It's alarming to see ants in a place you don't want them to be. For example, the last thing you want to do is open your kitchen cabinet and see ants all over your sugar. But what is even more alarming is trying to control ants repeatedly with no success. That is super frustrating. Today, we hope to answer the question, "What am I doing wrong?" We'll look at the different types of ants in Katy, Texas, discuss some of the unique ways they behave, explain what they do in your home and how problems start, and look at what works to prevent (or stop) an ant problem.
If you are at the end of your rope with ants, your All-Safe Pest & Termite team is available to help. We deal with ants all the time. While they are certainly tricky pests, our technicians use field-tested methods to stop them in their tracks. Navigate over to our Contact Us page to get professional ant control in Katy.
How To Identify Common Ants In Katy
All ants in Katy are unique in their own way. These differences are what makes them hard to control. For example, what attracts carpenter ants to your home? Is it wood? No. Carpenter ants create their nests in wood, but they aren't going to want to excavate a nest if you don't have any food for them to eat. What do carpenter ants eat? You're right if you think they might get into your exterior trash. But your trash doesn't contain their favorite food.
Carpenter ants adore honeydew. They love honeydew so much that they actually protect aphids so those insects can produce this sweet food source for them. What this means is an aphid problem in your landscaping will attract carpenter ants faster than a dirty trash receptacle.
Ants are attracted to your home for different reasons. You must also use various methods to control them. If you have fire ants, you can't use the same control method you would use for carpenter ants. They prefer different food sources, and they live in different habitats. Fire ants will opt for protein over sugar, and they don't live in wood. You'll find these ants living underground in the sunny areas of your lawn.
Pest management professionals consider factors like these. We know what kind of food each ant species prefers. We know where to place bait, how much to place, and which bait to use. In some cases, we combine bait with direct treatments to mounds. When addressing a mound, we consider how deep the ant species lives underground and other important factors.
As you consider what to do about the ants you see on your property or inside your home, it is helpful to know what kind of ants you have. Here is a quick guide to ant identification in Katy, Texas:
- Carpenter ants are the largest ants in our area and range from 1/4 to 1/2 an inch long. They have major and minor workers, which means they are different sizes. They are entirely black or dark red and black. You'll find these ants in association with decaying wood and wood debris.
- Fire ants are 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long. They are entirely red or red with dark abdomens. You won't have to wonder if you have fire ants when you get too close. They sting. You'll find these ants checking out your trash receptacles and outdoor cooking area.
- Crazy ants are tiny ants that run around in crazy patterns. They range from 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. They're attracted to electronics and automobiles.
- Odorous house ants are common indoor pests that prefer sweets. If you crush them underfoot, you'll quickly understand why they're called odorous house ants. These are dark-colored ants that range from 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch.
- Pharaoh ants are about 1/16 of an inch and have an amber coloration with dark abdomens. If you see little ants that look like exclamation marks, they're probably pharaoh ants. These ants are often found on rotting meat or in open wounds on livestock or pets. They're definitely not pleasant ants to have in your kitchen cabinets.
When you see ants building mounds near your home or crawling around your exterior, it is important to apply outdoor ant control. When ants invade interior spaces, they can make you sick. While an ant-related illness is usually minor, there are cases when they can present a health concern.
The Health Risks Of Ants: Allergies And Bacteria
Ants are commonly considered nuisance pests, and they are, for the most part. However, certain ants and situations can increase health risks. As you decide what to do about an ant infestation and you work to apply effective ant control, it helps to understand their risks.
Allergies: In most cases, fire ants cause tiny wounds with bumps, but some individuals are allergic to stinging insect venom, creating a serious risk of an allergic reaction. An allergy can develop over time, and you may be at risk without knowing it. An allergist can help you find out.
Bacteria: All ants get into unsanitary places and pick up bacteria. Some are more proficient at spreading germs, but they all do it. Keeping your home clean and managing your trash is critical to prevent contamination of your food, surfaces, and dishes.
Diseases: Some ants, like the pharaoh ant, are uniquely proficient at spreading human pathogens, particularly when they have access to decaying animals or animal wounds.
It is important to do ant control and prevention right. Let's shift gears and look at how ants get into your home and how you can use this knowledge to successfully keep them out. These ant prevention tips require no training in the application of pest control materials. They are accessible to anyone.
How An Ant Infestation Starts
Okay. How do ants get in your house? There are a few factors to consider. The first and most critical is the availability of food. Ants have an interesting relationship with food; at some point, food will play a role in bringing ants into your home. Let's take a look:
- You may attract ants with a smelly trash receptacle.
- Ants may slowly move into your yard because of sweet nectar in flowering weeds.
- Ants may find lots of insects to eat and slowly encroach upon your landscaping.
- When ants find leaf litter, they find a great hunting ground for insects and other invertebrates.
- When ants find unhealthy plants, they find plant-damaging insects like aphids and white flies.
- Plant-damaging insects produce honeydew, and this can attract several ant species.
- Available entry points will provide access when ant activity increases near your home.
- If your home has decaying wood, certain ants will take notice and explore the wood, which can lead them indoors.
- All ant colonies send out scouts. If a scout ant finds a food source in your home, it will lay down a scented trail to help other workers find the food.
- When ants find food in your home, they may decide to create an indoor nest, depending on the species.
- Colonies will develop, grow a population, produce winged ants, and send them out, whether they're indoors or outdoors. The winged ants will mate and attempt to create new colonies.
Did you think of any ways you might prevent ants from moving into your yard, exploring your landscaping, or getting into your home? If not, don't worry. We're about to connect the dots. Let's look at some simple tips to help you get effective control of ants and prevent an ant infestation.
How To Implement Effective Ant Prevention Measures In Your Home
When we looked at how ant problems start, we began in your yard and worked our way inside. Now, we'll start on the inside of your home and tell you how to keep ants out of the house:
- Watch for winged ants in your home as a warning sign of an indoor nest.
- Keep your house clean, store food in sealed containers, clean up spills, and protect food that sits on the counter.
- Establish a mealtime for your pets and only keep pet food down for short periods.
- Inspect your home for decaying wood and replace the damaged wood.
- Use caulk or expanding foam to fill holes, caps, and cavities in decaying wood if you cannot replace the wood.
- Address moisture problems that lead to wood decay, such as clogged gutters.
- Inspect your exterior and seal any entry point ants may use to enter your home.
- Keep your plants healthy by providing the nutrients they need and preventing them from soaking in moisture too long.
- Use yellow sticky traps to help monitor for aphid activity.
- Rake leaves and remove sticks and other organic debris.
- Move wood piles away from your exterior.
- Keep lights off at night where it is not a security concern. Insects are attracted to light.
- Address lawn weeds with pre-emergents and post-emergents.
- Manage your trash to prevent ant-attracting odors.
It is possible to keep ants out of your home if you're diligent. When ant control products are needed, contact All-Safe Pest & Termite for professional ant pest control services in Katy. Our licensed technicians have the training to apply control products properly. Connect with us today to get advice or schedule a service call. We're here to help.