Ants are great and selfless explorers who want to take small plunder from your home. They leave the nest regularly to search for useful stuff of all kinds, that they can bring back to the nest to use for food, or various other uses that satisfy appetites of the colony. When they find a useful supply, they mark the trail with a trail pheromone that the ants’ bodies secrete. The marked trail may become an ant highway which they may follow like pioneers in a wagon train.
The ants all set out from a more or less permanent colony site to forage for certain items. In the colonies, there are hundreds or thousands of “worker ants” (unfertile females), juvenile ants still undergoing development from egg to adult, and a large and very sluggish “queen,” the original founder of the colony and mother of all the workers. Sometimes you find small numbers of males ready to be evicted from the colony or awaiting a dramatic mating flight ritual with the queen. Until a special time in the life cycle of the colony, the queen just stays amid the workers, lays new eggs, and accepts the nutrients she is regularly given.
Some ants like carpenter ants feed on wood like termites and can weaken structural lumber. Some species, like pharaoh ants, have been known to carry bacterial infections in hospitals. Sometimes ants build their nests inside the walls of homes and buildings. The nests can get quite large when located in the house, and the ants coming and going through the walls can make quite a nuisance. You may find ants penetrating food containers, especially jars of honey and other sweet or starchy foods. Most ant species are just around to be annoying but actually cause very little damage. Cases of diseases carried by ants are rare.
The only real way of eliminating any particular colony of ants is to bring insecticide into the colony itself and if possible to kill the queen. The worker ants cannot sustain a colony by themselves. With some colonies, queens can be replaced when the eggs of worker ants become fertilized. However, in most cases, when the queen is eliminated, the colony will quickly die off.
Spraying individual ants roaming through your house will not eliminate an ant problem. Those ants killed by the spray will simply be replaced. The most comprehensive solution is to locate the ant nest and treat it with fumigants.
Short of that, a powerful device for eliminating ants is the ant trap. The ant trap is a box with holes into which ants can go to explore. Inside the box are substances that ants will be attracted to as foods. The substances are actually ant poisons but are given the smells and textures that attract ants. The workers will carry particles of poison back to their nests. The queen and other ants in the colony will feed on the poisons. This could result in large numbers of ants as well as the queen being eliminated inside the nest itself. Ant traps can significantly reduce the size of ant nests and may eliminate their core elements.
It can be frustrating to discourage ants from invading your home. Proper food storage and waste management will reduce the supplies of food that attracts them. Keeping surfaces clean, especially in kitchens will reduce the chances of ant explorers finding dirt. Using vinegar solutions can temporarily disrupt the trail pheromones. Sticky barriers made of commercially available Tanglefoot or Stickum and moats made of soapy water can prevent ants from reaching plants or other items. Calking over and closing wall cracks and spaces can deny ants their entrance points.
Miller Pest & Termite is the local pest control company of Omaha. We offer the most comprehensive and all-inclusive pest control program available in Nebraska and many towns in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Please contact us to learn more.