Seeing ants?  Weather it is a few ants or an army, what you see on the surface is only a small percentage of an entire colony.  Each colony can have thousands of ants and killing only those you see will not stop an ant infestation, when ants that are present are killed the colony sends out more. Many of the natural solutions or ways to get rid of ants only work on the ants outside of the nest. I know because I have sprayed the ants with a natural solution only to have them return. The best way to get rid of ants forever is to get to the colony.

Would you like to know what I did for ants in my house?  Read I Still have Ants! at the end of this article.

How to get rid of Ants, a frequently searched subject providing information on natural products or natural solutions to relieve a pest infestation. However, many are leaving out information or possibly offering suggestions that may make your problem worse, often implying Pest Control Professionals do not offer safe treatments.  Research has been done and regulations put in place to help protect people, the environment, and our pets. Pest Control Professionals must know and follow them.  Every product used has a label that reflects this research.  Information that must be followed no matter who is applying the product, a Pest Professional, or a Home Owner. Your local Pest Professionals not only know about the products but exactly where, how, and when to apply these products.  They know about the pests, where they are likely found, how they reproduce, what they need to thrive and so on.  They have the special equipment available to place products used in unexposed areas preventing exposure of products to people and even our pets. They may even use some of the same products recommended as “natural”.   They care about safety, and provide an effective treatment to bring you peace of mind and a pest free home.

Why are Ants in my House?

It is important to understand basic ant management principles based on their behavior.  Ants are social insects and depend on each other for survival and each one has their own purpose (or job) in the colony.  There are no “stray ants” because they all work for the good of the colony and are directed where to go and what to do.  Though the ants originate from outside the structure they enter it in search of food or water and for other reasons.

Why do inspections?

Inspections of the structure and speaking with those who live or congregate there is a very important part for determining the treatment needed.  Finding out, where the ants are seen, when the problem started, and what time of day or night the ants are most active provides information to the pest control professional helping them to determine what kind of ant it may be, how to formulate an effective treatment plan, and what products and/or integrated pest management technique is necessary.

How you can get rid of ants in your house.

Gathering Information (the first step in how to get rid of ants)

A close inspection of the exterior perimeter provides important information, careful observation of trees on the property closest to the structure, grass adjacent to the structure, checking under debris, around garbage receptacles, barbecues, pet food, and water dishes can reveal where an ant source is feeding or coming from.  Identifying food sources and eliminating them is necessary for a successful treatment.  Places ant trails may be discovered could be the top or bottom of a fence, sidewalk edges, a hose attached to a spigot, raised roots, shrubbery touching a structure and even electrical and gas lines entering a structure.  The more experience pest management professionals have the easier it is for them to quickly pinpoint the most likely places ants will travel. The homeowner too should be observing these things with the intent of improving the success of the treatment being provided.

Find and Eliminate Food and Water Sources (the next step in how to get rid of ants)

Once inside ants will nest in wall voids behind electrical outlets, behind a cupboard, in a hollow door, in a window casing and many other places.  They are attracted to the kitchen for food scraps or to bathrooms and other areas that may provide a water source.  They enter through very small cracks or holes.  Tracking ant trails helps to determine where they may be coming from. Once trails are discovered they can be cleaned with soap and water or a vinegar and water solution to eliminate the pheromone trail they leave behind. It is important to find and eliminate sources of food and water which is why they are attracted and provides a favorable environment for them.  Ants are attracted to moisture damage, around windows, under bathroom fixtures, under kitchen sinks or other types of areas.  Repairing areas of moisture damage is an important element for eliminating ants.   Even small amounts of moisture or condensation are attractive to them. Some species of ants do not swarm but create satellite nests and can move into a structure in one evening with thousands of ants and there can be several colonies in a structure at one time.  This can make eliminating ants from a structure difficult and time consuming.  However, allowing time for the products to work and persistence do produce results.

What ants do with the food they find?

Adult ants do not swallow solid food but carry it back to the nest where the late-instar larvae digest it for them.  After the larvae digest it they regurgitate it and feed it to the adults and the queen.  This slows the reaction to baits because it must pass through the food chain to reach and kill the queen.  Ants send older workers to forage and defend the nest and killing adult ants will not eliminate a colony.  Sprays that eliminate only the ants present means more ants will be sent from the colony.

