You're seeing ants trailing across your kitchen floor or found them in droves 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. If you opt for the latter, you'll get the best results if you know what to expect from the service and you take some simple steps to get ready for the extermination. This will not only make it easier for the pest control pros to do their job, but it also will improve the chances of eliminating the ants entirely.
Professional Ant Control Services
Today's professional pest control operators (PCOs) often use gel bait insecticides to control and eliminate small ants from homes. 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 type of holder, or it may be contained inside an ant bait station.
Bait is the preferred method of control because, in order to solve an ant problem, you must 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 the nest to feed the queen and her young, who are being groomed as the next generation of worker ants.
If the worker ants you see 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 arriving at your home, PCOs typically provide you with a specific list of preparation steps for you to complete. The following steps are some of the most common requests or recommendations made by PCOs (you can take the same steps prior to using any over-the-counter pest control products yourself). Failing to prepare your home could make a treatment unsafe or lead to reinfestation of the entire home or building. For these reasons, many PCOs will not treat areas that are not prepared to their specifications.
- Wipe down counters, sweep floors, and clean up spills to reduce potential ant food sources and make baits more effective.
- Vacuum thoroughly to eliminate crumbs, even tiny crumbs you can't see.
- Store food in pest-proof containers, or place it in the refrigerator, as applicable.
- Empty trash regularly.
- Wash dishes or run the dishwasher regularly.
- Never leave pet food sitting out after the pet has finished eating.
- Rinse recyclables thoroughly, if you collect them in the house before taking them out. Store them in an ant-proof container until they are taken away to a recycling center.
- Be prepared to explain exactly where you are seeing ants—or have seen them in the past—to the PCO. 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):
- Be patient. Because baits do not immediately kill the ants, it can take time for the results to be obvious. Rest assured that baiting is the best way to eliminate the entire nest of ants.
- 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.
- Avoid using strong cleaners near the ant bait. This would eliminate the ant pheromone trail that the ants are using to find the bait.
- 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.