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Ants are social insects, but we’ve yet to meet a human who wants to socialize with them.  The variety of species and their unique preferences make ants the most difficult household pest to control.  They reside everywhere.  Outside you will find nests in lawns, along sidewalks, under mulch or gravel, in landscape timbers, beneath siding or in wood trim which has been damaged by moisture.  Inside, ants live behind walls and cabinets, in and under appliances, behind windows and door frames, beneath floors and under slabs.  The lack of accessibility to their nesting sites is one of the reasons ants are so difficult to control. Queens lay up to 800 eggs at a time, but only the foragers leave the nest.  Ants can’t be completely controlled unless the queen and colony are destroyed.

Controlling Ants

  1. Clean up.  Keep counters, floors and surfaces clean of spills and crumbs.  Restrict eating to a single location to avoid “budding” of colonies.  (Budding occurs when a portion of the colony relocates.)  In your initial cleaning, address areas under and behind appliances and clean the drip pan of the refrigerator.  Ants LOVE warm, moist environments.
  2. Put any food items in sealed containers.  Ants will dine on anything humans eat, so it’s important to deprive them of their food sources.
  3. Seal any cracks where you may find ants entering your home.  Occasionally your problem nest is outside and foraging workers have located a food source inside your home.  While you have the sealant out, go ahead and seal around openings where plumbing and electrical service enters your home and continue with areas around doors and windows.
  4. Trim back landscaping adjacent to the house so that no plants are touching the exterior.  Plants touching the house give insects a bridge to your home.
  5. Have our technicians treat your home.  Mares’ professionals eliminate indoor ant colonies by using bait.  The slow-acting insecticide permits the foraging ants to take the bait into the colony, thus eliminating the entire colony.  You can help us help you by noting ant trails so that the bait can be placed where it will be most effective.  Once the bait is set, you will notice an increase in ant activity as the workers take the bait to the colony for consumption.  Resist the temptation to kill the workers or apply other chemicals along the ant trails.  Over the next few days, you will see activity decline and eventually stop.
  6. Mares’ professionals will also put a granular insecticide around the perimeter of your home.  With your newly trimmed landscaping, this will create an effective barrier to prevent insects from entering your house.

Acrobat Ants

The acrobat ant is known as such, because when disturbed, a worker raises the tip of its abdomen up over its head and walks on its forelegs, thus appearing to do a traveling handstand.  Acrobat ants are small, shiny, have a brown to black color, as well as a very distinctive heart-shaped abdomen.  You may see them trailing in your house or yard, or sometimes, if you have had a previous carpenter ant infestation, they will secondarily take over affected wood galleries or nest sites.

Acrobat ants may nest in rotting or water damaged wood.  The presence of these ants in structures is often indicative of a moisture problem related to a leak.  Acrobat ants never attack sound wood and structural damage associated with them is minimal.   Some homeowners become alerted to an infestation when they see grayish bits of material (fine sawdust-like excrement and ant parts) being pushed out from under a floor joint or from behind a wall void.  This is often mistaken for mouse damage and nesting.

Call us if you suspect a problem.  We can determine if it is mouse or acrobat ant damage.  Treating for mice and ants are two very different things!