Winter is one of the periods during the year that we get the most calls about ant invasions. Like the rest of us, ants are trying to find shelter from the wet and cold and looking for food. This blog will help you indentify what type of ant you are dealing with and what kind of trouble they can cause.
Let’s start with the least problematic species the little black house ant, aka; sugar ant. These guys form trails heading from their entry point to a food source generally in the kitchen or garbage area. They can also be seen trailing outdoors and nest both inside and out. They prefer to nest in decayed wood but are also known to nest in voids or cracks in cement.
Although they are a nuisance, they do not cause damage to your house and can be controlled with baits. Many of our bi-monthly pest control clients started the service to control ant invasions. You can help prevent ant infestations by moving kitchen garbage outside, keeping counters clean and food sealed up tight.
Odorous house ants actually emit and odor similar to the smell of rotten coconuts when crushed. They generally go for sweet foods. Even though the name suggests these pests are common in the home, they are actually more of an outdoor pest. They can nest in walls voids in the home, but are usually found outdoors in nesting locations similar to other ants; under rocks, logs, planters, etc. These ants are also considered a nuisance pest and do not physically damage the house. Baiting can sometimes be difficult, because of this ants reluctance to take different types of baits.
Argentine ants are also very common and considered more of a problem because they can be difficult to control and because they can bite! These ants are about 1/16th” long and can build nests under just about anything. These ants sometimes crawl through dead animals or garbage, so they can be carriers of disease. Argentine ants can be found indoors and out. They trail heavily to and from food sources. Inside they eat just about anything that can be found in the kitchen, while outside they eat things like other dead creatures, honeydew from other insects and bee honey. They nest where there is a source of moisture, like under a kitchen sink, or in inside a potted plant. Outside you can find nests under rocks, garbage cans, concrete, or any place moist and sheltered from light.
Spraying and baiting in combination is the most effective method of control for these pests. It is essential that garbage is stored well if it can not be disposed of right away.
Lastly let’s look at the carpenter ant which actually can do damage to your home. Carpenter ants frequently make their homes by hollowing out wood to make galleries and nests, which is how they got their name. Carpenter ants tear wood and clear it out for nesting, they don’t actually digest it like termites. These ants can also nest in wall voids, or other types of voids and build galleries through wood in your home. They feed on the same sorts of things other ants do; other insects and household food items. Typically larger than most other ants, the size of a carpenter ant can be an indication of the size and maturity of its colony. Bigger ants come from more mature colonies.
Keep an eye out for warning signs you may have a carpenter ant infestation. You may see the swarmers or their wings around window areas, workers foraging for food, or the debris pushed out of the galleries by the ants. This debris is called frass. It collects in small piles and looks like sawdust. Frass can include bits of other building materials or insect body parts. Sometimes the makeup of the frass can be a tip off as to where the ants are nesting. Look for darker colored frass indicating nesting in decaying wood, or pieces of wall insulation or foam insulating board.
If you suspect you have carpenter ants it is important to have a pest control professional come out and take a look. If the nest is outside, a barrier should be sprayed around the house as well as localized treatments for the ants inside. If the nest is determined to be inside the home it can be controlled with traditional injections of pesticide in aerosol or dust form.
Well that is plenty of ant info for now. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at Hydrex Pest Control of the North Bay at (877) 696-1670!