Adult ants are one of three different colony castes; queens, workers or males. Queens are fertile females that lay all the eggs in a colony. Workers are females that do not reproduce, but do gather food; feed the larvae; and maintain and clean the nest. Workers are wingless, and it is the worker stage that is seen foraging around for food or defending the colony from intruders. The male ants are winged, but their only job is to mate with the queens during the swarming process.
Ants inside your home or apartment can be a seasonal or year-round problem. Many ant species build their nests outdoors, and become a nuisance when they forage for food inside your home. Once they discover a good food source, they may continue to come inside, collect their food and leave to take the food back to their outdoor colony. However, other ant species enter the interior of the building, build their nest inside and become permanent indoor residents. Some of the more common ant species that may invade and choose to reside inside are pavement ants, carpenter ants, odorous house ants, thief ants, acrobat ants and pharaoh ants. Any of these ants can be challenging to control, but the pharaoh ant is known as one of the most, if not the most, difficult indoor ant to control. Inside ants may be found near their food sources, moisture and in hidden, protected places like wall voids, under appliances, behind window frames and beneath floors. Ants are commensal pests, meaning they like to live close to people and eat some of the same things we do – sweets, meats, starches and liquids.
- Make your house as unwelcoming to ants as possible. If the ants can’t find readily available food and water sources, they will be less likely to try to come in. Any type of food or food particles can attract ants.
- Store food, especially pet food, in tight containers. Wipe down your counters and floors frequently.
- Most do-it-yourself ant control approaches kill only the ants you see. Some truly effective treatments can penetrate and destroy nests to help prevent these pests from returning. Also, home remedies don’t account for the fact that different kinds of ant infestations require different treatments.
A pest control professional should be contacted for assistance.