8 Steps to Prepare for Ant Control Service

Get the Most Out of Your Professionals

trailing ants in your home
Ants in Your Home?. Yuji Sakai/Photodisc/Getty Images

You're seeing ants trailing across your kitchen floor or found them in the bathroom. What can you do? There are a number of DIY options to get rid of ants, or you can choose to use a pest control service. This article discusses the pest ant extermination process and what you need to do to prepare for service.

Professional Ant Control 

Today's professionals often use gel bait insecticides to control and eliminate small ants from homes and other residences. This requires the placement of small beads of gel bait, primarily in areas where ants have been seen feeding or trailing. The bait may be placed on small pieces of cardboard or another holder or may be contained inside an ant bait station.

Bait is the preferred method of control because, in order to solve an ant problem, you need to first eliminate the ants you don't see to get rid of the ants you do see. The ants that you see are worker ants. Their job is to find food and take it back to feed the queen and her young, who are being groomed as the next generation of worker ants.

Because of this, if they are sprayed and killed, the colony will simply send out more workers to take their place. So instead, ant bait is placed along the trails the ants follow. The workers find the bait, carry it back to the nest, and feed the queen, eliminating her and future populations.

Preparing for Ant Control Service

Prior to performing this, or any service, professional pest control operators (PCOs) will generally provide you with a specific list of preparation activities, "prep," to be completed before they arrive. However, the following lists some of the most common requests or recommendations made by PCOs - and should also be followed prior to using any over-the-counter pest control products yourself. (When using any pesticide, read and follow all label directions and safe-use guidelines prior to purchase and use.)

Because a lack of preparation could make a treatment unsafe or cause reinfestation of the entire home or building, many PCOs will not treat areas that are not prepared to specifications.

8 Steps in Preparation

You can help your exterminator rid your home of an ant problem by doing the following things:

  1. Wipe down counters, sweep floors, and clean up spills to reduce other potential ant food sources and make baits more effective
  2. Vacuum thoroughly to eliminate even small crumbs
  3. Store food in pest-proof containers, or place it in the refrigerator, as applicable.
  4. Empty trash regularly.
  5. Wash dishes or run the dishwasher regularly.
  6. Never leave pet food sitting out after the pet has finished eating. 
  7. If recyclables are kept in the home, be sure to rinse them thoroughly, store in an ant-proof container, and put out for collection or take to recycling center regularly.
  8. When the pest control operator arrives, explain exactly where you are seeing ants--or have seen them in the past. If the technician does not thoroughly explain what he/she will be doing to control the ants, ask for details. Also be sure to get any post-treatment instructions.

After the Pest Control Service

Some common steps to be followed after an ant service has been performed (or if you are placing ant bait yourself):

  1. Be patient. Baits do not immediately kill the ants. Rather they attract the ants for feeding, then the ant carries it back to the nest to feed the other ants of the colony -- and the reproductive queen. This is the surest way to eliminate the entire nest of ants. 
  2. While the baits are taking effect, do not spray any insecticides or kill ants that you see, as they need to continue to feed to take the poison back to the colony.
  3. Also, avoid using strong cleaners near the ant bait. This would eliminate the ant pheromone trail that the ants are using to find the bait.
  4. Do not disturb ants that are heading to or away from the bait - or eating it. If ants are seen in areas where no bait has been placed, you can move a bait placement that the ants are not consuming over to this area. 

Thanks to Owl Pest Prevention for providing information for this article.