Ants are one of the most common pests found in households, offices, hospitals, restaurants, warehouses and just about anywhere food and water is available. Usually, ants are merely a nuisance, although they can cause damage to property, and some species even have potentially life-threatening stings. Managing ant infestations is often a challenge, but there are several techniques you can try to kill the insects.
Get to the Source
A common mistake in attempting to control or eradicate ants is in just attacking the visible ones. Ants colonize; they have an egg-laying queen located in a nest and thousands of other worker ants to make up the colony. The key to killing off the entire colony is to determine where the nest and the queen are located and to hit them at the source. Attempt to locate the nest by investigating ant movement. Ants follow "trails" leading from the food to the nest. Once you determine where the nest is, spray it thoroughly with an ant insecticide.
Ant baits are an effective tool in eliminating the entire colony when you are unsure where the nest is located. Ants will do the work for you by carrying the bait back to the nest for the queen and the rest of the colony. In any type of building, there are numerous possible hidden nesting areas. Consequently, baits serve as the best way to infiltrate the colonies. Place them in areas where ants frequent.
Ants are attracted to plants and flowers that produce sap and sweet juices. Position these types of plants away from foundations. Outdoor nests are generally located in or near mulch, gravel or landscaping lumber and beneath the edges of grass. Ant hills also are often visible, although not all species build hills. Liquid insecticides which contain carbaryl are effective against outside colonies.
Take precautions to prevent ants from entering a building in the first place. Caulk crevices and cracks in foundations and other openings ants can enter. Inside, store food items such as pet food, honey, sugar and syrup in air-tight containers. Line garbage containers and remove accumulated garbage on a daily basis. Keep counters clean at all times, and remove cooking debris immediately.
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture; April 2004 Ant Control for Homeowners; Michael R. Potter
- University of California; Pests of Homes, Sturctures, People and Pets; February 2007
- Texas Agricultural Extension Service; House-infesting Ants and Their Management; Bastiaan M. Drees and Bil Summerlin
- Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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