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“All the little ants are marching. Red and black antennas waving. They all do it the same. They all do it the same.” Sound familiar? It’s that catchy tune from Dave Matthews Band. But it’s also a phrase you probably say over and over each year when the ants come marching back into your home – “there go all the little ants marching.”
So why do ants keep coming back? You thought you got rid of them last year with some ant repellent, yet here they are again. Did you know there are well over one million ants for each human in the world? Sounds like we’ve got our work cut out for us when it comes to ant prevention and control… it’s a good thing that Ehrlich has a mountain of ant expertise to help you stay ahead.
Are ants becoming repeat offenders in your home? Contact us today.
Some ant colonies can have over 100,000 worker ants. The queen functions to establish new colonies and lay eggs. She relies on forager ants to get food and water for her and the colony. Forager ants will leave their nest to search for food. Once they locate it, they will leave a pheromone trail to notify the rest of the colony. The other ants from the colony will recognize this chemical trail, follow it to the food source, and bring it back to the nest.
Voila! You’ve got yourself a colony of ants marching in and out of your home.
You can use ant repellent all you want, but you won’t make much progress if you aren’t eliminating the things in your home that are attracting ants and also eliminating the nest. Ants are attracted to two common things found in every house: food and moisture. Offer up these elements with an open entryway and you’ll find ants returning year after year. Let’s look at three conditions you can correct to keep ants out of your house: food, moisture, and entry points.
Food: Not only are ants attracted to food left out in the open like crumbs on your kitchen counters and in your cabinets, but they are also attracted to foods and beverages in opened and unsealed containers – baking supplies, chips, bread, cookies, fruit juices, and pet food.
Moisture: Ants require a water source to survive and can even store water for later within their colonies, so they will return to the same home again and again if there is moisture available.
Entry points: Cracks in the foundation of your home are a sure entry point for ants, especially if there is moisture behind the opening. Damaged window screens and broken weather stripping can also allow for easy access into your home from the outdoors. Additional common entry points include gaps around utility lines and gaps under siding and between bricks. If you have an attached garage, it should be part of your property review. Ants getting in there can easily make their way into the house.
Even if you get rid of ants through professional pest control methods, you still need to take precautions to keep them from returning to your home. With a good understanding of the three things that attract ants, let’s look at how we can use this knowledge to prevent them from returning.
Ants love food. And if it is easily accessible, they will find a way back to it time and time again. Pantry items, such as flour, sugar, chips, bread, and cookies should only be stored in containers that can be tightly sealed. Any areas of the home where you consume food should be deep cleaned after every meal by wiping down countertops and tables and sweeping the floor. Cans and glass bottles should always be rinsed out before being thrown into recycling. Also, be sure to wash any food debris off your dishes. And if you have pets, avoid leaving any uneaten food out where ants can get to it.
Ants need water to survive. Dehumidifiers are the perfect solution to eliminate moisture in your home, making it a much less suitable environment for ants. Excess moisture can be found in crawlspaces or basements and in kitchens and bathrooms around faucets and sinks. Also, be sure to fix leaks in your kitchen, bath, and laundry rooms, routinely checking the sinks, toilets, showers, and tubs. Finally, check the exterior of your home, eliminating any excess moisture which would include cleaning gutters, making sure water is draining away from your foundation, and spigots are dry.
Make any necessary repairs on both the inside and outside of your house to prevent ants from coming in. Be sure to seal all cracks and crevices around your doors and window frames to block any entry points that they may try to use. Also, caulk around windows and doors, and patch up any holes in the walls – ants can make nests in your walls. In addition to repairs, trim back trees and vegetation away from your house to ensure ants do not have a direct route.
While these are all great preventative measures to take, they will not help you if you already have an infestation. If the colony of ants is not entirely eradicated, they will continue to march back into your home. At that point, it’s best to solicit the help of the experts.
Knowing the type of ants that are invading your home is key to controlling them, especially since ants can be misidentified as termites. Although there are many species of ants, there are three types that cause the most problems for homeowners: pavement ants, odorous house ants, and carpenter ants.
With the exception of a few, it’s very hard for the average person to distinguish what type of ant it is by looking at it – leave that to the experts. It’s also important to understand that over-the-counter ant repellent sprays may create larger problems, causing ants to split in different directions in a process called “budding.” This can lead to entirely new colonies being formed. Be cautious of DIY baiting as well, as you may end up targeting only a portion of the infestation.
The specialists at Ehrlich are very knowledgeable on all species of ants and know which control methods work best for each type. Certain types of ants may require specific pest removal techniques in addition to your general pest control methods to ensure the infestation is fully eliminated. If you’re noticing signs of ants in your home, contact us today. We will identify any ants marching in and make sure that they march their way out.
Emily Nicholson is a Digital Marketing Coordinator for Rentokil North America. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two dogs. She loves being outside - mountains or beach - and enjoys working out, walking her pups, and relaxing with her husband, friends, and family.