They’re bothersome, tireless and efficient, and once they’ve invaded your home, they’re a real pain to get rid of: no, we’re not talking about your in-laws, we’re talking about ants.

You thought you kept your house clean enough to avoid them, but you suddenly discover them crawling up walls and scurrying across your counters. So what happened? How did you allow these persistent little pests to enter your home? Here are four possible reasons you are facing an ant infestation in your home:

You’re not properly storing food

Like most pests, ants are constantly in search of food. If you are leaving food out in the open, all it takes is one ant to come across it. That lone ant will then signal the rest of the colony, and you’ll soon have ants forming up a buffet line. Make sure that food is stored properly in airtight containers and kept in the refrigerator or cabinets.

Also, keep food in the kitchen and dining areas only. If you take a sandwich back with you to your room, it’s easy to leave crumbs lying around – that’s basically an invite to ants to be your new roommates.

You don’t keep the kitchen clean

How clean is your kitchen, really? Do you mop regularly? Wipe down the counters? It doesn’t take much for ants to get the scent of food, so be sure to wipe down counters and table tops daily. Also, don’t allow dirty dishes to pile up in the sink.

There are plants too close to the house

Do you have plants or bushes on your property that are right up against the exterior walls of your house? Believe it or not, that can lead to ant infestations. Ants look to plant life to provide shelter and food, and if a plant is close to your house, it can  provide the perfect bridge int1234o your home. Make sure there is space between your exterior walls and any plants, because many pests (not just ants) are happy to use them to enter your house.

You haven’t completely sealed your home

Ants are tiny – they don’t need a lot of space to sneak in. You should check doors and windows to make sure they are properly sealed when closed. If they aren’t, use caulking to fill the gaps. Also, check walls for cracks or gaps, especially near the floor. Any possible entryway needs to be closed up to prevent ants from getting in.