Have questions about ants? Our pest control heroes took the time to answer questions that we get frequently from our customers about ants. View the table of contents below to learn more about ants or find the answer to your specific question!
The following content was provided by Jo Ellen Nichols, one of our pest control heroes and insect experts here at Clegg’s Pest Control. Jo Ellen deals with ants across North Carolina, so she knows her stuff when it comes to these pests! Some relevant links have been added to audio transcripts to provide resources or additional information.
Table of Contents: Ants
Click on a question below to be taken directly to that answer and content.
- How can I get rid of ants?
- Why do ants keep coming back?
- What happens during an ant inspection?
- How does an ant extermination work? What does the exterminator do to get rid of ants?
- Can ants come back after Clegg’s ant treatment?
- Why do I have ants in my dishwasher?
- What are the most common ants here in North Carolina?
- What attracts ants?
- Do ant traps work?
- How can I prevent ants in my home?
- Should I use over the counter pesticides for ants?
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How can I get rid of ants?
Getting rid of the ants, it could be complicated. You have to know what kind of entity is, where they may be, where they like to live, what kind of food do they eat? This is the kind of thing a pest professional knows and we can find that when we do a pest inspection and we try to follow a recommended guideline based on what kind of ant is it.
Why do ants keep coming back?
Ants keep coming back a lot of times, because what they’ll do is they’ll lay down scent trails kind of like pheromones. sometimes it’s just, they have a lot of food sources there. If the food is plentiful, you’ll probably keep having ants. If the structure has any kind of conducive conditions, ants will come back regularly. Sometimes it’s very hard to get rid of ants. They also lay a scent trail if they find a good source of food. Sometimes that scent trail can last a very long time. It’s a pheromone scent. They’re very strong. They can attract other insects as well, but that’s usually why they keep coming back to the same area.
What happens during an ant inspection?
Usually our ant inspector will come out and they’ll inspect the premises and they’ll inspect your problem. They’ll talk to you, see where you’ve been seeing the ants. They’ll try to help identify the ant, especially if there’s some on site. That’s great. We always ask the customer to try not to remove the ants or spray them with any kind of insecticide before we get there. It really helps us to identify the ant. Then we’ll recommend a treatment plan from there.
What does an exterminator do to get rid of ants?
It really depends on the kind of ants you have. Sometimes our exterminator will come out and they will look and decide depending on the type of ants and depending on the structure and all the conditions there, some ants need to be baited. We will put down an ant bait. Sometimes it’s liquid. Sometimes it’s a granular ant bait, or sometimes it can be as simple as going around the exterior with a liquid spray, usually from a large rig or sometimes just a small as a hand thing. It really just depends on how many ants you’ve been having and how significant the problem is.
Can ants come back after treatment?
Ants can come back, especially if it was a large issue, especially it’s been going on a long time. If something’s been going on a long time like that, we really need to try to figure out exactly where these ants are coming from. Like I said before, the conducive conditions can allow them to flourish. For example, if we come out to do a treatment and they condition that’s causing them, whether it’s a lot of field foods, such as dog food, could just be a lot of crumbs or it could just be a lot of things outside that’s causing the ants to come back.
They could have a lot of bushes and things touching the foundation. The ants favorite food are aphids. They love to farm aphids. By that, I mean, they’ll go up and touch the aphid and the aphid will produce a honeydew. These ants feed off of that. The more aphids that are in the bushes and the trees and things like that, that can also cause you to have large amounts of ants. The more ants you have around a structure, they can keep coming back. You also may need multiple treatments. Like I said, depending on the number of ants.
Why do I have ants in my dishwasher?
Ants love dishwashers. You have spilled food, you have moisture. Ants love these two things. I always ask, “Do you clean the dishwasher out very thoroughly?” Usually it’s a sign. It’s a sign that possibly they are coming from the crawl space area. You may have to have the exterminator go underneath the home. They also can be bedded in the walls behind the dish washing area or typically in the kitchen walls. I have had them, especially in the winter time, bed in the walls. It would maybe be a meandering colony left over. That’s their only source of getting food is whatever is still around and in the dishwasher. Every time I go to a homeowner’s house, I can almost count on they’re coming in around the dishwasher area and they love electrical outlets. The electrical outlets are a good place for them to start and they, they love following those electrical lines. I don’t know if it’s magnetic fields or if it’s just a perfect nesting place in the wall closest to this washer, but they love those type of areas.
