5 Reasons You Are Failing to Get Rid of Ants

get rid of ants

So many of us know the battle to get rid of ants from our homes. How can something so small be so difficult to eliminate? Although they are small, their number seem infinite, and that isn’t so far from the truth. An ant colony can easily have hundreds of thousands of ants with the queen producing new eggs daily to replenish and grow the colony. Now it’s not so surprising you are losing in your ant removal efforts when the enemy numbers in the tens or hundreds of thousands. So, let’s look at how you can gain the advantage and eliminate ants and claim back your home, and stop your best efforts quickly turning into another demoralising defeat.

 

Which Ant is This?

Know Thy Enemy

Have you ever asked yourself which ant species is this before pulling out the spray can for the 5th time in a day, or slapping down another dollop of sticky ant bait onto another container lid? Well, if not, then this is your first big mistake. Ants are social insects, and as such each species has their own culture; behaviours, preferences for food, where they live, and how they respond to efforts to eliminate them.

 

Common NZ Ant Species

In fact, most Ant species you will never even see, these include most native ant species here in NZ, which prefer forest and bush settings and will not usually bother you. The most common problem ant species found in and around homes in Wellinton, the Hutt Valley, and throughout NZ are the white-footed house ant, and the Argentine ant, which isn’t just annoying you but is also displacing many native ant species.

White-footed Ants:

these are black ants with light-coloured legs which appear larger than other species. This ant species is attracted to sweet food sources and are often found nesting in the structural cavities of houses. Often, they can be seen marching in trails down foundation walls, heading to gardens to feed on plants, like lemon trees and camellias.

Argentine Ants:

These are fast-moving reddish-brown ants. Most often nesting outside under pavement or in retaining walls. They will form large trails to invade houses when their scouts find any food high in sugar or protein.

The Argentine ant and white-footed ant are common ant species known for forming large colonies and creating widespread infestations. Argentine ants are highly adaptable and aggressive, often displacing native ant species. They can establish vast networks of interconnected nests.

 

What Do Ants Want, and Why Are They in My House?

Know the Territory

Ant extermination is so difficult, because like all creatures, ants are primarily concerned with their own survival, and they are really really really good at it. This is where knowing the species of ant invading your home immediately becomes important. We will consider white-footed ant and Argentine ant species, looking at their food and shelter need, and their survival behaviours to understand them further and how we may be able to identify nest sites. This will also provide insight into why they have chosen your home.

 

Food and Water Sources Prefered by Ants

White-footed Ant workers forage primarily on sugary substances secreted by plant parasites such as aphids and scale which commonly infest box hedged, lemon trees, roses, and Camelia trees. They’re adept at finding other sources of food and will often be seen feeding on bird droppings, unwashed bottles in the recycling bin, fruit scraps in the compost, and the freshly iced birthday cake sitting on your bench. They love sugar. The workers convert the nutrients they eat into unfertilized eggs which they lay in the nest site and feed to the queens and larvae.

Argentine Ants are rabid protein feeders, and like White-footed Ants they are efficient at finding food in any environment. Every leftover food morsal in your pets’ food bowls. A dead fly on a windowsill, a used band-aid in the rubbish, a rodent carcass in the roof cavity. Absolutely anything with a sniff of protein is fair game for Argentine Ants. Though, they’re not limited to feeding on proteins and will also feed on aphid and scale excretions like the White-footed Ants.

 

Shelter and Environment Preferences of Ants

White-footed Ants are unlike other species of ant. They don’t build chambers and tunnels in the ground. Instead, they prefer to nest in cavities or between objects above ground level. When the weather is good, they will nest outside in hollowed-out tree trunks, the gaps in wood piles, even cars and boats. Though, for most of the year they can be found nesting deep in the structural cavities and wall voids of your home. Following the worker ant trails back to any of the above will give you a good indication of where the nest is. Although, when inside a building, often the actual nest site may be unreachable for a direct attack.

Argentine Ants can build vast networks of shallow tunnels and chambers in soil. They do this often under pavement, building foundations, at the base of trees, and fence posts. Again, following their trails back to a hole in the ground or a crack in concrete will help you find a nest. Still, a direct attack is often not a viable option for eliminating these ants.

 

Survival Behaviours of Ants

White-footed Ants generally don’t show any aggression. Instead, when worker trails are disturbed they will disperse to escape and return to the safety of the nest. Even long and highly active trails of workers will quickly scramble to relocate the colony to a safer cavity. This ‘live to fight another-day’ behaviour, their high breeding rate, worker efficiency, and unique nest site requirements means they will outperform a lot of other ant species and become dominant in their environment. These same survival instincts also allow them to outwit your best efforts as if you hadn’t even tried.

