Can Ants Chew Through Plastics? Yes, They Can!

A common question asked about plastics is “can ants eat through it?” — The answer to this question is actually not so simple.

Ants can eat and chew through thin plastics such as acrylic sheets, biodegradable films, and composites. But it is not something that ants are naturally inclined to do unless there is food inside the plastic packaging.

What ants eat plastics? Should you worry about ants eating plastics? Is there anything you can do to prevent plastics from infestation?

I will answer all of these questions while uncovering the details about plastic-eating ants.

Keep reading!

Can Ants Eat Through Plastic?

Some ants do eat through plastic, but it is not a common occurrence. Some of the ants that have been documented eating plastic can do so quickly in a short moment, while ant species like carpenter ants are more likely to chew on plastic packaging than eat it.

What do ants eat food out of? The ant species that do bite into plastic often do so because they want to find their way into the food source.

You may have noticed ant trails in your house, and if you follow them to the source these ants will lead their way into food chambers located inside of a plastic container or bag packaging materials. These ants do not chew through the plastic, but rather tunnel into it and then eat the food source.

Therefore, ants are attracted to plastic packaging because there is a food source that they have found inside the packaging material.

A majority of these ants do not actually eat through it at all. Instead of eating plastic, they go on their way.

Some ants do eat through the packaging and then carry the food source out of the container or bag to their pest infestation site where it is shared with the colony.

How Do Ants Chew Through the Plastics?

Ants use their lower jaws to chew through the plastic. They secrete a fluid from their mouth that hardens and acts as a lubricant as they chew. This allows the ant to pry open any food source such as crumbs inside of a plastic container.

Most plastic containers aren’t safe at your house from ants, even inside refrigerators. — Especially if it’s some chips or biscuit plastic bag. Does it hurt when ants bite? That sting bite of their mandibles is enough to tear off plastic as well.

Since ants work in huge numbers, penetrating through your pantry isn’t a difficult task for these small ones.

Some homeowners store most of their food in the fridge but ants can sneak inside that too! Not to mention ants can chew through silicone, cotton, wood, and caulk too.

Will Ants Smell Food Through Plastic Bags?

While ant colonies do have the ability to smell food through plastic bags, it is not a common occurrence. If the food starts rotting inside, it will surely attract ants. Make sure, that there aren’t any expired items in your kitchen to avoid ant infestation.

So the answer is yes: ants will surely smell food through plastic bags or containers, the smell alerts all of the colony. After which, ants start their mission to invade that food source.

Ants can sneak through places you can’t imagine.

Ants release pheromones to communicate with each other. Once an ant finds a source of food, it will immediately call out other ants which will cause a further nuisance.

Recently, RSSL Pharma’s Emergency Response Service found one of the more peculiar causes of pharmaceutical product failure was ants that chewed through plastic packaging.

What Ants Eat Through Plastics?

Here’s about what ants eat through plastics and how can we avoid providing them favorable conditions for their next invasion.

Can Sugar Ants Eat Through Plastics?

Yes, sugar ants can consume through plastics. In fact, they are well-known for sneaking through thin plastics, cardboards, and polymers to search for sweets, fruits, and vegetables.

If you have food or liquid spills in your kitchen, or any other room, it’s an open invitation to them.

Although sugar ant infestation is not harmful, it can still cause nuisance by eating through plastic containers.

Can Carpenter Ants Eat Through Plastics?

Carpenter ants are more interested in eating decaying wood but they can also eat plastics if they are coming in their pathways. They prefer eating almost everything available in the kitchen.

Carpenter ants will create tunnels by chewing the soft plastic. They don’t possess serious problems but it’s still unsafe to keep food containers and utensils, or food in a bag near carpenter ants infestation. These ants can chew away from your items with their saw-like mandibles.

Can Black Ants Eat Through Plastics?

Black ants can easily penetrate through plastics by chewing them with their jaws. The ants are more concerned about the food source and they can bite by their mandibles to eat things like fruits, dead insects, meat, and others.

These black ants also cause potential harm because they might open thin plastic packaging with their hooked claws.

Eventually, the food might become stale.

Can Fire Ants Eat Through Plastics?

Fire ants (red ants) also destroy packaging by chewing plastic containers and food items in their surroundings. Red ants are nocturnal and they spend most of their night scavenging for food.

They can bite through the plastic containers that are food-filled.

Apart from destroying the food source, another thing bothering is their presence of red ant infestation and production of ant poison when you have ants in your home.

How to Keep Ants Away From Plastic Containers?

Need help with getting rid of ants from plastics? I’ve some proven ways to share about how you can do so. Here’s the list:

#1 Use Airtight Containers

Sealed containers are the best way to store food in your freezer or pantry. These containers have good insulation and thick material that prevents ants from chewing them through.

You might want to check out Best Ant-Proof Food Containers For Home.

#2 Use Vinegar

Using vinegar to clean the kitchen counters and cupboards can significantly reduce ant problems. It is an excellent disinfectant too.

Make a simple solution of white vinegar and water, and spray it on the surfaces where ants are frequent. Leave the solution to dry for at least 15 minutes before wiping it off with a cloth.

Wait for a few minutes to place your food back until the smell goes off. You can also use Windex as an alternative.

#3 Sprinkle Baking Soda Near Food Containers

Although it makes your kitchen a bit messy, it’s a perfect ant-proof technique for the kitchen.

It isn’t toxic but still not likable by ants which makes it an ideal remedy for ant infestation near food containers.

#4 Use Essential Oil Spray

To create an ant-repellent spray, you can use essential oils like peppermint, citrus oil, and tea tree oil. Mix the combination of the essential oils you want to use.

Mighty Mint 16 oz Peppermint Oil Insect & Pest Spray - for Spiders, Ants, and More
  • Easy Application and Clean Up
  • Safe When Used as Directed
  • Extra Concentrated for Long-Lasting Protection
  • Natural Ingredients Proven Effective in the Real World
  • Powerful US Peppermint Oil

The ant-repellent spray will stay effective for a week if not two weeks (depends on air humidity). You can apply it around kitchen and pantry items. If ants are bothering plastic food containers, just clean with a vinegar solution before putting food in.

Which methods have you tried?

Let me know in the comments below if I should add any more tips for this type of ant problem!


Faizan Khan

Hey! This is Faizan. I love to explore different ways to control pests. PestCircle is where I share my knowledge by writing articles on different pest control techniques. I always enjoy giving out my knowledge and experience with people to help people deal with pests effectively.

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