Do you have an Ant Problem and live in the Portland area?
American Extermination Plus, Inc. is ready to help.
A.E.P.I. can provide Ant Control for wood-destroying ants, such as carpenter ants or for those annoying small ants such as odorous house ants or other ants found in the Pacific Northwest. Our technicians can use their experience to tackle your ant problem and get results.
At American Extermination Plus, Inc. we have technicians to provide pest control for the following service areas.
Call us today and we will be happy to provide you with a thorough inspection to explain how we can help with your pest control needs.
There are many ant species, some suggest there may be between 10,000 and 30,000 different species. Each colony may consist of thousands of individuals. Ant colonies can grow extremely large. In Japan, some colonies have been found to cover several acres.
Ants come in many different sizes and colors and have a variety of nesting habits. Some ants nest in the ground and others nest in wood. Yet others prefer a warm humid area to live in while certain types prefer dry areas. Certain types sting and some can bite. They can live from the Arctic tree line to the humid tropics. From Alaska to South America, Africa or Australia they are the most abundant of all social insects.
It is no wonder they can become a problem. The variety of habits and variability of species can adapt to any environment where they exist.
In the Pacific Northwest, the carpenter ant species known for substantial damage to structures is the Camponotus Modoc.
Ants have a Social Order
They are very interesting insects. They have a social order they follow with a queen at the top of the social order and her only job is to lay thousands of eggs, then there are workers that take care of the queen, eggs and pupae by foraging for food bringing it back to the nest, some have soldiers that protect the nest. They use pheromones to communicate and their antennas to hear or taste their food. These pheromones can lead them to a food source or alert them to danger in the nest.
Ants have a varied diet
Ants eat many different types of food, starches and sweets especially aphid honeydew, seeds, meats from the dead insects left in a window sill to a picnic lunch, fungus they harvest or grown in their nest, to grease, meats or syrup left on a kitchen counter. Knowing the food preference is helpful in exterminating ant colonies.
Ants conflict with humans
Ants, when in their natural habitat are necessary and beneficial. Ants increase the air in the soil, this enhances beneficial bacteria that clean up the forest floor of dead trees or allow things to decompose more quickly. Ants and humans come into conflict when they invade our homes and attack as we eat our picnic lunch or play in the sports field.
Most often ants are a nuisance and cause little damage but there are types of ants that can weaken the wood in structures. In a hospital ants can spread disease organisms such as staphylococcus by either moving infected waste or feeding on it and then relocating to a different part of the hospital.
Humans may also be sensitive to ants. Fire ant bites can cause a painful reaction. Their toxin has been known to cause heart palpitations and anaphylaxis in allergic people. Most stings from the Solenopsis species are not life threatening but can be quite painful.
Ants in the Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest has many species of ants; however, we are mainly concerned with those that infest our homes or are a particular nuisance to us.
- Carpenter Ants
- Odorous house ants
- Argentine Ants
- Pavement Ant
- Pharaoh Ant
- Little Black Ants
- Cornfield Ant
Carpenter Ants (Camponotus Modoc)
Carpenter Ants are one of the most common ants to see around a home. Workers are outside foraging under trees and shrubbery looking for food to take back to the nest. They are large, often black or dark bodied, some may have brown or reddish coloration along with the black. They can vary in size from ¼ in. to ¾ in. They may establish nests in stumps, hollow logs, telephone poles, fence posts, or in wood that is moist or partially decayed. Although they prefer decayed wood they will also nest in sound wood. When Carpenter Ants make their nests in the structure of our homes the damage can sometimes be very costly to repair.
Carpenter Ant Nests
Carpenter ants may build underground tunneling systems that often end at a food source. This can often be an aphid colony where they will extract and feed on the honeydew produced by the aphids. Tunneling systems can also exist in trees or Carpenter ants may build satellite nests in a home.
Carpenter ants do not actually eat wood, they will excavate it to make their living spaces. They choose the soft wood first and use the hardwood for walls creating galleries in the wood grain to provide passageways. The debris from their excavations can often be seen around baseboards or at the bottom of trees, this is known as “frass”. When frass is found in a home, it is an indication of a carpenter ant infestation.
Common areas of Carpenter ant infestations are around and under windows, roof eaves, decks, and porches, in a wall void, and in crawl spaces where construction debris may have been abandoned. Moisture is most often what has drawn the carpenter ant to these areas.
This photo shows a series of Carpenter Ant galleries inside a tree.
This photo shows a structural 2X6 removed from a house with a Carpenter Ant infestation. Note the galleries that were created when the softer early wood of each annual ring was removed. The harder late season growth rings are still intact.
Carpenter Ant Swarms
Reproductive swarms emerge from a nest primarily in the spring, but may also happen at other times of the year. This usually happens from a mature colony ready to break off and start a new colony. The male mates with a queen and dies, the queen relocates and establishes a new nest. The nest hatches a new worker generation that will feed and care for the new eggs and Queen while she continues laying eggs. When this nest matures, reproductives(New Queens) will emerge from it also. These nests continue on in this manner and nests can grow very large.
Carpenter Ant damage can be extensive and costly to repair depending on where the nest is located in a structure. Their nesting activities can weaken building structures although not as seriously as termites.
They are also a great nuisance due to their unsightly presence and unwanted movement in and outside of buildings. Contamination of food in kitchens could also be expensive and very troublesome.
Argentine Ant workers are approximately ½ to 1/8-inch-long and are light to dark brown in color. Nests are in moist soil or under buildings, along sidewalks or beneath boards and plants, and usually close to sources of both water and food. Occasionally they may be found with-in a structure where moisture is present. They may feed on sweet foods. The argentine ant is well adapted to urban and suburban environments and will persist where other species do not thrive.
