Spring is in full bloom in California, which means that pest activity is blooming as well. A commonly encountered insect pest – and one the Clark Man
receives lots of inquiries about – is the ant.
The ant is the number-one pest in the United States, and for good reason. There are over 12,000 species worldwide, with 270 of those in California, so it’s no wonder that ants are frequently seen in and around homes.
For California homeowners, the ant most likely to give them headaches is the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). Found in lower elevations across the coasts and Central Valley of California, Argentine ants live outdoors in soil, under wood, slabs, debris, mulch, or in branches and cavities of trees and shrubs.
Argentine ants are dull brown in color and about 1/8 inch in length, and give off a musty odor if they are crushed. They will establish shallow nests in the soil near moisture sources including sidewalks, between plants, near water pipes, in potted plants and in wall voids. One favorite nesting location outdoors is near insects, such as aphids, that produce a sugary, honey-like substance called honeydew.
Argentine ants are aggressive foragers that will seek food sources on the inside of your home when the pickings outside aren’t to their liking. Their preferred food choices include sweets, oils, fresh fruit, fat, and meat.
Argentine ant colonies can contain millions of ants with many queens and sub-colonies; one supercolony found in California stretched from the Bay Area to San Diego. These ants are known to travel rapidly in distinctive trails along sidewalks, up the sides of buildings, along branches of trees and shrubs, along baseboards, and under edges of carpets.
What is the secret to keeping Argentine ants from becoming a nuisance?
Below are Six Steps to Prevent Argentine Ant Infestations from the Clark Man:
- Caulk cracks and crevices around foundations that provide entry from outside
- Trim tree branches and shrubs that touch your home to keep ants from gaining access via these routes
- Eliminate food sources inside your home or prevent access to suitable food by keeping it in pest-proof containers (pet food is a major attractant to pests of all types, so don’t leave pet feeding bowls out overnight, either)
- Clean up sugary spills on kitchen countertops, and be sure to rinse out bottles and cans before placing them in the recycling bin
- Maintain a dry, vegetation-free border, such as gravel or stones, around the perimeter of your home’s foundation to discourage nest building – mulch and landscape plants provide a good nesting environment.
- Eliminate sources of excess moisture (i.e., leaky faucets or broken irrigation pipes and sprinkler heads) that attract ants and other pests
Remember, if you have question on how to keep Argentine ants from dancing the tango in your house, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time I’m the Clark Man, and thanks for helping me keep unwanted pests out of your home.