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Bug of the Month: Ants

By Katie Nelson

Here at Spidexx Pest Control, we totally understand how important it to provide quality ant control to both Iowans and Nebraskan. Our technicians are trained in working with specific ants common to the area. Have you ever spilled a pop on your kitchen counter, only to return hours later to a line of ants filing into the space? Or maybe you uncovered a rock in your backyard and discovered a colony of ants living underneath? No matter what the circumstance – if you’ve dealt with ants, you know they’re not an easy challenge to overcome in the home. There is no silver bullet, quick fix for an ants issue in your home; but with regular maintenance and management their presence can be eliminated or greatly reduced.

social-antsAnts are social insects, which means that when one decides to move into your home, he’s telling all his ant friends back at the colony about his new space that he’s found. A queen may decide to start an offshoot colony in the wall voids over of your home, called a satellite colony. Once these structural ants are in your home, the satellite colony will continue to grow each year until the issue is resolved and managed. Have you tried an at home repellent spray and it seemed to work for a while, but within a few weeks or months the ants are back? And this time with a vengeance?

There are a variety of ants common to the greater Des Moines metro. Some ants, such as the damaging Carpenter Ant, leave visible damage in your home. Whereas other ants, such as Pavement Ants, are merely an annoyance, but still one that needs to be taken care of. Here is some information about the different types of ants you might encounter living in the Midwest Our general pest control maintenance program tackles these issues head on and protects your home from ants and other common household pests.

Carpenter Ant

Unfortunately, Carpenter Ants are the most destructive species of ants that you will encounter, and are fairly common in both the Des Moines, IA and Omaha, NA areas. When you see the “large black ants”, those are carpenter ants, which are around ½” or more in length. They cause damage to your home by creating tunnels to construct their homes into the wood of your house. Carpenter Ant damage is often confused with termites, which also cause damage to the wood in the home. However, Carpenter Ants are more common in homes than termites. It is often assumed that these ants eat the wood, but they’re merely just creating tunnels for their colony to travel to and from.

It can be difficult to locate the source of the carpenter ants in the home, especially if there’s only light signs of activity. That could mean the colony is newly formed. That is a great time to start treatment before it requires a more aggressive form of treatment, like if the colony has had a couple years to grow. At Spidexx, we use non-repellent products inside the home, in conjunction with bait that helps bring the product back to the source of the issue – the satellite colony.

If you’re seeing Carpenter Ants outdoors, they are likely found on or around trees. It is crucial to treat these outdoor colonies, because there’s a chance that they will move their colony indoors as it gets colder outside. When treating outdoors we use a repellent to create a protective barrier around your home, and then use the non-repellent and bait to spot treat areas of high activity.

Smaller Carpenter Ant

While not as common as the large carpenter ants, these tiny pests can still cause significant damage to your home if left untreated. The smaller carpenter ant measures around ½” in length. They have a shiny black color which makes them easily recognizable from their larger relatives. They also will create tunnels in the wood of your home and create damage over time.

Field Ant

Field Ants are the most common type of ant found in Iowa and Nebraska. They’re name comes from their nature of nesting in fields, lawns, and meadows. They’re usually about ¼” long, and brownish to black in color. There can be variation in this species which makes them harder to identify. These ants aren’t typically found living indoors; however they will scavenge your home for food to take back to their colony outdoors.

In the fall, swarms of yellow-brown winged ants will emerge from the colony and fly around the area before moving to start a new colony. Neither the winged ants, or the mature ants cause damage to the home, but they are a major annoyance. Its crucial, when treating field ants, to focus on the exterior of the home, in addition to spot treating any areas of activity in the home.

Larger Yellow Ant

The Larger Yellow Ant gets its name from its yellow color. They typically live outdoors inside of logs, stumps, and under rocks. They are nocturnal and feed on honeydew gathered by aphids or mealybugs. Worker ants will come indoors during winter, and return outdoors when the weather heats up. They slip in through gaps in the foundation, which is where their nickname, the “Foundation Ant”, comes from.

Problems start to arise in late summer and early fall when winged and wingless workers seek out shelter and food for the winter. Small piles of dirt near the nest are usually the only signs of activity you will see in the home, aside from the occasional ant. Luckily due to their nature of returning outdoors for warm weather, treatment for larger yellow ants usually involves simply locating and spraying the colony, and creating a barrier around the home.

Pavement Ant

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Pavement ants are smaller than most ants, measuring around ⅛’ in length, and are brown to black in color. They nest under sidewalks, driveways, decks, stones, board, bricks, and patio blocks. They may also be found near foundation and under mulch. They are a major pest in the Midwest, and prefer to feed on greasy or oily foods. These are the ants that are gravitating toward the spilled pop on your counter, or the dropped Cheetos on the sidewalk. Have you ever seen a trail of ants leading to a cluster of ants feeding on a Cheetos or cracker on the sidewalk? Chances are those were pavement ants taking food back to their colony, which could be 30 feet or more away.

They may be entering your home because of poor foundation drainage. If they do create a satellite colony in your home, then we would treat them similar to the carpenter ants by using a non-repellent and a bait to push the products into the colony. Outdoors we continue to create a barrier around the home, as well as treat problem areas in the sidewalk, driveways, and other places where these pests can nest under.

Grease Ant

The Grease Ant is one of the smallest ants found in Iowa, with a size of only 1 to 1.5mm in length. It’s also nicknamed the Thief Ant because of their habit of nesting near other ant colonies and stealing their food. They also prefer to eat greasy foods found inside or around the home. They are yellow or red in color and have a smooth and shiny appearance. They can be found indoors inside cracks, crevices, under floors, and behind baseboards. Due to the fact that grease ants travel far for food and their strong persistence, it’s often difficult to locate the source of their colony. But at Spidexx we believe there is no pest problem too difficult or challenging!

Odorous House Ant

Only about ⅛” in length, and brown in color, the Odorous House Ant can often be found outdoors under stones, mulch, and other debris around the yard. When worker ants are crushed they give off an odor similar to rotten coconuts. Indoors, they will create colonies in moist areas under the floor and wall voids.

If you’re seeing swarms of these ants, that’s an indication that they’ve made a satellite colony in your home, which needs regular maintenance and management to exterminate the colony and prevent future colonies from forming. If you’re only seeing a few wingless ants, then chances are they are workers traveling to your home for food to take back to the colony outside. They feed on honeydew produced by plant sap from mealy worms and aphids, as well as dead insects, sweets, and meats.

Quality Ant Control in the Midwest

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It doesn’t matter what species the ant is, we understand how frustrating and inconvenient they are in and around your home. Whatever species of ants are causing problems in your home and yard, Spidexx is here to tackle the problem. There is no challenge too difficult for our team. Our technicians are trained to spot and treat insect activity, and our recurring service not only treats, but manages your pest problems throughout the year.

Our Spidexx Ultimate Protection guarantee means that if you see a pest in your home, we will come out for a re-service free of charge between services. If you’re looking for quality ant control near Des Moines, give us a call at (515) 200-2668. You can rely on Spidexx for quality ant control near Des Moines, and surrounding cities.