30 June 2013

Ants on the march!

ants, ant control, extermination, walla walla, pest control
Featured in this post - read
on to discover why!
In the last couple of days, calls for ant control have ticked upward significantly. This is no surprise after the recent heavy rains we've experienced here in the Walla Walla valley. The types making themselves known are our two most common pest ants here, the Odorous House ant and the Pavement ant. Look at it from their perspective: if you were only about a millimeter in height and had a home at or below ground level, you would probably be looking to set up shop on higher ground now, too.

This isn't the only time that these ants will make their appearance in your home or business, however, as there are plenty of other reasons for them to do so. Narrowing down those reasons and finding an extermination solution is first a matter of answering one simple question: did the ants begin turning up after the weather warmed up, or have they been present inside your home when it was cold outside (roughly 50º F or below)?

The answer to that question helps to determine if your ants are living primarily outside in the soil and wandering in looking for a snack, or if they and their queens (that's right -- plural) have made their home in the walls of your home. It doesn't make much of a difference in terms of how the ants will be treated (that's mainly a question of climate conditions at the time), but it does help to determine how intense the inside vs. outside effort should likely be.

The method is a two-part method, exclude, and sabotage:

Exclude: excluding these pests from a structure is a matter of treating the outside of it such that it's not possible for the ants to gain a foothold inside. This is done with spray applications that are not detectable by the ants, that kill the ants slowly, and that the individual ants can spread to each other through physical contact. A spray of this type "excludes" ants from a structure in that it becomes an environment that will destroy an entire colony, not just individual ants. All common over-the-counter sprays lack virtually all of these features. As such, they are the opposite, and will tend to produce the opposite of the desired result (in fact, many of these sprays can prompt the ants to defend themselves by spreading their colonies out all over your house - the problem actually gets worse!).

Sabotage: ants love a free meal. Using ant baits is the best way to deal with them indoors; it's the Trojan Horse of ant control. The advantage of a bait over a spray is that a spray will only work if the ants are in the treated spot (and only if the spray matches the characteristics I described above), but a bait will go to where the ants are because the ants themselves will take it there! Further, the ants you can see are only workers, which if killed will be rapidly replaced by the queens. Those queens are your true targets, and it is with bait ferried to them by their workers that they can be most easily attacked and destroyed. Not all baits are created equal, however. As a rule of thumb of using bait for ants, if the ants don't respond to your bait like these ants did to mine...

ants, sugar ants, ant control, walla walla

...then your bait does not work. Those little plastic domes with solid form baits inside that people constantly buy, they're garbage. Throw them out, or better yet return them for a refund if you can. The reason those "work" is typically that someone sees some ants feeding on something, they run to the grocery/hardware store and spend their money on little plastic domes, they put those domes out... and then they clean. Suddenly, the ants are gone and they credit the little plastic domes. What actually happened is that cleaning took away whatever it was that was of interest to the ants, so the ants hid away again. The next time one of their scouts finds a dropped crumb, however, they'll come back out in full force as they were never really gone.

There is one kind of over-the-counter bait that works. It's a liquid bait, not a solid: Terro Liquid Ant Bait

 
This is the only OTC ant bait product I recommend to my clients as a stop-gap measure for those times I can't get to them right away, or for clearing up small ant incursions that may not warrant the cost of a full treatment. Terro is not as good as the products I use in my work, but it is adequate for keeping an ant issue down to a dull roar until the cavalry arrives. 
If you are dealing with a new or on-going ant infestation, you can try the product I'm recommending, or if you would like my help getting you ahead of the ants' game, give me a call! Treatments typically run around $60 to treat an average house inside and out in the Walla Walla valley area (more if the structure is larger, of course), dropping to $40 for follow-on 30 day periods if additional maintenance is necessary. I will also point out things in and around your home or place of business that may be encouraging ants to constantly invite themselves over for a picnic. My help is just a phone call or an email away!

509-540-7946
paul@zpestcontrol.com



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