The Key To Getting Rid Of Ants In Your Home In The Bay Area

Odorous house ant on leaf

Ants are tiny creatures with small brains. The brain of an ant has around 250,000 neurons. When you compare that to the brain of a human, which has over 100 billion neurons, you may wonder, "Why do ants outsmart us?" It is because most people use very few of their 100 billion neurons to store facts about ant pest control. There are far too many things to keep track of in life. Who has time to learn about ant behavior? 

Going after ants is a frustrating task if you don't understand how they will respond to your efforts. For example, applying repellent products isn't effective because ants will just avoid treated areas. You need to use a product that ants can't detect so that when they pass through treated areas, they don't realize it and consume the control material when they groom themselves.

Join us today as we look at common ant species in the Bay Area, what they do inside your home, and what works best to control ants. We'll share some cool facts about both ant and human behavior that will help you naturally manage ants and keep them from causing trouble in your house. If you want a faster solution, remember that your Bay Pest team is here to assist you with advanced solutions for ant control in the Bay Area. Whether you need to correct an indoor ant problem or address ants in your yard, we can help.

Identifying Common Ant Species

We have several pest ants in The Bay Area. The ant species that will create the most problems are those with multiple queens, such as Argentine ants, odorous house ants, and carpenter ants. Using a DIY pest control solution can cause these ants to scatter, turning one colony into several. Needless to say, that is not a good outcome.

These three common ants have another common trait—a sweet tooth. While they may take to eating protein, they are known to zero in on sweet foods first. Inside your house, they're looking for honey and syrup. Outside, honeydew and nectar are attractants. Their love for honeydew is so great that these ant species will protect honeydew-producing insects, like aphids and white flies.

When dealing with these three pest ants, it is helpful to know the general behavior patterns they share. We'll talk more about these in a moment. First, let's quickly look at how these ant species differ and how you can identify them.

  • Argentine Ant: When you see lots of tiny, dark specks running around, you may have an Argentine ant infestation. They are sometimes as small as 1/16 of an inch but can also be as large as 1/8 of an inch. The workers in the colony are all the same size and a dark, dull brown color. What you'll likely notice most about these ants is that they smell musty when crushed underfoot; but what you won't realize is their propensity to make super colonies. It is easy to get overrun with these ants, particularly if you accidentally disturb their exterior habitats.
  • Carpenter Ant: When you see large black ants running around, you may have a carpenter ant problem. These ants range from 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, and the workers vary in size. But don't expect to see carpenter ants because they prefer nocturnal activity. Their propensity for nighttime activity and their dark color make them easy to miss. But we hope you don't miss them because they can damage the wood of your home over time. 
  • Odorous House Ant: When you see lots of tiny, dark specks running around, you may not have Argentine ants. Odorous house ants are dark-colored with workers that are all the same size. They are as small as 1/16 of an inch and as large as 1/8. The visual difference between Argentine ants and odorous house ants is that an odorous house ant has a shiny body. You'll also tell the difference when you crush them underfoot. These ants smell like rotten coconut.

As you consider what kinds of ants you have, you may notice winged insects crawling around in your house. Do ants have wings? Yes. Some ants have wings. These ants are reproductives and are typically twice the size of the workers, so you're more likely to notice them. The job of the reproductives is to make new nests. It is a bad sign if you're seeing reproductives in your home.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what kind of ants you have, we should take a moment to quickly talk about what these ants do in your home. Knowing how ants behave can help you with your ant control efforts.

Ants In The Home Can Create Many Problems

If you have an ant infestation, there are a few things you can expect ants to do. While each ant species is slightly different, they share common behavior patterns that create trouble inside your home. Here are a few to consider:

  • Many ants are looking for sweets in your home and are happy to look in your trash receptacles for a bite to eat. Managing your trash can deter these ants and guard against the spread of germs.
  • These pest ants are likely to explore your kitchen cabinets and pantry shelves. Storing your food in sealed containers can keep them out and prevent germ contamination.
  • These pest ants eat oils and grime off the side of your oven. A deep kitchen clean can greatly impact an ant infestation and reduce the potential for sickness.

An ant problem is mostly a nuisance. Ants gather together in swarms and are disturbing to look at when they crawl all over each other and create blobs on your walls, floors, or ceilings. But they can also present a risk of contamination and can make you sick. Let's look at the science-based solutions your pest management professional will use to address ants in your home.

Professional Pest Control Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Ants

There are many products available to consumers, but DIY ant control often falls short. Why? The reason is that most people just don't know how to stop ants. While the products may work as intended, people often misapply them.

Let's use bait as an example. It is likely that you know bait is an effective way to get control of ants, but do you know why? It is because ant workers don't eat the food they find. If they did, they'd probably eat it and not return to the nest. But, for an ant to get a meal, it has to bring the food back and give it to the ant larvae. The larvae consume the food and excrete a liquid that the ant workers can eat. Since this is the case, bait is a great way to eliminate an ant colony.

You may also know that ants are attracted to sweets based on what you learned earlier. So, it may make total sense to get a sweet bait and put it down for the ants to eat. Unfortunately, it isn't this simple. You can put down too much bait or not enough. You can place bait in the wrong area, and the ants may not find it. It is also possible to have bait lose its effectiveness when placed near cleaning products. If all of this isn't enough to complicate things, the ants above can have colonies that prefer proteins, and they may ignore sweet baits.

A licensed professional will use field-tested methods to apply and test treatment products. We also use a multi-pronged treatment plan that consists of monitoring, inspections, evaluations, and exclusions. There is no better way to get rid of ants in your home. Does that mean you have no options? Not at all. Let's look at how to get rid of ants naturally and keep them from returning.

   Tips To Prevent Ants From Coming Back

If you want to do things yourself, our recommendation is to steer clear of over-the-counter ant control products, as they can actually make your problem worse by causing ant colonies to split. Applying these simple tips to drive ants away and keep them from returning is much better.

  • Increase your sanitation efforts to remove food options on floors, counters, and shelves.
  • Wipe down your honey jar.
  • Keep your kitchen trash receptacles clean.
  • Consider getting a smaller trash receptacle so you have to remove trash more frequently before food has time to decay.
  • Put dirty dishes in soapy water until you're ready to clean them.
  • Rake and remove leaves around the exterior of your home.
  • Trim vegetation away from your exterior walls.
  • Seal gaps and other entry points with expanding foam.
  • Address aphids and other honeydew-producing insects.
  • Address weeds in your landscaping and lawn.

A sustained effort can significantly reduce ant activity and even drive ants away from your home. When ants are persistent, and you need a pest control solution, contact Bay Pest for professional home pest control services for your Bay Area home. It pays to get professional assistance.

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