Ants are one of the most prevalent pests found in our homes. They are primarily nuisance. Though they cause little damage and are not disease carrier, ants are unwelcome. Nobody wants ants in the home. Here are some helpful ideas to help you clean up this antsy situation.
- Ants’ habits: Ants live in colonies in soil; nest sites vary with species but are often found next to buildings, along sidewalks, any protected places, and close to trees or shrubs that harbor some ants’ food source such as the honey-dew producing insects. The ants you see foraging in your home are worker ants. Workers find food and communicate with other worker ants by depositing a chemical message on the trails as they traveling back to the nest. The scent trails are active for long periods of time and help other worker ants find food at the end of the trails; wiping the trails with soapy water will remove the ant’s communication channel.
- Ant Prevention: 1. Remove food source. Wiping counters and food preparation areas regularly with mild soapy water; get rid of food crumbs; leave no dirty dishes in the sink; keep foods in tightly sealed containers. 2. Seal entry points. Caulk cracks and crevices in the house foundation and anywhere ants can gain entry to your home from the outside.
- Monitoring and Inspection: Look for large trails or for a few foragers. Worker ants are scouts randomly searching for food or nesting sites. When you spot ant trails, try to follow the ants to where they are entering the building and to the nest if possible. Hire a professional pest control company to seal entry points with caulking products contain silica aerogel for long-term control combined with pyrethrins for immediate effects.
- Emergency Invasion: Ants invade the home to forage for food and seek shelter or both. Here are what to do: 1. determine what the ants are attracted to and remove the source. 2. Vacuum the trail, wipe the trail with soapy water or spray with window cleaner. 3. Locate the entry points and caulk the openings or plug the cracks with petroleum jelly. 4. Put out bait stations at entry points.
- Controlling ants with Baits: One step toward eliminating infestation is to locate and treat nest sites with baits. Baits are active insecticides mixed with food or materials such as carbohydrates, protein, or oil, or some combination of these that attract worker ants looking for food. Space the baits every 10 to 20 feet outside around the foundation and at the nest openings. Once the worker ants are attracted to the bait and recruit other workers to it, worker ants will carry small portions of the bait back to the nest where it is fed to others. These eventually kill the entire colony. To be effective, the bait products must be slow-acting so that worker ants have time to make their way back to the nest and feed the other members of the colony before they are killed. Avoid products packaged as granules that contain the active ingredients cyfluthrin, permenthrin, or propoxur; these toxicants are actually contact insecticides that rapidly kill worker ants and do not control the colony. Effectiveness of the baits will vary with ant species, bait materials, and availability of alternative food. Different attractants are more effective against different species of ants at different times of the year. Treatment made in late winter and early spring when ant populations are beginning to grow will be more effective. Bait products are constantly being improved. Look for new active ingredients and improvements to current products.
Be vigilant and keep an eye out for straggler ants. If your home is already infested, don’t waste time; consult a pest control service. A Professional pest control company will have access to useful treatments that are not readily available to general consumer. They still have to use the long-term approach and make several visits to obtain favorable results. Once the obvious ant problems are under control, continued service is often necessary to keep the pesky re-invasion at bay.