Horticulture News: Controlling ants in your home can be difficult

By Amanda Sears/Madison County Horticulture Agent, Published:

I usually do not mind insects, but I do not like ants.

Although ants look the same to most of us, there are several different kinds that invade our homes. Probably the most common is the odorous house ant. This ant emits a rotten coconut smell or pine scent when crushed. On a side note, the smell reminds me of the smell of insect sprays.

The problem most people make when trying to control ants is they only spray the ones that they see. Actually, these foraging ants only make up a small percentage of the brood. Somewhere, there are thousands more, including a queen who is laying more eggs.

The odorous house ant can be difficult to control since there may be several nests in and around the home.

Colonies of these ants also can splinter to form new groups. Nests can be outdoors or indoors. Control of indoor-nesting ants requires a somewhat different approach than for ants nesting outdoors, because indoor nests usually are hidden or inaccessible. 

Ants can be difficult to control.

Make sure you do not have any food sitting out in the home. I have even seen them around pet food. Also, ants can be attracted to moisture such as water leaks or pet food dishes. Clean your counters often to remove any food residue.

Using baits is the best chemical control since they take the insecticide back to the nest to feed it to the queen. Try to use syrupy bait, such as Combat Ant Killing Gel or Terro Ant Killer II.

If you are using bait, do not wipe the trail that the ants are using. You want them to get the bait and then take it back to their nest. If you can see where ants may be coming into your home, caulk this area shut. Also, trim back shrubs and limbs that may be touching the building, as they may be using them as a conduit into your home.

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