Ants are the most reported pest problem in the United States. From fire ants to carpenter ants and all in between. Today we will be talking about the most common in this area, the odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile). That's the one that shows up in your kitchen and tries to take over your house. As soon as they appear most people play exterminator and grab a can of pesticide and start spraying. These ants, as most will agree are very persistent year after year. No matter how much you spray they will always seem to reappear. These small 1/8" dark brown to shiny black ants have a very strong odor when crushed, hence the name. They feed on dead and live insects. They prefer sugars in the home mainly in your kitchen. You may find them nesting outside under rocks, wood or mulch. You may see them following each other up your foundation wall. Their colonies can be very large, about 10,000 strong with multiple queens. That will be on the test.
Did you know that ants pollinate more than bees and also carry more germs and deceases than roaches? Yup they due. Let's talk about what happens when you or an exterminator sprays for these ants. At any given time the ant colony will at best only send out 10% of its work force to gather food. So if you were able to kill all the ants you see inside and outside you would only knock down the population by 10% or less. By most standards this is a failing grade unless you use common core. This is why in a week or so you start to see the ants again. Let me explain what is actually happening. Most sprays used by homeowners and low budget exterminators are repellents. Meaning they repel the ants. Yes it will kill the ones you hit but the ones you don't just find another way around it. When repellents are used on odorous house ants a defensive action is taken. This action is called budding. What budding does is protect the survival of the colony. They colony will split and send workers and queens to other areas. Now you have two ant colonies instead of one. If you spray again now you have four colonies instead of two. See a pattern yet? Some people try to use baits. It's a good start but most baits don't allow the worker ants time to take it back to the colony. You can tell this if you see dead ants near your baits. Not good. Ants cannot eat solid foods. They carry the food back to the colony where it is stored or given to the larvae to chew. Once the larvae Chews the food into a liquid the larvae feed the ants. Most baits will only reduce an ant population temporarily.
So then, you ask, how do control these ants? It's actually very simple. Knowing what we just talked about we must use a material that is not a repellent and or use baits that have a delayed reaction to allow time for the colony to be exposed. An exterminator worth their weight in salt should know this and make the necessary adjustments. Sadly this is the exception not the rule in our industry. There is nothing over the counter or at the big box stores that will perform the necessary way for control. Termidor used at the labeled rate is the best material you can get for your money. Applied properly, you will have a hard time finding an ant outside after two weeks. Advion ant gel is the best material to use inside a home, especially with children and pets. Now this is my opinion. I have been doing this for 25 years and I don't cut corners or use cheap crap. You must follow the directions and don't try to add more because you think your problem is worse than most. If you add too much Termidor you are one breaking the law but you are also making it a repellent. Read this blog over again if you don't understand. I am in no way profiting or paid in any manner recommending these products. I recommend them because they work, period. I use them for all of my customers and sell, "do-it-yourself kits ", with them in the kits. I hope this helps and is straight forward enough to get the point across.
Feel free to leave a comment below, or on our Facebook page, and as always, if you have questions feel free to contact me directly. I like helping people.
Bryan W. Guderjohn
ATC Termite & Pest Control - CEO