Ant Colony

Ant Control

Have an ant problem? Here’s how to get rid of ants permanently — both inside and outside — using proven, organic and natural control strategies.

As a group, ants are important natural predators of many insect pests including flea and fly larvae, caterpillars and termites. However, there are times when it may be necessary to get rid of an ant problem, especially when they are found in the kitchen searching for food. In fact, ants lay down a chemical pheromone trail to and from a food source so other ants can easily find the food source.

Some species invade lawns and gardens where they build large unsightly mounds or protect aphids, mealybugs, scales and other insects from their natural enemies. They can also damage plants by tunneling around the roots causing them to dry out. Read on to learn our 8 step treatment program for getting rid of ants naturally and save BIG money doing it yourself!

Identification

Common in and around the home, ants range in size from about 1/32 to 3/4 inch long. They have three body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) and can be anywhere from a yellowish-red in color to black. Most are wingless, but winged forms exist during “swarming” or colony reproduction. Ants have pincer-like jaws and can bite although most do not. A few species are very aggressive and will inflict a painful sting.

Tip: Look closely to determine if what you see is an ant or a termite. Ants have narrow waists and bent antennae. Termites have thick waists and straight antennae.

Ant Varieties

With 12,000 ant species in the world it’s hard to know all of them. The main species of ants are:

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants get their name for their love for wood. If you notice path of sawdust around floorboards, wooden beams or window sills, it could mean you have an ant infestation and you should contact a professional exterminator immediately. If left untreated, these insects can create devastating damage to your home’s structure.

Generally, carpenter ants will form their primary colony outside and construct satellite colonies inside a home. These ants also like damp areas so keep an eye out for leaky showers, wetness around windows and damp areas in the basement. Carpenter ants will only tunnel through wood that’s already damaged by water.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants can leave a mean sting and are usually found around yards, parks and playgrounds. These common pests prefer warm weather and can be attracted to trash and debris left around the house. Although not poisonous, you’ll want to keep an eye out for their mounds. These mounds can grow fire ant mounds as wide and 24 inches and are jam packed with thousands of ants. Be aware stings can result in allergic reactions that may become more serious in some.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh Ants range in color from tan to brown. These ants are known to split their colonies if they are sprayed, leading the infestation to spread around the perimeter your house. This is a common house ant known to infiltrate if you leave out scraps, sweets, pet food, liquids or crumbs. These ants could carry streptococcus, staphylococcus or salmonella so making sure your eating areas and trash cans are wiped down to avoid welcoming these insects in.

Odorous House Ant

The odorous house ant is known for giving off a rotten coconut smell when it’s crushed. Like pharaoh ants, these ants are attracted to sweets and water. You’ll likely see hundred of these ants appear out of no where should you forget to put up food or have crumbs left around the house. This species could spread harmful bacteria so you want to make sure you don’t leave out a food source that could attract them.

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants (Tetramorium caespitum) have two obvious nodes and fine striations along the head and thorax. These small brown ants create characteristic “ant hills” which are small ant nests along sidewalks, patios, parks and yards. Most commonly found in New England, pavement ants travel in packs and at a relatively slow pace. They push up dirt and build nests along the edges of paved driveways where they can easily make their way into your home.

Life Cycle

Ants are social insects and live in colonies with three distinct types of adults called castes. Queens are larger than their peers and are responsible for egglaying. Some species have only one queen per colony whereas others have many. Males are responsible for mating with the queens; they do not participate in any other activities. Workers are sterile wingless females. They make up the bulk of the colony and are responsible for building and defending the nest, caring for the young and foraging for food.

New colonies are established by a single fertilized queen that lays hundreds of eggs. After about 30 days the eggs hatch into legless larvae that do not resemble adults. The queen cares for the “maggot-like” larvae until they pupate approximately 1-2 months later. Within three weeks the pupae transform into adult workers, which begin collecting food for themselves, the queen and for future generations of larvae. Eggs are laid continuously throughout the spring, summer and fall. Colonies overwinter in the soil, woody areas or in garden trash.

How to Control Ants

Like all pests, ants require food and water to survive; by eliminating these basic necessities you can greatly reduce their numbers.

  1. Store food and organic wastes in sealed containers, clean up all kitchen surfaces and empty trash daily.
  2. Caulk cracks and seal crevices around foundations and apply Don’t Bug Me Spray to door and window jams to prevent entry from outside.
  3. Where pipes and electrical wires enter the house spread Tanglefoot Pest Barrier to keep crawling pests outside.
  4. Diatomaceous earth contains no toxic poisons and works quickly on contact. Dust lightly and evenly around ant trails or other areas where insects are found.
  5. Apply Organic Insect Killer Granules around foundations, lawns and landscaped areas to eliminate or repel all kinds of crawling insects.
  6. Dust Boric Acid (Borax) lightly into cracks, crevices, wall voids and other insect hiding places. This fine powder clings to the legs, antennae and bodies of crawling insects and has an active ingredient that acts as a stomach poison when consumed during grooming. You can spread a few tablespoons near an individual mound or across the entire yard.
  7. SprayOrange Guard in and around the kitchen to kill on contact. Approved for organic use, Orange Guard is a broad spectrum insect killer that’s safe to use inside or out. Repeat applications may be necessary.
  8. Safer Ant & Roach Killer is the first effective, truly organic aerosol ant killer, killing crawling insects in seconds. Best of all, this pest control has a fresh citrus scent, so there is no chemical odor!

Tip: The best way to keep these industrious insects from coming indoors is to locate the mound and destroy the colony. Set pre-filled outdoor bait stations where pests are found. Botanical pesticides applied directly to the soil will also destroy existing mounds.

Recommended Products