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red and black ants in washington dc

Ants

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What is an ant?

Ants are social insects belonging to the order of insects known as “Hymenoptera”. This is the same order containing bees and wasps. Ants are social insects that live in large communities where they depend upon each other for the survival of the entire colony. Ant colonies tend to form underground nests comprised of chambers and interconnecting tunnels. This is where ants store food, lay eggs and maintain nurseries. There can be tens of thousands of ants in a single colony. There can also be several colonies inhabiting the soil or landscape surrounding a property. For that reason, ants can be a particularly difficult pest to eradicate. There are an estimated 14,000 ant species populating the earth. Only a handful of species around the region are apt to invade homes and buildings, including:

Odorous house ant: These small ants are dark brown to black in color and range from 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch in length. Odorous house ants (also known as sugar ants) are easy to identify. When crushed they emit a distinctive odor that is often described as the smell of rotten coconuts.

Pavement ants: These small ants are brown to black in color and typically 1/8th of an inch in length. Entrances to their underground nests often resemble volcano-like mounds. You can find them between the cracks and crevices of pavement and landscape pavers. In some incidences they will also infest buildings, especially foundations built upon concrete slabs.

Carpenter ants: Carpenter ants are our largest, native ant species. The winged queen ants mature to almost 1 inch in length. This type of ant prefers to make its home in wood that has been previously damaged by water, potentially paving the way to structural damage. Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not consume wood. Rather they excavate wood to create passageways and chambers for which they build their colonies. Most of the activity from carpenter ants will take place under the cover of darkness. In some cases the only visible indicator of a carpenter ant problem is frass. This is debris discarded from the small exit holes carpenter ants make.

Why do I have them?

All ants share one primary task: to protect and care for the colony. This means they need food, moisture and shelter. A colony of ants may range from a few dozen to tens of thousands. Outside ant nests are under wood piles, flagstone or brick patios and under rocks and garden stones. Ants in the house may nest in wall voids, behind insulation, or in or around wood already damaged by moisture. You are most likely to find ants in the kitchen or invading your property elsewhere when they are foraging for food. Foraging ants account for only a small percentage (typically 10% or less) of the colony’s size. It is important to understand that ants will travel extremely long distances in search of food or harborage. Once these foragers locate and establish a source of food, ants will produce a scent trail (by way of pheromones). The pheromone trail leads to and from the nest and provides direction for the ants to follow between the nest and food source. This is why you will often see ants like the odorous house ant, marching back and forth along one line with little or no deviation.

Are they dangerous?

In the Washington, MD and NOVA, most of the ant species dealt with fall into either one or two categories: nuisance pests or wood destroying insects (such as carpenter ants). Fire ants pose a series health threat in southern states as close as North Carolina and parts of Virginia.

How do I get rid of ants?

Ants can be a particularly difficult pest to eradicate. That's due to the nature of their foraging habits and colony development. Because only a small percentage of ants within a colony are actively foraging for food, it is vitally important to inspect and locate where the ants are coming from. It is possible for ants to be foraging long distances and the nest may not be located within property boundaries. That is why it is important to call in the American Pest professionals for a thorough inspection. For optimal results, American Pest recommends our Preferred Care residential pest control services. This plan gets rid of ants and other common household invaders with regular treatment visits. It is a bi-monthly pest control service that is effective in preventing ant infestations. It is also backed by our Pest Free Pledge. If pests return between scheduled visits, American Pest returns for free! Contact us today to learn more.

Can I do it myself?

Do-it-yourself methods of ant control often fall short of success. Over-the-counter pesticide products for consumer purchase are not an adequate means to control ant colonies. They are not customized or suited to treat the particular species of ant you are having a problem with. Our trained pest control professionals seek out foraging ant trails around your property. This allows them to locate and eradicate the entire colony. Oftentimes, this may eliminate the need to use pesticides on the interior of the home.

How soon can you get here?

At American Pest, we pride ourselves on our speed and delivery of service. For that reason, we make every effort to be with you the same or very next day.

Is the treatment safe?

We put your health and safety first: Every product used by American Pest has been EPA registered for pest control use. We then follow a strict set of guidelines in every application of product to ensure that no harm will come to your family or pets. Furthermore, our state-accredited training and continuing education programs set us above the rest. All our pest control professionals are registered and licensed by the state or local jurisdictions where we provide service. Many have achieved Applicator Certification under the category of Industrial, Institutional, Structural and Heath Related pest management.

How can I prevent this in the future?

Preventing ants from invading your property can be difficult. Especially if you are dealing with structural infesting species such as the odorous house ant or the carpenter ant. Reduce the number of instances by cutting back foliage. This applies to shrubs, ornamental grasses and ivy that come in contact with exterior walls or foundation. These natural “bridges” create easy access for ants to enter homes or buildings. American Pest professionals will consult with you to provide a customized solution to your ant problem using our S.T.A.R. system of integrated pest management.