Every homeowner dreads discovering an ant infestation, whether inside or outside the home. Ants can be a major nuisance as they contaminate food, build their nests in unwanted places, and destroy property. One type of ant in particular, the carpenter ant, is considered a “silent destroyer,” often causing severe damage to homes undetected by excavating wood. These pests can be tough to eliminate but it is possible.
Carpenter ants are ½” to 5/8” long, and are usually red, black, brown, or a combination of these in color. These ants build their nests by creating smooth tunnels inside wood, preferring wet, damp wood. Common places carpenter ants will build their nests include tree stumps, fence posts, window and doorframes, firewood, and other various places with exposed wood. Carpenter ant nests can be problematic to your home as the tunnels they create can damage the structural soundness of wood throughout your property. If you notice sawdust or wood fragments falling throughout your property, there is a good chance that carpenter ants have infested.
Carpenter ants need a constant water source to survive. The first step in preventing ants like these is to eliminate moisture or standing water throughout your property. Consider using a dehumidifier in crawlspaces, basements, and attics to help with dampness. Trim your tree branches and shrubs away from your home, as ants can use these as an access point. Take it a step farther by looking around your property for any gaps or holes and sealing these up with caulk, as ants only need the smallest gap to get inside a house.
Preventing ants might seem like a daunting task; when ants infest it can seem like they are everywhere! Consider reaching out to your local pest control company where they can provide you with a prevention and treatment plan during peak ant season.
Summer is here and as the temperatures are ramping up and the summer storms roll in, new pests are taking advantage of the conditions and becoming more active.
Let’s check which summer pests are stirring up trouble in your neck of the woods.
Yellow Fever Mosquitoes:
The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season officially started June 1 and storms will start to occur more frequently. This excessive moisture will lead to areas of standing water which are the perfect breeding sites for yellow fever mosquitoes. To help prevent mosquitoes this summer, try to:
- Eliminate areas of standing water around your home.
- Utilize insect-repellant that contains DEET.
Swarming season for carpenter ants is typically from May through August. Just like yellow fever mosquitoes, carpenter ants need water for survival and will be drawn to your home if there is excess moisture. To keep ants out of your home this summer try to:
- Seal cracks and openings around your home to keep carpenter ants from entering.
- Cut tree branches back away from your home as this is how carpenter ants can gain access.
Formosan termites are sometimes called “super termites,” as they are known to be very aggressive. Formosans can chew through wood, floors, and even wallpaper without being detected. A few ways to prevent termites and their subsequent damage are to:
Pests are a hassle but preparation and treatment are key in stopping them in their tracks. Call to schedule a free home inspection and start your journey to a pest-free home.
Ants have been named the #1 nuisance pest in the United States. Ants are social insects that live in colonies. They enter our homes looking for food and shelter. Ants primarily look for foods that are sugary and sweet or greasy and protein-based. Once they find food, they leave a pheromone trail behind that other ants will follow.
There are over 700 species of ants in the United States. At least 20 of these species are known to infect homes and other structures. There are several species of ants that are common to our area. The 5 most common are:
Fire ants build large, raised mounds. They prefer to nest in open, disturbed areas. They commonly nest in yards, fields, and roadsides. Fire ants are known to devastate local insect populations and small wildlife. They are also known to eliminate ground nesting bird species because they attack their newly hatched nestlings. Fire ants cause painful stings when they bite and will bite humans when threatened.
Carpenter ants are black in color. They are nocturnal and will exit their nests about 15 minutes after sunset in large numbers. Carpenter ants will invade kitchens in the summer months in search of food and water. They will invade structures if moisture is present. Carpenter ants can be very destructive to homes.
ARGENTINE (SUGAR) ANTS:
Argentine ants are light brown in color. They can easily squeeze through small cracks and holes. Argentine ants are known to set up colonies in the ground, in concrete walls, between boards and timbers, and among the belongings in your home. These ants are commonly seen in homes and will enter them in search of food and water. They are especially common during dry or hot weather or after a heavy rainfall. Argentine ants exhibit strong trailing behavior and can exist in high numbers. They move very quickly and are named among the world’s 100 worst animal invaders.
Acrobat ants are dark colored with a heart shaped abdomen that they will hold up in the air like a flag when disturbed. They will nest inside decaying wood. Acrobat ants form single file trails and leave behind small sawdust piles that are similar to those of carpenter ants. These ants produce a mild sting when they bite. Acrobat ants may move into your attic to incubate their eggs and will tunnel into water damaged wood.