What are the most common ants in North Carolina?
Most common ants right now, a lot of times these things change, but typically you’re looking at your odorous house ant, which is usually a small black ant. They have multiple queens in these colonies. The worst thing you can do for those ants is spray a pesticide around those ants. Those ants respond by breaking up the colonies into little pieces when they smell pesticides or when they scent pesticides. They will go in all directions, form other reproductives and multiply your problem significantly. A lot of those ants will need to be faded out instead of sprayed the other ants we have, I think that are most common. Especially, you’re starting to see a lot of them this time of year, are going to be your fire ants on the outside. Those calls a lot of issues, especially with people who are allergic to wasp stings.
They can also be allergic to fire ants. They can be a serious life threatening situation. We recommend that your yard be inspected to see the severity of the issue. We do love to put out ant bait for those in the yard typically. Baits work better sometimes because the queen can digest, it gets digested through the whole colony instead of just something that’s typically on the surface, which sometimes tends to push ants around, make them move over a few feet, and then they start back up. You want to get the entire colony instead of just a few workers that you’re seeing across the top
What attracts ants?
The things that attract the ants the most, I would say are going to be food sources, adequate food sources, like I was discussing about the aphids that live in the bushes. They love to farm the aphids. They kind of work in conjunction with each other and support each other. If you have a large amount of aphids, a large amount of bushes that contain them, you can have that. That’s a good food source for the ant. If the home is typically, maybe you have a lot of kids, they like to steal food. Sometimes you can have those issues, dog food and things like that. You also have conducive conditions like moisture that can be around the home. If there’s a lot of moisture around the home and love that. Also, if you have things like limbs and things touching the house, making virtual highways for the ant, very easy access for the ants to come on to the home, onto the structure. That’s something else that can attract the answer to the home.
Do ant traps work? Do store bought ant traps work?
The ant traps are very limited in their use ant traps. Don’t measure the amount of ants that you may have. Some colonies are a lot larger than other colonies. Some ants do not feed off a sugar type bait. They’d rather have protein bait. You really have to know the biology of the ant, what type of ant are you dealing with and what is their preference in food? Also, people tend to put ant traps on top of the counter, or they’re going to put them real close to where they’re seeing the ants. This sometimes tends to make the issue worse. The ants lay down a pheromone trail saying, “Hey, here’s a good food source.” They think of it as a food source. They don’t know it’s a poison and they’ll feed on it. The problem is, is usually the dose is enough to take care of a large colony.
You’re not giving them enough bait to take care of this situation. I always ask customers not to put them out, and if they do have to do something, they can put them outside the area. Ants will find bait, whether it’s inside or outside. I’d rather have the ants outside.
How can I prevent ants in my home?
Depending on what kind of ant you’re trying to prevent, most of them just don’t want the typical house ants. I would say the best way to do that is to make sure you keep limbs and trees touching your structure, to keep your downspouts and your gutters clean of debris. Ants love to nest in the debris that you see a lot of times that form along the gutter lines, where people are just not cleaning their gutters very well. Also, if your downspouts are not clean, you can have moisture up against your house where it’s just dumping it and leaking from your gutters against the foundation. You want to keep the moisture off of your home and you want to try to prevent any spillage and food sources from being available for the ants.
Should I use over the counter pesticides for ants?
Most of those pesticides are labeled and if customers follow the label properly, they may obtain control, limited control, I might add. The worst thing about that is if you’re not sure what type of ant you have, and they have multiple queens and large colonies, you could actually multiply the problem, because like I said previously, those ants can breach and break off and they will take eggs in all directions and start micro colonies. They will actually multiply the problem. They are essentially running from the pesticide you put out. If you put it out for say an odorous house ant problem, they have multiple Queens in those colonies and they can actually form multiple colonies when they are trying to avoid the pesticide.
It’s kind of like a survival technique that they’ve developed. Sometimes spraying pesticide like that, just blindly is actually going to make your problem a lot worse. Some ants really have to be baited out instead of sprayed. We go there, we try to do an ant inspection and the person has cleaned every one of them up or sprayed Raid. We always like to ask the customer when they call us out, please do not spray anything. Try not to move anything around. Leave it just as it is and we’ll be glad to come out and do an inspection and evaluate it as it sits.