A Guide to Ants and Getting Rid of Them

There are very few things a homeowner likes seeing around the house less than ants. They can get into your food and even damage the foundation and structure of your home. However, with a little knowledge and some help from Guardian Pest Control, you can smash an infestation and make sure that it never happens again.  Ants in particular seem to be one of the most common to infest our lives.Once they’ve infiltrated your home, they seem to be almost impossible to get rid of. Then, before you know it they’ve started showing up everywhere in the house, including inside cupboards and under sofas and loveseats. 

First, preventing a pest problem is much easier and less expensive than getting rid of pests once they are in your home. Guardian Pest Control cannot emphasize enough the importance of sanitation and highly encourage our customers to clean often and thoroughly to keep pests out of your home. Easy access to food and water sources are typically why residents in Washington find ants in or near their structures.  Clogged gutters, leaking outdoor fixtures, unsecured garbage cans, and gardens may attract ants and once they discover access to the inside, they will take advantage of your hospitality.  They may even establish satellite colonies in your structure. 

Here are a few ant prevention tips:

  • Seal cracks and crevices found in your home’s foundation, exterior walls, and spaces found around utilities (pipes, wire, and ducts)
  • Reduce moisture levels by installing or running dehumidifiers.
  • Fix leaking pipes and appliances.
  • Unclog gutters and trim trees and bushes away from the exterior.
  • Replace water damaged wood.
  • Remove any wood from your home that has been damaged by water.
  • Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight or for any length of time.
  • Store food in the refrigerator or in air-tight containers
  • Empty trash cans often

Another reason why ants infest homes and businesses is weather-related.  If it becomes too hot or too cold, too dry, or too wet, they will move indoors for more comfortable conditions. Nesting spots vary by ant species but in general ants can be found nesting in places such as:

  • In soil
  • Among piles of wood
  • In cracks of pavement
  • Under fallen trees or landscaping ties, or inside of tree stumps

Inside, it is common to find ants under flooring, behind walls, in crawl spaces, near heating systems, and behind large appliances. 

Due to the abundance of water and green foliage in and around Seattle, western Washington is home to numerous types of ants. These five most common ones range from dangerous (fire ants and velvety tree ants) to mostly benign (odorous house and pavement ants). Accurate identification of the ant and location of the nest(s) is essential if you want to get rid of the ant colony for good.  Treating carpenter ants requires a different method then say pavement ants and if you treat the foraging members of the colony but not the queen, the problem will continue. Here’s a look into some of the most common amts:

Argentine Ants

Argentine ants are pretty common around the country, and the State of Washington is no exception. This is a tiny ant. They are only a sixteenth of an inch long, and are varying shades of brown. They invaded from South America in the 19th century and quickly conquered many local ant species. They love moisture, so you can find them around plants, bathrooms, and standing water. They also love sweets, so honey and sugar are at the top of their menu.

Fire Ants

These ants come by their name honestly. Most ants you’ll come across are pretty harmless other than the ick factor, but Fire ants can give you quite a sting from their bite. Luckily they are not as common as the Argentine ant, since they don’t reproduce as quickly. Their relative, the Red Imported Fire ant has  started popping up in the southern United States, however, and their bite is even worse. Some playgrounds in Texas have had to be closed off because of Red Imported Fire ant infestations. It may only be a matter of time before they make their way to the State of Washington.

Odorous House Ants

Odorous House ants were the most common ants before the Argentine ants invaded. While their numbers have fallen, they are still very prominent in Western Washington, including Seattle. These ants are tough to control, and they release a disgusting smell when they are squished. This smell is a defense mechanism to warn other ants of danger. Their colonies are huge with sometimes more than 100,000 ants at once, so the ants that you might see crawling across your counter are just the tip of the iceberg.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants (not termites )are a whole new ballgame since they can cause actual damage to your home. As their name would suggest, they love wood, and burrow themselves into wooden beams to create their nests. If an infestation lasts too long, then there is a possibility they will threaten the very structural integrity of your home. You may notice that there are little sawdust piles around infested areas. You may also hear tiny scratching noises coming from the walls when the house is quiet.

Like many social insect colonies, carpenter ants typically swarm late spring or early summer. The reproductive members swarm to find mates and establish new colonies. If you are seeing a lot of giant winged ants inside your structure, then you likely have an active carpenter ant problem.  If winged ants are flying around outside, you have a colony somewhere nearby. 

Velvety Tree Ants

In Washington State, you may encounter velvety tree ants. Although these ants’ names might not sound menacing, they combine some of the worst traits of fire ants and carpenter ants. They usually make their nests in dead wood, but they may find their way into your home. Velvety tree ants are aggressive biters and often inject poison with the bite. The bites are painful and some people have compared them to scorpion stings.

Unlike other ants, these insects are not in search of human food but rather other insects. Therefore, if you start noticing them in and around your home, it likely means you have another insect problem that is providing their food.

Due to the aggressive nature of these ants and the fact that they have a painful sting, if you see them around your home, call a Guardian Pest Control immediately. You do not want these ants to get too comfortable in your home!

At Guardian Pest Control, we offer comprehensive pest control services that include an inspection.  When you contact us, we will conduct a thorough inspection of the property to identify the type of ant and how bad an infestation you have.  We will also locate entry points and determine what conditions in or around your structure are attracting them.  Give us a call at 877-926-9966, or schedule a free inspection online.