All About Ants
Ants are everywhere, and are the most successful insects. There may be 20,000 different kinds (species) of ants worldwide. From the southern tip of Africa up to the Arctic Circle and around the world, ants adapt to almost any environment, and often become the dominant life form in an area. A scientist working in the Amazon once found 43 different species of ants on a single tree! Ants typically make up from 10 to 15 percent of the weight of all animals in a study area.
All ants are social insects, which mean that they are part of a large colony containing workers and at least one queen. Colonies of some ant species include hundreds of egg-laying queens cooperating in many different nest sites. Some ant colonies are small with only dozens or hundreds of workers. Other colonies or “super-colonies” can include millions of worker ants.
Ant workers tend the nest and hunt for food to feed to the queens, the young, and others in the nest. Under certain conditions, winged “swarmers” (kings and queens) will emerge from the nest. Their purpose is to fly off, mate, and establish new colonies. Some ants can start a new colony by simply dividing the original colony and moving to a new location.
Ants as Pests
Most ants are beneficial to the environment. Only a tiny proportion are pests. Yet, ants have become the number one pest of homes and other buildings. Primarily, they are annoying, feeding in our kitchens and trailing through our living space. But they can be more than a simple nuisance. In some parts of the country, carpenter ants outrank termites as wood destroyers. Food contamination occurs when ants crawl over dead animals or sewage and then crawl over food. Tiny pharaoh ants can spread germs by getting into wounds, sterile dressings, and IV tubes. Some ants bite, and some sting when handled. Fire ants, which sometimes nest indoors, have a very painful sting which can produce an allergic reaction in some people.
How to Reduce Ant Problems
Ant problems are best solved by a professional. Our pest control expert will identify the type of ant pest, inspect for ant trails and nest sites, and recommend a control method or methods suited to your particular situation. But there are also many things you can do to reduce ant problems in and around your home or business:
- Caulk and seal cracks around the foundation, and around windows and doors.
- Remove or treat plants that are infested with aphids, whiteflies, scale insects, or other insects that produce honeydew, which attracts ants.
- Trim tree branches that are touching outside walls or the roof.
- Store firewood away from the house, and only bring in wood that will be used right away.
- Remove stumps, dead trees, woodpiles, and debris piles from areas near the house.
- Replace water-damaged or decayed wood in and around your home. Only treated wood should be placed in direct contact with the soil.
- Store food in containers with tight-fitting lids or in the refrigerator.
- Wipe up food spills and crumbs as soon as possible, and don't leave dirty dishes in sinks or on counters. Sweep or vacuum floors regularly.
- Empty garbage cans frequently and look for leaks under the liner.
- Don't leave pet food or water sitting out for long periods.
- Repair plumbing leaks and drips and reduce condensation since ants are attracted to moisture.
Help the Ant Baits Work...
- Don't squash any of the foraging ants or block their path to and from the bait. Remember, you want them to carry the bait back to the colony.
- Don't use any ant sprays or other pesticides around the baited area. Ants will avoid surfaces where chemicals have been sprayed and spraying may even cause ants to divide their colony into several smaller colonies.
- Try to clean up and remove any other foods that the ants are feeding on. It's important that the ants find and accept the bait. If they already have an available food source, they may not forage as much looking for other food.
- Don't use any strong cleaning products around the baited area. These smells will interfere with the chemical trails left by the ants that help other worker ants find the bait.
- Don't move the bait placements. The technician has placed them in the best locations based on the feeding habits of the ants.
It is important to remember not to expect immediate results. The goal is we don't want to kill the ants right away. We want them to feed on the bait, carry it back to the colony, and share it with other ants, so that the entire colony is eliminated.
Calling a local professional pest control company will always be your most effective and convenient solution when it comes to ant control at your home or business. For service you can rely on, give us a call at (561) 791-2400.