Argentine Ants have the complete opposite strategy and rule using the ‘power in numbers’ approach. They create super colonies covering vast areas often merging with other colonies. Whilst they can’t sting, they will bite. Though this has little effect to humans, it can still be unnerving to have them swarm over your feet or hands when you disturb a nest. They will fiercely defend their territory eliminating other ant species. And with many mouths to feed, will quickly decrease food availability for other more important native scavenging creatures. With strength in numbers like these, even a large assault on visible ants will barely slow their industrious efforts.

 

Why Do Ants Keep Coming Back After I Kill Them?

Winning the Battle, But Losing the War

Eliminating an ant infestation requires targeting the entire ant colony, including the queen and worker ants. While DIY methods like using ant baits may offer temporary relief, they often fail to eliminate the entire colony. Professional ant control experts employ advanced techniques and treatments to address ant infestations effectively. They can identify the type of ant species involved, locate and treat the ant nests, and provide long-term ant removal solutions to eradicate the problem and prevent future infestations.

 

What is the Best Way to Kill Ants?

A Winning Strategy

Ants are unlikely to disappear without treatment. The objective is to kill off the whole colony and stop them at the source, a few hundred dead ants will not stop them continuing their invasion, at least not for long.

The main products available consist of baits, repellents, and insecticides. Correct choice and good application of the latter two products will repel ants from the areas where they are not wanted and have them bringing insecticides back to the nest to poison the colony in a way which they are unaware for the poison so don’t adjust their behaviour to avoid the insecticide, these barriers can then be maintained for continued effect. Bait can be applied tactically to assist this strategy when required or, just remember that baits attract ants, so is best not applied in areas where you want to keep ants away from.

DIY ant products can certainly be effective if applied correctly; although in my experience, they are often not applied well. With baits only ever stunting the ant activity rather than eliminating it, and often makes the infestation worse. Repellents can push ants inside the home and trapping them there. Poorly applied baits, repellents, and insecticides also have adverse effects to health (poisoning of pets) and environment.

Even when applied in a professional manner, DIY ant products will usually be effective for a shorter length of time than a professional treatment. In my experience DIY methods need frequent reapplication due to the lower volume of insecticide present in their solutions. It is not uncommon to get called to a do an ant treatment where someone has spent a lot of time, effort, and money on DIY treatments with less than satisfactory results.

 

How Do I Keep Ants Away?

Keeping the Peace

Ants are very resilient, although the current infestation and the colony has been destroyed, there will be new populations of ants which are likely to appear again over time. There are actions you can take to reduce the appeal of your home to ants, and preventative treatments will be more effective, and easier than dealing with a full infestation when a new population moves in.

 

Keep Ants Away from Your Home

Some of the best simple actions you can take to reduce the attractiveness of your home to ants, even without treatment include;

    1. Treating indoor and outdoor plants and trees for scale and aphids will reduce food availability.
    2. Cutting trees and shrubs away from the house will eliminate bridges to the ground and inside food sources, making treatments more effective.
    3. Keep waste/recycling bins away from the house and keeping them as clean as possible, bagging waste and washing recyclables before binning will also help.
    4. Cleaning up food spills, and reducing open food sources, such as open bags(use sealed containers), drips down the outside of jam and honey jars, and even small scraps of food left in your pet’s food bowl.

A well-maintained protective barrier is always going to be key to keeping ants away from your home as there are often plenty of natural food sources and perfect shelter for ants to be found in your home.

 

Professional Ant Removal Services

Professional ant extermination services from a reputable company are amazing. With expert knowledge on ant behaviour, we can eliminate your ant troubles quickly and effectively with long term results. Our strategy is the same as above, but we take the hassle and guess work out of treatment.

We quickly identify the ant types invading your home, apply repellent and insecticide products in the most effective places creating a barrier around your home. We will guarantee our work, so in those instances where the ants are a little smarter than the average ant, we will return to complete the fight for you.

Only the required product will be used with no wastage or half empty bottles and chemicals to store, and we apply products precisely to prevent undue harm to the environment, beneficial insects, pets, and children.

Re-treatment and maintenance will be required much less frequently being 6-12 months instead of every couple of months.

With online booking, you can make your ants our problem and save yourself all the hassle and heartache in this tough battle.