Ants are one of the most common and persistent pests found in and around homes. This article will explain how you can get rid of ants once and for all. There are many different species of ants and they are able to adapt to most any condition. Ants will readily live under concrete, rocks and other debris and can go unnoticed for a long time. Once they establish themselves close to the home, they'll surely get inside. This is when people start to take notice. Small ants will be seen on the counter top, in the bathroom or in the pets food. Eventually they'll be randomly appearing throughout the entire home if left untreated so it's always best to take a proactive stance when it comes to doing ant control.
Ants come in all sizes and shapes. The most common ants include the acrobat, allegheny, argentine, bigheaded, carpenter, citronella, cornfield, crazy, cut, false honey, field, fire, flying, fungus, ghost, harvester, honey, larger yellow, leafcutting, little black, little fire, night, odorous house, parasol, park, pavement, pharaoh, pyramid, red imported, red town, small honey, southern fire, thief, velvet, velvety tree and whitefooted ants. Their color can vary too and though you might find them in something sweet one day, this same species may be found in a protein based food a day later. Additionally, ants are both annoying and persistent yet most species do not like direct confrontation with people or pets. That being said, they are still not welcome in the home and chances are high you have an ant infestation if you are seeing just a few inside. This is because ants like to hide and only a few of them venture far from their nest in search of food. These worker or scout ants don't like to be seen and many times will travel on pathways which are hidden. Once they find a good food supply, they will lay a scent trail which other members of their colony will use as a sort of "highway". This highway will swell with activity if it leads to something good and it's many times this higher concentration of ants that gets everyone's attention.
Remember, most ant problems originate from outside nests and activity. If the outside of your home is left untreated, local nests will be sending foraging workers onto your property all the time. Eventually some of these will find their way inside. Once inside, they will lay down a scent trail to bring in more ants. Foraging ants will first come in, grab some food and retreat back to the safe confines of their nests. But if the food they're finding inside the home is bountiful the nest might decide to take up residence closer to the food source. This new concentration of ant activity will become a sort of extension of the original nest, something called a satellite nest, and it's not uncommon for any ant infestation to be comprised of several satellite nests all linked together. This makes them extra hard to control and all the more reason to deal with them on all fronts.
Ant Treatments and Products
To rid ants from the home and reduce a local ant infestation will almost always require a "three prong approach". The three prongs" refers to the three areas you'll need to treat. Since it's not possible to know all their nest sites, failure to treat all areas will result in having an ongoing infestation.
Rid Ants in the Home
Treating inside the home will be required if you are seeing any activity inside. But you shouldn't use a spray. Traditional sprays will only kill the workers and the nest will quickly send in new troops. And though there are some new compounds which work different from contact kill sprays, we still recommend keeping their use to the outside. More on these liquid sprays below. But first, you must do something about the problem inside. For these ants, some type of bait will be the most productive tool to use to rid ants from the home. There are many types of bait available but we've found a few which seem to work on virtually all ants. For sheer convenience, DUAL CHOICE BAIT STATIONS are both easy to install and effective. They include both a sugar and protein/fat based attractive. This insures they'll get noticed regardless of what the ants are eating. Place stations close to where you are seeing activity and trailing. Don't leave the stations where people or pets will mess with them and make sure they are kept dry and free from water and other contaminates. For a more discrete bait placement, set out some MAXFORCE GEL or OPTIGARD. We have incredible results with the Maxforce Gel and if you have a lot of treating to do, the BAIT GUN might come in handy. For small jobs, the tube comes with a syringe type plunger that will get the job done. The Maxforce is best used when you know the ants are feeding on something sweet. If you are unsure what they're eating, go with the Drax Dual. It has both types of attractants, like the bait stations, and will surely get noticed at some point if placed where ants are foraging. Here is a video of some ants feeding on some Maxforce Gel. This product works great at getting rid of ants.
