BLACK ANTS IN HOMES: A PLAGUE
Even though we generally find black ants to be less repugnant than spiders, they’re actually more harmful. Distinguished by their great number, these approximately two-millimeter insects typically live in underground colonies. Outdoors, their nest is easily identifiable: a small mound of dirt or sand with a hole in the middle that serves as an entrance. Indoors, their dwelling preferences usually lean toward wood, carpeting, cabinets, baseboards and hollow walls.
IDENTIFYING AN INFESTATION
It isn’t unusual to see a few ants inside a residence. While these little impromptu visits may be a bit annoying, they’re really no cause for concern. However, you should be aware that there are a few tricks that can help you distinguish a simple visit from a true home invasion.
In spring or summer, it’s likely that the ants that surprise you in the kitchen are only passing through in search of food to replenish the supply in their nest, located outdoors. If the weather is cool, the ants may also be looking for a place to warm up while they wait for temperatures to rise. On the other hand, if you see them during the winter, they’ve probably set up a colony indoors. Otherwise, they’d be hibernating.
A small group of ants exploring your home is probably made up of workers in search of food. Kill them and stay on the lookout for others. If you do see more, there’s little doubt that this is a sign of an infestation, especially if you notice any winged ants, which can only be males or future queens looking to mate.
During a severe infestation, ants can invade the entire home, taking over every nook and cranny; however, it’s most likely that the primary danger they’ll pose to you is that they’ll contaminate your food. Few things are more unpleasant than finding ants in your box of cereal. The fact is that they eat a little bit of everything: aphids, meat, grease, sugary foods, etc.
PREVENTION AND ELIMINATION
Because ants are on an insatiable quest for nourishment, it’s recommendable to store your food in airtight containers and to keep your kitchen and dining area clean and neat. To prevent the accumulation of crumbs and splatters, consider cleaning up any stains or messes right away and vacuuming frequently, including inside your cupboards and pantry.
A screen with holes in it, as well as any un-caulked crack, is an open invitation for ants to come inside. Make sure that all your doors and windows are well sealed. Weather-stripping can come in very handy for keeping ants out.
There are also some simple tricks to help keep ants away. Many people use chalk, bone meal, baking soda, coffee grounds or borax. Essential oils of mint, cinnamon and lemongrass can also make a difference.
It’s often sufficient simply to pour boiling hot water into the anthill or to use over-the-counter pesticides, but be careful: if you use them improperly, they can be ineffective or even dangerous. Furthermore, you should only use them as a last resort, making sure to follow the directions to the letter. However, the best way to deal with an infestation of little black ants is simple: contact Central Extermination.