Sometimes all that is required is a few morsels of food dropped on the back patio, and the home suddenly seems infested with ants pouring out of and around every nook and cranny in the concrete walkways, porches and even the foundation of the home. Ants can find their way in through the smallest of cracks, so you should take measures while they are still outside.
Properly identifying the species of ants that's invading the yard can help in choosing the most effective trap. Some species prefer building nests outside, and if there is an anthill right next to the concrete walkway or patio, this can be a sign of the brown Argentine ant, the dark brown or black pavement ant.
If there is no nest in sight, looking at the shape and color of the ants will help identify them. One of the easiest to identify is the pharaoh ant with its distinctive yellow-orange color. Black ants, like the odorous house ant named for the smell it gives off when crushed, and the carpenter ant are also familiar sights around the house. If there are two types of ants, one might be the thief ant, so named because it steals food from other ants rather than collecting food itself.
Bait traps can be one of the most effective ways to kill not only the ants that are crawling in and over the cracks in the concrete, but also those that remain in the nest they came from. The ants that are seen making their way over sidewalks and around foundations are the foragers. These members of the colony collect the food and take it back to the nest; get rid of these ants, and the colony will just make more. Bait traps offer the ants poisoned food, and instead of being killed on contact, the ants return the poison to the nest. Different kinds of bait traps are available, depending on what species of ants are present and what kind of food they are most attracted to.
Ants typically follow the same trails over and over again as they return to a food source, which is why ants are commonly portrayed as marching in an organized, single file line. Only one ant can establish an entire colony, and an area where there are already signs that a successful colony has been there before can be attractive. To keep any surviving ants from returning to rebuild the colony, thoroughly wash the concrete where they have been seen walking. Use soap and water to wash the scent of the ants away. Citrus can be particularly effective in removing the ant trails as well.
Cracks in a concrete foundation can present a tempting entryway for ants of all kinds. Caulk cracks to cut off entry into the home. Cracks in a concrete porch or patio can be a haven for all kinds of things that can attract ants, especially after a backyard cookout or party. Food left behind in the cracks can easily be overlooked during cleanup. Clean thoroughly and remove any food that might be lodged in the concrete.
Move any pet food indoors, or feed the pets only when they are around to eat the food immediately. Some animals have a habit of stashing food around the house, which can attract ants. When feeding outdoors, put down a plastic mat, especially for the messy eaters. Dropped food lost along food dishes and feeding stations can attract ants overnight.
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