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Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, South Orange County, Long Beach Area

How To Control Those Pesky Ants

According to the National Pest Management Association, ants are the number one pest that homeowners need help with. The owners of restaurants, hospitals, warehouses, and other buildings, frequently need help with these pests, also.
Why are ants such a big problem and why do so many home and business owners have such a hard time controlling them? One of the main reasons is because most people don’t really understand the basic biology and behavior of ants. In this article, we’d like for you to learn some of these basics so you can keep your home or business free of ants this summer.

The basics you need to know about ants
Ants are a member of the family of insects, known as “Hymenoptera”. Bees and wasps are also members of that same family. There are over 12,000 species of ants world-wide. In California, we have about 200 species but less than a dozen of these are considered to be pests.
You should keep in mind that ants readily adapt to changes in conditions. If the weather changes, their food supply is altered, or if something is moved around – They will adapt, keep on working and building their families.
Another important fact is that many ant colonies will merge with other colonies. For example, let’s say you find an ant hill and destroy it. Yes, some of the ants will die, but the remaining ants will simply move in and start living with another colony next door. No wonder these pests are so frustrating to deal with!

Important facts:
• Most ants don’t like living indoors. They just come in to get what they need and then leave.
• You need to find out how the ants are getting inside.
• Sealing up their entry points is the best control method.

If you are having a problem with ants on the inside, the first thing you should do is to start by inspecting the rooms where the ants are. Pay extra attention to areas under the edges of your carpet because it is common to find ants foraging in these areas. Look carefully along baseboards and bottoms or edges of cabinets. A spatula is a great tool to use when inspecting tiny cracks, joints or seams.
Ants use pheromones to lay out trails that connect to their colony. The primary function of these trails is to lead the ants to food.

Don’t Manage Ant Trails!
It is very common to see people spray down trails of ants with their favorite store-bought product. This usually doesn’t work. Yes, you may kill off 1 percent of the ants by spraying down their trails, but the remaining ants will simply begin taking a detour around the areas where you applied the pesticide, and you’ll still have an ant problem.
In most cases, you’ll find that the ants are entering your home or business from points on the exterior of the structure. Look for areas where you see cracks in the foundation, holes in walls, cracks in the slab, and points where wires and pipes enter the structure. Pay special attention to areas where plants or trees are touching the house. You should also look under mulch, firewood and stored items/clutter.
You’ll note that in the previous paragraph, we told you to pay special attention to plants or trees that are touching the structure. The reason why this is so important is because so many of these plants are infested with aphids, mealy bugs, white flies and scales – All of which produce honeydew. Honeydew is a sugary-sweet, sticky liquid these plant infesting pests secrete, and it is a favorite food of many ant species.
So, think of it this way; if you have a candy factory (plants and trees with honeydew) growing next to the structure, you are always going to have an ant problem. The ants will find it to be simply irresistible! That is why it is so important to keep plants cut back – away from your structure.
If your plants are infested, you should really consider using a product that will help to control these pests, such as a systemic insecticide. These products are applied by drenching or injecting the soil beneath the plants. The plants will absorb these products and then, when plant infesting pests start eating your plants, they will ingest these products and die off. That will significantly reduce the amount of honeydew. And, with less food to eat, the populations of ants will then begin to dwindle.

How To Gain Control!
1. A thorough inspection is the first step. You need to find out how these pests are getting into your home or business. In most cases, you will find them coming in from the exterior. If you find cracks, holes or other openings where ants are gaining access, you need to seal off these entry points.
2. Identify the kind of ant you are dealing with. This is very important because there is no single treatment plan that will work for all ant species. In fact, if you perform the wrong treatment or use an incorrect product, you can easily make your problems even worse.
3. Determine why the ants are attracted to the area. Is it because you have an excessive moisture problem? Is it because you have a food source problem, such as honey dew infested plants? Once you have figured out why they like the area so much, you need to correct the situation. By doing this, you will reduce the amount of insecticides needed to gain control and greatly improve your results.
4. Perform a treatment using the least toxic, and the lowest amounts of insecticides possible. We strongly recommend using non repellant products because they are “stealth like”, and won’t cause ants to scatter or spread out to other areas (Ants can’t detect these products and won’t know they’ve been exposed until it’s too late). Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, carefully.
5. Evaluate your results. You’re not always going to get perfect results on your first effort. Ants are very persistent, and you may have to perform additional treatments.

Please keep in mind that today’s pesticides are designed to breakdown after only 30 to 60 days. That is why we recommend that pest control services be done on either on a monthly, or on an every other month basis.

Are you having a problem with ants or other pests and need help? Call our office at (949) 631-7348 and we’ll schedule a Pest Audit for you. And, please remember that our Pest Audits are always FREE for qualified home and business owners.