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What are some ways to describe the situation when ants crawl on food? Is using 'get ants' OK?

Don't leave the cookies out on the counter. They're gonna get ants.

I think 'attract' works here but it's rather weird to be used in everyday conversations. What are some other ways to say that?

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    Perhaps next to "gonna" the word "attract" seems a bit highbrow, but "attract" is in everyday use. Are you asking for slang? – Weather Vane Aug 29 '17 at 20:00
  • @Weather Vane yea i kind of figured that wouldn't go nicely here, so i was looking for something that people casually say not necessarily slang. I got good answers down there, Thank you all +1 – Yuri Aug 30 '17 at 21:53
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IMO, the two most fluent ways of expressing this are:

Don't leave the cookies out on the counter; they'll be crawling with ants.

and,

Don't leave the cookies out on the counter; they'll attract ants.


Also, you could say:

Don't leave the cookies out on the counter; they'll be/get infested with ants.

and,

Don't leave the cookies out on the counter; they'll draw ants.


All four of these are acceptable, though, as initially stated, the first two sound best to me.

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    I can understand the adjective formed from the past participle, "covered with ants". But how does the present participle, "crawling with ants", work? How can the cookie be crawling? Don't the ants do the crawling? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 30 '17 at 11:57
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Ha, yes, the ants do the crawling. Check out this page for an overview of instances when past participles are used as an adjective. It says, "When -ing forms are used like adjectives or adverbs, they have similar meanings to active verbs." – user30379 Aug 30 '17 at 12:12
  • +1 - I agree that "crawling" with ants is a very natural and common way to say this. The answer would be even better if you explained why the construct works - as @Tᴚoɯɐuo notes, it is non-intuitive. – Adam Aug 31 '17 at 19:47
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Your house can "get ants" when you leave cookie crumbs on the counter. Bits of food can "draw ants" or "bring ants" or as Weather Vane says in the comment, "attract ants".

Here's a playful twist on the phrase:

A softball swing so sweet it brought ants...

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