Ants in the apartment and in the house are a nuisance that you would like to get rid of immediately. Reaching for the vacuum cleaner is tempting and yet the question arises if ants can survive vacuuming and crawl out again after being sucked in.
Ants that have been picked up by a vacuum cleaner usually do not pass this process. They die in the catchment area and cannot crawl out of the vacuum cleaner again.
You can find out the underlying reasons and why it’s not a good idea to vacuum the ants in this article.
Let’s get started!
How does a vacuum cleaner work? (Short form)
The structure of a vacuum cleaner is always the same, regardless of whether it is a modern vacuum robot, a handheld device, or a classic model.
A motor drives a “paddle wheel” (= turbine), which generates a strong airflow. The air is initially led through the collection area (a bag or cavity) and a filter. This is followed by the turbine and the exhaust opening.
In the case of a bag vacuum cleaner, the opening of the collecting bag lies close to the inlet hose. Small waste particles are taken up in this way. The bag itself lies loosely in the interior of the vacuum cleaner. The turbine creates a strong negative pressure in this space. The air flows through the thin bag layer. The bag thus functions as a filter and stops everything that does not fit through the fine pores.
A vacuum cleaner without a bag also uses a strong negative pressure, with the help of which the dirt particles are picked up. The particles are collected and separated from the air through a cavity with several turns. The centrifugal force pushes the solids outwards so they get caught in the coils.
What happens when you suck up ants?
Ants get inside the vacuum cleaner through the suction area. Many of these attachments are equipped with bristles to improve the absorption of dirt. If ants come into contact with these dust collectors, depending on the design, high forces act on their bodies, which can lead to severe injuries.
The vacuuming of ants then leads to the fact that the small insects are greatly accelerated. This gives them (regarding their size) a relatively large push of energy which leads to various hits against hard components up to the catchment area. In a corrugated hose, in particular, the number and intensity of the collisions are high.
Despite their stable exoskeleton, there is a good chance that they will sustain injuries during this phase. The fine limbs and antennae are particularly affected.
Then the ants get into the catchment area. In a dust bag, they get caught in the already existing dirt. In a collection chamber, they hit the outer walls and are ultimately also caught by existing remains.
This is where the suction process usually ends and ants do not get into the turbine, as it is almost always behind these components.
Ants are not “shredded” in the vacuum cleaner.
If an impeller is in front of this area, the probability that the ants will suffer physical damage increases. However, this type of construction is not common.
Can ants crawl out of the vacuum cleaner?
This is very unlikely because Ants mostly die in the catchment area and cannot crawl out of the vacuum cleaner again.
The main reasons are the injuries they experience on the way to the catchment area and the low chance of leaving these rooms.
Among other things, a check valve that closes the air supply through the hose when the device is deactivated contributes to this. However, this flap is not present in all vacuum cleaners and is also often not completely tight.
The structure within the catchment area plays a bigger role. Hair, dust, and other dirt particles are compressed under pressure in this area. This close-knit and dense net picks up the ants and makes it difficult for them to move.
Usually, ants die due to their injuries and incorporation in the collecting container.
Should an ant survive anyway, it will have a hard time getting out of the vacuum cleaner, as it would first have to climb out through the entire entrance area.
There are of course a variety of different ant species and countless models of vacuum cleaners that can affect the result. Nevertheless, the fear of ants breaking free is a fairy tale that likes to circulate on the Internet.
I myself have had ants in the house for several years in a row and have worked with different vacuum cleaners and not a single one of a few thousand ants came out of the vacuum cleaner.
How should you vacuum ants?
Sucking up ants with a vacuum cleaner does not require any special measures. Any commercially available device can be used.
To optimize the result, it is advisable to use a crevice tool. This creates a controlled and stronger airflow and can suck ants out of baseboards and other crevices. In addition, it does not contaminate the attachment bristles.
You should also work with the greatest possible power. This also ensures maximum effectiveness when sucking in and ultimately in the collecting area.
