Ants are one of the most common household pests found in the United States and throughout the world. (About 700 species exist in the US alone.) Although each species differs, they all have one thing in common: their willingness to infest homes. Ants are social insects that build their nests either outdoors or in homes, and they look for food containing sugar and/or protein. Oftentimes, the nests are built in areas with structural weaknesses, including garages. Getting rid of ants in a garage or other areas of the home requires a multi-faceted approach, but baiting is considered the most effective.
Indoor Baiting – When ants are present in the garage, it is often the result of the establishment of a satellite community separate from the outdoor nest. Placing bait indoors will not only eliminate the satellite colony but will also curb ant populations while the main nest is being located. To bait indoors, place an indoor bait such as Terro PCO liquid bait in areas where ants are seen swarming. This bait, like many other brands of indoor bait, attract all types of ants, which consume it and bring it back to the colony. The poison is then spread throughout the colony, killing it entirely.
Outdoor Baiting – Since primary nests are often located outdoors, outdoor baiting is an essential step in ant control. Begin by applying outdoor bait such as Niban around the perimeter of the home in areas where ant activity is present and visible mounds. Like the indoor bait, the slow-acting poison is brought to the colony by the worker ants, where it is spread throughout. The poison not only eliminates the ant population but also kills the queen, which prevents the ants from breeding. Once the queen is dead, the entire colony will die.
While baiting ensures that ant populations will be reduced, complete elimination of the colony requires locating the primary nest itself. Ants found in garages is often the result of them gaining access to the structure via cracks in the foundation. In other areas of the home, access points can include carpet edges, hanging branches, pipes, and wires. Although the primary nest can be difficult to locate, observing ant behavior can give important clues to their whereabouts.
Worker ants forage for food in groups and produce trails that often lead directly to the nest. Although ants can forage during any time of the day, they are most active at night. A good way to locate a nest is to lay out a strip of tape and dab it with a sweet substance. Once the ants take the bait, they will attempt to bring it back to the colony and become stuck on the tape. Simply follow the trail of incapacitated ants as far as possible, which will hopefully lead directly to the nest.
Once the nest is located, it can be eliminated using a number of products. Ant pesticides come in the form of gels, granular baits, and foams, each which will successfully eliminate the problem. Choosing which bait to use involves examining where the nest is located, how accessible it is, and how large it is. Be sure to carefully read each product label in order to determine which method is the correct one.
Follow-up and Non-Chemical treatments
Even after the nest has been dealt with, follow-up maintenance is required to avoid further infestations. This includes eliminating potential future nest sites such as old tree stumps and piles of dead wood, and moving firewood piles away from the home and preferably off the ground. Since ants are attracted to moisture, this also includes fixing leaky plumbing and properly adjusting sprinkler heads to avoid excessive pooling of water. Be sure to check your garage door seals too.
Properly storing things is critical to gain the upper hand against ants. Inside the garage, be sure to eliminate any sources of food that may attract ants (like dog food). This includes storing food in airtight containers and thoroughly cleaning the garage to get rid of any crumbs or food particles. Ants will also feed on plants and insect matter, so remove plants that seem to attract large groups of ants. Homeowners should also limit the ants’ access to the home by trimming tree branches that hang close to the home, sealing cracks in the home’s foundation with industrial caulk, and covering air vents with fine mesh.