Few things are worse than going to feed your pets, only to find ants crawling all over the food, especially in the morning. You’re still groggy, you haven’t had your coffee yet, and your pets are begging incessantly. They’re hungry and won’t leave you alone, but you can only stare at the numerous tiny ants in their food.
You may think it’s fine to leave the ants there. You may even think it’s an additional source of protein. However, it’s likely some of those ants are still alive and can bite the dog. Also, some dogs won’t eat if they find ants crawling on their food.
Pet food should always be kept in an airtight container, but ants can still find their way in on occasion. This guide shows how you can both get ants out and keep them out of your pet food. We’ve also covered another common problem – ants getting into your bird feeder. Many of us like seeing wildlife in our yards, and put food out to encourage them. With ants making their annoying forays to your birdfeeders, we tell you how to stop the little critters
Method 1: Storing and Protecting Pet Food
1. Store extra food in sealed containers.
You can use coffee cans, plastic containers, or resealable zipper storage bags to keep pests out. For better protection, you can double seal the food by putting one container in another. However, it’s still best that you have an airtight container for your pet food to keep out humidity and pests out. Simplehuman have developed a robust, pest-proof pet food storage can; with a decent 25lt capacity, it keeps your doggy dinner safe from creepy crawlies.
2. Make a moat barrier
The simplest way to do this is to place the food bowl in a bigger bowl with shallow water that will serve as a moat to keep pests out. However, this may not be that viable once it’s feeding time and your pet moves the bowl around and the food may get spilled. You can also use two stainless food meals, one slightly bigger than the other. Glue a small brick to the bottom of the smaller dish and place it on water in the bigger dish. The moat keeps ants away from the food and the brick keeps the food dish from tipping over while also elevating it. Place this moat dish at another place for two or more days. The ants will eventually quit going to the regular feeding location.
3. Buy ant-proof pet food trays.
There are pet food trays designed to keep ants out of your pet’s food without actually using any potentially harmful chemicals. BugSnub’s Ant Proof tray is one of the most popular on the market. The product comes with a plastic tray and 4 packets of insect blocking gel. It’s perfectly safe around kids and pets since the gel is made from 100% food grade ingredients.
4. Use peppermint oil.
Mix a tablespoon of 100% peppermint oil and a cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture close to the HVAC return ports in your house to deter insects. Peppermint oil overloads their sense of smell, thus repelling them. You can also put drops of peppermint oil onto a cotton ball to clean baseboards and other surfaces around where insects may enter your home. Also wipe the surface around the feeding area and pet food storage, although you’ll have to check first if the smell of peppermint oil bothers your pets.
Method 2: Getting Rid of Ants in Pet Food
1. Freeze infested meals.
If ants are already in a food dish, cover the bowl and put it in the freezer. Take it out just before the food becomes completely frozen. The ants should be dead at this point, and you can then carefully remove them from the food.
2. Have the dry food from the freezer.
If you’re doing this with dry food, pour it into a strainer over the sink and vigorously shake it back and forth until all the ants have been removed. Repeat these first two steps as necessary until all ants have been removed.
3. Store the pet food.
Pour the food into an airtight container to protect it against further infestation.
Method 3: Keeping Ants Out of Your Bird Feeder
1. Use petroleum jelly.
To protect a bird feeder that sticks to the window, cut a shape out of paper. Tape the paper onto your window as a pattern. Use your finger to draw a Vaseline barrier on the exterior of the window and set the feeder in the middle. This is best done at a cool, shady location as the Vaseline can melt and run down in hot weather.
2. Create a petroleum jelly barrier for a hanging feeder.
To make an ant-proof hanging feeder, cut a hole in the middle of a lid of a small lightweight can and put a cord through it. Make a knot to keep the lid in place and smear petroleum jelly on the top. Ants may reach the lid, but they won’t make it into the feeder.
3. Utilize flypaper.
Wrap a ribbon of flypaper onto the feeder rod or put a strip on window mounts. Make sure the flypaper is not within reach of the birds. In case the flypaper is either not sticking or is exposed to heat, hold it in place with some duct tape.