A line of ants marching across a kitchen counter may signal a nightmare for property owners. This is because ants are persistent once they find a source of food. They will continue to exploit it for as long as possible, leaving germs and bacteria wherever they go.
The common ant species in Philadelphia are no exception to this habit. Once they find their way inside a building, few things can stop them. Ordinary, DIY control methods are not effective because they are not powerful enough or are not used correctly.
When citronella ants, odorous ants, pavement ants, thief ants or carpenter ants invade a home or business, then it is wise to take immediate action by calling a licensed exterminator. With a qualified pest management technician on the job, it is possible to put a swift end to ant infestations and make them less likely to occur in the future.
The various species of these six-legged insects can be difficult to differentiate. Fortunately, pest control professionals are trained to spot the differences so that they can use the most effective treatment methods.
Citronella ants range between 1/8" and 3/16". Their yellow bodies feature an unevenly rounded shape, and this ants' name comes from the lemony scent that they emit when they believe they are being threatened or when they are stepped on.
Brown or black odorous ants are similar in size to citronella ants. However, they smell like rotten coconut when they are stepped on. Their hairless bodies typically are brown or black.
Pavement ants also are brown or black, but they are smaller than many ant species. With adults measuring approximately 1/8" to 1/16", this species has two spines on their backs, and their antennae and legs may be a lighter color than their bodies.
Thief ants may range in color from a pale yellow to a dark brown and adults may only measure about 1/20". Their body shape is unevenly rounded, and they do not have spines on their thorax.
Among the largest ants in Philadelphia, carpenter ants may reach 5/8" in length. Black carpenter ants are the most common. However, shades of brown or red also may be seen.
Loose soil provides the ideal nesting habitat for most ant species. In wilderness areas, nests may be constructed beneath a rock, fallen tree or stump. When they establish a colony close to a human habitation, likely nesting places include gardens, woodpiles, yard debris piles and close to foundations. In fact, some species prefer to be close to rocks or paving, choosing patios, sidewalks and stepping stones as likely locations beneath which to build a nest.
Thief ants and carpenter ants both prefer to nest in wood. They exploit wet, rotting or damaged wood and masonry to gain entrance, then exacerbate these issues when constructing nests. These habits may enable them to escape human attention for an extended time.
Sugars and proteins are staple diet items for most ant species. Grease always attracts them as do living and dead insects. Seeds also form a major portion of the ant diet in the natural world. Ants are known to seek fruits, nuts, dairy products, bread and meats in kitchens. Pet foods may be vulnerable as well as any baked goods or desserts that contain sugar.
PROBLEMS WITH ANTS
An ant infestation may pose several problems for property owners. Ants that nest outdoors may destroy garden features, consume tremendous amounts of seeds and cause damage to produce harvests. Moreover, if they build a large enough nest that is close to driveways, stepping stones or other pavement, they may destabilize it and cause someone to trip and fall.
Species like carpenter ants that nest in wood cause even more significant damage by tunneling deep into structural supports. They specifically target any wood that is regularly wet or otherwise damaged as this provides easier access. These conditions frequently are found in garages, sheds, crawl spaces, basements and attics, which means that an infestation may be allowed to persist for months or even years without the owner being aware. Expensive repairs may be needed when the infestation is finally discovered and eradicated.
Ants are industrious insects that spend most of their lifecycle intent upon finishing essential errands. These include foraging for food, building and maintaining the nest and caring for young. Workers are the individuals that most frequently leave the nest in search of provisions, which means that they typically are the colony members that people see. However, some ant species do have spring "swarmers," or reproductive members of the colony that are equipped with wings, that make a highly visible appearance each year.
Worker ants may travel far and wide looking for food. Their search may lead them through garbage cans, dumpsters, sewers, animal carcasses and other unhygienic places. The result of this wandering is that ants may spread various illnesses.
Ants generally appear to take little notice of people while focusing on their daily activities. Nonetheless, if they feel threatened, they may either bite or sting depending upon the species.
The bite or sting of any of the ant species in Philadelphia is little cause for concern. Most of these wounds are not particularly painful or itchy. This does not mean that ants are not responsible for several health problems.
The most common of these issues is food poisoning. As ants wander through trash, sewers and animal carcasses, they pick up and spread numerous germs and bacteria. All of these pollutants may be deposited in food that humans consume. The result may be nausea, vomiting, chills, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms.
Similarly, ants leave a trail of filth across counters and tables. If these surfaces are not fully cleaned before food preparation, people may unwittingly infect themselves with a food-borne illness.
SIGNS OF ANT INFESTATION
Signs of an ant infestation include:
• Flying ants appearing in the spring
• Wet wood found on the property
• A line of ants moving across surfaces in kitchens or bathrooms
• Tiny piles of sand or soil close to patios, foundations and walkways
To help prevents ant issues the following measures can be taken:
• Seal up cracks in window and door frames
• Do not allow spills and crumbs to sit on kitchen surfaces
• Trim shrubs and trees so that they do not contact buildings
• Fix water leaks as soon as they are discovered
• Ensure that screens on windows and doors are in good repair
• Wood piles and debris piles should be kept well away from structures
Effective ant control requires a thorough inspection of the building to locate all existing nests, identify the type of ant involved, locate entry points, and determine the best type of treatment.
SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC has been serving Philadelphia area home and business owners with successful ant eradication and control for over 20 years. Our trusted, licensed exterminators can identify the pest and implement immediate treatment so that everyone in the home or office can regain peace of mind.