Ants come in various sizes, colors and types, but they all have one thing in common: you want to get rid of ants if they’re infesting your home. As one of the most common indoor pests, ants are typically drawn into homes for nesting and food. Their colonies can contain up to half a million members. For every ant you spot, there could be hundreds, or even thousands, more thriving inside your walls.
Ant colonies consist of queens, males and worker ants. Queens and males are the reproducing members of the colony. Queens are up to three times larger than the other ants and can live up to 15 years. Male ants and the sterile female worker ants are about the same size, with worker ants varying in size and color depending on the ant type. Worker ants can live up to seven years; male ants die after mating.
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Houston residential and commercial property owners typically encounter eight main ant species common throughout the region. Ant control starts by identifying the ant type that has invaded your home or business, then using tactics to effectively fight that particular type.
Fire ants typically nest outdoors, although they may come inside to search for water or food. You can recognize them by their brownish-red color, variation in sizes of the workers, and their double pedicel, or node between the thorax and abdomen. They’re known for their aggressive behavior and painful stings if disturbed, which makes fire ant control a must inside the home.
Carpenter ants generally nest anywhere they can find a comfortable environment, with hollow branches and tree trunks just as attractive as hollow walls, doors and ceilings. Colorations of these large, nocturnal ants can be all black, all brown, or a mix of black and orange. Workers vary in size, with a curved, smooth thorax and a single pedicel. Although they don’t sting, they can bite.
Similar to carpenter ants in nesting habits and color, acrobat ants can be identified by their two pedicels, two spines on the thorax, a heart-shaped abdomen, and uniform size of the workers. Unlike nocturnal carpenter ants, they’re also most active during the day. Their acrobat name comes from their defensive posture, which involves lifting their abdomens into the air the way an acrobat would balance on his hands. Trees are common nesting areas, but they’ll also set up shop in building walls and insulation.
Tiny and highly invasive, pharaoh ants are big fans of nesting indoors in wall voids, electrical boxes, cardboard enclosures or any other dark, narrow spaces. You’ll recognize them by their yellowish color, dark-tipped abdomen, two pedicels and uniform size of the workers.
These dark brown ants are known for their erratic, rapid running movements as well as their penchant for infesting homes and buildings. Identifying characteristics include long legs, long antennae, and a multitude of hair on their bodies, inclusive of four pairs of hairs on their thorax. They’re most likely to infest structures in warmer, humid areas of Texas. A new, exotic species in the genus Nylanderia has begun to establish itself in some hill country areas and the upper Gulf Coast.
While odorous house ants typically nest outdoors under rocks, mulch or other objects, they have been known to establish colonies in wall voids, bricks and other interior areas. Medium-sized with smooth, nearly hairless bodies, odorous ants give off a distinctive, rotten-coconut odor when smashed.
Rover ants usually nest in the ground, although sweet foods may attract them inside to nest in walls and other locations. Tiny yet stockier and darker than the pharaoh ant, you’ll frequently see rover ants along house and sidewalk edges, tree trunks and a variety of other outdoor areas. While they’re relatively new to the Houston area, they require the same stringent ant control measures as longer-term species.
Rarely found indoors, leaf cutter ants instead establish large, underground nests in the soil. Their nest becomes a garden of sorts, to which they carry leaves and other plant material to grow a fungus used as food. Leaf cutter ants are brownish-red with long legs, a smooth abdomen, spines on the heard and thorax. Their workers vary in size.
Ants that have no problem nesting outdoors may just as easily nest inside if they have easy and available access to the interior of your home. Ants can enter a home through cracks or small holes in the exterior walls, foundation, roofs and areas where pipes or wires enter the house.
Because many Houston-area homes have hollow walls, ants that get into the walls can find themselves with easy access to nearly any room in the house. Any ground cover or foliage near the home, or tree branches that touch your roof, could be inadvertently pointing ants in your direction.
Sweet foods, crumbs, food left unattended and damp or wet areas are automatic draws for attracting ants. Once ants find a way to enter a home, they can deposit a chemical scent for other colony members to follow.
A number of warning signs can indicate your home has been infiltrated and it’s time to call the ants exterminator. These can include:
Stray ants wandering around inside: Ant colonies send out scouts to hunt for food, and those scouts may show up in your bedroom, family room, bathroom or other locations where roaming ants are unusual.
Food becoming overrun: Dirty dishes in the sink, leftovers left unattended for more than a few minutes, crumbs beneath the table, pantry items not in airtight containers, and even the pet food bowls are prime areas for ants to show up in droves if your home is infested.
Proliferation of nests outside your home: Houses or buildings infested with ants are typically surrounded by ant nests outside the structure. Look for nests near or next to the building, keeping an eye out ants milling around small mounds of dirt. Even if the ant hills appear small, they could be the gateway to a nest that contains thousands of ants beneath the surface.
To effectively get rid of ants, you first need to identify the type of ant responsible for your infestation. Fire ant control, for instance, is going to need a different treatment method than carpenter ant or acrobat ant control. Many ant species require help from an experienced ants exterminator.
Cypress Creek Pest Control uses specific treatments unique to the nesting and food characteristics of each ant species. Our technicians are trained to find nests and the queen ant, and treat with residual ant control insecticides or baiting. The final step in our ant control process is to embark on a continual treatment plan designed to first get rid of ants and then to keep them out.
Correctly identifying the ant species is again crucial for preventing future ant invasions. As a professional ants exterminator, Cypress Creek can target areas that need attention based on different ant species’ behavior, habitats, likes, dislikes and habits.
A number of measures can also be taken to best safeguard your home against future ant infestations. These include:
Although you can try to get rid of ants on your own with a do-it-yourself solution, ants can be tenacious and the solutions may not stick. Trusting your ant control to a professional ants exterminator can save you time, money, hassles and headaches in the long run.