What the difference between ants and termintes?
Got an Ant or Termite Problem? Know the difference
To distinguish a carpenter ant infestation from a subterranean termite infestation, it is important to examine the hollowed-out wood. Carpenter ants clean and polish their galleries of wood so that they appear smooth inside, while galleries of subterranean termites contain large amounts of soil and mud.
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How to Win the Battle Against Ants with Pest Control
In this section, you will learn the exact strategies and methods you can use to remove ants from your home and stop them from ever returning.
There are several ways you can do to take action against ants. This can range from the use of natural products to chemicals. Another way to deal with ants is to prevent them from ever coming into your house in the first place. Of course, in worst case scenarios, total eradication is needed and should be done by professional pest control companies. A quick scan through your local yellow pages should help you track down the best ones in our near your locale.
What can you do if you have an ant problem?
The first thing you can do when you have an ant problem or believe that your house is a target for ant infestation is to prevent it from ever becoming a problem in the first place.
Steps to prevent ants from becoming a problem in your home and garden
Scout around your immediate vicinity to check for tell-tale signs of ants or ant colonies. With enough research done, you should be able to identify what type of ant species is present in your home. Knowing the type of ants you have will help you combat the issue faster and easily.
Next, remove any elements near or around your house that would make it ideal for ants to make their home in. For example: the number one thing that attracts insects is a water source. Remove any standing bodies of water near or around your house.
Clear up the clutter in your backyard. Leaves and other rotting materials that are present in your background are surefire ways to encourage ants to build a colony near you or in your garden. Make sure you dispose of your garden’s garbage properly.
Check for access points ants can use to get into your house. Branches or clutter that is touching your house are excellent bridges for these tiny insects to enter your house. Once again, clean up your surroundings!
Lastly, try to check the foundation of your house for any visible cracks and seal these properly to ensure that ants cannot sneak into your house through those passageways.
Steps to take when you’re faced with an ant problem
Perform a thorough inspection in your home
Performing a thorough inspection is the first step you should take when trying to get an ant problem in control.
It’s quite easy to find an ant’s nest. Just follow the trail! Or in this case, the pheromone trail. Ants leave chemical pheromones for their sisters to follow. In this way they are able to lead the rest of the gang to where the food is!
Places to inspect:
Inside your home
- Along the carpet edges
Outside your home
- Check for any visible ant hills in your immediate surroundings
- Check the overgrowth for hidden anthills
- Check the debris and other rotting materials in your garden for hidden ant nests
Follow the trail back to the colony
Ants don’t just wander around without a purpose. They’ll find a food source and bring it straight back to their colony without making any unnecessary stops. Nothing will stop an ant from bringing back food it’s found to the colony. All you have to do is be observant and follow the ants back to where they live.
This strategy is also dependent on the type of ant species you have. Some ants are nocturnal so you may have to get up in the middle of the night to follow these ants. Again, check what species of ants you’re dealing with in order to handle your issue effectively.
Deal with it accordingly
Now that you know what type of ants you have and you know where they live, it is time to deal with the issue at hand. There are several methods you can use in dealing with ants and each has its own efficiency in controlling ant problems.
Special consideration: dealing with anthills
Ant hills are fortified with hardened soil and protected by soldier ants. Approaching one almost immediately sparks off a massive outpouring of ants to defend their territory. This usually happens even if it is an unintended intrusion into the ant colony. Sometimes an innocent passerby just happens to step on the ant colony.
An ant bite from a regular worker ant is painful. Now imagine a bite from a soldier ant! These ants are designed by nature to kill other insects with their massive jaws. Compared to a worker ants jaws, the jaws of a soldier ant is massive!
Natural products you can use for offense and defense against ants
Natural products used in the fight against ants are oftentimes just deterrents. This usually works well for people who only have a mild issue concerning ants.
has a chemical product that when sprayed on the openings in your house stops ants from coming in. This is because the Chemical in lemon juice seems to mess with the ants’ senses. For best results, spray around the openings in your house or where you think they are likely to enter.
If you love cinnamon, then you’re in luck! Why? Because ants hate cinnamon and they will go through great lengths to avoid it. Best used in and around your kitchen and other areas where moistness comes into play.