Outside the home… Since most infestations originate outside the home, it's important to do a good inspection to see if you can do some exclusion to help keep the ants from getting in and getting rid of them for good. Remember, entry points should be reduced and/or eliminated with the use of some FOAM SEALENT. These cans are self charged and good for small jobs. If you have a lot of work to do, it would be wise to invest in one of the professional FOAM GUNS and maybe even the 24" FOAM GUN. These tools will enable you to apply the sealent foam quickly and precisely without much waste or miss-application. In other words, they will more then pay for themselves if you have a lot of sealing to do. You'll need the FOAM CANNISTERS for these guns, which easily fit on either applicator, and cover a much larger area then the smaller cans. If your home is prone to animal invasions, consider the FOAM WITH REPELLENT. This canister comes with expanding foam but includes a strong repellent which insects and animals do not like. It may be just what you need to make sure annoying insects and other undesirable home invaders aren't able to find their way inside quite. Be sure to keep your guns clean by using some FOAM GUN CLEANER. This will help keep the gun functioning and ready to go to work when next needed. Getting rid of ants sometimes means doing some mechanical alteration of the structure and sealing cracks or seams really can help.
Once you're sure the home is fairly tight and free from ants getting inside, a good perimeter treatment should be done on the foundation. First, you'll need a good SPRAYER. One of the pump sprayers we have will work fine. Next, get something like CYPERMETHRIN which ants and other insects tend to avoid. This will help keep them off the home which in turn will help get rid of ants. Cypermethrin can be used monthly and is an excellent product to use for most regular pest control. If you want something that lasts longer, get a microencapsulated active which can last up to three months per treatment. SUSPEND and BIFEN are good choices. Both are odorless and effective on most any type of ant. Most homes will require 1-2 gallons sprayed around the outside and it's important that you are thorough when doing this treatment. Both of these are odorless ant sprays and as a new compound, offer longer lasting residual compared to traditional concentrates. Instead of being fast acting like the traditional compounds, these new materials are quite different. They work slowly and only effect the ants after a few days. Their mode of action insures that ants which contact the spray will pick some up and bring it back to the nest. Once back at the nest, the active ingredient will have time to infiltrate the entire structure which ultimately will kill all the occupants. In the lab, these products work well. In the real world, they will work the same if used properly. The key here is once again get good coverage when spraying. It's important to treat the entire perimeter of the home. Missing or avoiding even one area could lead to treatment failure. Remember, all it takes is one route of entry or untreated pathway and the nest can many times circumvent your effort and continue to be a problem. One of the first products to hit the market using this concept was PHANTOM. It's proven to work well on most any ant infestation and it's now available in aerosol (as PT PHANTOM) so it's ideal for small ant infestations that require limited spot treatments. The latest product released like Phantom is called OPTIGARD and it seems to work very well too so it seems as though we finally have a chemical concentrate option that can be used to eliminate ant infestations on structures without the old "colony budding" problem the old sprays presented. Ideally, you'll use these products as replacements to the Cypermethrin or Suspend and you'll still need to treat the yard and inside. But a good foundation spraying using either the Phantom or the Optigard could be the difference maker and enable you to get complete control. Remember, the traditional sprays will only kill what the contact. Phantom or Optigard will get the whole colony and when dealing with ants, this extra impact can be what makes the overall application a success. The following video does a good job of explaining just how to do a good foundation spray using any of the products listed above.
Don't forget the yard…The last "prong" or area where you need to treat will be the yard to rid ants of the area. This can be done using one of two approaches. Since ants can forage great distances, it's important that you get a good bait or insecticide granule applied to these areas. The difference is simple. Bait Granules like MAXFORCE GRANULES or NIBAN FG can be sprinkled around the home creating a type of "bait band" about 5-10 feet away from the foundation. Not much is needed; when applied right you won't be able to see any trace of the material once it falls to the turf. And be sure to keep this band at least 5 feet away from the side of the foundation. This insures any liquid sprayed doesn't contaminate the bait. Like spraying, it's important to treat the entire perimeter of the structure. If the liquid spray was applied strong enough and thorough enough, it should rid ants from the house and property and keep any invader out. Now, as these ants forage for new ways to enter the home, they should find some of the "bait band" being offered and feed. By getting them before they enter you should be able to both reduce and eliminate the activity in the home within a couple of weeks. Alternatively, you could go with a treatment that is "contact" based. Like Cypermethrin or Suspend, these granules work when foraging pests contact them and minute amounts of pesticide rub off onto the insect. Granules like COMPLETE LAWN GRANULES or DELTAGUARD G are two good options that work well. Foraging ants walking over the granules will absorb enough of the active to be killed without having to feed. Lawn granules can be the better choice in many situations – especially when you don't know where they are entering – because they use more of a "shotgun" type approach to getting control. When applied properly, the ants will have no choice but to walk over the treatment thus leading to their demise. Apply these with a good GRANULE SPREADER.