Ants are the top-ranked nuisance pest in the US. They can be a huge problem in your home, especially in the warm summer months when they come in search of water and food.
Do you have an ant problem? Getting rid of an ant infestation can be tricky! Here are some steps to help you control the situation.
1. Learn About the Colony and Queen
When it comes to ants, it’s important to understand that the ones you see inside your home aren’t the only problem. The colony lives in a nest protecting and feeding their queen. The queen will remain in the nest and lay more eggs, producing more ants.
Even though you may be killing the ants you see in your home, it won’t get rid of your problem. These ants are the worker ants who are scouting out food and water sources, so even if you kill them there are more in the colony who will be on their way shortly.
It’s also important to know what type of species of ant you are dealing with. Carpenter ants like to make their nests in moist wood and can be much harder to get rid of. These nests are usually inside your home where there may have been a leak at one time and will cause additional damage. This is a much bigger problem than just having the annoyance of ants inside.
If you have a tiny black ant infestation, which is the most common, keep reading for advice on how to get rid of black ants.
2. Follow the Ants
In order to find out where the ant colony is, you have to follow the trail of ants and see where they are headed. These worker ants left the colony in search of food and they found some in your house. Even the cleanest of places is bound to have a loose crumb now and then, and these ants found it.
Once they find the food, they leave a chemical trail behind so their fellow worker ants can follow the trail back to the source of food. So even if you kill these ants, the trail is still there waiting for more of them to follow.
Instead of killing these ants, use them to your advantage by setting out ant bait. The worker ants will find the bait you set in their trail and take it back to the nest to feed the queen. The ant bait will eventually kill the queen and eliminate your ant problem.
3. Wait and Watch
It will be tempting to do a thorough clean after you have laid out the ant bait, but it’s best to give it some time. There will be additional ants that head into the house wanting to follow the chemical trail and you’ll want them to still be able to make it to the ant bait and bring it back to the nest. If the colony is very big, there may be more than one queen.
It may take several weeks to kill off the entire colony, so be sure to switch out the bait with a new one now and then because the ants may empty it of food and you want them to keep coming to it, not exploring the house for more food.
4. Finding the Colony
If you are able to trace the ants back to their colony, you can now take them out from the source. You will want to get an insecticide that is recommended for ants and soak the entire colony with it.
Of course, this is only effective if the colony is in an easy to reach location. Some ants create their nests inside the walls of your home making it difficult to find or get to. Some outdoor colonies can also be difficult to eradicate because they may reach far below the surface. This is when you will want to contact a professional to help.
5. Prevention of Future Ant Infestations
Once you have gotten rid of your ant problem, you will want to do your best to keep them from coming back. Ants will always be in search of food, water, and shelter, just like any other creature. The key is to avoid temptation for them so you might want to purchase some containers that have an airtight seal to store your food.
Also, make sure to wipe down the outside of these containers or other containers that might get food on them, like a jelly jar or ketchup bottle. The unseen residue will also attract ants because they can still smell it. Additionally, keep counters clean, floors swept, vacuum often, and take the trash out routinely.
You will also want to survey your home and see if there are any gaps and cracks that are allowing the ants to sneak into your home. Pick up some silicone caulk to fill these spots where they may be able to enter. If you need a quick fix until you get some caulk, you can also spread petroleum jelly around the area to deter them from coming in until you can fix the cracks.
Can You Ever Fully Get Rid of Ants?
Unfortunately, you will have to constantly keep up your routine to keep ants from getting inside your home. They will continuously seek the food, water, and shelter that your home provides for the necessities they need.
The chemical scent trail they originally left may have already trailed off to other colonies that were created in addition to the original nest you fought. These ants already know that your home provides a good supply and will continue to try and get inside. Hopefully, you have already taken all the precautions against them, but there is still a chance they will find their way in somehow.
If you are having trouble with an ant infestation, the best decision you can make is seeking the help of pest management professionals who can help set up routine treatments. Please see the following links for additional information on ant control and ant extermination:
Check out our previous blog posts on ant control below!
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