Using peppermint spray is a great smelling solution against ants. This is perhaps one of the best smelling products people use today against ants!
Borax, water and sugar
This is a very old technique that you could use and the products are pretty easy to come by in your local hardware or grocer.
Boiling water and dish soap
If you’re feeling particularly malevolent and would like a very up close and personal approach towards getting rid of ants, there’s nothing more effective than boiling water and dish soap.
As soon as you locate the ant hill, all you have to do is boil some water, add some dishwashing soap and voila! You have an excellent way of getting rid of ants.
You can spread this substance around the perimeter of your home. As long it doesn’t get wet, the Diatomaceous earth should work to containing ants and making them realize there’s a boundary to where they are able to go through.
Here’s a little factual tidbit: Ants won’t cross a line of chalk. Now this can be your regular run of the mill chalk you find in educational facilities or the processed chalk made by the leading consumer goods producers all over the world
Baking soda and powdered sugar
This is usually used for baiting the ants. Just mix equal parts of baking soda and powdered sugar and you’re good to go. Just make sure you place this in a strategic location and you should be able to see a sharp decrease in ant numbers.
Same with cinnamon, ants totally hate coffee grounds. Using this to mark off an area is highly effective against ants.
Want an extremely safe solution that won’t break the bank and is totally safe to use even with pets and children around? Use cornmeal! Pour some cornmeal near an ant hill or along a marked ant trail and allow the ants to take it back home with them. Although cornmeal is food, ants aren’t able to digest it thereby starving these little critters to death. Safe, cost efficient but may take some time to actually accomplish the goal of getting rid of ants.
Cream of wheat
Cream of wheat! When ants eat cream of wheat it makes them explode. This is another malevolent way to kill them if you’re feeling particularly evil.
Another natural product that you can use that can easily be found in your kitchen is vinegar. All you have to do is pour half a liter to a liter of white vinegar into ant hills and it should drive them away. Of course the initial shock and panic this causes is going to get the ants running around furiously and you should be ready to get out of their way when you use this.
Add some peppermint oil and dishwashing solution for an even more potent mix!
Aside from natural solutions, pest control companies and agricultural companies have started creating chemicals targeted toward the eradication of ants. There are many chemicals you can choose from.
For now look around your home, you just might find other natural products you can use to defend your home against ants which you can share with the rest of the world too!
In this section you will learn about modern methods, weapons, and techniques to remove ants from your home. You will also learn the keys to stop ants from ever entering your home in the first place.
Prevention is the best cure for ants in your home. The easiest ant invasion to deal with is the one that never happens! Here are some of the best tips and strategies to stop ants from ever becoming a nuisance in the first place.
Monitoring and Inspecting
In order to prevent ants from ever becoming a problem in your house and garden, always perform monitoring and inspection schedules.
- Regularly inspect for ants or their entry points.
- Monitor attractive food sources or moist areas. This includes the entirety of your property. That means kitchens, bathrooms, offices and bedrooms should be checked. Sinks, pipes, cupboards, and electrical wires are also key areas to check.
- Look for large trails or signs of ants in your immediate vicinity. Follow the trails.
Exclusion and Sanitation
- Caulk cracks as well as crevices near foundations and other sites that offer entry from outside.
- Look for obvious entry points.
- As a preventive measure, apply professional ant control products in between your walls before you seal them up.
Reduce the attractiveness of your home to ants
- Ants love cracks and crevices especially if they’re near food storage and preparation areas. Make sure you take care of these tiny cracks and crevices immediately to reduce the risk of ants taking up residence there.
- Store enticing food items properly. Use air tight containers to reduce the scent of these food items from inviting these unwanted guests over. These include: sugar, honey, syrup and pet food in sealed containers previously washed to remove residues that may have remained in the outer surfaces.
- Get rid of empty soda bottles if you’re not going to use them. Or at the very least, clean them up as any residue from the drinks once stored in their might still attract ants.
- Thoroughly clean up food spills and grease. A quick wipe over with a dishrag soaked in dishwashing liquid should do the trick!
- And last but not the least: Take the garbage out regularly and change your liners frequently.
Go on the offensive
- Always be on the lookout for potential nesting sites for ants.
