PUBLISHED ON February 28th, 2012
We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme meant to help us learn to count and sing. Why is it, then, when you have an ant invasion it turns out they come in the tens, hundreds – but definitely not the twos? In the cartoons, the ants all look the same.. little, cute, sweet personalities if not a smidgen ditzy – but the ants you have come in all shapes, sizes, colors. They come in the winter, they come in the spring, they have wings, and they don’t have wings. What gives?
Well, this blog is especially for that moment of crisis when you realize you have ants, but don’t know what type. Are they eating your home? Your food? Why are they there and more importantly, WHY WON’T THEY LEAVE? We feel you, and we echo G.I. Joe when we say, “knowing is half the battle”. Get ready for a primer in ants.
Sugar Ants, Odorous House Ants, Coconut Ants, Stink Ants, Piss Ants
These guys (and all but the queens are guys) are common. Homes, once infested, will remain infested until successful treatment. Over-the-counter products don’t work, and in fact, can make your problem much, much worse. These ants are the tiny ones that swarm your counters when you spill a little bit of jam, or occupy your washroom where you keep the dog food. They’ll eat anything, they’ll find anything you accidentally leave out, and they won’t go away once you clean it up. Called sugar ants because of their love of all things sticky and sweet, the name is a bit of a misnomer. They’ll eat anything, from coffee rings (and these can provide nutrition for quite some time) to leftovers. The biggest advantage these ants have, though, is their nesting strategy. These ants are called “budding ants” – meaning that they have more than one queen and establish multiple, connected nest sites throughout your home. If you start targeting a nest, the queens living there will simply pick up and start over. One nest can lead to three; three can lead to nine, etc. Lastly, they can spread (they do not carry, nor transmit) salmonella through mechanical means (get it on their feet, drag it through the house sort of thing).
Carpenter Ants, Big Black Ants, Wood Ants
Here’s where the ants with wings come in. These ants can also be a variety of size (called polymorphism), though they’re usually black. They don’t always have wings – when they do, they are looking for new places to nest (this is called swarming). People realize that they have a different type of problem when they see the “major” ant of these species, or what we commonly call the “big black ant”. In the Pacific Northwest, they’re a common pest in our homes. They also live out in nature, happily helping in the lifecycle of the forest. The problem arises when they can’t tell our home from some comfortable decomposing cedar tree in the middle of the woods. These ants earn the name “wood ant” because they live in it (although they do not eat the wood – that’s termites and a whole other blog), making tunnels and nests throughout the material. They have a different nest style than the budding ants, where there is one central nest and many satellite nests, with the satellite nests being dependent on the central, or main, nest. This is why carpenter ants require special attention – without preventative and professional treatment, they will continue to infest and destroy your home. Often, the main nest can be 300 yards away in the greenbelt. You are probably experiencing a satellite nest infestation, and will continue to do so until the main nest, along with the queen ant, is eliminated. If we can’t track down that main nest, preventative treatments can be done to prevent the reestablishment of a satellite nest in your home.
So – now you know.
And now that you know, why call a pest control professional? One – we understand their biology, and we’re good at tracking down the actual problem. Your neighbor may have an out-of-control infestation that’s spilling over to your home via a tiny crack in your siding. You may have several ant nests throughout your home – these ants are extraordinarily adaptive and can live in the most unusual places. Two – our products are incredibly effective. While you may empty an entire can (or two) of toxic Raid throughout your house without any results, exposing your family to whatever is in that stuff; we strategically place minute amounts of product throughout your home. When we do have to apply a liquid product, such as a spray, we do it in such a way to prevent exposure to your family and can use organic pest control products.
More importantly, we use a program called Integrated Pest Management – meaning we don’t just kill the ants that are already there, we make sure that more ants don’t just reinfest after we’re gone. That means caulking up the tiny crack in your siding, and putting down a barrier treatment to prevent them from making it to your home at all. Sure beats the pants off a spray can and a prayer, huh?