If there’s one thing that can ruin summer fun, it’s ants. A trip to the beach, a picnic or simply enjoying a TV show on the living room couch can come to a screeching halt when that little trail of ants comes crawling through. Not only can they pillage food supplies from a picnic or backyard cookout, but ants can invade the home, becoming a nuisance and in some cases causing structural damage (e.g. carpenter ants).
While there are numerous species of ants with varying habits, many of their primary nesting places can be found in outdoor spaces underneath stones, logs and soil. However, these critters become major pests when they make their nests in the foundations of homes, primarily in walls, floors and foam insulation. Many ants also forage for food indoors, and some can damage electrical wiring and sting.
Whether ants are already occupying your space, or you want to prevent on incoming invasion, there are strategies and tips to help defend your home against this small but bothersome enemy.
Michael Burks, owner of Eco Pest Solutions, Cleveland, Tenn., said that it’s always better to have a proactive approach to ant control rather than reacting to a later ant infestation.
“Being proactive is a little different, you have to think...like an ant,” said Burks. “The ants aren't there, but you have to pay attention to areas they may show up.”
When inspecting a home for potential ant problems, it is important to look for anything that could promote ant activity in the house structure and the surrounding environment, Burks said. Structural flaws such as cracks in the foundation, gaps in walls and floor voids provide ants with easy access to your home. It is also necessary to locate sources of moisture outdoors, such as gutters, mulch beds and leaking A/C units that could damage wood and form a perfect spot for ants to set up shop and dish out some of their damaging behavior.
“These areas should be caution school zones, like flashing lights, for a PMP,” Burks said. “If I was a betting man, that's where I'm putting my money on where a potential ant problem could show up.”
After identifying potential problem areas, implement a proactive program that includes the use of pesticides. There are products that work well for proactive ant control, said Burks. “Rockwell labs has FenvaStar EcoCap; it is a great liquid residual,” he said.
Burks added that other quality proactive products include InTice 10 Granular Bait and InTice Gelanimo Ant Gel, both of which have proven results for the top three species of ants — odorous house ants, carpenter ants and fire ants — in southeast Tennessee.
If you’re reacting to an already present ant problem, however, you will want to use a product that provides quick knockdown, a number of which are available in the professional market, Burks said. Although reactive ant control involves more than using products to get rid of the existing ants.
Once those ants are removed, it’s important to locate the weak spot where ants were entering and correct it. However, ironically, your reactive approach isn’t complete until you set some proactive strategies in motion. In addition to fixing the initial entry point of the ants, it’s vital to inspect and fix all other potential structural or environmental deficiencies, so as not to allow ants in a second time. In doing this, Burks added, “That’s when you are a proactive pro.”