Ants are arguably the most prolific insect that invades and infests homes. Hundreds to thousands of ant colonies, each containing thousands of ants, can be found in nearly every lawn. Many ant colonies can be found within 2-3 feet of the home itself.
Ants are small social insects that live in colonies and work together for the good of the ant colony. These colonies can be difficult pest to eliminate because they are hidden inside walls, floors, roofs, trees or soil outside, which means that every ant you see represents hundreds of other ants living and working out of sight. Killing only the “In-Your-Face” ants – the ones that are visible will serve only as temporary relief, and will do little to help resolve the total problem. Our goal is to identify where and why you have this problem, and eliminate the problem based on that knowledge… Safely… and provide a long term solution, and peace of mind.
There are many issues that need to be considered before treating for ants.
- Proper species identification
- Is your ant problem an ‘occasional invader’ from outside, or a colony that is located inside the structure, or both?
- Does the species of ant require a specific control choice?
- Are there special circumstances, such as children or pets, which could impact control strategy choices?
- Can the nesting site(s) be identified?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why did they invade MY house?
Most infestations occur because of an attraction to food or water in or near the home. Sometimes they stay inside (i.e. infest) because they have found desirable harborage, near food or water. Example: Carpenter ants might be found living in the soft wood of a roof 50 to 80 feet from a gutter full of water soaked leaves.
What can I do to prevent an infestation from occurring... or reoccurring?
Make your home undesirable to ants, etc. by eliminating water, food and harborage near the home.
- Eliminating reliable/dependable water sources such as… leaf buildup on roofs, in gutters, around foundations, also fix leaky outside faucets.
- Reduce the amount of thick moist mulch near the home.
- Trim bushes and trees that touch or overhang.
- Eliminate harborage areas like nearby woodpiles, rotting landscape timbers, and the like.
All of the above advice is good for most pest types, not just ants.
What if I already have an infestation?
Elimination of food, water, and harborage is not only important… It is essential to eliminating and preventing a re-infestation once control of the problem has been achieved. Having said that… Ants have legs! And can travel to find food or water, so the likelihood of achieving pest control (of any type of pest) by just eliminating food and water is virtually impossible.
That is why the infestation must be exterminated at the same time that food and water are being eliminated. Think of the elimination of food and water as the knockout punch, after most of the pests have been destroyed or weakened by the other pest control strategies.
The elimination of food, water, and harborage is often called “sanitation”, however I avoid that term because most people relate the word sanitation directly to cleanliness. A home does not get ants because it is not clean enough, and you cannot get rid of a pest problem by cleaning alone… no matter how hard you clean.
But, removal of food, water and harborage helps a lot.
What else can I do (myself), for MY type of ant problem?
Most of the advice above and below is true to some degree for all ant species, so it’s best to read it in its entirety.
Different Types of Ants
This list is in order of most common to least common types of ants you will see on your property.
Odorous House Ants
They smell like rotting coconut when crushed. DON’T SPRAY!… Bait. This pest has a reputation for being the most difficult ant to control. Spraying often causes the colony(ies) to “bud” (i.e. subdivide into several colonies) making the problem much worse.
Often found near entrances or coming up from under slab foundations, these colonies are usually unreachable with sprays, because they are many feet away outside or under the floor. Spraying will only contaminate your living environment, and will, at best, only dissuade the ants for awhile. So again,.. DON’T SPRAY!… Bait. By the way… don’t be surprised if ants don’t take the bait (typically sugary), because the colony has differing nutritional needs, so they must be “picky” to survive. Example: Larvae need protein to grow, not sugar, so sugary baits may not always attract them.
Little Black Ants
Very tiny, jet black. Same advice as above.
So… Baiting must be the “Silver Bullet”…. Right?
You should not think of baiting as the “end all” or “silver bullet” to control of any ant species, because it most assuredly is not. Baiting should be thought of a short term population reduction strategy, instead of a total colony elimination strategy. In fact, baiting alone, (i.e. without a total colony elimination strategy, AND habitat modification to prevent reinfestation), usually results in only short term success.
It is, however, usually effective in delivering much needed RELIEF, and a feeling of control, as it’s something you can do right away, until you can get help from a Home Environmental Specialist in understanding how to eliminate the total problem, and keep it from reoccurring.
Ants don’t grow up, but you will see CAs in different sizes from 1/4”-1” in length, with or without wings, because they have different jobs with their colony. A typical CA problem involves 2-10 total colonies. You should think of a CA problem as a WAR that you are fighting on several fronts, because you have multiple colonies outside, and probably have multiple colonies inside as well.
(In some pest control manuals, the military term ‘bivouac area’ is used to describe how hundreds of CAs without a queen will temporarily occupy a location inside a home, similar to the way military soldiers without a leader will occupy a location away from their main base.)
It is important that you know that Cas require large amounts of liquid water, and that if you see them you DO have some type of standing water problem, somewhere inside or very close to your home, that may be damaging your home in addition to the CAs … And that is the primary reason you have this problem. If you find water spots on drywall or elsewhere, or you know that windows leak, or that a bathtub or etc. leaks, then you have probably found one of the several colonies that must be dealt with.
THIS IS A WOOD DESTROYING ANT (think Termite). Termites and Carpenter Ants both cause $ Billions in roof damage per year in the USA alone, and a CA colony can do significant damage in a short period of time.
ADVICE for Carpenter Ant elimination: Accept only a CERTIFIED Professional.It requires significant knowledge and experience to understand and totally eliminate a CA problem, therefore I do not recommend that you try to work on this problem without the help of a Certified pest professional. Also, I should mention that attempts to resolve this problem alone, (i.e. before calling a certified pest control professional), usually make the problem more difficult resolve, (because these attempts drive the CAs away from the discovered location and deeper into the structure to many unknown locations, or if you bait you may kill the ants discovered before they can be used to carry more potent products to the nest).
So… If you are lucky enough to identify where even one colony is, DON’T TREAT WITH ANYTHING, not even baits. Call a professional, who will use that one location to very great advantage in winning the war, instead of winning a battle with just a few hundred ants.