Ants are tiny insects that generally don’t cause any physical harm to humans (except a few species that bite), but their presence can be very distressing to any home owner. They damage food by getting into it making it inedible and can spread several diseases through contamination of food and surfaces they come into contact with.
Some of the diseases that ants can spread as they move from one surface to another in search of food include Shigella, E. coli, salmonella, and streptococcus. The feeling of ants crawling on your skin can also be very irritating.
Although ants are social creatures that live together, they don’t usually build their nests inside homes but instead travel into your home from a nearby nest in search of food. Some of the common ant species in New Zealand include the Darwin ant, Argentine ant, white-footed ant and the pharaoh’s ant.
Signs of an ant infestation
Ants are some of the easiest pests to identify when they invade your home. That’s because they don’t hide and the actual insects can be seen as they move around in long organised trails.
You can also know when you are about to get an ant infestation as you will usually see a few ants crawling around before they appear in large numbers. The first ants you see are scouts that come to look for food. If they find some, they’ll report back to the nest for the workers to come and collect.
Preventing and controlling ants
Ants only come into your house because they have found a food source. Deny them access to food, and they will have no reason to show up. You should do the following to keep ants out of your house:
- Clean your dishes as soon as you are done using them. Wash your dirty dishes as soon as you are done using them as the food crumbs left on the dishes could attract ants. Also make sure to wipe down bench tops, counters and cupboards with soapy water or water mixed with vinegar. Vinegar is not only a disinfectant but also an ant deterrent.
- Mind your garbage. Garbage bins should be covered tightly especially those used in the kitchen for food waste. Also, make sure to rinse recyclable containers before storing them or putting them in their special bin.
- Clean up your kitchen. The kitchen is the most prone area of the house to pest infestations as it’s where all the food is. Sweep and vacuum your kitchen daily to get rid of food particles that might have fallen on the floor.
- Rinse the residue off containers. Jam jars, pickle jars, sauce bottles, honey and syrup containers should be rinsed of residues on the outside before being stored. Ants are extremely fond of sweet substances and will show up in large numbers if they find any.
- Keep food items in sealed containers. Keep all stored food in airtight containers to ensure ants cannot access it.
If ants persist, consider using an insecticide to exterminate as well as repel them from your house. The best insecticide for ants is powdered insecticide which can be applied at the ant’s entry points. Automatic dispensers used to apply canned insecticides can also be used as they offer continuous protection against a multitude of pest insects including ants.
Suggested by Pestrol New Zealand