Why Do Ants Crawl on You? 5 Common Reasons

by Derrick | Last Updated: December 23, 2021

Ants spend most of their time foraging for food and moisture. One or two ants may crawl on your body while gardening outside or attending to indoor plants. Sometimes, ants will crawl on you for other reasons.

Ants crawl on you if your body emits odors and fluids containing sugars, fats, or proteins, such as sweat and blood. Ants have incredible olfactory receptors that help them locate food sources, and certain bodily smells and fluids will attract and cause them to crawl on you in search of food. 

This article will cover five common reasons ants will crawl on you and how you can prevent this from happening. Read on to find out.

Common Reasons Ants Will Crawl on You

Ants generally crawl into your space, hunting for food and moisture. However, certain odors on your body can attract ants to crawl over you looking for food. 

1. Sweat or Tears Will Attract Ants

Your sweat contains water, salt, and sugar, and all these minerals release a strong scent that attracts ants. The salt in these minerals is essential to ants because it enables their nervous system to function appropriately and maintains muscle activity

During extreme heat, ants’ body temperature rises, and they find shelter in cooler environments such as your house. Extreme heat makes ants excrete more salt, forcing them to look for salt elsewhere to survive – that could include your tears and sweat. 

Human sweat or tears would typically provide ants with a source of this essential nutrient. You can also find ants foraging around dirty laundry because clothes contain traces of sweat. 

2. Blood Attracts Ants

Anything that ants need for food and survival will attract them. Blood is a source of food for ants and will attract them. That’s why you will often find ants scavenging near hospital waste with blood.

Ants are especially drawn to menstrual blood because it contains protein, which is a good food source. Period blood also contains sodium which is necessary to balance their body fluids.

In addition, anything decomposing attracts ants, and menstrual blood is a by-product of the human body that starts decomposing once it is released. Ants have incredible olfactory receptors, and menstrual blood will often release a strong scent that will attract them.

3. Human Scent

The natural oils on humans skin can sometimes attract ants. There really isn’t any way to prevent this as the oils are something every human has. Frequently showing and wearing clean clothes can in some ways help limit the general oils and scents that the body emits, but that really is the best you can do.

4. Stains of Urine Will Attract Ants

The urine of individuals with type 1 diabetes will attract ants because of its high sugar content.  When someone has diabetes, the kidney, usually responsible for regulating glucose, will be unable to do so, and the urine will contain a good amount of glucose. 

Frequent urination can leave urine stains on the body, which may attract ants. It is also possible to find traces of glucose in the urine of a healthy person, so it’s not right to conclude that you have diabetes because your urine attracts ants. 

5. Dead Skin Cells Will Attract Ants

Dead skin cells contain keratin, which is protein and ultimately a source of food to ants. The decomposition of dead skin cells also produces odors that attract ants, typically causing them to crawl all over you to access the flaky dead skin cells. 

How To Prevent Ants From Crawling on You

Now that we’ve talked about why ants will crawl on you, it’s only right that we also discuss how to deter ants from crawling on you. The best way to do this is to eliminate any potential food sources that could attract them.

To prevent ants from crawling on you, follow these important steps:

  1. Avoid wearing sweet scented lotions or perfumes in the heat. Ants are attracted to sugar and sweet smells, like those found in scented lotions and perfumes. When you wear sweet fragrances and sweat simultaneously, your odor is amplified, making you a more desirable food source for ants. 
  1. Keep your food and drinks covered. Whether you’re having a picnic or setting aside some leftovers on the kitchen counter, ants are determined to find a food source, and your uncovered food is an easy target. It’s vital to wrap, seal, and store your food at all times. Ants may be more likely to crawl on you while you’re enjoying food outside, but uncovered food left inside can eventually lead to an infestation as well. 

Beverages should also be covered and sealed securely, as ants are fond of the sweeteners found in sodas, juices, and alcohol. 

  1. Maintain good hygiene in warmer temperatures. Ants are drawn to the sugars, fats, and proteins found in bodily fluids. Therefore, it’s essential to take extra care of your hygiene in warmer temperatures, especially if you’re spending more time outdoors. Reducing and removing any build-up on your body will help keep ants from crawling on your skin.

Natural Repellents You Can Apply to Your Body To Prevent Ants

Ants are a nuisance, and having them crawl all over you can be irritating. However, there are several repellents that you can apply to chase them away. Here’s a list of natural and safe ingredients you can apply to your body to repel ants.

  • Cinnamon. Cinnamon sticks emit odors that are offensive to ants. You can boil cinnamon sticks, cool the water, put it in a spray bottle, then spray it on your body.
  • Mint leaves. The scent from mint leaves affects ants’ superior sense of smell, and ants will generally avoid areas with mint leaves. You can blend mint leaves and apply the liquid to your body.
  • Vinegar. Any vinegar will repel ants, but apple cider vinegar is more suitable for skin. I recommend using Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar from Amazon.com. It’s affordable and comes in a big bottle, so you’ll get a lot of use from it. Simply add some of the vinegar to a spray bottle and apply it to your skin to keep ants away.

Conclusion

Ants crawl looking for food, and are attracted to odors and sugars found in certain bodily fluids, including sweat, tears, blood, sperm, and urine. They also enjoy the proteins found in dead skin cells. 

However, natural repellents, including cinnamon, mint leaves, and vinegar, emit offensive odors to ants and keep them away. Additionally, you can prevent ant infestations in your home by storing and sealing your food.

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