You’re here because you’re totally frustrated by the ants in the car.
You want to know how ants get inside cars and where they come from.
And most importantly, how to get rid of ants in the car.
This guide has it all.
Plus, it’ll also give you insights on how to ant-proof your car by using simple hacks that nobody knows.
Let’s get into it.
Reasons For Ants Infestation In Cars
Ants can not only infest homes but also vehicles such as cars, trucks, and even buses.
There are primary reasons for ants in the car that play a significant role in sustaining these pests.
Food Sources Such As Food Crumbs And Beverage Stains
We all have the bad habit of eating and drinking in the car. And when we do, food crumbs fall off.
Consuming beverages and rubbing food oil stained hand in the car seat, dashboard, and steering wheel leave behind traces of food sources for ants.
Foraging ants can pick these food sources and they sneak inside the cars through any thin or small gap.
Proximity Of The Car To The Ant Colony, Ant Hill, Or Ant Mound
Most of us don’t give much of thought while parking our car.
As long as the parking area is safe, we don’t care.
But many parking areas, such as underneath trees, near lawns, pavements, and sometimes, near wastes can cause ants in the car.
Ants live in these areas.
Some ant species such as red fire ants and pavement ants build their colonies in the ground. Their nests look like tiny ant hills or ant mounds.
Ants such as carpenter ants, pharaoh ants, and argentine ants live in the tress.
Ant infestation in cars begins with when one random ant or a few worker ants or scout ants looking for food get inside the car.
These ants leave behind pheromone trails for the other ants to follow suit.
Pheromones are chemicals that ants leave behind so that the other ants in their colonies can reach the food source or nesting site.
Bringing Ant-Infested Objects Inside The Car
The third reason is often overlooked.
Introducing objects such as old furniture and grocery items, that already have ants, in the car can cause an ant problem.
These ants can sneak inside the areas such as glove compartment, wheel wells, undercarriage, trunk, vents, and even inside the engine compartment.
Add things like food stains and crumbs, discarded soda cans, and beverage stains in the car, your car becomes a perfect world for ants and many other car bugs.
Dead Insects Inside The Car
It’s not only the ants that sneak inside cars. There are many bugs that can make your ants home.
Wasps, spiders, beetles, and even rodents sneak inside cars. And some of them may die because of lack of food and moisture.
These dead insects will certainly draw various types of ants such as carpenter ants and red fire ants that feed on dead insects.
Ants in the car can chew on the electricals and can cause massive malfunctions.
So, getting rid of ants of in the car and preventing them from coming back are important for you and your car’s safety.
7 Steps To Get Rid Of Ants In The Car
Ants can be tricky pests to remove from either home or car. But with repeated and targeted treatments it’s quite straightforward to eliminate ants in the car.
Here’s a step-by-step plan that works all the time.
Remove The Car’s Interior Fabrics
Your first task is to ensure that you can reach all the corners and areas of the car as easily as you can.
It makes the ant treatment more targeted and easy.
To do it, remove the car’s interior fabrics such car seat cover, floor mats, trunk mats, and any other things that is used as car furnishings.
Wash them with soapy water or clean them with a vacuum cleaner depending on the type of the fabric.
And keep them aside to dry up. You’ll need to put them back once you’re through with eliminating ants in the car.
Take All The Trash Out Of The Car
If there are ants in your car then there’s no doubt there’s some trash lying around inside the car.
Get rid of wastes like beverage bottles or cans, candy wrappers, food wrappers, etc. from your car.
Empty the storages such as the glove compartment and trunk and remove any useless things in these areas.
Vacuum Clean The Car’s Interior
Take your vacuum cleaner and clean the car’s interior. Do not skip over the edges, crevices, cracks, and gaps
Pay special attention to the car seats, the area underneath car seats, trunk, the area under the dashboard, especially the area near the foot paddles, and the car’s roof.
All these areas can be hiding spots for ants. There might be dead insects stuck in these areas too.
Vacuum clean your car thoroughly without skipping an inch of the car’s interior.
Use An Ant Insecticide Spray
An ant spray is best bet while you’re getting rid of ants in the car. Sprays such as Ortho and Raid kill ants on contact.
So, use the spray on all the areas inside the car, especially in the tight areas, corners, gaps, and storage areas.
Don’t skip the side mirror because ants can hide in there too.
After spraying, close the car’s doors. And let the spray do it’s work for a few minutes.
Keep Ant Bait Stations Or Ant Traps Inside The Car
Most ant sprays don’t have residual toxicity. It means that these sprays lose their strength after a period of time.
Some ants might escape the spray and they might hide in the tight hard-to-reach areas of the car.
You don’t want to leave those ants behind.
To counteract it, ant baits or ant traps are handy.
There are many types of ant baits available. My favorite is the liquid ant gel bait.
You can prepare your own ant bait station by using the the gel ant bait. Just take 4-5 index cards and put the gel bait on them.
Keep the baits in the car. Shut the car’s door and let the baits do their work.
Gel baits are poisonous and the ants die after consuming them. So, it’s important that children and pets don’t have access to them.
