It’s 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning. After coffee and breakfast, you head outside to your hot tub for a relaxing mid-morning soak. But as you lift the cover, you find the edges of your spa swarming with ants! What are you going to do?
Unfortunately, outdoor hot tubs act as nice warm environments, making them susceptible to certain kinds of pests. One of the peskiest types of critter that can invade your hot tub is ants—not least because they're small enough to get right under (or even inside) the cover.
Even though most ants aren't dangerous, they sure can be pesky. If you have ants under your hot tub cover, the good news is you don't need to worry: there are a few simple steps you can take to remove the immediate problem, as well as prevent them from coming back.
- Why ants like to nest under your hot tub cover
- How to deal with an ant infestation under your hot tub cover instantly
- How to stop ants nesting under your hot tub cover in the long term
Why ants like to nest under your hot tub cover
Most often, ants love areas like the underside of hot tub covers because they are dark, warm and moist. It can seem like the perfect environment for ants to build their home.
If your spa has any wood parts, carpenter ants could also be attracted to your hot tub. Carpenter ants like to live around decayed and damp wood, which can make hot tubs with wood cabinets or supports a very attractive location for these pesky critters.
In addition to the overall warm, moist environment of hot tubs, any leftover food and drinks will attract ants as well. If you snack or drink in and around your hot tub, be sure to clean up any spills, debris or crumbs to avoid attracting unwanted guests.
How to deal with an ant infestation under your hot tub cover instantly
If you go to use your hot tub and discover an ant infestation, you likely want a quick solution so you can go ahead with your soak—without having to empty the whole spa.
Here's how to deal with an ant problem without having to drain and refill your hot tub:
Wipe ants and any white eggs away with a damp cloth
As well as swarming ants, you may also see piles of white material which could be their eggs. Here's an effective method I've used in the past to get rid of this instantly:
- Make a diluted bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
- Wipe the ants and any white eggs away with the damp cloth, as well as any trails of ants leading to/from the area.
Note: It's important to use bleach and not another cleaning product. Hot tubs are usually sanitized with bromine or chlorine, and other cleaning products might not be safe to use with these hot tub sanitation chemicals, but bleach interacts fine with either.
The bleach solution will kill the ants, remove the eggs, and remove the scent trails, hindering the ants from finding their way back to the same spot.
Be sure to wipe off the surrounding areas too, like the hot tub cover, as well as the wider surface around the hot tub—even if you don't see ants there right now.
Use a pool skimmer to remove any ants from the water
If ants have been nesting underneath your hot tub cover, a few soldiers are likely to have fallen into the water. Use a hand skimmer like this one from Amazon to remove any ants from the water.
These ants will likely already be dead as they can't swim, but you don't want to be sharing your spa with ants either way.
Change your hot tub filter
You'll want to replace your hot tub filter at this point. Dead ants will likely be in the filter after falling into the water, so switch out the filter (or at least give this one a rinse) to remove any dead ants so they can't float back out and into the tub.
Check inside the cover for more ants
Finally, check the inside of your hot tub cover, too. Chances are, there will be at least one or two stragglers there, but you might find more. The easiest way to remove them is to spray the cover down with your hose and wipe it over with your diluted bleach solution.
As you are cleaning the cover, check for signs of wear like broken or ripped parts. Overly worn hot tub covers might not create a proper seal around the top of the spa, leaving holes where ants could come in. So patch up any gaps if you can, or consider replacing the cover if needed.
How to stop ants nesting under your hot tub cover in the long term
Once you get rid of the ants currently under your hot tub cover, you'll also want to prevent more from coming back. The fact they were able to get into your hot tub once tells you that they can do it again!
Here are some ways to stop ants from nesting under your hot tub cover in the long term:
Use ant bait stations
Place ant bait stations (I've had success with this TERRO one) around your hot tub, and inside the cabinet.
The bait both attracts the ants and kills them. How it works is that the ants are first drawn to the bait, which they then carry back to their colony as food. When they consume it (and also feed it to the queen) it will kill them.
That's why bait stations are the most effective long-term solution—they will not just kill the visible ants, but actually eliminate the colony, therefore preventing the ants from coming back.
Clean up any food/drink that could attract ants
If you suspect some residual food or drink could have attracted the ants, it's time to be a little more diligent in cleaning up after yourself.
While snacking and drinking in your spa is fine, be sure to wipe down any spills as soon as they happen, and do not leave traces of food, no matter how small, around your hot tub.
Call a local pest control company
If you tried the previous tips and are still having issues with ant infestations, it's time to get the professionals in. They will be able to get rid of the problem once and for all, and advise on what's causing the ants to keep coming back in your particular case.
This should be your last resort, however. In most cases, it's possible to deal with an ant problem on your own, so you should be able to avoid the expense of calling in pest control.
Should you use insecticide sprays on ants?
Insecticide sprays can give you instant relief from an ant infestation, but they are not a great long-term solution.
Why? The spray only kills the ants in the immediate area; it does not actually kill the colony. Because of this, you're more likely to get ants coming back. Bait stations are a better long-term solution.
What's more, if the ants are actually under your hot tub cover, you risk getting insecticide in the water and on the surfaces of the tub that you touch. If you do this, you should not use the spa again without draining and refilling, as these substances could be toxic.
Are ants under a hot tub cover dangerous?
Ants are generally not harmful to humans. However, if an infestation is left untreated, they can damage certain parts of your hot tub like wood or insulation.
Carpenter ants are especially likely to damage your tub since they can make a damp or rotting wood problem worse. If you suspect a carpenter ant infestation, deal with it quickly so you don't have to pay for costly hot tub repairs down the line.