Knowledge Leads to Better Ant Control

An effective ant control plan requires a little understanding about the ants themselves: their habits, preferred living environment, social structure and more. For example, did you know that all ants live in colonies consisting of at least one egg-laying female (queen), short-lived males, and workers (sterile females)? Workers are the foragers that find food and communicate with other workers by depositing a chemical trail, like breadcrumbs, for others to follow. Did you also know that in the spring, some ants will develop wings so they can fly off to a fresh location and establish a new nest? Understanding these habits makes for more effective ant removal. As you can see, ants are very adaptable pests. They enjoy a wide range of foods from sweets, to grease, to plant matter, and even wood, and they live in colonies with hundreds of other ants. This is what makes ant removal such a challenge for an average homeowner.

Outdoor Ant Control

Our first focus will be on ants that live outside but forage for food indoors. Outdoor ants are usually a seasonal issue, with spring through early fall being their most active times. Eventually, even these ants may develop what is called a satellite colony and take up residence in the walls or drains of your home. The following are some precautionary and preventative measures you can take to get a handle on outdoor ant control. • First, seal and caulk all the cracks and crevices around your home. If you do not seal entry points, ants will likely find their way into your house. • Second, clean entry points, or anywhere you have seen a trail, with detergent (to remove the pheromone). • Third, spray a residual insecticide or organic deterrent around entry points to keep the ants from ever wanting to step foot into your house. For ant control on nests built outdoors, there are many good bait treatments. To be effective, baits must be placed in areas where ants frequent, so the granules or powder will be taken back to the nest. Because the ants must safely get to the nest with their bait, it would not be advisable to use insecticide sprays at the same time. These sprays will simply kill the worker ants before they can get the poisoned bait back to the queen and her colony. Be patient, because even the successful use of ant bait may take several weeks before the pest removal is complete. Insecticide dilutions do have their place in ant removal. If you know the location of the ants home, you can drench the ant nest and destroy the bulk of the colony at one time. Be sure to follow label recommendations for proper ant removal and all safety procedures when applying the insecticide.

Indoor Ant Control

Unfortunately, there are ants that like your home as much as you do. Why make the hike across the lawn and then into the house for food when you can simply live near the source? Ants in this category may present a year-round ant control problem, although they will still be more active in the warmer months. These are the pests that work their way into your pantry and help themselves to your food. Spraying a residual insecticide to control foraging workers may provide short-term pest removal, but it is not a definitive answer. Locating and completely destroying the nest is the most direct way to eliminate this type of ant infestation. And since pin-pointing the location of the nest can be very time consuming (and bit disgusting if you are 'lucky' enough to find it), bait systems come to the rescue. Again, workers must eat the bait, take it back to the nest, and feed it to the queen and larval ants. This type of ant removal is incompatible with treatments like insecticides that prevent workers from returning to the nest with the bait. Carpenter ants are not like the other syrup-eating ants we find in a home. Carpenter ants require a higher level of pest removal, as they are known to cause structural damage to wood by tunneling and nesting inside wood structures. Carpenter ants are also quite large (about 3/8- to 1/2-inch long) and black or red. When it comes to killing ants, they all have one thing in common: the best method involves finding the nest and destroying it directly. This, unfortunately, is easier said than done. If a nest is found, treatment with an insecticide dust or spray will likely finish the job. Injection of insecticide into wall voids, or drilling small holes into the wood to get through to the nest itself, may be necessary to ensure complete carpenter ant control.


No doubt about it, ant control can be a difficult undertaking. Anything you can do on the front end to prevent an infestation from ever taking hold would be your best bet. If the time has already past and you find yourself sharing a home with creepy crawlies, just know that there are many useful ant removal options available.

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