The bag or collecting container can be changed after the intensive fight against ants. However, it does not necessarily have to be replaced, since the ants usually die there. They don’t bite through the bag, reproduce there, or start to rot (ants are aquatic creatures and dehydrate to a small crumb).
If you don’t feel comfortable with this or if you don’t want an ant graveyard in your vacuum cleaner bag, you can use a simple trick:
With a thin sock (better: a woman’s pantyhose) over the intake pipe, you prevent the ants from getting into the collecting container and you can simply dispose of them by turning this improvised filter inside out.
Even if you are afraid of crawling out, you should never put chemicals in the collection area and bag. These insecticides are emitted and the toxins are warmed up and distributed in the apartment through the exhaust window!
NEVER put insecticides in the vacuum cleaner!
They can also damage or even burn the vacuum cleaner as many of these insecticides are highly flammable.
Ever wondered how to get rid of ants in a keyboard? Here’s why: Ants in Keyboards (with Checklist).
Ants and handheld vacuum cleaners
The most common devices are household vacuum cleaners with corrugated tubes and vertical vacuum cleaners of a similar size. However, there are other forms that are widely used. The so-called handheld vacuum cleaner is also popular.
This has a significantly lower suction power and a short suction path. The collecting container is often designed without a bag and is transparent (to estimate the fill level).
Such a model can also be used to suck in ants. However, the ants are less likely to die all.
It is important to take advantage of the visual inspection and check carefully whether there are still living ants in the collecting container (this is best 10 minutes after vacuuming the ants). If ants are still alive, the container must be emptied immediately.
This pouring out is often very simple and can be done in a very short time. You should take advantage of this and empty the cleaner more often (or ideally every time).
Ants and robot hoovers
Small vacuum robots that automatically move to certain areas and clean them are also popular. The functionality is basically the same, but rotating bristles are often used to cover a larger area (especially on the sides of the robot).
These have the disadvantage that they can become clogged more quickly if they are heavily infested with ants and therefore lose their effectiveness. In addition, it is not possible to suck in ants in the edge areas, since the suction opening does not reach them.
In addition, a vacuum robot drives autonomously and therefore it cannot be estimated when, where, and how many ants were present. The overview of the infestation is quickly lost.
Another disadvantage is that these household helpers do not have a viewing window. Although they show electronically when their fill level has been reached, this does not help if a check should be carried out to determine whether the ants are still alive in the catchment area.
With the lack of monitoring, a vacuum robot is not suitable for fighting ants in the household.
Why shouldn’t you vacuum ants?
Vacuuming up ants with a regular house vacuum is quick and easy, but not very effective. This is because only female workers are removed. This reduces the state’s labor force and forces the queen to increase egg production to make up for this deficiency.
The real problem is the nest and the queen in it. As long as both continue, ants will keep popping up.
The state continues to exist despite the visible ants are sucked up.
The sucking up of sexually capable animals (the new queens and males – recognizable by the wings) does not endanger the state. It just reduces the likelihood that additional ant colonies will develop.
In order to get rid of the ants in the long term and for the next few years, the nest must be effectively controlled.
This fight always presupposes the determination of the species first. Because depending on the type, there are different hazards and methods.
Want to use chalk instead of a vacuum cleaner? Read this first: Why can’t ants walk on chalk or ink? (Quickly Answered)
Control of the ant nest (briefly explained)
There are several approaches to getting rid of an ant’s nest in the house. In the minimally invasive method, baits (mostly gel) are placed on hot spots.
As soon as the insects find the bait, they pick it up and transport it to the nest. There it is fed to the brood and the queen. This fight is not entirely undisputed but has always led to success for me.
Structurally damaging and wood-eating ants often do not react to such baits. Their nutritional needs are met elsewhere and they simply leave the poison bait by the wayside. Here it will have to be a costly intervention in which the nest is exposed and then completely removed.