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Ant Extermination

Pest Control and Exterminators
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An effective and long term ant extermination program requires using multiple insecticides to target every location where ants travel. In almost every case, an ant colony's main nest will be located in the ground somewhere within 20 to 30 feet of the home and may sometimes be located in the crawl space directly under the home. As a colony gets larger, the ants begin to set up satellite nests inside the walls of the home. Worker ants travel between the main and satellite nests and provide a convenient 'vehicle' for taking insecticide to every ant.

The backbone of a successful ant extermination routine is the placement of interior and exterior baits, but this should be supplemented with an insecticide that targets the ground nests directly and a protective perimeter around your home. It can be a good idea to start by inspecting your home, inside and out, to locate the ant trails and as many in ground nests as possible.

Interior Ant Baits

Ant baits contain a mixture of slow-acting insecticide and attractive ant food. Ants of almost every pest species are attracted to the baits where they eat a little themselves and then take a portion back into the nest to share with the other ants. Eventually, the ants will die with the final goal being the death of the queen. Without her, the entire colony dies.

Some baits are enclosed, with the insecticide sealed inside a small plastic container. Ants are able to enter and exit through small holes, but there is little risk of your family or pets touching the poison. Enclosed baits will need to be replaced at least every two weeks, depending on the number of ants feeding from it. Other baits utilize a gel-like liquid that is dripped onto small pieces of cardboard. As the ants eat the bait, more can be applied.

Ants send out scouts to locate new food sources, and these lone wanderers can be seen almost anywhere. Once they find a food source, they communicate with the other ants and workers come in by the hundreds to gather the food. It is usually most helpful to place baits in areas where you have observed ants previously, yet it's important to keep them away from children and pets.

  • Inside cabinets
  • Under or behind large appliances
  • Under sinks
  • At the back of counters

At first, you will likely see hundreds of ants swarming the bait. It's essential to allow the ants to eat it and go back to the nest with it. They should never be sprayed with an ant killer, as tempting as that may be. Killing the ants immediately prevents them from sharing the poison with the vast numbers of ants that never leave the nest, and ant spray will actually contaminate the bait and render it ineffective.

Exterior Ant Baits

Baits intended for outdoor use have been specially designed to withstand heat and moisture. They can usually remain effective through short periods of rainfall but will need to be replaced or replenished if rain continues for several days. Two main types of exterior ant baits exist: granules and enclosed bait stations.

Bait granules can be sprinkled around nesting sites, around trees, and in any other areas where ant trails have been found. It's important, however, to avoid using this type of bait if you have children or pets that may visit the area.

Enclosed bait stations, often called "ant spikes," have an enclosed section that houses the bait attached to a plastic spike that can be pushed into the ground. The bait works in the same manner as indoor baits, delivering a slow-acting poison that scout and worker ants can share with the rest of the colony. Ant spikes should be placed near the foundation of the house in areas where ants have been observed, as well as near any nests in the yard or crawlspace.

Ant Nests

Granular insecticide can be applied directly to an ant hill to kill the ants inside. Label directions should be carefully followed, and it's usually best to choose a dry, non-windy day for this application. In most cases, this type of insecticide will need to be 'watered' to allow it to penetrate the soil.

As mentioned, ant baits can be placed around nests as well, if desired. This will take longer than a direct attack but should be effective in killing the entire nest within a few weeks.

Protective Perimeter

Since ants nest underground, usually somewhere in your yard, they have to enter your house somewhere. A granule or spray insecticide can be applied as a barrier around the entire perimeter of your home. By using a residual insecticide that continues killing ants over several weeks or months, any ant that tries to enter your home will die.

The insecticide should be applied in a one to two foot wide strip, leaving no gaps that tiny ants could pass through. If using a spray, it can be helpful to apply it in a one foot strip to the horizontal foundation surface as well. A spray can also be used to apply a barrier around window and door frames and around openings where electrical lines, duct work, or other items enter your home.

Because of the huge number of ants in each colony, complete ant extermination can take several weeks or months. It's important to continue using baits and reapplying insecticide as needed until no ants remain.

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