Is your home under attack by ants that won't go away? A massive ant infestation recently turned up in one of my rentals, thanks to a tenant who left open garbage out on her patio and in the kitchen. Within a matter of days, thousands of ants turned up in her kitchen and hallway.
Ants are one of the most common of all household pests and can be frustrating to deal with. While in my own home I tend to deal with ants organically (as in removing food sources and washing away food trails), ant infestations in my rental properties are treated much more aggressively.
How to get rid of ants aggressively.
Most species of household ants can be removed using these instructions and an assortment of easily available pesticides.
Locate the nest first. Before dealing with the ants, the homeowner has to find the nest first. This is done by walking around the home and looking for a parade of tiny ants marching around the foundation. Following this trail should bring you back to the nest.
Apply an insecticide to the the nest.Once the nest has been located, you can either drench the nest with a liquid pesticide or sprinkle the area with a granular bait product. I prefer a granular product myself (such as the Terro ant killer shaker bag) which is sprinkled both on the nest and along the foundation near the ant trails.
Place ant bait traps indoors. Treating an ant infestation shouldn't stop with a perimeter treatment around the foundation. The cavities behind walls and floors can provide ants with nesting spots and hidey holes which are impossible to reach with spray. Eliminating ants in these areas means setting several ant bait traps along the ant trail.
The advantage in using bait traps instead of an ant spray is that the foraging ants will take the bait back to the nest where it feeds the queen and other members of the colony. Ant baits are easy to find at grocery stores & hardware stores; Terro, Raid, and Combat are a few brands that I've used successfully in the past.
So what if this doesn't work?
For the first time ever, the ant infestation in my rental failed to respond to this treatment. Instead of the ants leaving, they simply relocated elsewhere in the house -- turning up in the pantry, bathrooms, and even crawling upside down on the ceilings.
It wasn't until I called an exterminator that I discovered that the rental was experiencing an infestation of odorous house ants which apparently are the most difficult of all ant species to treat, even for the professionals. Odorous house ants look like common sugar ants, except that they emit a rotten coconut odor when pinched with the fingers and sniffed.
Odorous house ants will nest in every place imaginable, not just outdoors but also in the cavities of your home. The nest are also highly mobile. Treating them with a spray means that the colony will just pick up and move elsewhere in the house, which is exactly what happened to my renters.
Unfortunately, the only solution in dealing with these ants is by calling in the professionals who have access to specialized pesticides not available to the general public. The exterminators who treated the infestation in my rental injected a gelatinous substance into the walls and beneath the floors in hopes of reaching the nesting areas. A second application will be necessary in three months to ensure that the ant problem will be gone for good. Total cost? $230 for the complete treatment, along with $40 wasted on over-the-counter pesticides that were the wrong product for the type of ant infestation I had.
When it comes to treating an ant infestation in your home, it's best to determine the type of ant that's invading your space first before rushing out to buy ant killer. While most of us can treat common ants easily enough, if the ant stinks like rotting coconuts it's best to forgo the home treatment and call the professionals instead.