Ants On a Boat: Is It Possible To Get Rid Of Them Permanently?

Ants are insects that appear in hundreds at one point. It could be that you left some food lying somewhere on your boat or that the wood from which your boat is made is rotting away; either way, ants may appear, and they are very irritating and annoying to humans. And when they appear on a boat, well, that’s just bad news.

But where do ants come from? Why do they appear all of a sudden? These questions have been ringing in peoples’ minds for some time now. This article will answer your questions by further explaining why ants appear on a boat and is it possible to get rid of them permanently?

How to get rid of ants on a boat permanently:

  1. Find where exactly where they are on your boat
  2. Use insecticide and dust powder
  3. Replace the wood soonest possible
  4. Lay down ant killer liquid patches
  5. Use boric acid
  6. Secure your dock lines
  7. Never store your boat under a tree
  8. Get rid of any food sources
  9. General Boat Cleaning
  10. Clean Food Surface Areas
  11. Wash your dishes and produce clean trash

Why Do Ants Get Onto a Boat?

For an army of ants to appear at a specific place, they have to have been attracted by something. Most of the time, ants are attracted by food that has been left around or uncovered food.

It would be best if you never underestimated how fast ants could appear. Here are some reasons why ants could get on a boat;

Food Particles

Food particles are the most significant trigger to ant invasions. Ants are very smart and one of the most organized among insects. They exist in colonies, and all members have their purposes. They usually have scavenger ants who are sent to check around the area, including your boat, in the attempt of finding food.

If they get any sugar, crumbs, or uncovered food on your boat, they get back to the nest and report their findings to other workers. These workers will come in swarms to pick up food for the rest of the colony. Spilled food from your plate or trash is a huge and common reason why ants could invade your boat.


In some cases, the problem is not even what is around your boat. The issue may be that you have too many ant colonies close to where you store your boat. You may be having too many holes and openings in the area around your boat. These are perfect spots for ants to build their nests and bring up a big colony.

This way, getting to your boat will be very easy for them, and you will get fed up with the frequent infestation. You need to hire someone to go through the property thoroughly and find any existing nearby colonies, get rid of them, and cover the holes they may be entering from.

Dog Food

While it may be hard to control our food, managing animal food continually maybe even harder, it is not only our food that ants love; they are also attracted by a sack of dog food that has been left open for a long time.

Whether it is dog food, cat food, or any other type of pet food, they are prone to an ant invasion. Most of the time, they sit in the same spot every day in the open. That makes them a specific target for the ants.

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Wet Wood

There are types of ants called carpenter ants; they are different from those attracted by food. Carpenter ants love wet wood, which means older boats are a great target. That happens mostly if you have not covered your boat correctly, whereby the wood will eventually start to rot.

When carpenter ants appear on such a boat, they burrow into the wood and try to make a nest in it. Shifting them from your boat once they start this activity, may be very hard. To completely get rid of them, you will have to replace the wood entirely.

How Do Ants Get Onto a Boat?

It’s such a great mystery how ants could get onto something like a boat. You would expect them to either exist naturally in the soil or infest a house but not on a boat. However, the answer is quite simple. As long as there is something attractive to the ants, they will get compelled towards it, and they are in thousands most of the time.

Ants On a Boat: Is It Possible To Get Rid Of Them Permanently?

First and foremost, ants exist naturally in nature, especially when it is warmer. When they invade, they come very quickly and in large numbers. Uncovered foods and sugars will attract ants almost immediately.

They will march down the marine decking, up the piling, up the dock lines, and eventually under the mooring cover. When you get to your boat, you find an army of ants.

How to Get Rid of Ants On a Boat Permanently

Ants could be very annoying, and their presence on a boat may distract you in one way or another. Getting rid of ants on your boat permanently could be such a relief. Below are the ultimate tips which you can use to get rid of an ant infestation on your boat permanently;

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Find Where Exactly Where They Are On Your Boat

First and foremost, you need to know where they are coming from, what they are doing, and what attracted them to your boat. Pest control personnel are very good at this. The ants could be nibbling at some food lying on the floor of your boat.

On the other hand, it would be best for carpenter ants to wait until the sun starts setting; this is when ants go out looking for food. It can be tough to spot them at night. When you see them, you will figure out which part of your boat they are coming from. Nevertheless, you may find that they do not even have a nest on your boat. They could be staying at a soggy deck and are on your boat only to find food.

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Use Insecticide And Dust Powder

After finding the nest, the next step is to eradicate it. Insecticides come in handy as they can kill the hands. A spray may be useful. However, it is not highly recommended to disperse the ants and cause them to build satellite nests all around your boat, which could be very terrible.

You can get a good insecticide powder from Amazon and use it on a large variety of surfaces, including carpets, as they do not stain carpets. It works best when used in nooks and crannies where the ants have probably built their nests. Keep the insecticides away from pets and children; they are dangerous and not to toy with.

