How to Identify and Deal with an Ant Infestation
Ants can be a challenging pest to deal with. Although they don’t spread disease or carry the level of risk that many other pests do, they’re still a nuisance and can infest food stores, kitchens, and picnics.
Identifying an ant infestation
Unlike many other pests, ants don’t hide from humans, so the easiest way to know you have ants is when you see them. Generally they’re inside your property because they’re looking for food, so kitchens and food storage areas are the most likely places to spot them.
Ant nests can be difficult to see. If they’re in you garden, you can recognise them by small mounds of gumbly soil, but if they’re nesting in your home it’s very difficult to see specific signs.
Ants leave a pheromone trail that the rest of the colony follow. Some species of ants, like the Pharaoh ant, leave a visible trail that looks similar to that of a snail. If you see these trails, wipe them away with a disinfectant to disrupt the signals.
Preventing an ant infestation
As with most things, prevention is better than cure, and usually easier. The key to avoiding an ant infestation is not providing them with any sources of food. Keep surfaces and floor clean and clear of any crumbs or food debris. Use airtight plastic containers to store food - ants can get into an open box of cereal, for example, even if you roll down the plastic bag and use the tabs on the top of the box to close it.
Wipe jars carefully - a small amount of sticky jam residue on the lid or outside of a jar is a feast to an ant.
Getting rid of an ant infestation
Removing all food sources is the first step in getting your infestation under control. If the ants are nesting in your garden, you should follow their trails back to the nest and treat the problem at its source. If you can’t find the nest, or the nest is within your property, professional pest management is likely to be the best solution. Nests can be hidden inside walls or under floors, and without professional help it can be almost impossible to eradicate them.
Killing the ants you can see won’t resolve the underlying problem. As long as the nest has a queen, she will always make more workers. Queens don’t leave the nest, so unless the queen is destroyed, the colony will survive.