As far as pests go, ants are really more of a nuisance than anything else.
They are the most common pests in households. In fact, as a species, ants easily dominate in terms of sheer numbers. There are trillions of ants right under our feet. And for every ant you see, there are probably nine more hidden away nearby.
Ants not only come marching into homes. They also can be found just as easily in restaurants, hospitals, offices, warehouses, and other buildings where they can find food and water.
If you really think about it, ants are fine for as long as they stay outdoors, out of our homes. In fact, they’re even beneficial as they feed on fleas, termites, and other garden pests.
How Do I Know What Kind of Ants I Have?
Figuring out what kinds of ants you have is key in figuring out your next move. There are thousands of species of ants, but only a few actually make their way into your homes as pests.
The most pervasive ants you’re likely to find at home are:
- Argentine ants (Linepithema humile)
- Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.)
- Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum)
- Odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile)
These are the most common ants found in California homes and gardens. They are small (⅛ inch) and typically a dull brown.
Outdoors, they live in shallow mounds. Indoors, they nest usually near food (seeking out mainly sweets, and sometimes proteins) and moisture. They particularly love hanging around potted plants, sinks, and pipes.
Of the more common household ant pests, these can destroy your home just like termites because they tunnel through wood. These large (¼ to ½ inch) black ants look for damp wooden structures and leave a tell-tale sawdust-like debris (called frass).
Carpenter ants are particularly fond of sweets, and nest in tree stumps, firewood, fence posts, hollow doors or window frames.
Odorous House Ants
So named because they strongly stink like rotten coconut when you crush them.
Odorous house ants go for sweets, and sometimes proteins. They’re rather small– about 1/8 inch, with dark brown to shiny black bodies. They often nest in shallow mounds in soil or debris outdoors, or indoors in wall voids or around water pipes or heaters.
These are tiny (3/16 inch), dark brown or black little ants with nests outdoors, typically in lawns or under stones or boards. They can also build mounds along sidewalks and foundations or near water
Pavement ants prefer grease and proteins along with the usual sweets.
Other Common Ant Species Known as House Pests in California
- Velvety tree ant (Liometopum occidentale)
- Pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis)
- Southern fire ant (Solenopsis xyloni)
- Thief ant (Solenopsis molesta)
- Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
Note: Carpenter ants and velvety tree ants can invade homes and buildings in California. Whole they don’t eat wood as ravenously as termites do, they hollow out large portions of wood to nest and create living areas and as such, may cause considerable damage.
Also, red imported fire ants can get rather aggressive. These ants may be found in various Southern California counties.
If you suspect an infestation of fire ants, carpenter ants, or velvety tree ants, contact your local professional pest control experts right away.
What Sort of Food Do Ants Normally Look For?
Inside your home, household ants tend to look for:
- Fruit juice
- and Meat
You can follow them through their long trails of thousands of ants that snake their way from their nests to whatever available food source.
Outdoor ants are mostly attracted to honeydew that soft scales, mealybugs, and aphids produce. Ants tend these critters for honeydew, even going so far as protecting these insects from their natural enemies.
Keep in mind that while ants love the same kinds of food we humans enjoy, other potential food sources for them include grease splatter around the kitchen, oils spills, or even other insects (dead or alive) lying around.
What can I do to minimize ants at home?
A clean house is probably the best preventive measure you can take to minimize ants invading your space.
- Seal up your groceries in airtight containers and cleaning up crumbs and spilled drinks quickly.
- Take out the garbage regularly
- Don’t leave dirty dishes sitting around for long at home.
- Spray vinegar mixed with water (one part vinegar to three parts of water) around bowls of pet food.
- Other natural solutions for keeping ants away include the use of:
- Lemon juice
- A mixture of borax, sugar, and water
- Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE)
- Baking soda and powdered sugar
- Coffee grounds
- Cream of wheat
- Cayenne pepper or black pepper
What do I do if I have way too many ants?
If you think you have an ant emergency, don’t lose your cool. Here are a few things you can do to bring your ant problems under control:
- First off, know that indoor sprays aren’t usually necessary
- Next, figure out what the ants are attracted to and remove the food source
- Go right ahead and vacuum visible ant trails, wipe down with soapy water, or spray with window cleaner.
- If you notice any entry points, caulk the openings or plug them with petroleum jelly
- If you are to use bait stations, apply gel bait at entry points. Note that baits take time to work, so continue to clean up trails.
Ants marching despite your best efforts?
While there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of a full-blown ant infestation at home, sometimes it seems like an uphill battle to keep them away.
The pest control experts over at Rocklin Pest Control knows all about ants and how they can just keep coming back.
With years of experience and expertise, Rocklin Pest Control can help you using the most effective treatments for ant infestation removal, as well as for dealing with other pests your home might have.