To solve an ant problem, you need to first eliminate the ones you don’t see in order to get rid of the ones you do. Ants are very social insects with very strict hierarchies. The queen, of which there is usually only one per colony, is responsible for breeding and populating the colony, and she is the only one who can do that. The problem is that she never leaves the nest, so you have to go through others to stop the reproduction cycle. So, how do you use this evolved system to eliminate the ants that are bugging you?
Time Required: variable
- Watch the trailing ants. It may sound silly, but the first step in gaining control is watching the ants that enter your home or office to see where they are coming from and going to. An ant will seek food, but once it finds food, the ant will return to its nest with the crumb, leaving a scent trail behind it. By doing so, the ant provides a trail for its fellow worker ants to follow to assist in gathering the food.
- Don't spray them! The ants that you see are worker ants. Their job is to find food and take it back to feed the queen and her young, who are being groomed as the next generation of worker ants. Because of this, they are your ticket into the colony. If you spray and kill these ants, the colony will simply send out more workers to take their place.
- Set out ant bait. So, instead of eliminating those workers, use them! Following all label directions, place ant bait stations along the trail you identified. The workers will find the bait, carry it back to the nest, and feed the queen, eliminating her and future populations.
- Don't clean yet! Although it is advantageous to eliminate other food sources, you don't want to mop away the ant's odor trail yet. The trail will now lead the workers to your bait instead.
- Be patient. The ants will carry the insecticide bait back to the nest, but it can take several days to eliminate the colony, or even a few weeks if the colony is very large. You may even need to replace the bait station if they empty the food or liquid bait.
- When to spray. If the trailing ants have led you to an outdoor, below-ground nest, drenching the nest with an approved insecticide spray (following all label directions) can be effective.
- Keep it clean. Sanitation is critical for the prevention and control of any pest. Like all living creatures, ants need water, food, and shelter for survival. Ants will leave the shelter of their colony to seek food and water. Don't make it easy for them! Keep foods sealed, floors swept, and all surfaces cleaned.
- Keep ants out. Ants are tiny creatures and can enter homes and buildings through minute cracks and crevices. To minimize this, seal around windows and doors, and all cable, pipe, and wire entry points.
What You Need
- Ant bait stations