inside than if it is on the concrete or blacktop. The climate where you live and the time of the year can also impact the likelihood of ants moving in.
Any source of food left in a car can attract ants. Either ants nearby or ants inside your car will venture out to eat the food. This is likely the easiest way to tell if you have ants in your car. You will see them on your floor crumbs. Cleaning the car often and temporarily refraining from eating in an infested car can help resolve the problem in the short term.
A leaky radiator or early morning condensation can attract ants to a car. If ants are lured into close proximity of a car, they will likely crawl inside in due time. The water allows them to rot the food they collect and harvest the fungus they eat. It can also help larger soldier ants survive the treacherous outside environment for longer before needing to return to the nest.
Move a car from near water sources and repair leaks to help keep ants from coming close to your vehicle. Parking on permeable surfaces like gravel can help reduce puddles under your car and keep insects from coming around.
Some ants seek the shelter a car provides. In extreme heat, cold, or very rainy conditions, ants may climb into a car to remain safe. In cold climates, the heat from the engine can keep ants alive all winter. In hot climates, parts of the car may stay cooler than outside temperatures, but it is often the shade, or water cars provide that attracts ants in the heat.
Cleaning the engine bay and washing your car can help dislodge ants sheltering in your vehicle. You can also move your car to a location that is not suitable for ants to survive. If you usually park your car in a garage during the summer, a few days heating up in the sun may cook the ants already inside.
How To Keep Ants Away from Your Car for Good
If you want to keep ants out of your car for good, there are a few things you can do. If you follow the tips below, you can eliminate all ants in your vehicle and keep it ant-free for years to come.
- Move the Car – If ants are entering your car because of where you are parked, you can move your car. After killing the ants and cleaning the area, you can move your car back.
- Clean the Exterior of the Car – Wash the outside, engine bay, and wheel wells to dislodge ant nests from your vehicle.
- Clean the Interior of the Car – Thoroughly vacuum and remove all food scraps from the inside of the car. Wide down all surfaces and wash any seat covers. Do not leave anything that attracts ants inside the car.
- Use Ant Fogger – Place a bug bomb in the car and activate it. When it is safe, open the car and air it out. Only use this method as a last resort.
- Use Boric Acid Solution – For a minor invasion, spray a boric acid solution into likely ant-dwelling areas. It may take longer to work, but eventually, all the ants inside will be dead.
- Remove Dead Ants from Car – After the ants are killed, it is important to remove the bodies, or other insects may move in to eat the corpses. This could lead to worse problems and bigger bugs like cockroaches.
- Apply Ant Repellent – Scents like vinegar and citrus can help deter ants from moving into your car. After eliminating the ants and cleaning up, add an aroma ants can’t stand to keep your car safe.