Ants are one of the world’s most common household pests. Despite their tiny stature, the total weight of all the ants in the world is greater than the total weight of all humans on the planet. Considering how outnumbered we are, it’s no surprise that often ants end up invading our homes, offices, and other personal spaces in an attempt to find food, shelter, and water. Although it is inconvenient, many times ants are a potential sign of other issues in the home or local ecosystem, and their presence should not be ignored. There are a number of ways of successfully managing ant populations to ensure they don’t become a nuisance in your daily life. The most important things to remember are identify, inspect, sanitize, and bait.
The first step in managing an ant infestation is identification–figuring out exactly what kind of ants you are dealing with, and learning about their eating habits. There are over 12,500 species of ants that have currently been identified. Each species has different living, eating, and travel habits. Once you’ve identified the species you’re working with, it will make it easier to come up with a prevention plan that works best for your home. You can utilize the internet to identify the ant; type a description of the creature into a search engine and there should be a fair number of photos and text descriptions to help with positive identification. For instance, one might type “ants with stripes” in order to learn that their infestation is being caused by carpenter ants, which do not eat wood as their name suggests, or “red furry ant” to learn about velvet ants, which are not ants at all, but wasps.
Once the ant species is identified, the next step is inspecting your space to find the entry point. The best way to do this is to find a line of ants, and follow the line until you discover the weak spot. Alternatively, you can find a straggling ant who is searching for a food source, and monitor its movements until you find the original line. Typically infested areas include moist, dark spaces, areas under sinks and around plumbing, cracks in walls, and windows with small open spaces that are convenient for the ants to explore. Household plants that produce sweet honeydew are also very attractive to ants. Make sure to keep any such plants in the ground a few inches from the foundation of your home. If you keep them inside, check the pots regularly for ant life.
The next step is the most important: Sanitize your space to make it unappealing for any future ant explorers. Caulk cracks and crevices around building foundations, and especially in food storage and service areas. Make sure there is no pet food open. Try not to throw partially eaten food in the trash without properly sealing the package. Wash all soda cans before putting them in the garbage or recycle bin. Once you’ve figured out where the ants are forming a nest, remove the nest and item they are creating it on or in. Clean the item with insecticide, and clean the area where it was with warm, soapy water. Check the area around the item to make sure there are no weak spots where ants can get in, and if you find any, clean then caulk them.
Finally, the last step in managing an ant infestation is baiting the ants in order to poison and eliminate them. Bait is the best proven method in removing significant ant populations. The scent attracts worker ants, who then bring the bait to the rest of the colony, where it is passed around and eventually kills off the queen. There are a number of reusable bait stations that can be refilled with appropriate bait. There are also gels, pellets, and liquid solutions that work. To make the bait more effective, keep the area where it is being used free of any crumbs or items that might also attract ants.
With a combination of these four steps, you should be able to manage any ant population that attempts to invade your home, office, or any other space.
Copyright © 2016 Jessica Snider CC-BY-SA-4.0