This guide reveals the five reasons for fire ants in electrical outlets.
You’ll find out what draws fire ants in the electric sockets and the massive dangers they bring to your home’s electronics.
Plus, there are proven ways to get rid of fire ants in electrical outlets, sockets, and plugs.
That’s not all.
You’ll also learn natural ways to keep ants away from electrical outlets.
Why Fire Ants Get Inside Electrical Outlets
Without knowing the reasons for the problem, you can’t solve the problem.
So, before you get into getting rid of fire ants in electrical outlets, let’s dive into the reasons for ants getting inside them.
There are five reasons for fire ants to get inside electrical outlets –
- Fire ants build their nests inside electrical outlets.
- The walls surrounding the electrical outlets is porous
- The heat from the electrical outlets draws the fire ants and other species of ants
- There’s a food source, like a dead bug, around the electrical outlet
- Fire ants are using the electrical outlet to travel to different places in your home
Let’s get deeper into each of these reasons.
Fire Ants Build Their Nests Inside Electrical Outlets
Fire ants and other species of ants like black carpenter ants and crazy ants can build nests inside electrical outlets.
It’s because there are gaps around the electrical outlet that can make the ants sneak inside quickly.
Plus, when you install the electrical outlets, you create holes.
And if you don’t fill up the holes properly, they become a prime residence for ants to sneak inside and occupy those vacant places.
The Walls Surrounding The Electrical Outlets Is Porous
Outdoors fire ants build their nests below the soil’s layer.
They’ll dig in the mud, build tunnels and cavities to store their eggs, and travel.
Fire ants will do the same thing if they find the walls around the electric plugs and sockets porous.
Damaged old walls and walls with high dampness develop cracks and fissures.
These cracks and fissures make it easy for fire ants to sneak inside the walls.
The porousness in the wall makes it even easier for the fire ants to dig inside the wall and build their nests.
Heat From Electrical Outlets Draw The Fire Ants And Other Species Of Ants
All electrical plugs and sockets produce heat when you turn them on.
That heat, or warmth, is perfect for ants.
In fact, heat from electrical appliances can also draw ants.
That’s why ants sneak inside laptops, cell phones, refrigerators, and even inside ovens.
There’s A Food Source, Like A Dead Bug, Behind The Electrical Outlet
Let’s face it. Bugs can hide in the walls too.
For example, termites in the walls are common when termite infestation in your home.
And ants eat termites. So, presence of termites in the walls will draw the fire ants into the wall.
If you’ve got damaged walls or walls with high dampness in your home, then bugs, roaches, house lizards, and even rodents will hide in the walls too.
Some of them couldn’t move out. Those bugs die inside the wall.
The corpses of dead bugs will draw the fire ants inside the wall because fire ants eat them.
And they’ll look for an opening.
So, fire ants will target the electrical outlets to crawl inside the wall to reach the food source.
Fire Ants Are Using The Electrical Outlets To Travel To Other Places Of Your Home
The porous walls around the electrical outlets make it easy for fire ants to dig inside the walls and build tunnels.
Fire ants will use these tunnels to commute to other places of your home.
Fire ants will even act sneaky in apartment blocks and build tunnels inside the walls to get to other apartments.
Not only fire ants, but also many species of ants can infest apartments higher than the third floor.
So, the electrical outlet can also be a nodal point for fire ants to spread themselves to other areas of your home.
And fire ants can target the electrical outlets of any room in your home, including your bedroom and bathroom.
4 Signs Of Fire Ants In Electrical Outlets
There are four telltale signs of fire ants in electrical outlets –
- Ant trails leading inside the electrical outlets
- Dust piles on the floor below the electrical outlets
- Dead ants near the electrical outlets
- Widening gaps between the electrical outlets and the wall
Let us explain.
Ant Trails Leading Inside The Electrical Outlets
There’s no drastic sign of ants in electrical outlets and sockets but ant trails leading to it.
When a random scout ant finds a food source or a possible nesting place, it leaves behind pheromones.
