In order to get rid of them, get those food they are attracted in to. Ants invade the home to forage for food or seek shelter or both. Knowing what species of ant is present helps to determine the nesting site, food preference, and the best method of management. In most cases, the most effective, permanent solution is to find and treat the nest; queens must be killed to properly eliminate a colony. |
The ants you see foraging in your garden or kitchen are workers. Workers that find food communicate with other workers by depositing a chemical message on the substrate as they crawl back to the nest. Although we cannot smell it, this "trail pheromone" sticks to the substrate for long periods of time and helps other ants find the food at the end of the trail.
As a group, ants have a wide food range, feeding on sweet foods, greasy materials, starchy substances, wood, and all kinds of plant and animal materials. Part of the reason that ants become a nuisance in our homes is that they often like the same kinds of food that we do.
There are two categories of ants that will be encountered with an ant problem. The control strategy that you should take depends on your type of infestation.
Ants that live outside and forage in the home.
Ants that live outside will travel inside the home to search for food. Some species may ultimately reside in houses, discussed later in this fact sheet. To prevent both of these scenarios, follow these procedures:
First, cracks and crevices should be sealed to eliminate passages into the home. If you do not seal entry points, ants will probably find their way into your house at some later time. Second, scrub around entry points with a detergent (to remove the trail pheromone) and spray a residual insecticide around entry points.
Bait treatments and insecticides can be used to control ants in the outside nest. To be effective baits must be placed in areas where ants frequent, eaten and be taken back to the nest. There are several different kinds of baits available, and you may have to do a little trial-and-error to find the proper bait. Because the ants must get back to the nest for satisfactory control this strategy may be incompatible with insecticide sprays which may kill worker ants before they can get back to the nest with the bait. The successful use of a bait may take several weeks or more.
Insecticide dilutions can be used outside to successfully drench ant nests. Be sure to follow label recommendations for correct procedures when applying the insecticide.
Ants that live (nest) inside your home.
Yes, there are some types of ants that actually establish a nest inside your home instead of merely entering to forage for food and returning outdoors. Ants in this category may be present year round, although they will be more active in the warmer months. Ant species that may live in Nebraska homes include crazy ants, odorous house ants, pavement ants, pharaoh ants, thief ants, and carpenter ants. All of these ants may infest food products. Spraying a residual insecticide to control foraging workers may provide only short-term control. Even when over 99 percent of foraging workers are killed by insecticide sprays, the colony may rebuild to its original numbers. Location and total destruction of the nest is the most direct way to eliminate this ant infestation.
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