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Duct Tape | Can Ants Eat Through It?

Ants are small but certainly mighty creatures—which isn’t good news for homeowners. Not only are they a nuisance (they are enemy number one to anyone who has pet food in the house), but they can also cause damage to your property!

One method that I have heard of to keep them out is to use duct tape over the cracks and gaps through which they gain entry into the house. But these suckers can chew through wood. Is duct tape really going to withstand the ants’ mandibles?



Ants can chew through duct tape. Although the adhesive on duct tape may temporarily deter ants, they will chew through it if there is sufficient motivation. As the adhesiveness of duct tape reduces over time, ants are more likely to find a way through it.

Ants Are Capable of Chewing Through Duct Tape

Ants are incredibly strong pests. They may be small, but their mandibles are able to generate forces exceeding 300 times their body weight. Because they are so small, this only equates to about 0.035 oz. (1.5 g) of force.

By comparison, humans can create a maximum of about 275 lbs (125 kg) of force through their jaw, or 1-2 times their body weight.

The difference is that our teeth are not nearly sturdy enough to use this force effectively. Ants, on the other hand, will happily chew through things that would leave us needing a full set of dentures.

Ants are known to chew through materials such as:

  • Wood
  • Cotton and other fabrics
  • Concrete
  • Plastic
  • Silicone
  • Electrical wiring
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
Ants on floor tiles

So, you can be sure that these little insects are capable of eating their way through duct tape as well.

Duct tape is made from a plastic called polythene, a layer of cloth for added durability, and a layer of rubber-based adhesive.

Ants are able to chew through all of these materials when provided with sufficient motivation—like that bowl of cat food you have just put down or the sweet pie you are leaving to cool in the window.

Will Ants Eat Through Duct Tape?

We’ve stated that ants can eat through duct tape, but will they? Or would they rather find an easier way to their desired destination?

If there’s a path of lesser resistance to where the ants are trying to go, they will most likely leave the tape be. You can imagine from the smell of duct tape that it also doesn’t taste very pleasant.

It takes time and effort for ants to chew through layers of plastic, cloth, and adhesive. Ants may first find gaps between the layer of duct tape and the surface it is attached to before choosing to chew through it.

That being said, ants will chew through duct tape if presented with a strong enough motivator. Prime motivators for ants include food (especially sweets) and nesting habitats (such as warm crevices in your home.)

Stickiness of Tape Might Be Biggest Deterrent

Duct tape is made of materials that ants can chew through, so the physical barrier it creates is not the biggest deterrent. Instead, the adhesive on duct tape may prevent ants from getting past it.

Ants may be put off from chewing through the adhesive substance on duct tape because they do not want to stick to the tape.

Some individuals even recommend using the sticky side of the tape to temporarily deter ants, as they will stick to the tape and be prevented from moving farther into your home (you lay it down sticky side up).

Man using duct tape to get the ants on the floor

However, if the tape is being used outside, the adhesive won’t keep ants away for long. Temperature fluctuations and moisture cause the adhesive on duct tape to rapidly lose its stickiness.

Even indoors, duct tape will eventually become less adhesive and more susceptible to ant infiltrations.

Duct tape may temporarily prevent large amounts of ants from entering unwanted spaces, but it is not a permanent solution.

Sources

https://newsarchive.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/08/21_ant.shtml#:~:text=They%20found%20that%20the%20jaws,times%20the%20insect’s%20body%20weight.

https://schoolofbugs.com/what-can-ants-bite-and-chew-through/

https://www.scoutpestcontrol.com/damage-that-ants-can-cause-to-your-home/#:~:text=They%20are%20capable%20of%20causing,eat%20through%20your%20kitchen%20cabinets.

 https://stationsquaredental.com.

au/news/the-power-of-the-jaw-the-human-jaw-is-stronger-than-you-might-think/#:~:text=Did%20you%20know%20that%20the,bearing%20most%20of%20the%20stress.

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