Bug Archives: Ants

Ants in Your Home

There are more than 700 species of ants in the United States. Some of the most common include argentine, carpenter, odorous house, pavement and red imported fire ants.

All ants are social insects that live in colonies. Ants are identified by their three distinct body regions: head, thorax, and abdomen. To understand the differences in the biology and habits of each specific ant species is necessary to effectively control an infestation.

Where are you going to find ants?Ant-ad

Well, it depends on the species of ant, but they are most commonly attracted to the food in a kitchen. Sweets and protein-containing substances are the most likely attractions for them. Ants are most often found on floors, countertops and sometimes in food items. Some types of ants nest in the soil in your yard or in cracks in your driveway or walkway. Carpenter ants build nests in wood. In the spring and summer, ants are typically found indoors when they are looking for food.

Ants are the number one nuisance pests in the United States. This means that most do not pose a significant threat to anyone’s health or your property. They are just a big annoyance when found in your home.

However, there are some species of ants that can pose a threat to your health and property. Carpenter Ants looking to build their nests in the wood frame of your home can cause some extensive damage to the house. Fire ants can pose a health threat for anyone who happens to get stung by one. When a fire ant feels they are in danger, they will sting and this sting will result in a painful welt, which could be harmful to someone who may be allergic. Both of these types of ants should be treated and handled by a professional.

Small infestations can grow quickly, so any sign of an infestation should be dealt with promptly.

Homeowner Tips

There are many ways to control ants. However, there are just as many species of ants! All ants eat different things. This makes it virtually impossible to use a single remedy to control ants. The best strategy homeowners can use when attempting to control ants inside your home is to keep everything clean. Wipe down counters, remove garbage on a regular basis, clean up grease (or any) spills right away, rinse and remove empty soda cans and mop/sweep the floors. Keeping food in sealed containers and keep pet food/water dishes clean is also a good idea. For outside the home, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water such as birdbaths or kiddie pools. Finally, seal cracks and holes around the home to close entry points.

The Ants are Coming!

Are ants coming into your home now that it is warming up outside?  You see one, kill it and only to return a few minutes later and there are two more.  This could go on for hours, and it has for some people.

Most common ants live outside in the ground, in nests or ant hills. Several hills and nests can make up one colony. The queen ant (which can live up to 30 years) is responsible for making new ants. In the spring as things start to Ant-adwarm up, ant colonies send out scouts to find food and fuel. These scouting ants leave a scent trail so they can find their way home and so other ants can follow.

While ants may be attracted to the food inside your home, they don’t usually nest indoors. Ants are tiny little creatures and very usually pretty smart, so there isn’t much hope of keeping them out of your house. Try not to give them a reason to come inside in the first place. Clean up all spills, keep food in the kitchen, don’t carry it around your house.  Keep counter tops clean.  However, even in the cleanest of homes, ants will find their way inside looking for food.

Once you find one ant, there will be more.  They never travel alone.  Killing an ant will send out a scent to call for other ants.

When you find an ant in your home, you can:

  • Kill the ant and remove the carcass.
  • Clean the area around the ant with a strong soap or window cleaner to remove the scent.
  • Try to determine what the ant was after.
  • Look for others because there’s never just one.
  • Find the entry point from where they entered.
  • Fill any cracks, patch any holes and then apply bait or ant powder near the entry point.

Ants will continue to show up for some time. Keep cleaning the area around any dead ants, clean the trails and the entry points. Most ‘ant killers’ are made up of an attractant and an ant poison. The ant is attracted to the poison and carries it back to the nest where many ants will be killed. You will never be able to kill all the ant, but you can keep them out of your house.


Ants in the Winter

This winter has been rather chilly. Especially in the Northeast.  If you live in a climate where the temperatures get cold during the winter, you may have some extra guests during these cold months.  Left alone to populate your home, ants may start in one room and end up all over the house. Getting rid of house ants in the winter requires you to drive them away, then keep them from returning.

Here is a home remedy to help get rid of ants during the winter.  You will need:Ant-ad

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean cloths
  • Shallow cake pans
  • Cinnamon

Mix 2 cups of vinegar with half a bucket of warm water. Pour some of your vinegar solution into a spray bottle.
Soak a clean cloth in the diluted vinegar solution, then squeeze out the excess. Use the vinegar-dampened cloth to wipe down kitchen countertops, the inside and outside of kitchen cabinets and the exterior of your kitchen appliances. If ants have been spotted in any other rooms of the house, wipe down hard-surfaced and non-upholstered furniture in the infested rooms, as well as hardwood or tile floors, with the vinegar solution to repel ants.

