National Pest Management Month
The answer to the question “are ants dangerous?” depends on where you are. In some parts of the world, the answer is yes. The truth is, ants can be very dangerous, scary even! But here in Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia, the ants aren't quite as scary as they are in other parts of the world, though they can still present a danger to us. Some ants are dangerous to our homes, businesses, outbuildings, and belongings as they are known to damage wood. Others, even though they are only referred to as nuisance ants, can actually be dangerous to our health and well being as they are able to spread harmful bacteria. Let's take a look at the common ants found in our area and how they each of these ants can be dangerous in their own ways.
Like termites, carpenter ants are wood-destroying pests. These ants are by far the most dangerous type of ants that invade our homes and businesses. They can also target outbuildings and any other wooden belongings stored on our properties or sometimes even inside our homes.
Worker carpenter ants are usually shiny, dark brown to black in color, and measure at around ¼ to ½ an inch in length. Winged carpenter ant reproductives resemble worker ants in both shape and color but are a little longer at ¾ of an inch in length. There are several species of carpenter ants within the United States but can be distinguished from other types of ants by their larger size as well as the rounded profile of their thorax and their heart-shaped heads.
In our region of the northeastern United States, black carpenter ants are common invaders and very destructive pests. In nature, these ants are beneficial as they aid in the decomposition of dead, decaying trees. But when they invade the wood of our homes, businesses, other structures, or personal belongings, they can leave tremendous amounts of destruction in their wake, if they are left untreated. Homes that contain moist or rotting wood are especially at risk for carpenter ant invasions as this is the type of wood they prefer to create their nests and galleries in.
If you accidentally step on an ant and then start to smell a rotten coconut smell, then you probably have odorous house ants in your home. The workers of this tiny ant species measure from 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in length. Their bodies are uniform in color (either brown or black), have 12-segmented antennae without clubs, an uneven thorax, and a single node between their thorax and abdomen.
These little creatures are not known to spread disease and they do not sting or bite but they just stink to have around, quite literally. When they invade your home in large numbers and create the noxious rotten coconut smell they are known for, they can be a real headache. Add to this the fact that they can contaminate food sources and are difficult to eliminate and you will probably agree that odorous house ants are not a pest you want hanging around your home.
These tiny ants can usually be seen outside during warmer months, nesting in cracks in the pavement, along sidewalks, under foundations, under concrete slabs, and along stone walls. Basically, they can be found living in or near pavement-like materials. But sometimes they end up inside our homes while they’re out foraging for food. Homes with stone foundations or dirt basements are particularly at risk for pavement ant invasions.
Adult pavement ants range in color from dark brown to black. Their head and thorax have grooved parallel lines and their thorax has a pair of small spines extending out of the rear end. Worker pavement ants only grow to about ⅛ of an inch long while the queens grow as large as ⅜ of an inch. The pavement ant’s diet typically includes items such as sweets, fruits, seeds, cheese, grease, dead insects, and more.
These tiny ants do have stingers but they rarely sting people. While typically only considered a nuisance pest, they are able to crawl through filth and then deposit harmful substances on foods or food-prep surfaces.
When it comes to odorous house ants and pavement ants, there are several steps you can take to help keep them out of your home. Aside from investing in a year-round pest control plan from American Pest, here are a few helpful ant prevention tips:
When taking out your trash, make sure it is placed in receptacles with tight-fitting, secure lids and that those receptacles are stored a distance away from your home.
Store woodpiles away from the exterior of your home and up off the ground if possible.
Trim back trees, shrubs, and bushes away from the exterior of your home so that ants and other pests cannot use them as bridges to climb onto your walls.
Perform a detailed inspection of your home’s foundation and outer walls and seal any gaps, cracks, or holes you find to eliminate entry points.
Install door sweeps on all outside doors or check to make sure existing door sweeps are in good working order.
Seal spaces around your windows and doors, especially if they are on the basement level.
Seal any gaps around utilities that enter into the home such as wires and pipes.
Keep the interior of your home free of crumbs and spills in case any ants do manage to find a way inside.
Routinely wash dirty dishes and do not leave them in a stack next to the sink.
Store leftover foods in airtight containers or in the fridge or freezer.
When dealing with carpenter ants, we recommend consulting the professionals here at American Pest. We will provide a consultation and work with you to provide a customized, effective solution against those destructive pests.
To learn more about our ant control solutions as well as our year-round pest control options for other nuisance or dangerous pests, contact us at American Pest today. Don't let ants eat away at your home, create an unpleasant environment in your home, or contaminate your foods. Reach out to us for help today!
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