- Indoor potted plants are a good example of possible nesting sites for ants. If you find any ants in these potted plants, immediately remove the containers from your home. Place the pots in a solution of insecticidal soap mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 2 tbsp. of insecticidal soap for each quart of water. Make sure that you totally submerge the pots so that the soil surface is covered by the water & soap solution.
The use of ant baits is regarded as the most efficient way to manage ant infestations all over the world today. Ant baits are mixed materials targeted at attracting worker ants in search for food. These baits are laced with insecticides and often come with a carbohydrate or protein compound.
The lead forager ants then take a portion of the bait and relay a message to other worker ants to assist in bringing the whole bait back to the colony. These food particles are then passed on from one ant to another and into their food storage area where it will further contaminate the rest of the food in there. Over time, the ant bait gets used to feed other colony members.
One key thing that all ant baits should have is a slow acting mechanism to maximize its efficiency. Although others may not totally agree with this, it shows that by using a slower acting mechanism, you may not have outright results there and then but in the long run, a single bait can effectively wipe out a colony.
As studies show, ant baits are becoming more popular than commercial ant sprays for there long term effect on ant management.
Refillable Bait Stations
One way that you can effectively manage an ant infestation is to set up ant baits. There are several products out there in the market today that you can use as ant baits. Look for borate based baits as these are the ones noted to have the highest efficiency in killing off ants.
Look for ant baits that have a lower percentage of the active ingredient as this will allow foraging ants to bring back the borate product back to the colony. Now some may debate that this is not the way to go as it is a very slow process to kill ants. Think about it this way: a high concentrate will kill foraging ants almost immediately. But that doesn’t take care of the problem that there are probably more than a thousand ready to take the place of one fallen ant.
A lower concentrate is going to be a slow solution but it will allow for the borate product to be ingested not only by the worker ants but possibly the queen ant too.
For maximum efficiency try to install at least one dispenser around each side of the house and also along ant trails. Make sure that the bait stations are in well shaded area as extreme exposure to sunlight may dilute the potency of the chemical. And lastly, regularly check and refill these stations as necessary.
Common chemicals used in the fight against ants are:
- Avermectin B (abamectin)
- Borate-based products2
Although these chemicals are targeted in the control of ants, their effectiveness may vary according to ant species and product used.
Borate products may likewise include the active ingredients below:
- disodium octaborate tetrahydrate
- borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate)
- orthoboric acid.
Chemicals may only be obtainable for professional use only. You can’t blame these companies for doing that as these chemicals are potentially harmful to both humans and the environment if improperly used.
Indoor Insecticide Treatments
Note: although there are insecticides that can be used indoors, it is highly advised to leave the application of these chemical agents in the hands of professional pest control companies.
What to do instead of spraying insecticide indoors:
- Thoroughly wash areas where ants are observed. Sponging and/ or mopping these areas remove the scent trails dropped by foraging ants and will leave other ants “blind” as to where to go. Also do this on entry points such as windows and doors.
- Use a vacuum to physically remove ants from target areas.
- Use plant-based oils like peppermint, cloves, etcetera instead of chemicals.
Outdoor Insecticide Treatments
For outdoor insecticide treatments, the most common practice to keep ants from getting indoors is to treat the areas around the foundation with residual sprays.
Chemicals used for this purpose include:
- Pyrethroids bifenthrin
Other more potent chemicals are only available to professional pest control management companies. Shop around for one if you want a better and more permanent solution. A good company will also offer you preventive maintenance on a monthly basis so be on the lookout for that package!
You can also use ant baits as a safe and effective DIY ant management for outdoor purposes. If you combine this with the preventive steps mentioned in the previous section, this has the highest probability of totally eliminating unwanted pests in your immediate vicinity.
Special considerations for carpenter ants
As mentioned, carpenter ants are a class above the other ants so it should go without saying that carpenter ants should be treated differently.
As a last resort, treating the nest should be the ultimate move for you. But, you have to do this efficiently; otherwise these ants will just disperse and regroup somewhere else.
For carpenter ants, use ant baits. Carpenter Ants are nocturnal and most active in the evening. Follow their trails and place your traps and baits accordingly for maximum efficiency.
The next step should be to locate their nest and treat the issue directly by pouring a chemical solution into the hole or allowing these ants to bring in chemicals to kill each and every last one through ingestion of chemicals.