Pheromones are secretions from the ants’ glands that emit a smell. Other insects also secrete pheromones to communicate.
Ants follow that smell and reach their destination.
You’ll see these tiny red ants crawling in a straight line and getting inside the electrical outlets.
That’s a clear indication that the fire ants are occupying the places they’ve unearthed inside the walls around the electrical outlets.
Dust Piles On The Floor Below The Electrical Outlet
Fire ants inside the electrical outlets will dig on the walls to build their nests and tunnels.
That’ll cause the dust to pile underneath the electrical outlet.
That dust pile won’t contain any feces of fire ants. So, it’ll be primarily reddish, reflecting the color of the brick.
If the electrical outlet is on a wooden wall, the dust pile will look like wooden dust.
However, it won’t look like fine sawdust that powder post beetles dispose of when they get inside wooden structures.
Dead Ants Near The Electrical Outlets
Fire ants will eject dead ants from their nests and colonies. And when they’re inside the electrical outlets, it’s no different.
Some of them might die from the electrical shock while causing damage inside the electrical socket.
That’s why sightings of dead fire ants near electrical outlets can signify ants behind the socket.
Widening Gaps Between The Electrical Outlets And The Wall
The truth is that fire ants and other ants that infest electrical outlets and appliances don’t dig through the metallic holes on the electrical sockets.
They exploit the porous wall or the thin gaps that develop between the edges of the electrical outlets and the wall.
Over time, because of excessive digging, those gaps widen.
That also leads to the loosening of the electrical outlet.
Damage That Fire Ants Cause Inside The Electrical Outlets
Fire ants can cause some serious and expensive damage to your home if they manage to get inside the electrical outlets and appliances.
One of them is a short circuit that can severely harm the appliances in your home.
Fire ants will cut off the wires behind the electrical outlets and inside electrical appliances, which will indeed cause short circuits.
If fire ants get inside the main electrical boxes that hold fuses and interconnected wires powering your home, then it can be disastrous.
They’ll chew through them and act as circuit breaks.
It can lead to home-wide electrical short, irreparable damage to electrical appliances because of sudden spurge of voltage, and fire in the worst-case scenario.
Ants in laptops, CCTV cameras, and even inside cell phones can cause damages that you can never repair.
So, any sign of fire ants in the electrical outlets, sockets, and even inside electrical appliances should ring your alarm bells.
How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants In Electrical Outlets?
Caution: Call an electrician if you’ve got no experience installing switches or electrical outlets.
Don’t risk yourself to any electric shocks.
Here’s how to get rid of fire ants in electrical outlets.
Turn The Main Switch Off In The Circuit Breaker
Before you begin to get rid of ants in electrical outlets, sockets, and appliances, always kill the main switch of your home in the circuit breaker.
That’ll prevent any electrical mishap that may arise while you’re doing the job.
Unscrew The Electrical Outlet
Unscrew the electrical socket and gently pull it.
You’ll notice deposits of brick dust on the electric wires behind the switches on the socket.
Take a brush or even an old toothbrush to scrub the brick dust deposits.
Make sure that you’re wearing a pair of gloves to protect your hands from any bites and stings of fire ants.
If fire ants have established a colony or built a nest behind the electrical outlets, then they’ll become aggressive.
Fire ants are fiercely aggressive to any danger to their nests.
So, it’ll be best if you wear appropriate clothing. Wear a full sleeve shirt, trousers tucked into your socks, and shoes.
Don’t have any part of your skin exposed.
Fire ants will try to crawl on you and bite you.
Use A Fire Ant Killer Pesticide Spray
Use a fire ant spray to kill the fire ants behind the electrical outlet.
Spray in the corners of the cavity too. It’ll ensure that spray contacts all the ants behind the electrical outlets.
Remember, insecticide sprays are harmful.
While you’re spraying the insecticide, ensure that you wear a mask so that you don’t inhale it.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth
Spraying the fire ant spray will kill many fire ants hiding behind the electrical outlet.
However, some might sneak inside deeper into the wall.
To ensure that you leave none of them behind, sprinkle diatomaceous earth inside the cavity too.
