Ants are just about the last thing you want to find in your sugar bowl-or in your cupboards, sink or grill for that matter. But while all types of ants might give you that same creepy, crawly feeling, they are not all the same. Worldwide, there are an estimated 22,000 species of these slender-waisted insects, but thankfully, homeowners in the U.S. only really have to worry about the following types.
Fire ants are rarely a nuisance inside the home, but they can become a concern in your yard. They prefer to build their mounds in sunny, open areas, and these mounds can reach up to two feet tall. Fire ants are easily identified by their reddish-brown bodies, which measure about 1/8 inch in length.
While fire ant stings are not poisonous or lethal (unless you happen to be allergic), they are very painful. If you are stung, use an over-the-counter antibiotic cream on the sore area and keep it clean until it heals. Pest control professionals can get rid of fire ant mounds through the use of specialized baits and insecticides.
These tiny little ants measure about 2.5 mm in length and are light to dark brown in color. They may infest your home or yard, building nests in moist areas such as inside tree stumps, along a damaged wall or in moist corners of the basement. A single colony can house thousands of worker ants, so you rarely see just one or two of these ants.
Argentine ants do not bite or sting, but you really don’t want them in your home since they can contaminate your food with bacteria and viruses. Treating an infestation typically involves an initial application of pesticides and then taking steps to seal any cracks and crevices through which future ants may enter the home.
Odorous House Ants
If you squish an ant and immediately notice a foul odor, you can bet that the ants bothering you are odorous house ants. Measuring about 3 mm long, they are dark brown to black in color. Outdoors, they prefer to live in the moist soil beneath rocks and logs, and indoors, you may see them around water pipes, under sinks and beneath floors.
Since odorous house ants build such large colonies, it’s important to act quickly if you suspect an infestation. These ants love sweet foods, so they are easy to tempt with ant baits, which they will carry back to their nest, poisoning their fellow pests.
Pavement ants are tiny black ants that measure 1/16 – 1/8 inch in length. They’re typically only seen outside in the cracks of pavement, but they occasionally become a nuisance inside homes with slab-on-grade foundations. Pavement ants are most active at night, and they typically leave mounds of disturbed soil in their paths.
Pavement ants don’t present a serious risk to your home, but they can certainly be annoying. They’re typically easy to get rid of with ant baits. Sealing any cracks in your home’s walls and foundation-and repairing any leaky pipes-should keep them from coming back inside.
Carpenter ants can be red or black, and they measure about 5/8 inch in length. These large ants are really the last ones you want to see in your home since they feed on wooden structures and can compromise the stability of your structure.
Carpenter ants don’t usually enter a home unless there’s wet, rotting wood to feed on. They can come in through cracks in windows and doors. If you notice carpenter ants in your home, contact a pest control expert like those at Pest & Termite Consultants, Inc. immediately. Getting rid of the ants usually involves making repairs to eliminate moisture and damaged wood. The sooner you act, the less structural damage you’ll have to repair.
While different types of ants present different risks and must be dealt with in specific ways, you can keep them all out of your home with the same basic principles. Seal any cracks, fix leaks immediately, and don’t leave food out to attract them.
If your home has been overrun by ants, contact Pest & Termite Consultants, Inc., for help in getting rid of them.