A scientific approach to controlling ants

May 16, 2018, 09:50 AM by Fred Speer

Ants are no strangers to Californians. A recent article in Popular Science magazine noted that controlling ants can be a challenging task for homeowners, one that usually requires the assistance of an ant control specialist like the Clark Man.

While there are nearly 270 different ant species in California alone, only a handful ever come into contact with humans. Most prefer to live in rural areas, where they blend into the natural setting nicely and don’t bother people at all.

But the small group of ant species that live in close proximity to humans can turn into a real headache. With moisture from winter and spring rains, along with rising temperatures across the state, science tells us that the stage has been set for ants to flourish.

In the article, Michael Bentley, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), says that ants are small enough to slip easily inside your house, they live in colonies that number in the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands, and they reproduce quickly. This makes them good at getting in and hard to kick out.

With single-family homes accounting for the vast majority of ant-related service calls that pest professionals receive – 80 percent, according to a survey from the NPMA – it makes sense to head ants off at the pass before they can get inside.

Here are five steps you can take on the exterior of your house to make it less attractive to ants:

  1. Ants will nest near plants with honeydew (a sugary liquid waste product that ants enjoy feasting on) produced by plant-sucking insects, including aphids, whiteflies, scale insects and mealy bugs.
  2. Avoid planting the types of trees and shrubs next to your home that attract plant-sucking insects, and trim tree limbs to prevent them from touching your house so they won’t provide an easy access point for ants.
  3. Maintain a barrier free of plants, grass, and mulch (6 to 8 inches) around the foundation of your home to remove potential ant-nesting locations. It’s also a good idea to fix leaky faucets and sprinkler heads to eliminate excess moisture.
  4. Ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly, so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.
  5. Recalibrate sprinklers to make sure you don’t overwater your yard, so that ant-attracting moisture will not collect.

If you are experiencing a moment with ants around your home, call or text the Clark Man at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or send an email to clarkcares@clarkpest.com

Until next time, I’m the Clark Man. Thanks for helping me keep unwanted pests out of your home.