Ants are a familiar pest. They’re on sidewalks, pushing through blades of grass, crawling up stone walls in search of fresh food and new places to call home, and have even starred in movies. Because of this, they have a habit of being everywhere. And sometimes, that also includes places they’re not wanted, like your home. They can climb, burrow, and eat through most household items, and once they’ve created a colony within your house, it can be a pain to remove them completely. We’ll go over some preventative tips here, along with steps you can take to keep your house and belongings safe from an ant infestation.
What Exactly Are Ants?
While ants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, most ant species retain the same general look. They have six legs which allow them to crawl all over, as well as two antennae which help them “see” around their environment with the aid of two compound eyes. There are three kinds of ant in an ant colony: queen, worker, and male. Queens are larger and fertile females; there is only one per colony. The queen’s role is to reproduce often to create a larger workforce. Workers are infertile females that build tunnels, tend to larvae, defend the nest, and scavenge for food. Males are winged are are primarily focused on reproduction with the queen.
Ants create large colonies and scout the area around them for food. If they find places with better access to resources, they’ll eventually move or start a new colony at that improved site. Oftentimes, this ends up being someone’s home or apartment. This can become a problem both for the health and the state of anyone’s living space.
Ant Infestation: First Signs
There are some simple but effective signs of an active ant infestation in your living space.
- Live ants: One ant here or there typically isn’t what we’re talking about, although if you see a random ant roaming around, it can’t hurt to search the rest of your house. If you begin finding multiple ants that look the same roaming around, that’s a decent first sign of an ant colony in or near your home
- Ant mound: Most people have seen these mounds of dirt and sand in sidewalk cracks and in their lawns. Ants can bring the fun inside your home too by creating colonies anywhere they can. Different ant species’ colonies look different, too. Some use sand and dirt, while others will dig into wood.
- Ant pathways: Ants typically communicate through pheromones. If they find a consistent source of food, they’ll lay down a pheromone trail for other ants to follow. While you might not find dozens of ants at a time walking the same path, noticing ants consistently walking around the same path might be an indication that they’re finding something in your home that makes them want to keep coming back.
Problems From Ant Infestations
While an ant infestation might just seem annoying at first, they can create a lot of havoc that you’ll want to deal with as soon as possible. A few issues that can come about from ant infestations are:
- Food Contamination: Ants bring in a lot more than just their colony friends. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi from outside will end up contaminating anything they touch. And if they get into any food that you might have lying around or not properly contained, then all of those germs will end up growing on your food. This can lead up to anything from small bouts of food poisoning to mold, mildew, and chronic illness.
- Structural Damage: When colonies pop up in your home, there’s a good chance that there’s been some structural damage already done. Some ants, like carpenter ants, can actually form colonies inside the wood frame of your house, creating hollow spots that can more easily snap, rot, and ruin its structural integrity. They can even cause your home to become structurally unsound, if left long enough.
- Bits and Stings: Some ants are a bit more nosey than just rummaging through the snack drawer. Ants can bite or sting depending on the species, and each carry their own unique venom. While not nearly as deadly as some spider or snake bites, ant bites can still be irritating and sometimes require hospitalization. Some people are also hypersensitive or allergic to ant bites, which might cause someone to go into anaphylactic shock and possibly die if not treated immediately.
The best ant prevention is understanding your surroundings and your house’s vulnerabilities. A free inspection by Complete Pest Control Services can both reveal any possible current ant infestations while possibly highlighting any specific issues your house has that could leave you more prone to a future infestation. Keeping open food containers properly sealed, properly cleaning food spills, and doing checks of the foundation once a year can help prevent an ant infestation before it goes out of control. And if it does? Complete Pest Control Services can get your house back to normal.