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Ways to Get Rid of Ants

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A common pest in the United States, ants of numerous species invade homes and yards during the warmer months each year. Usually, ants only post a problem when they begin infesting a home's interior, but fire ants can be dangerous when they build their nests near homes, parks, schools, or other populated areas. Most ant species, including the common pharaoh and carpenter ants often found indoors, can be eliminated with liquid insecticides and baits.

Liquid Spray Insecticide

A spray insecticide provides both immediate and long term ant control. It will kill ants on contact and leaves a residual film that continues killing ants for an extended period of time. The ultra-strength insecticides that professional exterminators use may last as long as six months. Sprays designed for outdoor use are specially formulated to withstand high temperatures and moisture, but they will likely need to be reapplied after several days of rainfall.

Inside the home, spray insecticides will be applied in areas where ants have been observed or may travel in their search for food.

  • under cabinets
  • along baseboards
  • behind appliances
  • on cracks and crevices found near doors and windows

Food items will need to be securely covered or removed before the spray is applied. Children and pets will also need to be kept out of the area until the insecticide has fully dried, after which it should be perfectly safe. Your exterminator will discuss the possible risks and safety precautions of this and the other insecticides used when treating the ant problem.

Outdoors, an exterminator will spray the liquid insecticide around door and window frames, around the home's foundation, and around any other opening that could provide a potential entrance for the ants. Cracks in driveways, walkways, and patios can be treated as well.

Insecticide Drench

When an exterminator comes to your home for an initial visit, he or she will inspect your yard to locate ant hills. Sometimes dozens of ant hills will be present in a single yard and can represent thousands or even millions of ants. The exterminator will likely be able to identify which species of ant is living in each ant hill and can plan the extermination efforts accordingly. It's rarely necessary to exterminate non-pest ant species that haven't invaded the home, for example.

To treat the ant hills, a pest control professional will use a diluted liquid insecticide, known as a "drench." The liquid will be poured directly onto the ant hill, targeting the entrance especially. The insecticide will flood through the tunnels and chambers that the ants have built and will kill every ant on contact. This can be a very effective way to destroy all ants in a nest, including the queen.

An insecticide drench is often the sole treatment used to combat fire ants. These ants are very aggressive and will swarm over anyone they feel threatened by. Their sting is very painful and can cause an life-threatening allergic reaction in some individuals. For this reason, exterminators must take special precautions to avoid being stung and can usually treat fire ant mounds only at certain times of day when the insects are less active.

Poison Ant Baits

No matter how many nests are found in the yard, it's likely that many more remain hidden. Ants sometimes build satellite nests inside the walls of a home as well. The only way to reach the majority of ants in these hidden nests is to use indoor and outdoor ant baits. In most cases, only the worker ants venture out of the nest and are seen foraging inside a home. By using poison ant baits, the workers will carry insecticide into the nest to feed all of the other ants.

Baits can be placed anywhere ants have been observed--inside cabinets, on counter tops behind small appliances, and around the home's foundation, for example. The baits attract ants with a food source and deliver a small amount of poison. Death is delayed long enough to allow the worker ants to share the bait with ants in the nest. Eventually, the queen herself should receive the bait and die. Without her, any remaining ants will die as well.

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