Ant Wars

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Most information about ants states that they are social creatures. I don’t care; all I know is that I don’t want them socializing with me! There are more than 20,000 species of ants in the world and chances are pretty good that one or more of them will end up in your house at some point. While this isn’t a pleasant thought, it is a fact and once there they can be most annoying house guests.

The are two types of foods that ants eat: either sugar-based foods or protein-based foods. Worker ants don’t eat solid foods at all and prefer to carry back liquids to the nest to feed the queen. Only the larval stages of ants eat solid foods. This is the reason most ant baits are liquid.

Let’s talk about some successful ways to discourage and remove ants once they invade the house. Ants give off pheromones, which tell other ants where the food is, so if you’ve ever watched ants traveling along a countertop, you’ll notice that they all take the exact same path. Cleaning with detergents will destroy the pheromone but just wiping the surface with a damp cloth will not, so be sure and use soap when you clean counters, etc.

There are hundreds of different ant baits on the market and sometimes you pick the right one and sometimes you don’t. Some are sugar- based and some are protein/grease-based. This summer I used a product that had always worked well for me but not this year. They ignored it and it wasn’t until I put out some baits with different chemicals that I quickly got my ant problem taken care of. Read the label on the products and put out different chemicals. When you see which one they prefer, you can switch all of the baits out to the one they are eating.

It might take 2 weeks or more for an ant problem to clear up because the bait has to be carried back to the nest and distributed there. During this time, do not use ant killing sprays. Ants must stay alive to carry the poison back to the others in the nest.

So, while ant baits aren’t the fastest method for killing ants, it is the most thorough at killing the nest, and until the nest is gone, the ant problem will return. Good luck with your battle. After a few tries I was successful and I can say I am ant-free today. I fought the good fight and won the war…this time!

Written By

Photo of Donna Teasley, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDonna TeasleyExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (828) 439-4460 Donna_Teasley@ncsu.eduBurke County, North Carolina
Updated on Jul 12, 2018
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