Diatomaceous earth is a desiccant. It kills ants by penetrating their bodies and absorbing the moisture that keeps them alive.
Let the diatomaceous earth sit for 10-15 minutes to do its job.
Fix The Gaps And Holes That Fire Ants Created On The Walls
Fire ants behind the electrical outlet would have dug many holes and tunnels.
It’s time to seal them off.
Use a silicone-based sealant to caulk those gaps and holes that the fire ants made.
Silicone-based sealants are rigid, and bugs can’t chew through them.
Re-install The Electrical Outlet Or Socket
Take a toothbrush and remove all the dead fire ants in the cavity where the electrical outlet was.
Ensure that you remove all the dust piles accumulated on the switch wires behind the electrical outlet.
Clean the hole and re-install the electrical outlet.
Then turn on the main switch of your home.
Preventing Fire Ants In Electrical Outlets
Once you’ve removed the ants in the electrical outlets, it’s time to keep them away from the sockets.
Doing it is pretty easy.
Sprinkle Cinnamon Powder Around The Electrical Outlets
The smell from some spices repels ants. And the cinnamon powder is one of them.
Cinnamon repels bugs and ants because bugs hate the smell.
So, you can sprinkle cinnamon powder near the electrical outlets to keep the ants away.
If the electrical sockets are low down the wall near the floor, sprinkle some on the floor.
Another alternative is peppermint oil.
Spray peppermint oil mixed with water on the floor or on the places where you noticed ant trails.
Peppermint’s smell is also repugnant for ants and bugs.
But be careful. Don’t spray peppermint in or near the electrical plugs and electronic devices.
You might get an electric shock.
Keep Ant Baits
Keep ant baits along the edges of your home’s baseboards.
Ants travel along the baseboards in a line, known as an ant trail.
Keep one near the electrical outlet and a few along the baseboards.
The correct number is one ant trap every 8-10 feet.
It’ll be best if you keep the ant traps in your kitchen, too, because ants in the kitchen are a common occurrence if there are ants in other parts of your home.
Keep the ant traps in the evening and let them remain at their for one whole night.
The ant traps will lure and entrap the ants. Dispose of the traps with ants stuck on them.
Repair The Wall Damages
Damaged and damp walls and floors develop cracks that become home for many bugs, including fire ants.
So, check for any cracks on the walls. If there are any, then caulk them up.
If the walls are severely damaged and demand a repair, repair them.
Check the walls and floors of the areas of your home, like the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room, where there’s regular water usage.
The walls and floors are more prone to get damaged by excessive moisture in these places.
If you find any, repair them.
Also, seal the gaps that fire ants create between the electrical outlets and the walls.
Get Rid Of Fire Ants In Your Yard
Let’s face it. Fire ants wouldn’t have been inside your home if they weren’t in your yard.
So, you must get rid of fire ants in your yard.
The best you can do is scatter ant granules along the perimeter of your home to prevent them from sneaking inside.
Ant granules are pesticide crystals that sink into the soil and create a barrier.
They act as a bait too but they’re only meant for outdoor use.
The barrier stops ants and bugs from sneaking inside homes.
Ant granules will also kill any fire ant nesting underneath the soil’s layer along the perimeter of your house.
To destroy the fire ant nests in your yard, use a fire ant killer on the fire ant mounds that fire ants make on the soil.
These mounds are signs of fire ant colonies underneath the soil’s layer.
The fire ant killer will destroy the fire ant nest, adult fire ants, their eggs, and larvae underneath the soil’s layer.
But keep in mind that fire ants will become severely aggressive when you’re near their nests.
So, wear appropriate clothing and shoes while doing the work.
If you’re living in an apartment building and have fire ants in your home, then chances are there are fire ants in other apartments too.
It’ll be best to inform the apartment block manager to address the issue.
But fire ants in the yard multiply at lightning speed.
And within a few days, their numbers can shoot up to hundreds of thousands.
So, it’ll be best if you hire a professional controller to get rid of fire ants in your home and property.
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.