ODOROUS HOUSE ANTS:
Odorous house ants are dark colored and give off a strong rotten coconut smell when they are crushed. They exist in large numbers where there is plenty of moisture. They form trails similar to Argentine ants. Odorous house ants are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of from structures. They will often establish their colonies in earth filled porches and block walls.
Since ants are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of, what can you do to keep them from invading your home in the first place? Check out these tips for keeping the ants out of your personal space.
- Learn where ants are common and routinely inspect those areas for activity.
- Ants will frequently infest kitchens because of the ample supply of food and water.
- Ants are also commonly found in bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, basements, attics, inside walls, and in and around HVAC units.
- Ants will come into your home in search of food for themselves and their young.
- Keep your kitchen clean and tidy.
- Wipe down counters routinely.
- Sweep on a regular basis.
- Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Store your food in air-tight containers.
- Keep ripe fruit in the fridge.
- Wipe down sticky jars such as jelly or jam.
- Use lids on trashcans and empty them regularly.
- Make sure sink drains and filters are cleaned regularly.
- Enclose mulch and compost heaps when possible.
- Reduce moisture and standing water around your home.
- Repair leaky pipes and check under your sinks routinely for drips.
- Use a dehumidifer in damp basements, crawlspaces, and attics.
- Consider enclosing your crawlspace to eliminate moisture.
- Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear and functional so water flows away from foundations.
- Paint or seal any exposed wood before it gets wet.
- Replace or remove any water damaged wood.
- Ants can squeeze through extremely small openings.
- Inspect the outside of your home for any easy access points and eliminate them.
- If you are having trouble identifying the access point, follow the trail of ants.
- Once you find the entry point, clean around it with detergent to remove the pheromone trail that attracts fellow ants.
- Trim trees and bushes away from the exterior of your home.
- Seal any cracks and crevices in the outside of your home with silicone-based caulk. Make sure to check around areas where utility pipes come into your home.
- Remove dead stumps from your property.
- Store firewood off the ground and at least 20 feet from your home.
- Flying ant season begins in spring/summer. During this time of year keep doors and windows closed as much as possible.
- Pet food and water bowls also attract ants.
- Keep pet food bowls clean and clean up any spilled food or water immediately.
- Don’t leave pet food bowls out overnight.
- Store dry pet food in sealed plastic containers instead of bags.
- Inspect dog and cat doors to make sure pests can’t get through them.
CALL THE PROS:
Eliminating ants can be an uphill battle. If they aren’t properly treated, the infestation can continue to grow despite your best efforts. Some ants like carpenter ants can cause serious property damage. Other ants like fire ants can pose a serious health threat to your family. Other species, while not necessarily a threat to your family, can still contaminate your food. If you suspect you have an ant problem call a professional pest control company. A professional can identify what species of ant you have which is the first step in eliminating these nuisance pests. They can also find the entry points and provide you with a thorough and comprehensive treatment plan.
PREVENT ANTS FROM MARCHING ONE-BY-ONE INTO HOMES THIS SPRING
Northwest Exterminating shares five simple steps to prevent ants this spring
As weather conditions improve, ants will soon begin to enter homes in search of food and water. Northwest Exterminating encourages homeowners to take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of seeing these nuisance pests in your garage or crawling across the kitchen counter in the coming weeks.
Ants often infest kitchens and bathrooms, but homeowners may also encounter them in cooler spaces like basements, garages and around air conditioning units. The key to preventing ants from finding a way inside is to eliminate harborage sites around the property.
Experts from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommend the following five simple steps that homeowners can do today to thwart an ant infestation.
- Block off access points. Take time to inspect the outside of your home for cracks and crevices, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter. Seal any small holes or gaps with a silicone-based caulk. Keep tree branches and other shrubbery well trimmed and away from the structure.
- Eliminate sources of water in and around the home. Indoors, routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture and repair any leaky pipes. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.
- Keep a clean kitchen. Wipe down counter tops and sweep floors to remove crumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to dispose of garbage regularly.
- Don’t forget about the pets. After mealtime, keep pet bowls clean and wipe up any spilled food or water around them promptly. Store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bags they often come in, which can be easily accessed by ants, rodents and other pests.
- Work with a pest professional. Eliminating ants can be a challenge without the proper treatment. Some species of ants, like carpenter ants, can cause serious property damage while others can pose health threats. If you see ants in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.
For more information on ants or other common household pests, please visit www.callnorthwest.com.