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Ants

What are ants?

Ants are social insects that live together in large groups, with intricate social structures. They are persistent household pests that are quite invasive and difficult to eliminate and control. Ants have three distinct body parts, including a head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have a pair of bent antennae. Reproductive members of an ant colony are the only members of the colony that are winged.

a food dish covered in ants in a home in dekalb illinois

Ants vary in size and color, depending on their exact species. Two species of ants that are problematic for homeowners in Illinois are odorous house ants and pharaoh ants.
 
Odorous house ants
Odorous house ants are often identified not by what they look like, but rather how they smell. These ants give off an unpleasant, rotten coconut-like smell when they are crushed. Odorous house ants are a small species of ant that are dark brown to black in color.
 
Pharaoh ants
Pharaoh ants are a small species of ant. Their bodies are light yellow to red in color, and they have a red or black abdomen. Pharaoh ants live together in large colonies.

Are ants dangerous?

There are approximately 700 species of ants living across the entire United States. Most of these species are nuisance ants and pose no significant risks to people or property. An example would be the odorous house ant; while unpleasant to have in your home they won’t cause any damage to its structure or any physical harm to you. There are however, many species of dangerous ants found invading homes throughout the United States. The pharaoh ant is an example of a dangerous ant. They carry and transmit serious diseases to people, including salmonella and Streptococcus. Pharaoh ants can become problematic inside hospitals. They invade intravenous lines and contaminate patient wounds. They are known for being difficult to control inside homes because they live in large colonies - a single colony can consist of thousands of workers and hundreds of reproductive females.

Why do I have an ant problem?

Ants can be a seasonal problem or a year-round problem. They are initially attracted to properties that provide them with plenty of food, water, and shelter. Things that attract ants to a property include clogged gutters, leaky outdoor fixtures, unsecured garbage, gardens, wood piles, animal feed, compost piles, and outdoor eating areas. Ants also invade homes to seek relief when the weather outside becomes too hot, dry, or wet. Once living near homes or other buildings, ants often find their way inside while foraging for food. They usually enter through cracks and crevices in the foundation or exterior walls, torn screens, open vents, and holes along the roofline. Ants also move inside when the weather outside becomes unsuitable (too hot, dry, or wet) for them to live comfortably.

Where will I find ants?

Ants nest both inside and outside in a variety of spots.
 
Indoor nesting spots include:

  • underneath floors

  • behind walls

  • behind large appliances

  • inside insulation, in crawl spaces

  • near heating and plumbing systems

 Inside homes, ants are often seen walking around basements, kitchens, and pantry areas.

Pharaoh ants are particularly problematic inside homes and other buildings due to their ability to “bud.”  Budding occurs when the colony senses danger. At this time a small group of workers and one queen migrates away from the original colony to start another. Budding makes controlling pharaoh ants difficult because, instead of a single colony to eliminate, you have multiple colonies to deal with.

Outdoor nesting spots include:

  • Under soil

  • In wood piles

  • Underneath fallen trees or rocks

  • In tree stumps

  • Along fence lines

  • In the cracks of pavement or sidewalks

Outside, ants are often seen walking around decks, patios, sidewalks, and driveways.

How do I get rid of ants?

To control and prevent ant infestations, partner with an experienced professional. At Pest Control Consultants, our certified service technicians provide outstanding pest control solutions to eliminate your current pest problems, and prevent future pest problems.
 
The experts at Pest Control Consultants use the latest scientific techniques and up-to-date products, practices, and procedures to get rid of and control ants and other household-invading pests. To learn more about ridding ants from your Sauk Valley or Northern Illinois-area home, or to schedule a free inspection, call Pest Control Consultants.

How can I prevent ants in the future?

Keeping ants off of your Illinois property and out of your home can be difficult.

There are a few things you can do to help deter ants from invading:

  • Caulk cracks and crevices in your home's foundation and exterior walls.

  • Make sure all screens are intact.

  • Place weather stripping around windows and doors.

  • Place mesh covers over all vents.

  • Repair holes along your home's roofline.

  • Fill in spaces around wires and utilities entering your home from outdoors.

  • Create a stone barrier (12-18 inches) between your foundation and any grass or mulch.

  • Make sure trash cans have tight-fitting lids on them.

  • Place gardens away from the outside of your home.

  • Secure compost piles.

  • Pick up pet food between feedings.

  • Locate wood piles a distance away from the outside of your home.

  • Get rid of tree stumps and fallen trees.

  • Remove piles of debris from your property.

 

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