Ants are an inevitable part of summer. Though tiny, these pests can be a major nuisance and even be a deal breaker for tenants. Because of their strong survival skills, ant colonies can be very difficult to control once inside. Sometimes ant nests can be difficult to locate, allowing colonies to grow in size so much that it can take weeks to fully treat and clear the area once discovered.
The best strategy for controlling ants is keeping them out in the first place. Work with a pest management professional to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that helps keeps ants from being attracted to your property.
Here’s a look at the three most common species this time of year and some tips you can implement to keep them outside where they belong.
Among the largest ants in the United States, carpenter ants are most commonly black, but can also be red or yellow. They reside in moist, decaying or hollow wood outdoors and indoors. Although they are best known for their ability to damage wood, they don’t actually feed on it; they cut galleries into wood to form nests and passageways. They do feed on food that people eat, though, including meats and sweets.
Your property could be at risk for carpenter ants if:
When carpenter ants are discovered and treated early, it’s rare for them to cause serious structural damage; however, if left undiscovered for an extended period of time, it is possible for them to cause damage. To minimize the risk of damage, monitor for signs of carpenter ants and call a professional pest management company if carpenter ants are suspected.
Some of the telltale signs of a carpenter ant infestation include:
Odorous House Ants
As their name suggests, odorous house ants give off a strong scent when crushed, most frequently compared to coconut.
These ants forage for food day and night and can find their way indoors in search of crumbs, sweets, spilled drinks and other foods that humans consume. Once inside, they can make nests in wall crevices, near heaters, water pipes, under carpets, beneath floors, under sinks, or behind paneling.
While odorous house ants do not sting or bite, they can contaminate food and be persistent pests. Their colonies can contain over 100,000 ants, which means once they have started a colony they can be incredibly difficult to get rid of, and the longer you wait to take action, the larger the population can get.
Be on the lookout for foraging worker ants and winged swarmers, which may indicate an infestation.
Pavement ants are light brown to black. Their name comes from the nests they create in cracks in driveways and under sidewalks.
Pavement ants invade buildings while searching for food and set up trails to food sources from their nests. These ants will feed on a wide variety of foods, including meats, live and dead insects, seeds, and honeydew from aphids, but prefer greasy foods. They can become a nuisance when large groups infest a kitchen or patio.
The most likely signs of a pavement ant infestation are worker ants, but you may also see small piles of material the ants have excavated. It’s important to keep in mind that pavement ant nests are difficult to locate, so the best way to manage an infestation is to contact a pest management professional.
Reduce the Likelihood of Ant Infestations
There are a few simple changes you can make to help keep ants out.
When landscaping, choose non-insect-friendly plants and keep all vegetation trimmed back and away from the building by at least two-feet. Ants can use tree limbs and vegetation that brush up against your building to gain access.
Exclusion also plays a big role in keeping ants out. Ants can squeeze through the tinniest of holes in walls, doors and windows, so work with your pest management professional and maintenance team to identify any gaps and close them. Install weather stripping on doors and windows and use weather-resistant sealant on cracks and crevices.
Because ants are attracted to the same foods humans eat, sanitation is also key in preventing ants. Make sure common areas are free of any crumbs or food sitting in the open, and clean up any spills immediately. Empty trash cans often and clean them – don’t let spilled food and drinks build up in garbage cans or recycling bins. Inspect your grounds and parking lots regularly to make sure they are free from trash that can attract ants. Also, remind tenants that sanitation within their own units also makes a difference. Consider including sanitation tips in community newsletters or in common areas throughout the property.
Misusing ant baits can actually attract ants rather than eliminate them and improper use of exterior repellants can encourage ants to go inside. As a result, the best action to take when ant problems arise is to work with a pest management professional with ant control experience. A professional can help determine the best form of treatment for your property.