One of the most common pest problems for many homes in Australia is an ant infestation. We’ve all experienced coming home after a day out or a holiday and seeing a kitchen covered with ants. When the ant infestation isn’t as serious some people just leave a few ants wandering around their home. But this situation can escalate to dire proportions very quickly.
While ants are industrious and a useful part of the world’s ecosystem, you probably don’t want to share your home with them. Detecting the signs of an infestation is not difficult, and dealing with the problem effectively can be easier than dealing with many other species of insect pests.
Types of ant
There are three main types of insect which may be referred to as an ant in the context of pest infestations in the home.
The first type of ant and also the most benign, is the black ant species which forms lines across floors, benchtops, into cupboards and across other surfaces. These ants have usually discovered unsealed food sources such as bread, lollies or pet food. These trails are easily spotted and the ants often produce a distinctive sour acidic odour – especially when you squash them.
The second type are stinging ants such as fire ants or bull ants, and these should be treated with caution and eradicated by a professional pest control expert if found in your home. These ants can cause painful stings and can be dangerous especially to small children.
The third type of ant infestation are termites, or ‘white ants’, which are more concerning for the homeowner and can be devastating in their consequences. ‘White ants’ are the larvae of termites, and they eat wood, boring holes in the floors, walls and more commonly wooden foundations of your home.
Detecting an ant infestation
Black worker ants are easy to see. They are small, each only a few millimetres long, and form a pheromone trail to a food source. They usually live and work outside the home and when they come inside it is invariably for food.
Termites are trickier to detect before they cause damage and often considerable damage. If building a new home, consider preventative measures such as using concrete or treated foundations. Other materials are available to repel or keep termites out of timber areas. Your home should be regularly inspected by a qualified pest control professional. Most home building insurance policies will not cover against termite damage, so keeping termites at bay is vital in protecting what may be your largest asset.
Ant pest control: Treating an infestation
- Termites should be dealt with by a pest control professional immediately
- Black ant trails can be removed by scrubbing the entry points with soap and water. If the black ants persistently reappear in the home, the services of a pest controller may be the best option for eradication
- Avoid enticing ants into your home by keeping all food stored, benchtops clean and pet food only offered at feeding times. Ants love open bowls of dry pet food
- Bait may be laid for ants, in gel, liquid or solid form. Liquid forms are generally taken more easily. These are toxic, so take appropriate care especially with pets and small children around
- Some natural forms of ant control include laying out cucumber peels or mint tea bags as these repel ants, setting cayenne pepper, citrus oil or cinnamon at entry points, and spraying ants with soapy water
Ant infestation in the home
While an infestation of ants may not be the worst pest problem for most houses, the problems can escalate quickly to the point where they are a very unpleasant nuisance. Ensuring that there is no food to attract them, and taking a few simple measures upon discovering them, can deal very effectively with this problem. If you have ongoing issues with black ants, consider getting quotes from pest control companies in your area, who will soon be able to put an end to your troubles. Termites should always be dealt with by professional pest controllers, and should be checked for via entry points to the home’s foundations regularly.