Also, use non-repellent ant spray to reduce the risk of scattering.
And to ensure they never ever come back or they never ever become a problem in the first place, try to regularly clean your surroundings. Paint any exposed wood or dispose water damaged ones. Remove dead tree stumps. And get rid of decomposing material in your immediate surroundings.
Ants, Knowing the Enemy
In this post, you are going to learn some vital information about ants such as their anatomy, lifecycle, and other facts that will help you to control them.
Knowing the Enemy
In any battle, any good general knows that researching and finding the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents is vital in order to win the war.
Since you are embarking on a journey to rid yourself of pesky ants in your home, it is best to know a little more about these amazing tiny creatures!
First of all, you need to understand the basic anatomy of an ant.
What is an ant?
An ant is an insect. Like all insects, ants have three body segments – the head, the abdomen and the thorax.
Depending on the species of ants, an ant doesn’t live for very long. An ant’s life can vary from as short as 45 to 60 days up to a year or more. The reason you can never seem to get rid of ants is that every time one dies off, another one or two ants take its place.
Ants live in colonies ruled by a single queen. Without the queen ant, an ant colony will eventually die within a couple of months. Queen ants can live for a couple of years and give birth to millions of ants during their whole lifetime!
Ants start out as eggs and then hatch into larvae and afterward go into a pupa stage before they eventually develop into full-grown ants within a couple of days from hatching. Most ants laid by the queen are females, although a small number is reserved for males. These males eventually head out in search of future mates.
An ant has six jointed legs covered with minute hair. These legs are very strong in proportion to their size. For example, if an ant was the size of a full-grown man, it would be able to run as fast as any race horse. Aside from speed, ants also have remarkable strength. This enables ants to carry objects 20 times their own body weight.
The legs of ants end in claws that they use to hold on to surfaces. As long as an ant can have a firm grip on any surface, they’ll be able to hang on. Even if that means the terrain is upside down!
Pound for pound, ants are probably the strongest creatures on Earth. Ants can lift loads up to 20 times their body weight.
Ants breathe differently than you or I. Instead of lungs, they breathe through small holes all over their bodies. They also hear things in a different way. Since ants don’t have ears, they listen to sounds through their legs. Vibration travels from the ground to their legs and that’s how they hear the world around them.
The head of an ant is equipped with two large jaws which can be used for holding and shearing off pieces of food they find. The head is also where you’ll find the antennae which ants use to sense their surroundings as well as communicate with other ants in the colony. These jaws are also strong enough to bore through wood and chew up material for lining up their colony. Now here’s an interesting fact, although these jaws are extremely strong, ants can exact a level of control that allows them to perform other duties which require precision and care. For example, nurse ants use the same strong jaws to tenderly transport larvae from one place to another or to groom the queen.
Another thing: ants are nature’s vacuum cleaners. If you’ve ever been to a picnic, try to take note of what happens to your bread crumbs a few minutes or seconds after it’s fallen from your plate. As soon as one ant appears, others are sure to follow. Why? Because ants leave pheromones behind them wherever they go; this helps them retrace their steps back to their ant hill when they’ve found a food source. This is also a way for other ants to follow them towards the food source and back. So when you see one, there’s bound to be a hundred more on the way!
This is the reason why ants, although wonderful creatures in their own way, are much maligned as pests when they invade our homes!
Knowing the Enemy’s Basic Organization
In this section, you are going to learn about the different types of ants, how they fit into the ant colony, and which ones are the cause of all your problems.
There are three types of ants in every colony: the queen, the females, and the males. In order to get the best result when waging war on ants, you must know the difference between the three types and how to fight them. In this section, you will learn about the queen ant and how it is the cause of all your problems, the pesky female ants that are a constant nuisance, and the male ants.
The Queen ant
The Queen is perhaps the most important element in any ant colony. Without the queen, the colony will eventually die off. The queen is responsible for laying eggs on a massive scale. One queen ant can lay more than a million eggs throughout her entire lifetime. These eggs eventually hatch to either become workers or soldiers. There usually is only one queen per colony but depending on the size and the species sometimes there are more queens existing within one.
Why is the Queen Ant considered a pest?
