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HOW TO GET RID OF ANTS IN YOUR HOME
Stop the stream of ants; call hawx pest control
What are ants?
There’s a strong chance you can probably easily identify ants just by looking at them. These tremendously commonplace insects are one of the most common and consistent parts of life. Ants are everywhere, and experts estimate there are literally quadrillions of the bugs on earth. Ants have a few common, defining features, including a three-segmented body, six legs, bent antennae, and a tendency to live in colonies. However, there are some key differences, including physical appearance, food preferences, behavior, and more. Likewise, some types of ants are more dangerous and aggressive than others, presenting a bigger and more urgent issue for your property.
What do ants typically look like?
Ranging between 1 to 30 mm, there is a tangible size difference between ant species. However, some common visual attributes of most species of ants include:
- bent antennae
- a defined “waist” in between their abdomen and thorax and 3 body parts
- chewing mouthparts
Most ants are brown or black, but they can also be yellow or red. The color isn’t always helpful for identifying the species, but it’s a good starting point. Keep reading to learn more about specific ant species, where they live, and which ones may be found inside your home.
Common ant behaviors
The habits and tendencies of ants can vary, but some common actions amongst most species are listed below.
- They consider themselves to be part of a whole and often manage tasks as a group
- Ants leave pheromones on surfaces and food that they touch, which is a signal to other ants that an object in question is safe
- They pile food or other items together to build nests or other organized structures
- They don’t like to live in super icy climates like Antarctica, Greenland, and Iceland. Otherwise, you can find ants literally anywhere else in the world.
- They usually eat sugary substances as well as plant sap and other small insects
- They carry whatever food they find back to their nests and can carry food or other objects that are over 10 times their weight
Given that ants view themselves as part of a collective whole, the best treatment options for these insects are often informed by this component of their psychology.
Types of ants
There are over 12,000 species of ants in the world. Although they have some things in common that we highlighted above, the species can differ from one another too. Some of the most common species of ants are described below.
Little black ants
As you may have guessed from their name, these ants are small in size (1.5 to 2mm) and typically black in color (some can be dark brown). They can be found throughout the U.S., but mainly on the coasts, and are most active from June to August. They build nests in wooded areas, under logs or rocks, or in rotting wood or wall voids inside or outside of your home.
Little black ants have stingers, but they are too small to cause any real harm to people. They eat common ant foods like grease, oil, meats, fruits, other insects, and plant nectar. It’s hard to control a colony once it’s been established, so prevention is key when it comes to keeping these types of small ants out of your home. Seal cracks and crevices in walls, keep firewood outside of the home, and try to locate any nests that are nearby so you know where the ants are coming from.
Carpenter ants are large, typically around ½ to ⅝ of an inch in size. They have heart-shaped heads and can be any combination of red, brown, or black in color. Most are wingless, except for the swarmers, who hatch during spring and summer months and are known as flying carpenter ants. They eat sugars, nectars, and insects like many other ant species.
Carpenter ants are often confused with termites because they are similar in size and burrow into wood. Some easy ways to tell them apart are by their antennae (carpenter ants have bent antennae while termites have straight antennae) and by their tunnels (carpenter ants dig clean tunnels while termites dig messy tunnels). Both insects nest in damp or damaged wood that has a lot of moisture. The biggest issue with carpenter ants and termites is that their excessive tunneling can compromise the structural integrity of your home.
You can identify the most common type of fire ant, the red imported fire ant, by its reddish brown or yellow color and its small size (1–5 mm). They can be found in tropical locations in South and Central America and in more temperate climates in North America as well. They like to eat and attack poultry and planted grain.
These ants can be aggressive, especially the worker ants. They don’t just sting; they also bite to hold themselves steady and adequately inject their stinger. Like most insects, fire ants probably won’t bother you unless they feel threatened. However, if you are stung or bitten, the resulting pustules may get infected if they’re scratched open.
This ant species is most known for walking in a very long, single-file line. They are prominent in Southern California. Typically dark in color and small in size (around 3mm), these ants are commonly found inside homes because that is where they primarily search for warmth, food, and water, which is why you may see them in your kitchen or bathroom. They eat sweet foods, including eggs and especially yolks, syrups, juices, dead insects, and byproducts like feces and vomit.
Argentine ants are also known for their ability to join forces with other colonies, producing super colonies that can be aggressive toward more native insects and that pose a larger threat of infestation in your home due to the sheer amount of ants in these colonies. These ants do not sting but they can bite, although, just like little black ants, their size means that their bite doesn’t cause too much harm to humans.
Signs of an ant Infestation
No matter what species you have around your home, there are some common signs of an ant infestation that can include:
- Ant trails or lines of ants
- Ant mounds around your property
- Ants in your trees
- Groups of ants on your countertops enjoying discarded leftovers
Most ants do not cause damage to your home (except carpenter ants) or harm to people (except fire ants). Pharaoh ants can also transmit diseases like salmonella and strep. An ant infestation can be unsanitary though and can contaminate your food. Learn more about how to get rid of any existing ant infestations and colonies below and find some more tips to prevent them from coming back.
How do I get rid of ants in my house?
There are some really great home remedies you can try if your ant infestation isn’t out of control yet. These methods also work to prevent an ant infestation in the first place.
- Spray a mixture of boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda on infested areas
- Place Diatomaceous Earth anywhere you think there are susceptibilities in your home
- Use Borax or cornstarch in areas where you’ve seen ants before
- Keep your home clean of crumbs and discard leftover food or store dry foods in closed containers
- Seal cracks in your walls or crevices in your floorboards with caulk or other sealants
Most of these techniques will work outdoors as well to repel ants from the exterior of your house. While these methods can work for virtually any ant species, they’re not guaranteed to eradicate all ants in a colony. If you have a large infestation or you think there are several nests and colonies surrounding your home, a professional pest control service like Hawx may be the best option for ant control and removal of large nests surrounding your property.
How to properly control an ant problem
Eliminating ants is a difficult task, meaning it is often best to leave it to trained and experienced professionals. The team at Hawx Pest Control has extensive experience and training in dealing with ant problems and can provide you with both services for your current problem and preventative treatments to keep ants away for good. For home and business owners looking to eliminate ants, nobody else offers comprehensive solutions like we can. However, there are a few things you can do to prevent ants from coming in yourself, and we advise everybody to follow these bits of advice, regardless of whether or not you receive frequent treatments.
- Place weather-stripping around windows and doors, and door sweeps on exterior doors.
- Cut tree branches and overgrown vegetation away from the exterior of your house.
- Repair any openings in the foundation and exterior walls of your home.
- Remove fallen trees and tree stumps from your property.
- Rinse out jars and cans before placing them in recycle bins.
- Keep tight-fitting or locking lids on outdoor trash cans and compost bins.