Common Household Pests – Ants

Where you see one ant you are bound to see more. Their small size allows them to easily make their way into your home. Getting in through openings around water and electrical lines and cracks and crevices around the foundation. The scout ants, whose jobs is to locate food for the colony, will search your home high and low for any source of food. This could be sugar, meats, fruit or anything else that is available. One specific species of ant can cause great havoc and stress in your home.

Argentine ants are the biggest pest ant nuisance in the Bay Area and they are also detrimental to beneficial and native pollinators. They are a non-native invasive species of ant that has taken a few hundred years to form a supercolony that stretches 600 miles down the west coast.

Because we will never get rid of all of these ants, the next best solution is prevention by making your home less desirable to them.

Below is a profile of Argentine ants and ways to prevent this pest from infesting your property.

Identification
  • 1/8th inch long and brown to black in color and shiny in appearance.
  • Queen Argentine ants are larger, 1/6 to 1/4th inches long.
Behavior
  • Forage when temperatures range between 50° to 86°F
  • Trails typically follow structural paths like driveways, along building edges, baseboards, cracks between tiles and along counter edges
  • Once they have found a viable food source they will often set up a satellite colony near the food source
  • Omnivores, and the type of food they consume depends on the time of year
  • Sucrose is a primary staple of their diets and 99% of the food brought back to the nest is in liquid form – honeydew from aphids
Habitat
  • Nest in both exposed and covered soil
  • Nests can be found under stones, logs, debris, under cement slabs and potted plants
  • Can harbor in bricks, piles of lumber, wall voids, insulation, cracks and crevices, moist conditions like bathtubs, under carpets, and even under debris like piles of boxes
Life Cycle
(Gradual or Incomplete Metamorphosis)
  • Colonies often have multiple queens producing eggs
  • Egg production peaks in the spring and summer months
  • Eggs take an average of 28 days to hatch
  • From egg to adult takes about 74 days
Seasonality
  • Spike in population from March to October and then a mass die-off in November
Favorable Conditions
  • 50-86 Degrees
  • Lushly landscaped areas
  • Aphid infested bushes
  • Ripened fruit on trees
Health Concerns
  • No known health threats to the human population and are considered a nuisance pest
  • Can infest food products, which is mostly a concern of economics more than health
Signs of an infestation
  • Ant trails on the interior of the home
  • Ant nests – small hills and mounds of dirt

What You Can Do To Keep Ants Away From Your Home

  • Seal cracks and crevices around the exterior of the home with caulk that can provide entry
  • Keep vegetation at least 1 foot away from the home and foundation to prevent access
  • Remove or regularly tend to aphid-infested bushes and ripened fruit on trees
  • Regularly clean the inside of garbage and recycling cans
  • Install exterior bait stations where colonies are located

What You Can Do When Ants Are Inside of Your Home

  • Spray ant trails with soapy water solution and wipe up to remove
  • Clean up spilled food and drinks
  • Keep food in sealed containers
  • Apply gel bait at entry points the ants are using to get inside of your home