Ants will come out in the spring and in the fall and find their way into homes. In the spring they emerge early and have to find a place that is warm at night and has food. Many people do not realize where the ants are coming from, which can make control difficult. Ants will find any tiny crack in the foundation of your home or any holes around doors or windows to find their way into your home. Once inside, they become a real nuisance to our way of life. The most common house ants include the odorous house ants. These are very tiny ants that are reddish-brown to black and if you crush them they smell bitter. These are typically found all over homes especially in the kitchen.
Control of ants can be done through multiple techniques. If you can find the colony, the best control method would be to treat the colony. If you do not know where the ants are coming from and cannot locate the colony, you can still control them.
There are many bait stations that will work adequately to control ants found in your home. However, these are typically a dry, hard material that the ants do not like as well as other foods. The point of the bait station is to make it something that the ant likes to eat so they come to it, pick it up and bring it back to the colony, killing all of the ants including the queen. If they do not take the bait back to the colony, you will continue to have ant problems through the spring, summer, and fall. The best option for bait stations for ants is to use the liquid ant bait stations or simply use liquid ant baits on a piece of cardboard. This type of bait is more desirable than the hard baits.
During the spring of the year we start to see the flying reproductives of the ants as well as termite flying reproductives. The flying reproductives of both ants and termites usually come out in swarms and match up a male and female who will break off from their original colony to find a location and start a new colony. This situation always seems to frighten people because they are worried that these little flying things are termites and not ants. Termites can do a lot more damage to a home than an ant can. They both fly at about the same time in the spring and in the fall of the year.
The differences between ants and termites include:
- ants have elbowed antennae, termites have straight antennae
- termites have 2 wings of similar size where the ants will have a smaller hind wing
- ants have a constricted waist rather than the broad waste of the termite
- If you are unsure of whether you have an ant or a termite, bring a couple into your local extension office for identification