Mop your floor with the remaining vinegar solution. Vinegar’s smell dissipates as soon as the vinegar dries.
Spray ants seen in your home with the vinegar spray in the bottle. Keep the spray bottle handy in the kitchen or other areas where ants are prevalent.

Place pet food bowls inside shallow cake pans. Fill the cake pans halfway with water. This creates a protective moat that drowns ants as they attempt to get to your dog or cat’s food.
Sprinkle cinnamon along the back of your countertops to repel ants from trying to get to the sugar bowl or other food items. The cinnamon repels the ants, while giving your kitchen a pleasant fragrance.

This is just a simple remedy you can try.  However, it doesn’t always solve the problem.  Call A1 Exterminators at 1-800-525-4825 to resolve your pest management problem!

8 Interesting Facts About Ants

There’s more to these common pest than you might think.

Ants are very common almost anywhere you live, but certain species of ants  are truly unique and can provide  insight on a range of topics from social behavior to traffic patterns. Check out some of our interesting ant facts below:

 1. Colonies are bigger than the average ant farm.
Ant colonies come in literally all shapes and sizes. A few species live in colonies of only a few dozen ants; however, the average ant colony contains thousands of individual ants. Smaller colonies live in natural crevices or openings while larger colonies create vast nests and forage for supplies and food. There are also super colonies around the world that can contain more than 300 million individuals. These super colonies have been identified in Japan, Australia, the United States, and southern Europe.

 2. They have specific jobs.
Ants are very social insects, and they divide jobs among different types of ants in each colony. The queen or queens have only one job – to lay eggs. All other female ants are workers; they feed the larvae, take out the colony’s trash, forage for food and supplies, or defend the nest. Male ants’ only job is to mate with the queen.

 3. They don’t have ears.carpenter_ant
Instead of hearing through auditory canals, ants “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground. Special sensors on their feet and on their knees help ants interpret signals from their surroundings. They also use their antennae and the hairs on their body to feel around while foraging for food.

 4. One species is exclusively female.
Researchers have yet to find a male of the species M. smithii. The queen ant reproduces asexually, so all offspring are clones of the queen. This species is found in several countries of Central America and most countries of South America.

 5. They can become zombies.
There is a species of fungus that infects ants and takes control of their bodies. The fungus finds its way underneath the ant’s exoskeleton and begins to consume soft tissue. Shortly after, by unknown mechanisms, it causes the ant to leave its colony. The ant then finds a leaf, bites it with a “death grip,” and dies. A few days later, the fungus releases spores to infect more ants. Some ant species have learned to recognize infected colony mates and will carry them far away to protect the rest of the colony.

 6. They can lift 10-50 times their body weight.
Because ants are so small, their muscles are thicker relative to their body mass than in larger animals. This allows ants to carry objects much heavier and bigger than them. To put it into perspective, if humans could lift 10 times their weight, a 200-pound man could lift a small car above his head.

 7. Some are homeless.
Not all ant species build nests. A group of about 200 species known as army ants have two phases of their life: nomad and stationary. During the colony’s nomad phase, the ants travel all day, attacking other colonies and insects they encounter for food. At night, they build a temporary nest and keep moving the next morning. The only time they stop traveling is during the stationary phase when the queen lays eggs and the colony waits for them to hatch. During this time, the worker ants make a nest out of their own bodies to protect the queen, the food, and the eggs.

 8. They are found (almost) everywhere on Earth.
Ants are found on every continent on Earth except Antarctica. A few islands such as Greenland do not have any native ant species, but individual ants have been brought in through human travel. The vast distribution of ants is rivaled only by that of humans. Very impressive for such little guys!

 Although ants may have some fascinating features, ant control and management around the home are important for health and safety reasons. If you suspect an ant infestation, contact A1 Exterminators for a consultation.

Article Source: http://www.pestworld.org/news-and-views/pest-articles/articles/8-interesting-facts-about-ants/

Homemade Ant Repellant

carpenter antWith the warm weather come the ants, out looking for food and water. Here is an easy homemade repellent to keep them out of your home:

Pour equal amounts of water and white vinegar into a spray bottle, and shake to mix. Spray the solution in areas where ants are common. Use it on kitchen floors, around baseboards and along the doors to the outside. You can also use this solution outside and spray down patios, porches and picnic tables.

A1 Exterminators can help with your ant control problems! Call A1 at 800-525-4825 for all your pest control needs.