Pavement ants, or house ants, are found all over the U.S. and can attack your property throughout the year. They got their name due to their habit of nesting in lawns, under pavement slabs (e.g. driveways, sidewalks), building foundations, stones or debris.
Though these insects are not destructive to dwellings, they can be rather annoying.
Why Ants Invade your Home
The main reason why pests intrude into houses is search of food. Because they are so little, they can gain access to buildings through the smallest cracks and crevices around doors and windows, or gaps in the foundation.
In winter, when the food and water supply stored in their nest is exhausted, some of the ants called workers are sent to find new sources and replenish the colony’s supplies. The pests feed on:
- pet food,
- live and dead insects,
- and almost anything that people eat.
They are also known as sugar ants because they’re attracted by sweet substances.
Once they’ve found forage, the workers return to the nest, leaving scent trails behind them. These trails help other fellow workers to find that source and assist in food gathering.
“But what is the sense of fetching fare to the bugs remaining in the nest?” you ask. “Isn’t it easier to go all together than to march back and forth with food?” The matter is that there are not only workers but also queens – winged ants responsible for reproduction. The queen breeds and populates the colony, and never leaves the nest. That’s why she and her young must be fed by the workers.
Indoors, these invaders will nest near heat sources, under flooring, inside insulation, within walls, in masonry and woodwork.
Though they have a sting, they’re not aggressive unless disturbed. And in this case they can bite, but their venom can cause allergic reaction only in sensitive people.
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How to Treat House Ants
To solve this problem entirely you shouldn’t spray the bugs you see. They are just workers, and if killed, new ones will be send out to take their place. Therefore, you must kill the queen to eliminate the whole colony. And for that you don’t necessarily need to use pesticides.
There are lots of natural pest solutions. Some of the most simple and effective ones are:
- Boiling water.
Boil one gallon of water and then pour it directly into the mounds. Repeat the procedure one time a day until all the pests are exterminated.
Make your own pavement ant traps and place them wherever the pests are frequent. Be sure to remove other food sources.
Here are several products that can be used as bait:
- A 50/50 solution of sugar mixed with Borax. The insects are attracted by sweet things, and Borax is known to be fatal for them.WARNING!
Though Borax is natural, take precautions when handling it. It is harmful when inhaled or ingested, and unprotected contact with it can lead to allergic reactions.
Keep the substance out of pets’ and children’s reach.
- Corn meal. These unwanted visitors are unable to digest it properly, and will eventually die.
- Raw cream of wheat (or farina). When they eat it, the product will expand in their stomachs and kill them.
Baiting is sure to solve the problem with the queen, as your bait will be brought by the workers to their nest and fed to her. Be patient, it may take several days or even a few weeks to get rid of the colony.
- A 50/50 solution of sugar mixed with Borax. The insects are attracted by sweet things, and Borax is known to be fatal for them.
- Food grade diatomaceous earth.
Firstly, you’ll have to locate outdoor nests of your “unwelcome guests”. They are easily recognizable by mounds of displaced soil near a source of moisture, paved areas, etc. Sometimes the nests can be also found underneath rocks, landscaping, brick patios, and mulch.
When their nests are found, spread about 1/2-inch thick layer of diatomaceous earth onto them and onto the ground near any visible mounds. It can be additionally spread inside your home in places of their activity.
This powder-like substance is safe for humans and pets but kills all insects moving through it by shredding their exoskeleton. It may take a few weeks to eliminate the entire colony.
It is strongly recommended not to use residual sprays or dusts, since they cause ant colonies to split into sub-colonies.
They scatter, thus multiplying the number of colonies and making the situation worse.
How to Control Pavement Ants
Once all known colonies are exterminated, there is a wide range of natural solutions of keeping the bugs out. To discourage them from coming inside your home, you can use the following methods:
- Whole cloves and bay leaves. Their odor is unappealing to your insect intruders. Place whole cloves or/and bay leaves around your house to prevent reinfestation.
- Coffee grounds (even used will work well). The bugs proved to be very susceptible to caffeine. The workers lose their scent trails and the colony dies from starvation. Just empty coffee grounds along your house foundations and on their hills.
- Natural repellant. Create a thick unbroken line out of cinnamon, citrus oil, powdered chalk, flour, talcum powder, turmeric, black/cayenne pepper, powdered charcoal, lavender oil, or salt around your house. Any of these is an excellent repellant, and the pests won’t cross this kind of defensive barrier. But keep in mind that it’s not permanent and you’ll have to replace the line from time to time (especially after a rainstorm).
- Inspect your home for any cracks and gaps, and seal them with silicone caulk, glue, putty or plaster. Special attention should be given to the foundation, window and door frames – they are main ant entryways.
- Practice good sanitation. Regularly clean up in your home and take out the trash. Wash the kitchen and other areas where you saw the insects with bleach or Lysol to destroy their scent trails. Remove any spills or crumbs. Wipe down all benchtops with vinegar to repel the pests. No dirty dishes should be left lying around. Keep all garbage cans shut tightly.
- Seal and put away all food (pet food inclusive) after eating is finished.
- Repair leaky faucets and pipes.
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Eliminating pavement ants is a completely feasible goal, and you ought not tolerate their living under the same roof with you and helping themselves to your foodstuffs.
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