One day, as you’re just casually opening your mailbox to get out the mail, you may be surprised at the sight of a colony of ants. We’re sure your head is filled with numerous questions, such as how did they get in there, and what attracted them to your mailbox.
However, the most important question that comes to mind must be how to get rid of them – and for good. In this guide, we will go over the most common causes of this problem, as well as the best methods to remove ants from your mailbox forever! Keep on reading.
Why are there ants in your mailbox?
First things first: let’s start with the causes of this problem before learning how to properly clean the mailbox and prevent the ants from returning. Ants can be quite persistent since they tend to plant their eggs and larvae in the mailbox and they keep reproducing.
Only if you get to the bottom of this issue you can hope to get rid of them for good and not have them return the very next week. As we’ve mentioned, this can be a very persistent problem, and to make matters worse – it may relocate to your house.
Yes, once you detect ants in one part of your backyard, it is quite possible that they’ll continue reproducing and crawl into your indoor space at a certain point. Therefore, ants in the mailbox are a bigger issue than some people may think.
1. Weather conditions
Let’s start with something you can’t control, which is the weather. It is common for ants, especially carpenter ants, to settle in a shelter such as a mailbox when it’s raining. Also, they’ll be attracted to these places during the winter months, when it’s colder outside.
On the other hand, you cannot expect to have your mailbox ant-free during the summer, either, as they tend to settle in dark places during the day, to escape the burning sun. Keep on reading to discover the best ways to deal with ants in all weather conditions.
2. Food deliveries
We’re sure you’ve already noticed that food remains attract colonies of ants, and the reason is simple – they need to eat. If you have food delivered in packages that end up in your mailbox, and this happens often, it is no wonder the ants have gathered there.
A fun fact about ants is that they’re not only attracted to the food, but to the smell of food, as well. The smell of food packages, especially if you receive them frequently, is lingering all over the mailbox, and it can attract ants, as well as all sorts of insects.
It is also important to point out the fact that ants love anything sugary, whether it be a sugary taste or scent, and they will easily detect sweet food or beverages.
Keep in mind that ants are very much attracted to moisture, and they will thrive in a damp environment. Any standing water can have colonies of ants appear, so it is important to keep the mailbox as dry as possible, especially when it rains.
Keep in mind that ants leave a smell trace, and they can travel far from the place where their colony has settled and still find their way back to it. This is one of the primary reasons why it is so hard to eliminate them entirely since the ones that have wandered off will return.
4. Problems around your mailbox
Oftentimes, people tend to focus on the mailbox, while the ants may be attracted to something near the mailbox. Before you conclude that the problem is in the mailbox itself, it may be wise to inspect the area around it for any potential problems.
First, you want to check if you’re leaving any food remains around the mailbox. If your garbage disposal is near the mailbox, this could be the main issue. Also, you shouldn’t locate it near your compost station, or any other food disposal system for that matter.
Another potential problem could be any kind of standing water surrounding the mailbox. As we’ve explained, ants are attracted to any kind of moisture, especially standing water, so you should keep the area as dry as possible to keep them at bay.
5. Ants in the neighborhood
Make sure to talk to consult with your neighbors and check if they’ve been experiencing similar issues. As you know, ants reproduce easily and quickly, and before you know it, they could be spreading around the neighborhood.
If this is a problem in your local area, and not just on your property, you may need to join forces and solve this problem together – especially if we’re talking about large colonies of ants that move quickly and could find shelter in your home after invading the mailbox.
How to get rid of ants in your mailbox
When it comes to removing ants from your mailbox, it isn’t enough to just clean the mailbox, as ants are extremely resilient and persistent, and they will probably find their way back since they leave a small trace.
Keeping that in mind, we’re focusing on effective methods that can help you get rid of ants for good, especially if there are ant eggs in the mailbox. Without further ado, let’s get into these effective methods that can eliminate ants from your household for good.
1. Remove the ants including their eggs and larvae
As long as there are ant larvae in the mailbox, you will deal with colonies of ants over and over again, even if you continue to remove them every single day. Therefore, your best shot is to remove the entire ant nest from the mailbox, making sure there are no ant eggs left inside.
Since there are different varieties of ants, they may try to sting you, so make sure to wear protective gloves for this part of the cleaning process. In case the ants are still biting through the protective gloves, your best bet is to get them out with a hose, making sure the pressure is high.
Once you’ve removed all the ants from the mailbox, including all the eggs and larvae, make sure to wipe the inside of the mailbox. Remember, ants seek moisture and they could return into a wet mailbox, so you want to make sure it is completely dry.
This process may take some time and you may have to repeat the steps if the ants return. If this happens, it is possible that something around the mailbox is attracting the ants, rather than the mailbox itself.
2. Use an ant poison
For many people, using an ant poison such as borax or boric acid would be the first solution that comes to mind, and the most effective one, as well. While this kind of ant exterminator will definitely get rid of the ants and any bugs in the mailbox, it isn’t the safest option.
Not only are these poisons highly toxic and they could cause serious skin irritation if you don’t use them correctly, but they’re also not environmentally friendly, so you should resort to this option only if the other methods in this guide fail.
What’s more, these ant killers aren’t safe to use around children and pets. If you have no choice but to go down this path, remember to wear protective gloves, a mask to protect yourself against toxic fumes, and make sure the mailbox is isolated.
3. Clean the mailbox thoroughly
Once you’ve removed the ants and all their residue, we’ve already mentioned that you should clean the mailbox thoroughly. However, in order to prevent the ants from returning, we advise you to take your cleaning to the next level and use more than just water.
Since ants are known to leave scent trails behind, it is possible that other colonies will inhibit your mailbox even after you’ve killed the ants and washed the mailbox with water. Therefore, it is important to get rid of their scent and erase any scent traces they may have left behind.
To achieve this, you will need to scrub every part of your mailbox using a substance that will remove their scent. These substances include detergent, soap, apple cider vinegar, and of course – bleach. If you decide to use bleach, make sure to wear protective gloves and a mask.
How do you keep bugs out of your mailbox?
Now that your mailbox is clean of any ants and their residue, you want to take some preventative measures to stop them from invading your mailbox again. The best way to ensure they’re not coming back is to use an ant-repelling substance.
While you can buy a chemical ant repeller at your local store, these are highly toxic, and they could compromise other living creatures, including your pets. Therefore, it is better to rely on natural alternatives that will work just as well.
Environmentally friendly ant-repelling substances that won’t jeopardize the living world around your mailbox include black pepper, coffee, white vinegar, and essential oils (peppermint, tea tree, lemon eucalyptus).
Other products you could use to coat the inside of your mailbox and repel the ants include dish soap, hand soap, and glass cleaning solutions, but once again – these may not be the best solution if you have pets.
Dryer sheet in the mailbox for ants
Placing a dryer sheet in your mailbox can repel ants, and it is actually one of the easiest, yet most effective ways of preventing the ants from inhibiting your mailbox and spreading their eggs again.
After you’ve cleaned the mailbox as we’ve explained, simply place a dryer sheet (or more, depending on the size of your mailbox) into the mailbox. This should disrupt them and disable them from building a nest.