We have ants in the house. Most of them are in the kitchen and love the garbage can. Do ants come when the kitchen isn't clinically clean or are there some other causes?
The way ants work is this:
All ants have jobs to do. The job may entail excavating a new chamber in the nest, or feeding the queen(s), taking care of the younger ants (larvae), etc. Depending on the species, the ants that make up the oldest 5 to 10 per cent of the colony are charged with the responsibility of finding resources (food, water,etc.)- these are the ants you typically find wandering about.
They hunt for resources 24 hours a day, everyday. As soon as one of these "explorer" ant finds something of value, it carries it back to the nest - dragging its abdomen on the ground and leaving a pheromone trail from where the resource was - all the way back to the nest. Once back at the nest, it recruit its sister ants - and they head out along that pheromone trail back to where the original find was located. If there is more of the resource there, they will bring it back to the nest, reinforcing the pheromone trail as they do it. If the resource is exhausted, then other "explorers" will "fan out" from that location - looking for other resources.
So Andrew, the answer is: the cleaner your kitchen is, the less potential resources exist for explorer ants to find. If they don't find anything, they'll look elsewhere. If they find something, they'll look for more.
The best way to get rid of ants is to eliminate as many resources as possible, and then put out slow-acting poison baits for them to find. Once they find the bait, they'll take it back to the nest, eventually it will be fed to the queen(s) - and the ant problem will go away.
Hope this helps,