How Can I Get Rid of Ants?
By Chris Williams on May 12, 2015.
It’s happening again! Every year about this time, these little ants invade our house. We see them in the kitchen and in other rooms, too. It lasts for a few weeks, and then they’re gone. Why are they coming in and how can we keep them out? S.S., Meredith, NH
Ants move into buildings for a variety of reasons when their outdoor conditions change (see What Causes Occasional Indoor Ant Problems?). They are often foraging for new food sources, or they may be escaping very wet or very dry conditions outside. Just as quickly as they move in, they may change their habits and go back to foraging outside instead. The main thing is to have a professional exterminator inspect and make sure that the ants are not actually nesting inside your home. This is especially important if the ants could be destructive carpenter ants.
What You Can Do About Ants
Most of the seasonal ants that we get in our homes are nuisance ants and are not doing any damage. There are steps that you can take to encourage them to move back outside: store food in sealed containers with tight lids, clean up spills, crumbs, and dirty dishes, empty garbage cans frequently, repair plumbing leaks, and don’t leave pet food out.
A common outside source of invading ants is plants that have aphids or other plant-feeding pests. Aphids excrete a “honeydew” substance that ants feed on. An aphid-infested shrub outside your door could be the source of your ants. Also, trim back branches that are touching outside walls or the roof and that can provide a travel route for ants.
If your ants are a persistent problem, it’s time to call in the pros.
What We Can Do About Ants
It’s virtually impossible to seal up all the tiny openings that ants can use to get into a house. But often we can follow their trails and find out where they are entering. Then we can treat or seal that opening (See What’s the Right Way to Control Ants?). More importantly, when we follow their trails, we can usually track them back to their nest site outdoors where we can treat and kill the entire colony.
Another way to kill the colony is to place ant baits along their trails and feeding locations. The ants feed on the toxic bait and also carry it back to other ants in the nest, eventually killing the queen and the rest of the colony. Baiting is a long-term process and doesn’t immediately get rid of your ants, so we sometimes supplement with a select pesticide treatment to provide quick relief.
You can eliminate foraging ants in advance by having us apply an exterior perimeter treatment around the foundation of your home to intercept outside ants before they can get inside. Give Colonial a call today and ask about our Preventative Maintenance Program!