Ant Control 101
As the weather gets warmer, it can seem as though there are ants everywhere. These tiny pests are generally harmless when they're marching down the sidewalk, but they can cause real problems if they decide to set up a colony inside your home.
Ant infestations come with various risks, including bites, structural damage and food contamination. Here's how to get rid of ants and keep them away.
Ants are small enough to fit through tiny gaps, so it's perfectly normal if you see the occasional ant wandering around your home. Seeing a couple of ants isn't usually a sign of an infestation, and they won't usually gather in more significant numbers unless the conditions are right.
The most obvious sign that you have an ant problem and need ant control services is a large number of ants inside your home. Sometimes, it'll be apparent where the infestation is because you'll see swarms of ants in a particular area.
However, you might notice more subtle signs if you have carpenter ants, which tunnel inside woodwork. For example, this species often makes a rustling noise inside the walls at night, and you may also see wood shavings on your floors or furniture for no apparent reason.
If there are lots of ants in your home and you can't see where they're coming from, try looking in places where ants like to live. These creatures favor moist areas, so inspect bathrooms and kitchens thoroughly to locate the colony.
Don't ignore an ant colony in your yard. While these infestations may not bother you, the ants could easily come inside your home to search for water and food. Promptly treating outdoor infestations can prevent them from becoming an indoor problem.
If you have a relatively mild infestation, you can try some DIY methods to get rid of ants. Cleaning your home with vinegar can help repel ants, and essential oils such as tea tree and lemon can also act as a deterrent. Some experts also recommend sprinkling substances such as cayenne pepper, baby powder or coffee grounds around any cracks where ants might enter.
You can also purchase DIY ant-control products to treat your home. Liquid ant baits can be an effective treatment for mild infestations, although dry ant traps don't tend to work as well. Pesticide sprays are also available, but they can be harmful to children and pets and usually only provide a short-term solution.
The biggest problem with DIY methods is that they don't work for every species or prevent re-infestation. Generally, it's best to call an ant extermination company if you have a severe ant problem, especially if DIY techniques don't work. Your contractor can identify the species inside your home and recommend the most effective way to eliminate the ants.
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You can never guarantee a 100% ant-free home, and even hiring an ant extermination company won't stop the occasional ant from making its way inside. However, using the proper treatment for the species and repeating the process until you eradicate the colony can get rid of an infestation.
Ants can breed very rapidly, which means that a minor infestation can quickly become a big problem. It's a good idea to do everything possible to prevent ants from settling in your home in the first place. Ants typically need three things to get inside and thrive — a way in, food and water. Some things you can do to make your home less hospitable for ants include:
- Deal with damp areas inside your home promptly by fixing leaks
- Clean up leftover food and spills as quickly as possible
- Keep food in airtight containers
- Take the trash out regularly and keep the inside of trash cans clean
- Clean pet bowls frequently and remove uneaten food after each meal
- Seal any gaps in your windows, doors or floors where ants could enter
There are also several things you can do to discourage ants from setting up a home outside your property. Avoid mulching areas near your home, as it provides a moist environment that ants love. It's also wise to keep trees, shrubs and chopped firewood a good distance away from your home's perimeter.
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