Ant infestations are one of the most common domestic pest infestations. Swarms of the insect invade kitchen areas in homes and offices across the country in search of food and shelter.
Ants have their benefits and are important in maintaining balance in nature. They play a role in dealing with dead and decaying organic materials, their nests aerate the soil and their presence on plant leaves can indicate aphid infestations.
However, when they enter the home, they become a nuisance. Measures include sealing and caulking entry points, improving sanitation, getting rid of any pheromone trails and destroying ant nests. Insecticides and baits can also be used, but these chemical treatments should only be used in conjunction with measures to prevent infestations.
For the more difficult cases, you may need to call in the pest control experts.
Ants, like bees and wasps, always live in colonies which are headed by an egg-laying queen ant and consist of sterile 'worker' or 'soldier' females and short-lived male ants.
The lines of ants that you find in your garden or kitchen are the female worker ants. When an ant finds a food source, she communicates the food location to other ants by depositing a pheromone trail on the food and along the route back to the ant nest.
This chemical signal survives for a long time and allows ants to find the food. Ants grow wings in the spring and it is at this time they are most likely to invade homes for food and to establish new nests.
Ants feed on a wide range of foods, including sweet, starchy and greasy foods, wood and most animal and plant materials. Unlike other insects, ants usually feed on the same foods as humans and this is one of the main reasons that ants become a domestic nuisance.
Ant Prevention Measures
Deterrent substances such as talc and salt can be used around any window or door which may allow ants in. These create a barrier against the ants. Ants do not like certain substances, including vinegar, black pepper, whole cloves and cinnamon. These products can also be used as deterrents.
Kill off any ants that you see. If you find a single ant, it is possible that she is only searching for a food source and has not yet laid a trail. Do what you can at this stage to locate the possible entry point and then create a deterrent barrier.
Sticky tape and petroleum jelly also act as good short-term barriers. A bleach solution is also useful to kill the trail of ants, but you need to kill off the whole colony where possible. Vacuuming up the tail may also work, but it's important to dispose of the ants safely.
Maintaining a clean kitchen and home is important in preventing ants from entering the home. Food should always be kept in sealed containers and packets. Regularly wipe down all worktops, sinks and any surfaces with which food has come in contact.
Spray regularly with vinegar or a mild bleach solution. Sweep, mop and vacuum floors regularly. Be particularly cautious with pet food bowls. Specific measures should be taken to prevent carpenter ants from entering the home.
Wood should be treated. Firewood should be stored away from the house itself and any damaged or previously infected timber should be replaced. And it's not just the kitchen that you need to worry about. Keep all areas of the house free of food traces.
If you have a problem with ants it may be best to call a professional pest controller to help you.
Ant Control Measures
Not all ants are the same and control measures will depend largely on the type of ants that have infested your home.
The first group, ants who live outdoors but who come into the house to forage, should be prevented from travelling into the house by focusing on the entry point.
Any cracks and crevices should be blocked and sealed and all passages into the house eliminated. You should also scrub and clean around any possible entry point to remove any pheromone trail left behind by ants and spray a long-acting insecticide around the area. Insecticides and bait treatments are used to eradicate the nest of ants outside.
Baits must be taken back to the nest and be eaten by the ants in order to be effective and won't work if used in combination with an insecticide which kills the ant before she reaches the rest of the colony.
Baits may take weeks to eradicate the nest. Ant nests can also be treated with insecticide dilutions, but care should be taken to ensure that insecticides are used safely so as not to cause additional harm.
The benefits of ants to the environment should be remembered when getting rid of nests in the garden.
Ants which live inside the home (or office) and establish their nest close to the food source are more difficult to control.
These ants can be present at any time of the year, but they are generally more active during the summer.
They may physically infest foods and treating with a residual insecticide is likely to provide only a short-lived solution.
Any colony which is not completely killed out, even if only 1% of ants survive, can return to its original size. The best way to eradicate these ants is to locate and destroy their nest.
Baits can be useful for the nests of ants that live in the home, though they are not effective with all types of ants, particularly those that live in wood (e.g. carpenter ants).
These can only be eradicated by finding and destroying the entire nest and ensuring that the queen does not survive.
Carpenter ants may nest in rafters, furniture and any wood which has become wet or weathered. Their nests are particularly difficult to find. Following the ants and looking for tiny piles of sawdust may give some clues.
In summary, ants are extremely common and can easily enter the home. They like human food and leave trails behind them so that they and other ants can return to easy food sources.
Keep kitchens absolutely clean and wash surfaces regularly to eliminate these trails.
If you are still experiencing ant control problems then call a pest control professional immediately to remedy the problem today on: 0800 158 3885 or fill in our Quick Contact Form.