Ants are a social insect that live in highly populated colonies, so if you spot one, it’s unlikely he’s alone. The most common pest in Texas – in fact, the number one nuisance pest in America – ant infestations are difficult to control. The best advice is to try and avoid them.
One of Earth’s most adaptable species, ants can thrive in every environment and on every continent except Antarctica. A 2006 study suggested that ants arose tens of millions of years earlier than previously thought, up to 168 million years ago. After the rise of flowering plants about 100 million years ago they diversified and assumed ecological dominance around 60 million years ago.
Most of the 250 ant species that inhabit Houston prefer to nest outdoors, although there are a few tropical transplants like the Pharaoh Ant that can only survive indoors. While the possibility exists for various ant species to invade the home during winter, the more likely species to move inside from the outdoors are Acrobat ants, Argentine ants, Carpenter ants, Crazy ants, Dark rover ants, Ghost ants, Odorous ants, Pharaoh ants and White-footed ants.
Many ant species will seek indoor nesting sites to take advantage of easy foraging or to escape particularly hot, dry or cold weather. Ants are omnivores and may be attracted to the interior of a home by substances that are edible and provide a good energy source.
The best way to steer clear of ant infestation is to keep your house clean and inaccessible:
- Remove crumbs from the floor or counter, and nearby windows and doors.
- Do not keep food in pet dishes.
- Clean up spills and messes immediately.
- Eliminate food debris in cracks in kitchen and appliances; vacuum often.
- Put food remnants in a bag and place it in a sealed garbage can.
- Seal doors and windows tight and repair cracks so ants cannot enter.
- Trim outside greenery and distance it from your house.
- Eliminate moisture or standing water near the home by repairing leaking hose bibs and other supply lines, downspouts, drain lines and air conditioner condensation lines.
Should ants become established indoors, whether in the warm or cool months of the year, it is usually very difficult to get control over them. The first step to eliminating an infestation is to identify the types of ant species, which will help determine the necessary course of treatment. However, this can be a challenge for someone without proper training.
Are ants ANTagonizing you and your family? Contact a pest control professional to assist with the problem.