Ant Pest Control Minnesota
Most ants are considered nuisance pests, mainly due to their large numbers and foraging habits. However, carpenter ants are a wood destroying insect. They are attracted to damp or decaying wood. If left untreated, over time they can cause serious structural damage to a home.
An ant’s an ant, right? Not quite. There are actually more than 100 ant species even right in Minnesota. No matter their color and size, all ants are a problem when they find their way inside your home.
Ant identification is can be critical to solving the ant infestation. By identifying the ant, you better understand ant nesting sources, the size of the ant colony and what chemical and non-chemical treatments will best solve the ant problem.
There are Four Common Minnesota Ants
The Turfgrass Ant (Lasius Neoniger) is one of the most common ants in the eastern United States. It builds nests underground on lawns and along the side of the road, leaving a donut-sized anthill at the entrance. Queens and males emerge for their mating flight in late summer, often in swarms after a rain. Turfgrass ants eat dead insects and plant nectar, and also tend root aphids, much as a farmer tends cows. In winter the ants store and care for aphid eggs in their nest. In spring they carry the newly hacked aphids to nearby plant roots to feed. As the aphids feed, they secrete a sweet substance, called honeydew, which the ants harvest and eat.
The Pavement Ants (Tetramorium Caespitum) this ant was brought to North America from Europe. The workers are about as big as a grain of rice.
The queen is more than twice as big. Some pavement ants bring butterfly caterpillar in to their nest. The ants guard the caterpillars from predators. When the caterpillars feed, they secrete a juicy substance that the ants eat. Pavement ants are famous for getting into ant fights between colonies. Mating Swarms: May through July. When the nest is under a heated slab foundation, swarms can also occur indoors during winter.
The Thief Ants (Solenopsis Molesta) this is a tiny, yellowish ant that lives in the ground or in rotting wood.
Members of this species are often called thief ants because they steal eggs and larvae from other kinds of ants, than eat them. Though they will eat sugary treats, they like greasy food such as meat and cheese even more. Mating Swarms: July through September.
The Carpenter Ant (Camponotus Pennsylvanicus) This ant makes tunnels in wood for its nests. But they don’t eat wood.
Instead they eat plant juices, honeydew, other insects, and dead animals. Carpenter ant larvae have tiny hairs that make them stick together like Velcro. That makes it easy for workers to move them in bunches from chamber to chamber in the nest. Carpenter ants are mainly active at night. Mating Swarms: April through June. Occasionally swarms may emerge indoors earlier during late winter on warm, sunny days.
Fun Ant Facts
When you want to communicate with your friends, you might talk to them, send a text message, or just give them a look. Ants have many ways of communicating with their friends too. Some tap out messages with their heads on the object they’re standing on. The vibrations travel through the object to other ants. Ants also communicate by stridulating—rubbing one body part against another to make a tiny squeaking sound. One of the most important ways ants communicate is by giving off pheromones—chemicals that other ants can smell or taste.
When an ant finds food, it leaves a trail of a pheromone that says “This way to food!” to its nest mates. When worker ants pass food to each other, they also pass pheromones that send messages such as how healthy they are or whether there is danger nearby. When injured, an ant releases an alarm pheromone that sends other ants into a panic. Ants emit a pheromone to ask for help with a chore. Another pheromone identifies which colony the ant comes from.
Ants are the number one pest problem in the country. Ant control can be difficult, but there are some things you should know about how ants’ behavior can lead to big headaches for you and your home:
- Entry: Ants can enter through even the tiniest cracks, seeking water and sweet or greasy food substances in the kitchen pantry or storeroom areas.
- Scent trails: Ants leave an invisible chemical trail which contains pheromones for others to follow once they locate the food source.
- Nest locations: They can nest about anywhere in and around your house; in lawns, walls, stumps, even under foundations.
- Colony size: Can number up to 300,000 to 500,000 and whole colonies can uproot and relocate quickly when threatened.
- Colony Lifetime: A colony can live a relatively long lifetime. Worker ants may live seven years and the queen may live as long as 15 years.
CAUTION: Read all label directions carefully before buying insecticides and again before applying them. Information on the label should be used as the final authority.
Stopping Ants From Entering Your Minnesota Home
Minnesota homeowners have more than enough to worry about; the last thing you want to have on your mind is pesky ants wandering through your home and your life.
Do-it-yourself ineffectiveness: Most do-it-yourself ant control approaches only kill the ants you see. Some truly effective treatments can penetrate and destroy nests to help prevent these pests from returning. Also, home remedies don’t account for the fact that different kinds of ant infestations require different treatments.
There are a few baits available to nonprofessionals for carpenter ant control. Most retail products are liquid or granular formulations containing hydramethylnon, sulfluramid, abamectin, or boric acid. Baits vary a great deal in their effectiveness. Carpenter ants have complex food preferences, and some of the sugar-based baits will not be attractive to the ants long enough to be successful.
Professional pest control personnel are trained in baiting techniques and have access to a wider variety of products than consumers. They are more likely to achieve positive results. Contact a licensed Minnesota Pest Control Expert if you prefer the expertise and experience of a professional.