The Queen Ant is the one that produces millions of other ants to serve its needs. These ants then invade your home to look for food or nesting spots, becoming a constant nuisance to you and I. In effect, you could say that the Queen Ant is the progenitor of all your issues today.
The female ants branch off into many factions from the basic worker ants to the formidable soldier ants
The worker ants are the ants we see on a daily basis. These ants are the ones responsible for finding food, bringing it back to the colony and relaying information to other worker ants where to find the food. A single worker ant can carry up to twenty times its own body weight.
These are the female ants responsible for grooming the queen in order to keep her laying eggs. As soon as an egg comes out from the queen a nurse ant carries it off to the nursery where several nurse ants take responsibility for cleaning, feeding, and grooming the future additions to the colony.
Ants also take care of fungi which they can derive food from. Farmer ants line the colony’s walls with fungi by chewing up leaves and allowing growth to happen. These farmer ants even take care of smaller insects like aphids and milk them like cows!
Soldier ants very rarely leave the immediate vicinity of the colony. These ants are the ones responsible for protecting the ant hill and everyone inside it. These ants usually have larger heads equipped with large jaws or mandibles to help them shred those who would threaten the colony’s existence to pieces.
Why are female ants considered pests?
Female ants are considered pests because these are the ants that literally swarm all over your food or scurry around in a haphazard line all over your home and garden. Furthermore, these are also the ants that bite people whenever they are threatened or perceive anything as a threat. One female ant near a food source can multiply within minutes to a hundred and even more!
The Male Ants
Male ants live only for one purpose, to mate with a potential queen and then they die off. Male ants also have wings like the queen ants. When it is mating season, these male ants swarm all over the place with queen ants who are winged at the start and start pairing off. As soon as the male mates with a queen ant, they usually die off. The queen ant then goes off to create a colony and sheds off their wings as well.
Why are male ants considered as pests?
Male ants are considered pests because these ants are bred for one purpose and one purpose alone: to mate with a queen. During mating season, hundreds of male and potential queen ants converge in a well-lit area. This usually happens on a warm summer night on your porch. They’re not out to bite you but you might find it really annoying to be constantly swatting at these flying insects to avoid having them collide with you mid-air! These swarms can number from a hundred to well over a thousand flying insects. One way to avoid these annoying swarms is to turn off the lights when you see a swarm just beginning to happen.
Knowing the Enemy and Their Allies
In this section you will learn about some of the different species of ants, including the ones that are most likely to invade your home and garden, causing you grief.
Like all animals, ants are sub-divided into several species. There are over 12000 different kinds of ant species all over the world. Discussing all of these would require another book, so we’re going only going to touch upon the species known to invade our homes and gardens.
The only place where you probably won’t find any ants is in Antarctica! But, for the rest of the world, virtually everyone has to deal with ants. Now, depending on the area where they originated, these ants have mutated to adapt to their surroundings. These adaptations can range from their basic appearance, coloration, behavior, or in some extreme cases body modification.
Here are some examples of ants from all over the world:
- Argentine ants
- Carpenter ants
- Odorous ants
- Pavement ants
- Acrobat ants
- Army ants
Red Imported Fire Ants or RIFA for short. These are probably one of the peskiest ants in existence today. These species of ants are very aggressive and highly adaptable to their immediate environment. This is the reason why RIFAs are very successful in areas where they are transported to.
This is just a small sample of the many different types of ants infesting homes and gardens all over the world today!
There are two main types of ant problems: Ants that live outside your house and forage inside and ants that have already built their nest inside your house.
Ants that live outside and forage in the home.
Here’s some good news: Ants prefer to live outside. But that’s not going to stop them from coming into your house! And if the conditions are right, they just might take up permanent residence in your house.
Some examples of these ants are:
- Argentine Ants
- Crazy Ants
- Ghost Ants
- Leafcutter Ants
- Odorous House Ants
Ants that live inside your home.
This would probably be the main reason why you got this book in the first place. Ants are known to take up permanent residence in our homes. This is especially true if your house has all the right conditions for it to stay inside. For example, it is full of clutter and there are many food sources they can get meals from.
Special Consideration: Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are a class all of their own. These ants are nocturnal and are most active in the evening hours. This is when they start foraging for food. No place is safe as these ants have no reservations when it comes to foraging both inside and outside the house.