HOW CAN I REDUCE ANT ACTIVITY IN MY HOUSE & GARDEN?
One of the surest signs of spring and the approach of summer is when ants emerge.
Whilst there are several species of ants native to the UK, the black or garden ant, Lasius niger, is the most common. There is hardly a garden or a yard in the UK without a nest.
Generally, outdoors, their nests cause few or no issues (ants are known however to protect aphids from natural predators……. the aphids encourage this behaviour by secreting a sweet tasting liquid during feeding on plants – this can result in greater numbers of aphids damaging plants than would normally occur).
It is when ants enter buildings, foraging for food, that they become a problem to most of us. Ants crawling across kitchen work surfaces or in food storage cupboards are an unwelcome sight in homes and unacceptable in a commercial environment as this can cause distress to customers and the risk of food contamination.
Garden ants are advanced social insects. Colonies can contain 15,000 individuals!!!
The queens are egg-laying machines and the collection of food and building of nests is carried out by sterile female workers, which are smaller than the queens. Ant colonies last for several years with new queens replacing old ones.
What attracts ants in first place?
Normally, ants come into contact with humans when they are searching for food within buildings. Once a food source is identified, foraging ants will communicate to the others where it is located and a pathway (scent trail) is established and large numbers of ants will follow this trail. If food remains then the ants will reinforce the scent allowing more to find it.
Before you start spreading insecticidal ant powder around the garden take a minute to think of the other animals (such as cats) that you may potentially harm.
BUT before the use of insecticide is required there are some actions that should be considered.
What can YOU do?
Remove Spillages of Food and Drink
Maintaining a high level of cleanliness in your home/premises is key to preventing/discouraging pests.
It’s important to
- keep kitchen counters and floors clean of any spills
- store food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator
- any food containers should be stored well off the floor and away from open windows
- clean pet bowls or any feeding areas
- ensure all bins have well-fitted lids. Ensure they are emptied regularly, clean the surrounding area regularly to eliminate a potential scent trail.
- remove any standing water from flower beds, hoses or downspouts
- control aphids within your garden by encouraging predators such as ladybirds (their larvae are ferocious predators of aphids)
Remove potential access/harbourage
Ants can gain entrance to your home through the tiniest gap, so it will help if you can seal any cracks, holes and crevices around your home to eliminate any entry points such as:
- window sills
- door frames
- laundry or air conditioning vents
- utility cables touching the house
- areas around ground pipes
Generally, ants make their nests outside underground, beneath paving slabs and in lawns, however they can also nest in wall voids and basements. For that reason, it is important to:
- cut any tree branches that touch the house
- keep shrubbery etc at least 1m from your property
- eliminate any damp areas in the house. The damp can make access to your building easier as it makes mortar deteriorate.
Should you find that ants are continuing to be a problem inside your property we would be delighted to help.