Replace The Wood Soonest Possible

This is an excellent solution for boats that have been attacked by carpenter ants. Carpenter ants mostly attack wood that is old, wet, and soggy. Such wood is in great need of replacement. Chances are, the ants have eaten away a larger part of the inside wood, which is the more reason why you should replace your wood. You should now return the wood and ensure to cover it entirely.

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Lay Down Ant Killer Liquid Patches

Ant killer liquid patches are the best in the market for eradicating ants. It comes in a small tube, and you should squeeze it out onto the board patches that come along with it in its package. Lay down the patches near a nest or where you have seen most ants. This sugary mixture will immediately attract the ants, who will take it back to the colony, and in no time, you will have destroyed the colony.

Use this method regularly for about a week, and it will work out correctly for you. Additionally, you could use ant baits, especially if you have small children running around your boat and the liquid patches won’t be convenient. In this case, the bait traps enclose the sticky mixture into small containers that only ants could get into.

Use Boric Acid

Boric acid is excellent at getting rid of insects like ants and roaches that may be on your boat. Although it destroys ants and cockroaches, it is very harmless to human beings. Boric acid is readily accessible online, or in any pharmacy store near you, and on top of that, it is very affordable.

Mix it with a little water and sugar and place it in small bottle tops all around your boat. The sugar will attract the ants, ingest the acid, and eventually get killed in no time.

Secure Your Dock Lines

An easy way that the ants use to get into your boat is by climbing up the dock lines. Luckily, there is a suitable method that you can use to prevent this from happening again. It would be best if you cut an unused rug into small pieces. Then, soak the slices in engine lubrication oil.

Wrap the rag pieces around your dock lines, then clip them firmly into place. This method is suitable for keeping ants away from your boat as they do not like the smell of engine oil. Using this method, you will have kept the ants away by covering up the path they use to get to your boat.

Never Store Your Boat Under a Tree

Trees are also a part of ants’ natural habitat; they love climbing trees. In particular, carpenter ants will burrow through the trees’ wood to build their nest. That is the ideal place for them to live. One significant way to protect your boat from ant infestation is to avoid storing your boat under a tree. Boats come in many different shapes and sizes.

Some boats can be dragged or even carried to your home when not in use. There, it is stored until the next boating season. Wherever you keep it, it should not be under a tree. When held under a tree, the carpenter ants can quickly get access to it, and they may even start building their nests in there. By the time you want to use your boat again, it is as good as dead.

Get Rid Of Any Food Sources

Ants would never be interested in your boat if there were nothing that attracted them to it. Just a small crumb of food or sugary treats could cause thousands of ants to appear on your boat. Ants are tiny insects and can be therefore satisfied by just little bits of food.

The best thing to do is first put away food in airtight containers and ensure that no food is lying around aimlessly on a boat. You should keenly wipe the shelves inside your storage areas and wipe down any food containers you may have to reduce further dampness after washing.

General Boat Cleaning

You should not just be focused on your stored food. Many foods get left behind and get ground into the carpet and find their way to the back of seats and sometimes in working areas. Such is a great attraction for a colony of ants, and they will come by in the quickest time possible. It is recommended that you scrub your seats and carpet clean.

Always ensure to get rid of any moisture on your boat. Prevent dampness around your boat sink at all costs. Find out and seal any gaps, holes, crevices, or cracks on your boats. Finally, it would be best to inspect your shoes, coolers, luggage, cardboard boxes, and incoming bags for any ants.

Clean Food Surface Areas

Even after cleaning up your boat thoroughly, you will find out that you cannot get rid of everything. Surprisingly, even the cleanest looking places have microscopic food particles that you may not see with your eyes.

It is advisable to wipe down any surfaces with food using a few drops of vinegar and a damp cloth. Ants do not like vinegar. Consider surfaces like fridges, trash bins, stoves, tables, and galley working areas. Make sure to get all the nooks and crannies too.

Wash Your Dishes And Produce Clean Trash

It is advisable to develop a habit of washing your dishes after every meal. You should avoid leaving dirty dishes at the sink. Always ensure to wash them up immediately. While throwing stuff into the trash bag, always ensure that they are clean.

Try to rinse the cans and containers a little bit to get rid of any food debris left. As you dispose of food particles, throw them into sealable bags or boxes, making sure they are sealed in tightly. That is better than just throwing them directly into trash bags.


When you apply these tips on your boat, you are guaranteed to enjoy time on your boat without worrying about ant infestation. These methods are cheap and very simple, yet they produce the best results. Ants On a Boat: Is It Possible To Get Rid Of Them Permanently? Getting rid of ants on your boat is not that hard after all.


Hi, I’m John who owns multiple different boats and i love all kinds of water activities. From boating to fishing, from scuba diving to windsurfing, from water tubing to snow tubing.

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