What are ants?
We all know what ants are, so we will keep this strictly to the basics. Ants are wingless insects that live in colonies. They can be confused with termites, but ants have a pinched narrow waist that termites lack. While they are omnivores, their non-plant diet consists mostly of other insects. They are an extremely common pest in most locations, but especially in Humboldt given our damp climate.
What type of ants will I find nearby (in Humboldt/Northern California)?
There are several species across the United States and even California itself, but the most common ants species you’ll see in your houses in Arcata or crawling across the floors in Crescent City are carpenter ants, pharaoh ants, thief ants, odorous ants, and argentine ants.
- Carpenter Ants – These are the large black ants that many of us are used to seeing. They often build their nests in wood, alive or decaying, which can mean some serious problems if they are not dealt with immediately.
- Pharaoh Ants – These are tiny (2 mm) brown ants that will take advantage of any food you have lying around. They are attracted by grease stains and dead insects. They also have a sweet tooth, so make sure to avoid leaving too many sugary drinks out.
- Thief Ants – So named because they steal the food and children of other ant colonies. They resemble pharaoh ants in color and size but have also earned a common name of grease ants due to their love of grease stains and anything dead. No joke, these ants will eat dead rodents if they happen to be so lucky.
- Odorous Ants - These bugs earned their name through a foul odor (that smells like rotten coconut) that is released when crushed. They are dark brown and black but are similar in size to Argentine Ants, so they are commonly confused.
- Argentine Ants - (Linepithema humile --- for anyone who asks) are small ants found mostly in damp coastal regions—hence their love for Humboldt. They're an incredibly invasive species without wings and are known for nesting outside. They're defined by their light brown bodies and have a preference for sweet treats over proteins.
What season are they most active?
Ants are active year-round for a variety of reasons. They mate and reproduce during the spring and summer months which mean more ants everywhere. During the winter months, they are seeking shelter and warmth which often means that your house is the perfect place for them to set up shop.
Signs You Might Have An Ant Problem
- Ant trails and foraging. Perhaps the most obvious sign of an ant infestation is the trail that they will make once they've found a source of food within your home or business. However, before ants begin to trail, they will typically send out foraging ants. While a single ant is not an issue if found in your home, several ants is cause for concern and should warrant extra cleaning.
- Ants in food. Finding ants within your cereal box can be one of the most disturbing ways to start your morning. Typically if you discover ants in your food, you can resolve the issue by simply throwing the food away. Just remember that ants can carry and transmit dangerous bacterial and fungal organisms that can cause health issues, so please do not try to salvage food if ants are discovered on it.
- Look for wood damage. Wood that is serving as a nest for ants will have slits or holes. You'll usually see frass scattered nearby as well. Ants like to nest in walls, hollow doors, cabinets, beams and structural wood. Look for areas where the wood is slightly damp since ants like to build their nests in moist wood.
- Look for frass. Frass is a sawdust-like material left behind when ants bore into wood to make their nests. It will contains body parts and debris, but it will basically look like a pile of light wood shavings. If you see this around your house, it's a telltale sign you've got an ant problem on your hands.
Preventative Steps & DIY Treatment Options
Ants are one of the most common pests around. Thankfully there are some simple preventative steps that you can take to keep them out of your home.
- Clean! As with most pesky insects, the best way to deal with an infestion is to prevent it from occurring to begin with. Cleaning all major services to remove scraps of food that may attract ants is a time tested technique to prevent ants from arriving with hungry mouths.
- Properly store food. Keep all food within well sealed containers, checking to make sure any stores or pantries are clean and that your food remains safe and uncontaminated.
- Trim brushes and trees. Make sure to keep a clean perimeter around your home and business to remove access points for ants to make it to your home.
- Seal entryways*. Ants are incredibly small, and if given a chance, will find a way into your home. We recommend that you check all entryways into your home, placing caulk or sealant around your doors, baseboards, cupboards, pipes, ducts, electrical outlets, sinks and windows to block entryways into your home.
*Attempting to find all the entryways for ants can be a time consuming task unless you know where to look and are trained to identify openings. Calling in a professional to help inspect your home is highly recommended if you are attempting this prevention technique. As a final note, making use of caulking and sealant without experience change potentially lead to trouble if executed improperly, we highly recommend having an experienced individual guide you through the steps as recovering from mistakes made in this process can be messy and damaging to your property.
Prevention takes time and careful consideration, but can save you massive headaches in the future. Our technicians are trained to make sure your home will be protected when the rainy seasons hit. Calling a pest inspector to come before the ants arrive is highly recommended, especially if you've had problems before.
Do it Yourself Treatment Options:
Ants are perhaps the one pest where there are plenty of really good options for treating them yourself. However, while you can try and remove ants yourself, if you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume or are having difficulty finding the correct method for treatment, do not hesitate to contact an ant exterminator/pest control professional. Our products are designed with significantly higher and different standards than over the counter poisons and can be extremely more effective and efficient at resolving your ant problems.
Let's dive in to ant treatment solutions:
- Ant traps*. These can be effective if there is a small quantity of ants within your home. But be careful if you have small children or pets as contact with these chemicals can cause significant problems and require medical treatment. Only use ant traps if they can be placed in safe locations away from reach.
- Home remedies. There are several home remedy methods such as the use of Borax or vinegar to prevent ants from entering into your home. However, these methods are considered temporary and can often require constant application throughout a day to be truly effective. In addition, making use of open chemical solutions can be dangerous for your family and pets. Use extreme caution when considering home remedies that you may find online.
*With ant traps we urge caution. It's quite often that we get calls to help resolve ant issues after individuals have attempted to eradicate ants with Ant Traps. Often these traps are filled with sugary poisons which can actually attract more ants. Be ready to use multiple traps. Furthermore, be careful of the location you place these liquid gel traps as the substance can leak out, potentially damaging the location.
As one last note, all ants are different. One challenge with making use of home remedies is that different ants will be repelled or attracted to different things. This can require experimentation, which can simply take time.
When should I call Humboldt Termite & Pest Control?
First off, there is no wrong time to contact a pest inspector. If you've got pests such as ants running around your home, it can be stressful. Our job is to make sure they leave you alone and keep your family and investments safe.
A single ant within your home shouldn't be cause for concern. This little bug could simply be from your clothing from going outdoors. However, finding multiple ants running around in a specific area like the kitchen could very well be cause for concern. Ants are scavengers, meaning that they are actively looking for food. Our first recommendation is that you clean everything you can and make sure your food stores are safe and tightly sealed. After that, if the ants keep coming and you cannot find the source, we would recommend our services.
That noted, if you find a long string of ants within your home, pest inspectors are trained to not only help resolve the current infestation but also protect you from future occurrences. It can be incredibly cost effective to bring a professional in to not only resolve your current infestation, but to help protect you against future occurrences.
Our solution in three steps:
- Step 1: Identification of infestation - It does no good to kill the ants in your home with bait and poisons if there are gaps in your home that will keep inviting them in with the weather turns cold. Our technicians are trained to not only find the existing problem but to pinpoint areas that may have been missed in attempting to treat the issue yourself.
- Step 2: Treatment & extermination - Our products are designed to be safe for your family, for your pets, and for the environment we are blessed to have in Northern California. Our treatment will not only remove the current wave of ants but provide a lasting protective barrier to keep the pesky ants away.
- Step : Ongoing preventative protection - Keep your home ant free with our ongoing pest protection plans designed to give you the peace of mind you need at your business and home.
Our solutions tap into our professionally trained technicians that can help you solve your specific issue. We pride ourselves in going above and beyond the industry standard while keeping to all the laws, rules and regulations designed to keep us all safe.