When it comes to ant control one of the first steps is finding out as much as possible about these invasive pests. Especially because ants are the number one nuisance pest throughout the United States. With over 700 different species throughout the country, and over 20 of those species being known to infest homes, knowing all you can about these insects will help immensely when it comes to controlling them.
What Ants Look Like:
This may seem like a given but being able to correctly identify the different types of ants is a major component of ant control. Ants can be identified by the constriction located between the abdomen and thorax. Their bodies are covered with a hard armor type material called the exoskeleton. Most ants will be either red or black and can be anywhere from a third of an inch long to half an inch long. Much like other insects they have six legs, each with three joints. Ants also have large heads with compounded eyes, elbow like antennae, and extremely powerful jaws.
Within each colony there are three different types of ants, the male ant, the female ant, and the queen ant.
- Male Ant- Male ants also known as drones have rings and are fertile so they can mare with the queen ant. These ants are much smaller than female ants and only leave the colony for one day in order to mate. They will typically die 2 weeks after mating.
- Female Ant- These ants are bigger than male ants but much smaller than the queen ant. Female ants can live up to 3 years and are the workers and soldiers in the colony. They care for the eggs, take care of the larva, repair and build their nest, and forage for food. Making female ants the main target of most ant control services.
- Queen Ant- The queen ant is the largest ant in the colony. Their main purpose within the nest is to lay eggs. The queen ant can live up to 30 years and depending on the species and nest size, there may be more than one queen ant within a colony.
Another important aspect of ant control is understanding this insect’s habitat. Ants are extremely social and live in structured nest communities. Whether they live underground, in mounds, within wooden structures, or in plants or trees is determined by the species of ant.
Facts to Know For Ant Control
The more you know about something the easier it is to control, and the same can be said for ants. Some important things to keep in mind about these annoying pests include:
- Ants can have up to 250,000 brain cells, so if you have a colony of 40,000 ants around your home, they collectively have the same number of brain cells as the average human.
- Ants survived a mass extinction known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary which wiped out many dinosaurs so they are extremely resilient.
- Ant’s are able to lift objects 20 times heavier than their body weight.
Each one of these facts is important to remember when it comes to successful ant control.
Steps for an ant free home
Most people have fought their fair share of ants especially during the warmer weather so it’s no surprise that so many people report having issues when it comes to ant control in their home. Here are some simple things you can do to reduce your chances of inviting these pests into your home.
1. Block off and eliminate any access points
Proper ant control starts by first inspecting the outside of your home for any access points. Any bushes or trees should be trimmed away from the home because branches act as a sort of highway into the home for ants. You should also seal any cracks and crevices located on the outside of your house with silicone caulk. Be sure to pay extra attention to the areas around your utility pipes.
2. Eliminate food sources
Being sure to keep your kitchen tidy will help keep ants from coming inside your home. Wipe down counters, sweep your floors, and wash your dishes regularly to eliminate any crumbs or spilled liquids. Make sure to also store your food in air tight containers, keep ripe fruit in the fridge, and wipe down any sticky jars.
3. Know the popular hangout areas
The kitchen is the most popular place to find ants because it has everything that is need for them to survive: food and water. Bathrooms, bedrooms, basements, around air conditioning and heating units, inside walls, and the living room are also popular areas for ants to congregate.
4. Eliminate water sources
Reducing the presence of standing water and excess moisture around your home can go a long way when it comes to ant control. Make sure to repair any leaky pipes as well as taking the time to check under sinks for any areas of excess moisture. Ensure that your downspouts and gutters are functioning properly and that water is flowing away from your home’s foundation.
5. Don't forget about your pets
Your pets can inadvertently invite ants into your home because their food and water bowls attract these pests. Make sure to clean any spilled food or water up as soon as possible and opt to sealing your pet’s food in a sealed plastic container. Another access point to pay attention to is your doggy door. Make sure that there are no large gaps or areas where they can slip through.