Ants are a pervasive and ever present insect in temperate climates throughout the world and New Jersey is no exception. Entomologists estimate there are approximately 20, viagra 000 ant species in the world with over a third of that number still waiting to be identified and described.
As an outdoor, shop and usually beneficial insect, ants rarely achieve the kind of pest status that other insects might. There are no ants native to New Jersey that are known for their bites or stings and are very rarely a cause for public health concern. It is also very difficult for ants to spread disease due to their behavior and biology. All in all, when compared to more “pestiferous” insects like mosquitoes, roaches and bedbugs, ants are small potatoes. The largest transgression our native ant species might incur would be ruining a picnic or invading our kitchens with very few exceptions.
Since a small incursion of ants can be a small annual occurrence not requiring professional help for most homeowners, here are a few tips for someone trying to handle the problem on their own:
Ants come from outside, so start looking outside. When you find ants in the home, see if you can get an idea of where they’re getting in from. Oftentimes, if you follow an ant trail back from a food source, it’ll take you right to a foundation wall or window where the ants are making their way indoors. Now continue your inspection on the outside, try and locate the colony itself, or at least a greater hub of activity. Once you’ve located the colony’s nest you should be able to apply any pesticide you might be using directly to the ant nest outside the home, reducing pesticide used and exposure for anyone in the house.
A good cleaning never hurts! Some people will tout the repellent properties of bleach and other cleaning agents against ants and that’s just not the case. The real reason is that ants are scavenging for food debris or residues and are highly attracted to those scents. A good cleaning will remove those attractive odors. It may sound like a silly or semantic distinction but it’s the truth; removing an attraction is better than adding a repellent! Besides, they don’t call it Spring Cleaning for nothing, better you do the clean-up before the ants beat you to it!
If you’re going to use pesticides, use real products, properly and according to directions. People love to try out a new home-remedy they just found on the internet without any further research. The real story is simple, the overwhelming majority of these home remedies don’t work, and some might even be more hazardous than store bought chemicals. I remember seeing instructions on how to make a nicotine “tea” out of pipe tobacco and water to be sprayed for insect activity. Nicotine is very toxic to pets and humans, having a quart sitting around the house in an old water bottle could lead to disastrous results. Products purchased from a local hardware store or pest control supplier will be tested and approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and come in labeled packaging. The labeling will come with instructions for use and safety precautions. Also, don’t be afraid to try using a few different types of products, maybe use a bait and a spray instead of just one or the other. Integrating product usage results in faster effects and less product usage in the long term.
There are a few circumstances when an ant problem would require professional control, however. A Carpenter Ant infestation in the home would be indicative of a nest within the structure, damaging the wood in the home. If you start finding large black ants in and around the house, it would be best to contact a professional immediately.
If you find that after a few attempts at do-it-yourself pest control things aren’t getting better, it might be time to get professional help. Some species of ant, like Pharaoh or Odorous House Ants have very adaptable behavior and will react to the presence of pesticides by moving to a different part of the home or even splitting up their colony to form several smaller ones. When you spray the ants in the kitchen and the next day find ants in a few other rooms in the house, this may be the exact situation.
Some ant colonies are big, I mean really big. Our native Pavement Ants easily number well over a million insects in a large colony, a number that might be difficult to control with over the counter products or without special training. Pest professionals have access to restricted use products that are not available to homeowners or the general public and the equipment to properly apply it. Add that to a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field and you have a pest professional. Sometimes you need to break out the big guns to handle a problem, and the biggest “gun” is usually knowledge.
Feel free to download our FREE eBook “Winning the Battle Against Ants: 7 Things You Need to Know” here. Its loaded with great information for anyone dealing with ants or just curious. Share it with your friends!
If you feel you might need help with your ant problem, request a free estimate for ant control here.