Ants

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Ants (Household Ants)

Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera and are close relatives of bees and wasps. They are familiar insects that are easily recognized, especially in their common wingless adult forms, known as workers.

However, winged forms of ants, which leave the nest in large numbers in warm weather to mate and establish new colonies, are often mistaken for winged termites, which also leave their nests to mate. Ants and termites can be distinguished by three main characteristics:

  • The ant’s body is constricted, giving it the appearance of having a thin waist; the termite’s body is not constricted.
  • The ant’s hind wings are smaller than its front wings; the termite’s front and hind wings are about the same size.
  • Winged female and worker ants have elbowed antennae; the termite’s antennae are not elbowed.
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Sanitation Practices

Ant management requires diligent efforts and the combined use of mechanical, cultural, sanitation, and often chemical methods of control. It is unrealistic and impractical to attempt to totally eliminate ants from an outdoor area. Focus your management efforts on excluding ants from buildings or valuable plants and eliminating their food and water sources.

Reducing outdoor sources of ants near buildings may reduce the likelihood of ants coming indoors. Become aware of the seasonal cycle of ants in your area and be prepared for annual invasions by caulking and baiting before the influx.

When ants invade your home, take immediate action i.e. caulk cracks and crevices around foundations, sponge invaders with soapy water as soon as you see them, plug up ant entryways with caulk or petroleum jelly.

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Prevention

Prevention is always the best approach against all pests including ants.

  • Clean up sugary spills.
  • Eliminate food sources inside the building or prevent access to suitable food by keeping it in ant-proof containers.
  • Caulk cracks and crevices around foundations that provide entry from outside.
  • Provide a dry, vegetation-free border, such as gravel or stones, around the perimeter of house foundations to discourage nest building; wood chip mulches and landscape plants provide a good nesting environment.
  • Remove trees that consistently host ants and are adjacent to houses . Trim branches and limbs of trees and shrubs that touch the building to keep ants from gaining access via these routes.
  • Manage honeydew-producing insects such as aphids, whiteflies, psyllids, and soft scales on plants near the house. These honeydew producers often support large colonies of ants that subsequently invade homes.