Ants are like the body builders of the insect world. Despite their miniature size, their muscles are thicker than any animal, and they are capable of carrying objects that are 50 times their own body weight. Scientists estimate that there are at least 1.5 million ants for every human alive, which makes it no wonder that they are considered the number one nuisance pest in the U.S., with over 56% of homeowners who were surveyed claiming that they had a problem with ants in the past year. If you're dealing with ants, simply getting rid of the ants that you see is not sufficient. You need to get to the root of the problem and find the ant mound, or the nest, which may be rather difficult. Here are 3 tips that can help you out.
Identify the Species of Ants That Are Troubling You
There are over 12,400 species of ants in the entire world. Naturally, determining which ant species plagues your home can be rather difficult; however, it certainly is well worth the time, as you will be able to find out a lot about these ants after you have identified which species they are. For example, odorous house ants are active both during the day and night and usually limit their mounds or nests in-between wall voids while carpenter ants are mostly active during the night and will hollow out the wood in the internal architectural structure of your home in order to build their nests.
Identifying and examining the ants may not be easy; however, you can fill a vial with rubbing alcohol or ethanol, and quickly use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to pick up and ant and dump it into the vial. The rubbing alcohol or ethanol inside will kill the ant immediately, and preserve its body, so that you have all the time that you need to identify which species of ants may be causing the problem.
Use a Marker to Identify the Trail or Change the Trail
If you're having a hard time keeping an eye on the trail, and would like a colored marker to determine where the ant colony is, consider using brightly colored gelatin as bait. Find the ants, and place a mound of gelatin nearby. You can literally then follow the gelatin trail easily and get led back to the mound.
If the ant trail is simply too long and curvy and travels to areas that are hard for you to see, then you might want to change the path that they are taking by simply leaving out some bait in different areas of the trail in order to change their route. Over time, the ants will slowly alter their path in order to make it shorter and shorter to the ant mound, and will release pheromones as a trail marker. Naturally, the bait that are placed closer to the ant mound are more likely to be visited than the bait that are placed further away.
Look for Rotting Wood or Piles of Sawdust
Last but not least, while some ants will make mounds outdoors underground, some ants will make their mounds within your walls. These ants are the ones that you want to be most wary of since they are potentially doing the most damage. Not only are they contaminating your food sources, but they are also weakening the infrastructure of your home and compromising the structural integrity of your flooring and your walls.
Look for signs of rotting wood or wood that has softened in time due to being exposed to water. The wood that these ants burrow into must go somewhere, and you should also be on the lookout for sawdust, especially if the sawdust is arranged in piles. Most of these sawdust piles are arranged close to the entrance of the mounds, and will make your job a lot easier, so don't search far once you've find the pile. Some of the best places to check will include the basements, the attics, windowsills, the gutters, the outside steps and the bathroom or laundry room.
Once you've found the ant mound, getting rid of the ants will literally be a piece of cake. There are many different pesticides on the market that are environmentally friendly, biodegradable and can be easily applied. You can also use a wide range of natural products, like essential oils, vinegar and citrus peel sprays. If you decide to hire an exterminator from a company like Desert Pest Control, you'll also be able to save a lot of money on labor that would have otherwise been put towards looking for the ant mound.