Indentify and Effectively Control Ants in Your Home
One of the most common insect questions we hear is how to get rid of ants. Ants survive in almost any environment, including the ones that we humans pick for ourselves. We cross paths with ants more than any other living creature, whether we know it or not.
Ants build nests in large outdoor populations, but will nest indoors when food and water are easily accessible.
There are many types of ants. And ant control methods differ depending on the species invading your home. Even within the same species, as in the case of carpenter ants, two different colonies may be attracted to quite different baits.
The Ants of Austin, Texas
Harmful ants in Austin include:
- Fire ants (bite and sting
- Acrobat ants (can bite but don't sting)
- Carpenter ants (cause property damage)
Nuisance ants include:
- Harvester ants (destroy your lawn)
- Tawny Crazy ants (unresponsive to most baits)
- Rover ants (tiny, persistent, and difficult to remove)
- Odorous house ants (emit a foul odor when crushed)
- Black Crazy ants (common indoors, dash around erratically)
- Pharaoh ants (favor living indoors, difficult to exterminate)
- Argentine ants (have a unique potential to explode in numbers)
Ants are closely related to wasps, sometimes known as wingless wasps, though some breeding/swarming ants have wings. The Fire Ant is an example of the link between ants and wasps as a common stinging insect.
How to Identify Ants
Identifying an Austin ant species is easier said than done, even for a trained pest technician! Here are a few clues to help you determine the types of ants you’re dealing with:
- Having a really good look (with a 10x magnifying glass).
- Observing their behavior (trailing, feeding, etc.).
- Nesting characteristics (type, location, swarmers).
Characteristics of the More Common Ants in Your Area
- Rover ants: tiny dark brown ants 1/16” to 1/12”, more stocky than Pharaoh ants.
- Carpenter ants: ¼” to ½” long, black, brown or black/red/orange and mostly nocturnal.
- Odorous house ants: medium-sized with a licorice smell when squashed.
- Fire ants: reddish-brown, 1/8” to 3/16”, nesting in a messy mound in the dirt with no obvious entrance.
- Acrobat ants: diurnal with a heart-shaped gaster (abdomen) that lifts in the air when disturbed.
- Crazy ants: hairy and know for their fast and erratic running behavior.
- Argentine ants: 1/9” to 1/12” long in light to dark brown.
- Pavement ant: 1/10” to 1/6” long in dark brown to a blackish color.
Did you know that 80% of indoor ant infestations are linked to potted plants?!
Fun Facts About Ants
Fun Fact #1
Carpenter ants actually don’t eat wood! That doesn’t help much though as they still destroy wood to build their nests, and if left unchecked, can destroy the wooden structures that they nest in. They are also active at night, so you often don’t even see them while their destruction continues!
Fun Fact #2
For most ants, honeydew comprises 70% of their diet. Honeydew is a sugary liquid secreted by aphids and some scale insects that feed on plant sap.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Austin
The best way to get rid of ants involves two approaches: make your home less attractive to ants and limit their accessibility into your home.
Make Your Home Less Attractive to Ants
Ants seek food, water, and shelter. Don’t give it to them. Examples include:
- Store food in the refrigerator or in containers with airtight lids.
- Keep vegetation (shrubs, tree branches, etc.) off and away from the perimeter of the house.
- Reduce water availability. Ants find water in clogged gutters, dripping taps, and even pet dishes.
- Don’t over-water your lawn.
- Keep mulch away from the foundation.
Make Your Home Less Accessible to Ants
Ants forage for food, water, and shelter. Don’t let them find creature comforts at your house. Examples include:
- Seal exterior cracks, gaps, and weep holes.
- Install and maintain weather stripping.
- Install window and door screens.
Targeted Ant Extermination by YardDoc Pest Control
Given that ant populations are massive, treatment focuses on placing baits attractive to your particular species of ant. This may be sweet baits, starchy baits, or protein-rich baits. We maintain and monitor our baiting system to ensure the ants take the bait back to their nest.
The baits are carriers of the pesticide. Individual ants carry it into their nest, where the colony’s food supply is stored. Over time, the colony is killed off. It’s important to understand that our treatment targets a specific type of ant.
Some insects, including ants, are beneficial without being a nuisance, and you don’t want to eliminate them. Getting rid of ants the YardDoc way means targeting and eradicating a single ant species without causing damage to other ants or other colonies.
If you need help getting rid of ants, let a YardDoc pest technician help identify the ant species involved and implement a solution for ant control.
Texas Pest Control License #: 0752604
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Pest Control Service Area
YardDoc serves Travis County communities including Austin, Barton Creek, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Lakeway, Leander, Lost Creek, Pflugerville, Rollingwood, Round Rock, Spanish Oaks, Spicewood, Steiner Ranch, Tarrytown, and West Lake Hills.