Why you’re finding ants in your kettle
IF YOU'VE been noticing pesky ants around your kitchen or crawling into your kettle, there's a simple explanation why.
The annoying insects are following a special pheromone trail left by them or other ant families from a time they previously found the water source.
Being creatures of habit, the ants will stumble across trails they once left, leading them back to a reliable water supply.
Australian Museum scientist Melissa Murray said the ants are looking for water simply because they are thirsty.
But she revealed the simple trick to get rid of them and make sure they keep out of your kettle.
Ms Murray said a mix of water and vinegar to wipe everything down and clear the trail would do the trick, with water alone not enough.
"It's a little invisible sign only ants can see saying, 'water this way' and they'll head for that source of water," she said.
"The only way you can stop them is cleaning the outside of your kettle and bench tops from the chemicals they've left behind."
Contrary to what concerned kettle users say on the internet about ants being suicidal, Ms Murray said many survived the mission.
She said the foragers of the ant family were the sacrificial lambs sent out to retrieve water to bring back to the nest.
"The ones that perish haven't got out (of the kettle) in time, it's just the luck of the draw," she said.
"They're the expendable ones. It just means there'll be extra protein in your tea."
With cockroaches and their smaller relatives often found around the base of the kettle or microwave sockets, Ms Murray said the water and vinegar trick would also keep them at bay.
"In Sydney especially where people have these kettles with a cordless base they'll find small cockroaches hiding in there because it's a little warm hiding place," she said.
While finding these insects in the kitchen or around the home can happen at any time of year, Ms Murray said people would be noticing them more being winter because it was cold outside and they were staying indoors more.
She said people also tended to drink more warm drinks and use the kettle often, creating a water source for the ants.
"There's lots of animals and invertebrates we're living with every day and they're part of our ecosystem because they've adapted to many environments," she said.