Ants are fascinating insects that can lift up to ten times their weight and walk long distances until finding the right spot to build a colony. Similarly to most other insects, ants have six legs and, if you want to find more interesting information about them, you can check it out here.
According to scientists, there are over 12,000 known species of ants, scattered around the world. Apart from keeping the ecosystem clean, ants also represent a delicious meal to a wide variety of other living creatures, from fish and birds to reptiles, bigger insects, and even mammals.
Unfortunately, the ant population can easily increase, turning into a real danger to households and crops. Understanding their behavior and the way they work is the most efficient way to make sure they won’t step on your property, trying to form a new colony. Here is everything you need to know about them, and how to get rid of them once and for all.
How do ant colonies work?
Similar to beehives, ant colonies consist of various members, each having a specific role. The majority of the colony consists of minor and major workers, performing all sorts of jobs. Although most workers from other species of insects have the same size, things are slightly different when it comes to ant colonies.
Major workers are also called soldiers and are bigger. They have a unique anatomy with large heads and powerful mandibles to be able to protect the colony from predators.
On the other hand, minor workers mainly perform general labor such as gathering food, building, cleaning or looking after the young ones.
Just like beehives, the most important ant in the colony is the queen. Queen ants spend most of their lives inside the colony, laying eggs, and rarely getting outside the nest, mainly during the mating season.
Although they have the same body parts as workers, queen ants are much bigger than them. Another interesting fact about them is that they are usually born with wings, which are later torn off after mating.
Male ants have the sole purpose to mate with the queen and give birth to new ants, and this is why they die shortly after they have fulfilled their role. They are smaller than queens but larger than regular workers and won’t help the colony too much.
As for their life cycle, ants have both an individual life cycle, and a colony one, since they live in large families.
How to get rid of ants?
Ants are social creatures and, depending on the species, one colony can count for dozens of thousands of members.
However, being constantly visited by ants won’t actually benefit your health or your house as these insects can destroy your crops and feed on both live and dead plants, bringing in other pests along.
As we previously mentioned, Mother Nature has it all covered when it comes to repelling ants, as there are many animals, reptiles, birds, and other insects that eat ants and prevent their population from overgrowing.
Unfortunately, replacing ants with their natural predators, especially when we’re talking about snakes, spiders or even other types of ants is not the smartest thing to do.
So, if you want to get rid of these annoying pests once and for all, you should be looking into substances and special ingredients that won’t harm your crops or put your health at risk. Here are some natural remedies that promise to kill and repel ants as fast and efficient as possible.
Learn how they communicate
Ants use pheromones as their number one way of communicating with other members of their colony. These substances are used by scout ants to let the rest of the colony know when they find a new home.
Scout ants leave a trail of pheromones leading to the new location that the rest of the ants pick up fast. Thus, the easiest way to make sure no other ant will follow the scout back to your place is to eliminate or disrupt the trail.
This can be done with the help of various ingredients, most of which you can already find in your household. Keep in mind that ants don’t like strong smells, so you can use anything from vinegar to garlic, cinnamon, essential oils or soap and water to disrupt the trail.
Keep your house clean
Most ants and other pests are attracted to cluttered spaces where there is a lot of dirt. The reason behind this is that, often enough, they will also find a reliable source of food in all that mess. Thus, another way to keep ants away from your house is to make sure it is always clean.
Start with the kitchen as that’s the main place where ants will be looking for food supplies. Clean the table thoroughly after each meal, and wash the dishes immediately, so that all food scraps are eliminated from the sink.
Another way to prevent ants from joining you for supper is to never leave opened packages of food, including cans, sweets, snacks or anything else out in the open. Don’t forget that ants can carry things up to ten times heavier than them, so they will be piling up near food containers to gather as much as possible.
Keep your kitchen counters, table, and floors clean all the time by washing and vacuuming them regularly. Use natural repellent solutions like vinegar, citrus juice, baking soda or rubbing alcohol to clean and sanitize your entire house, especially the kitchen area.
As we previously mentioned, you don’t need to kill an entire colony of ants in order to declare your house pest-free. On the contrary, killing the scouts will be enough to prevent any unwanted visitors for a long time from now on.
One of the easiest ways to kill ant scouts is to place traps in strategic points from your household, such as around the doors and windows or in the cracks.
You can either use regular traps bought from local stores or make your own recipe using simple ingredients such as boric acid, baking soda, water, and sugar.
Mix one teaspoon of boric acid or baking soda with one-two tablespoons of refined sugar and put the ingredients in a small container to serve as a trap. However, don’t forget to keep the mixture away from your children and pets as it could be dangerous.
Wait until the ants take the bait. In a matter of seconds after ingesting baking soda or boric acid, the ants will die, leaving the rest of the colony without knowing where to go.
The idea of ant traps is not to kill as many insects as possible but just the scouts that can bring the rest to the colony to the house. These two ingredients (boric acid and baking soda) also work if you’re trying to get rid of cockroaches or rats.
Traps should be replaced after 1-3 months, depending on their efficiency.
What about more radical solutions?
Opting for regular pesticides is not a smart choice if ant infestation can be prevented in other ways. Keep in mind that exposing yourself, your crops, children, and pets to chemical substances can have a negative impact in the long term, and even lead to serious health problems.
However, if all other methods fail and you’re still dealing with an ant problem, it would be best to ask specialists for help.
Don’t forget that what you see is usually only 10% of the ant colony, meaning the problem could be even bigger than you considered in the beginning.
Professional exterminators will efficiently kill all sorts of pests, including carpentry ants, termites or fire ants, and prevent them from multiplying. Carpenter ants are even more dangerous because they eat wood and can potentially destroy the structure of your house, causing significant damage in the future.
However, while your house is taken care of with the help of chemicals, you might want to find another place to sleep to avoid inhaling dangerous vapors.
Consider sleeping at a friend’s house for 1-3 days after the team of professionals started working on your house to allow enough time for the substances to kill all pests without causing allergic reactions.