An Effective Treatment Plan (the third step in how to get rid of ants)

Ants send out signals using a chemical pheromone to communicate information with each other.  Sometimes information such as the “food source is gone and move to another location”, or “this is not the right food source” make treatments difficult.  For baits to work ants must have a need for the protein or carbohydrate contained in the bait for them to accept it.  Competing food sources may prevent ants from taking bait. Ants feeding on a natural source such as other insects can make bait treatments less effective because the ants are already satisfied from that natural source.  Underestimating the size of the colonies and putting out too little bait allows the ants to send a message that the food source is gone and look elsewhere spreading the ants. Baits can also become contaminated by absorbing odors from a nearby source or other treatments repelling instead of attracting the ants to the bait.   Lawn treatments or other pest treatments can be a source of bait contamination.  If this is the case the pest professional knows to try another approach.  Proper product placement, using an appropriate product, and the right approach for an individual situation are vital for providing an effective treatment plan. 

Evaluate (the last step in how to get rid of ants)

Pest Control Professionals are always learning to recognize why a treatment may not be effective, then make necessary adjustments to achieve the needed results.  Treatments for ants can be a slow process and cannot work overnight or with one spray or bait treatment.  Even pest professionals may find it difficult to eliminate certain species of ants.  Some teamwork is need from you to help eliminate a pest infestation.  It is important to heed the advice of the pest control professional to achieve the pest free home you desire.  Their suggestions are meant to help you achieve that pest free environment.  Weather it is to trim plants away from the house, move the pile of firewood away from the siding, or make a needed repair there is always one goal in mind.  The Pest Free Worry Free Home.

 

additional resources:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/question-of-the-week/ants-are-taking-over-how-can-i-survive-invasion

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/question-of-the-week/ants-go-marchingwhat-should-i-do

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/washington/search/ants/0/4

I Still Have Ants ! My experience with ants. 

I too have had ants in my home and it took time after the treatment for them to decrease and then stop coming altogether. They were attracted to a light fixture in the bathroom.  I replaced the fixture they were nesting in and as time went on I was seeing more dead ants than live ones and after some time I stopped seeing ants altogether.  For a while I thought I would go crazy because there were so many ants.  Removing the light fixture and treating the cracks they were coming through made a big difference.  I also removed an old hot tub sitting outside, the ants were attracted to because of moisture damage and they were living in the insulation of the hot tub. There was a trail of ants going from the hot tub, through the foundation and into the bathroom.  Since it no longer worked calling someone to haul it away did not bother me at all.  It has been a year and even though there are ants outside in the yard I have not had them in the house.  Our housing development was built on an old cherry orchard and I suspect the ants are left over from that orchard.  I keep the debris that comes from the surrounding trees and other things raked away from the foundation of the house so that they are not attracted to it.   Ants outside are great but inside they were a nightmare.   I also have three dogs and I did not have to worry about them getting into the products used because the treatment was placed in areas the ants traveled and not accessible to the dogs.  This really helped me to relax and wait for the treatment to work.

So, what did I do to cope with my ant infestation?

I am not unlike many of you.  I was frustrated and upset by the presence of these pests.  They were everywhere and in great numbers and got into everything.  I knew I had to do something.

I cleaned under the sink, in the drawers, dusted the walls and wiped them down.  I swept the floor every day, cleaned the sink and counters and then dried them with a towel.  I dried the shower walls and floors.   I vacuumed the crevices and the carpet.  Yes! they were all over!  Then I went to the store and bought different sizes of containers that had tight fitting lids. Anything I had in the drawers, under the bathroom cabinet or sitting on the counter went into a sealed container.  I was determined to keep these pests out of my things.  I took out the light fixture above my bathroom counter (where they had a nest), cleaned the ceiling around that area and had a new fixture installed. I called someone to haul away the hot tub and the source of the ants. I cleaned up my yard and around the foundation of the house and let the pest control professional treat where need.   These pests continued to come but by the end of the week the numbers started decreasing and each day thereafter.  After a while I would see only a few and then one day they were just no more.   I had to be patient and trust that the treatment would work and it did.

 

 

 

 

 

How can you help to ensure your home is a Pest Free Worry Free Home? 

  • Remove competing food sources
  • Take note of how many ants are seen, where they are and when they are most active.
  • Avoid contaminating baits
  • Avoid using additional pest or lawn treatment products
  • Repair any moisture damaged present
  • Inspect the exterior perimeter looking for food sources and harborage areas making the necessary improvements.
  • Clean ant trails with an appropriate method being careful to not contaminate pest products applied.
  • Put on your detective hat looking for ant trails, signs of damage, competing food sources and let the pest control professional know.
  • Take action with home repairs fixing conditions attractive to ants.

visit  http://americanextermination.com/ant-control-portland   for a more comprehensive list of actions you can take.