Little Black Ant
A very small ant of a 1/15th inch long, jet black and found in all states. Nests normally located outside in open areas. They will nest in rotten wood, woodwork, and masonry of buildings. Colonies have multiple queens and can become very large. They feed mostly on plant secretions, but will occasionally invade houses in search of food, such as sweets, meats, bread, grease, vegetables, and fruit.
Pavement Ants are 1/8th to 1/6th inch long, blackish brown, with paler legs and antennae. The nest is usually found outdoors under stones, next to buildings, and under cracks of the pavement. They may occasionally be found in walls under floors, and in insulation. They can be a particular nuisance around homes with slab-on-grade construction. They enter buildings through cracks or similar openings in search of food, with greasy and sweet materials being preferred.
Odorous House Ant
Common pest throughout the United states but a particularly common problem along the West Coast. Workers are 1/12th to 1/8th inch long and brownish black in color. This ant gives off a very characteristic, pungent, and unpleasant odor when crushed. Odorous House Ants forage along regular trails and have similar food diet to Argentine ants. They may move indoors late in the year when honeydew one of their primary foods becomes less abundant.
This ant is found in the northern United States and especially in the Pacific Northwest. It is common in cornfields and as its name suggests prefers sweet substances. It may nest in rotting logs, stumps, under stones, and in exposed soil. It often builds small craters in lawns. It is a common nuisance ant pest at picnics.
Pharaoh Ants are light yellowish to reddish brown in color and 1/15th to 1/12th in long. They are found in localized regions throughout the United States. They may infest homes, apartments, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. Their small size enables them to get into almost anything and this with their wide food preferences makes it difficult to exterminate this ant.
Nests are rarely found and can be in many locations, in the structure, in light fixtures, in folded towels and so on. They do like warm places near furnaces, heat ducts, and hot water pipes, places that are moist or near open sources of water. They are known to go long distances from the nest foraging for food. They have a wide range of food preferences, just a few are syrups, fruit juice, honey, jelly cakes, pies, greases, dead insects, or meats. In a hospital, they will feed on blood or other bodily fluids and medical waste. They are a concern because they can spread bacteria from one place to another.
Oh No! I have ants!
What Should I do?
First don’t panic. Damage from an ant infestation will not get drastically worse overnight, also, they are not interested in harming you. Call a pest control service, most will complete an inspection of your home or business at no charge. They will be looking for any indications of a nest or places that are favorable harborage areas and any possible areas ants may enter. They will also look for any signs to help them identify the ant species. They should inspect your crawl space and possibly the attic.
Your Pest Control Company needs your Help. Put up the Ants Not Welcome Here Sign.
Applying pesticides may be the first but not the only step necessary for exterminating ants or other pests. Additional steps will help to provide the desired results of getting rid of those unwanted pests once and for all.
- Rinse surfaces with a vinegar and water solution. This will help remove ant trails.
- Many ants feed on sweets, greases or meats so be sure to wipe up spills from counters promptly. Ant buffet closed.
- Now is a good time for a spring cleaning, start with under the stove, behind and under the refrigerator, or other hidden and forgotten areas. Ants can find lots of treasures we do not know are there. This area off limits ants.
- Clean the pantry cupboards and clean any crumbs or spills that may be attractive to ants.
- Clean under any appliances that may be sitting on the counters, even the smallest crumb is an attractant for ants.
- Clean all drip pans with soapy water.
- Store sugar, honey, butter or other snacks in sealed containers and off of the counters. Make sure the outside of the containers are clean. These are a favorite at the ant buffet.
- Store bread and dry goods in sealed containers or in the refrigerator.
- Promptly move leftovers to the refrigerator.
- Clean all fruits and vegetables stored out of the refrigerator and dispose of any that may be showing signs of rot. No sweets available for ants.
- Ants love pet food. Do your pet a favor and pick up the dish between meals.
- Move garbage and recycle items to outside sealed containers promptly.
- Check rain gutters for debris. This is a favorite place for ants to get water and food. Clearing gutters of debris and standing water will eliminate the attraction for ants. Ants call this home sweet home.
- Check outside faucets for leaks and repair if needed. Ants look for places of moisture eliminating that moisture source avoids attracting the ants.
- Keep foundation clear of ground cover or weeds.
- Make sure there is no soil touching the siding, this will help to prevent rot and a moisture source for the ants. Advertised as a move in ready real-estate.
- All foliage should be at least 12 inches from the siding. Ants co-exist with aphids and feed on the sweet “honeydew” aphids secrete. This is ant buffet heaven.
- Trim all branches away from the house. Tell the ants this highway is closed permanently.
- Double check potted or cut flowers before bringing them indoors. Also, check firewood before bringing it in and only bring in what will be used.
- Enclose garbage in sealed garbage bags, rinse containers for recycling, and keep the garbage can lid closed tightly. This will put the closed for business sign out for ants
- Very important would be to NOT use store-bought insecticides if a professional is also applying a product. These products may work against each other making the treatment ineffective. You could also be jeopardizing your health and safety by having too much product in your home.
- Products used by a professional require by law a 30-day wait period before being reapplied this is for your safety. Many products are designed to have a slow release and some products are meant to be carried back to the nest. Talk to your Pest Control Technician about the treatment plan used for your home and how it is going to work.
American Extermination Plus, Inc. is here to help you with your pest control needs. Call us today. We will be happy complete a full inspection and discuss your pest control needs.