Sticky ant baits are also helpful. Many sticky ant baits emit pheromone smells that draw the ants.
And when ants step on them, they get stuck.
You can use either of the baits. But you’ll need to give some time, preferably 4-5 hours for, them to work.
After that, remove the bait stations or ant baits with dead ants and dispose of them.
Vacuum cleaning the car again will remove any dead ants in the car.
Do A Thorough Car Wash
Bugs don’t get just get sneak and hide in the car’s interior, but also on the exterior too.
Give your car’s exterior a thorough wash or cleaning with soapy water. Clean the mirrors, head lamps, and backlights too.
Don’t let any stains or spots on the car. These stains attract ants as well.
Also, washing the car remove the scent trails or pheromone trails that other ants could pick and target your car.
Hire Pest Control Professionals
Ants can be tricky pests to get rid of. If you’re short on time or your efforts are not paying then you might have to hire a pest controller to do the job.
If ants are coming back to your car then there are factors outside your car that are playing a role to bring back ants in the car.
The following section reveals them all and reveals how to prevent ants and bugs in the car.
How To Prevent Ants In The Car
Preventing ants from coming back to your car is better than getting rid of these ants time and again.
As they say prevention is always better than cure.
Here’s what you need to do to ensure that ants don’t get back inside the car.
Park Your Car Where There Are No Possibility Of Ants
Not just keeping your car clean prevent ants, but also parking it in a clean area.
Don’t park your car near or on areas that have ants.
Such areas are below trees or near dense vegetation, garbage piles, near ants mounds, over leaf litter, and even inside a dirty garage.
If your garage has bugs or ants problem, then it’s high time that you get rid of them.
Bugs in the garage always move inside the cars looking for a undisturbed place to hide.
Spraying Repellants Like Peppermint Essential Oil Spray
Ants hate the smell of peppermint. And they keep away from things and areas that have a minty scent.
You can use peppermint oil spray straight out of the spray bottle and spray it in your car.
You can also make your own peppermint oil spray.
Add a few drops of peppermint oil in a bottle of water. Mix it well and pour the mixture in a spray bottle.
Then spray it both in the car’s interior and exterior.
Do it every other day because the peppermint scent don’t stick for long.
You can also use white vinegar as a spray if you’re not repulsed by the acidic smell of vinegar. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and spray it on your car.
Seal The Open Gaps
There are many areas of the car, especially on the car’s windows, that need attention.
The stripping wear off and gaps form allowing ants and many other car bugs to invade cars. It’ll be best to block those entry points by sealing those gaps.
Don’t Eat Or Drink In Your Car
Refraining from eating in the car can be hard for many people. But it’s one of the most significant underlying factor that draw ants and bugs.
Eating and consuming beverages such as coffee or soda always create stains in the car. These stains attract bugs.
Regularly Clean Your Car
Take proper care of your car by regularly cleaning it and disinfecting it.
Vacuum clean your car, especially after coming back from a long road trip. In extended car trips a lot of wastes accumulate inside the car.
But vacuum cleaning the car once a week is vital for keeping bugs away.
Using a steam cleaner to clean the car’s upholstery and floor mats is a great idea to keep your car clean.
Steam cleaners produce heat that breaks down the stains and removes them, and it also kills bugs.
Tough bugs, including bed bugs, can’t withstand the heat from the steam cleaner.
Regularly taking your car to the car wash also helps in removing stains and dirt from the car, keeping your car look new and clean.
Things To Avoid While Getting Rid Of Ants In The Car
Using wrong methods and not taking precautions while eliminating ants in the car can have a negative impact on the car.
The first and foremost thing that you should never do is using bug bombs.
Bug bombs are risky and they using them in such a closed area can damage your car’s interiors and electricals.
Also, ensure that you dispose of the traps and baits that you’ve used in the car. Don’t let them lie around inside the car.
Don’t let anyone, including yourself, get inside the car after using the insecticide or pesticide spray. The fumes of these sprays are harmful.
Do Ants In The Car Go Away On Their Own?
Ants in the car can go away on their own if they don’t find any food or moisture sources in the car.
So, a clean car without any food stains, food crumbs, or dead insects is least likely to attract ants.
Why There Are Ants In The Car If There’s No Food?
Ants in a car with no food wastes are scout ants that have entered cars looking for food. They’re most likely to quit the car.
Another reason is that if ants from the nearby infested areas spillover to your car.
It happens when you park your car in an ant-infested place, like in a garage with ants, or near an ant nest or underneath a tree with ants on it.
So, even a brand new car can have ants if it’s parked near the ants’ sources.
If you’re seeing ants in your car if there’s no food waste, then take your vacuum cleaner and get rid of them.
A dirty car and a car full of food wastes is a magnet for ants. Also, parking the car near ant-infested zones can cause ants sneak inside the car.
A thorough cleaning of the car followed by using ant sprays and baits are vital to get rid of ants in the car.
But that’s not all. You’ll also have to take steps to prevent ants from entering your car.
Keeping your car clean and parking it in an ant-free space helps your car to escape the ants’ attention.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.