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Spring time is here and that means ants are on the rise. This is the time of the year when ant colonies begin to ramp up reproduction. Most ant species and in most places of the country, ants are mostly dormant. The colony stays inside the nest and feeds on any food stores collected throughout the fall months. Some individual species and individual colonies have been known to forage in winter, but this is mostly inside a human structure where there is warmth and food and water. When spring time comes, the queen or queens begin to replenish lost ant numbers from the cold of winter. In order to do this, ants need protein, and a fair amount of it too. This is why of all the seasons, spring is when people have the most ant intrusions inside their home. Hiring a Pest Control firm and keeping them throughout the entire year is important to prevent this from happening but today we will examine ants a little further and I’ll give you some information on how to better navigate life with them. First of all, lets identify our enemy. If you’ve ever wondered why ants look so much like wasps then you are not far off from your thoughts of why that is. Ants are a part of the very large diverse taxonomic order Hymenoptera, which includes bees and wasps. They are the smallest member in that order but they are by far much more complex which is mostly because of the sheer numbers of individual ants that exist in a colony. Ants live in colonies that exist in a very strict cast system and at the top of that system is the queen. The queen does all the work of reproduction, and some ant queens can reproduce with astonishing speed and in incredible numbers. The African driver ant can lay broods with up to 3-4 million eggs every 25 days. Some ant species of ants are one queen colonies and some species are two queen colonies. After the queen you have the workers which are all female. They do the business of ant business. Older worker ants are the ants you most often find outside of the nest and in your kitchen. Younger ants are kept inside and tend to the nest and the young as well as make sure the queen is well cared for. Some species of ants have a soldier caste as well, like the famous army ant species of South America and Africa. Soldier ants have large elongated mandibles to defend the nest. At the bottom of the caste system you have the males. Male ants are generally only made by the queen when the colony is at a stage of growth where some of the colony must search for a new location for a new nest. A male ant is referred to as an alate. They have wings and will fly in the air with a virgin queen who also has wings, mate, drop to the ground and often die. Then the virgin queen will find a space to start a new colony. Ants are the number one household pest in the United States, by far. They consist of 40% of the revenue gained from pest control companies across the country. It’s this advanced social structure and caste system, combined with their ability to reproduce thousands of individuals in a potentially short amount of time that makes them such a titan of household pests. With their small size and security in numbers, they penetrate nooks and cracks so small and insignificant to people that they often can readily gain access into any man made structure with ease. Once inside a home, they seek out moisture first, and then food and thankfully for the ants, there is plenty of food and water inside our homes. So let’s talk about our homes and what we can do with them to make life with ants more tolerable. First of all, do not spray ants with pesticides from the store. Unless you have a pest control background and have spent a significant amount of time controlling ants or can read the label and use the product exactly as it states, leave pesticides to the professionals. When you apply store bought pesticides, your buying a product that is a repellent. Now that is great for an outside treatment in most situations, but not for ants and the reason is because unless you can access every linear foot around the foundation of your house, your going to miss a few spots. Because ants are so small, they can access the part of the building you missed and access your home. This is even worse inside. Ants that are already inside your home have a multitude of options for travel. If you spray a trail of ants in your house, you may kill that trail, but the colony will continue behind your baseboards and walls and simply avoid where you sprayed and emerge somewhere else in your house. Professionals have products that are non-repellents and we have products that can penetrate voids where ants nest and trail unseen. So, we’ve talked about what not to do about ant incursions. Now lets talk about what you can do for ants in your home. All you really need to do is keep your home clean. Clean up the kitchen after meals, including your stove top. Don’t leave food in your room or in your kitchen out over night. Make sure your house is sealed up as tight as you can, which means break out the caulking gun and get to work around your baseboards, counter tops, bathroom tubs and showers and even outside. You also want to make sure that your pipes are all tight and that you have no leaks. Doing these simple things will reduce your likelihood to have an ant outbreak and if you do have an outbreak, the ants will usually leave once their search for resources fails. If the trail doesn’t go away soon, follow it. At the end of that trail might be that little crumb of pie that dropped on the floor last weekend. Of course life is often easier said than done, so if all else fails, call American Pest Control and we will rid you of your ant problems.