Summer is the peak time for ant activity, and in most cases they remain in the garden, well out of our way. If however the ants have decided that your house should be their home too, they can be difficult to get rid of. Ants don’t pose the same sorts of health hazards as other pests like rats or mice, but they’re not pleasant to have in the house and they can contaminate food if they start to crawl over it.
One option is to call in the professionals, but there are several things that you can try as a homeowner before spending cash on pest control.
Prevention is better than cure
Once the ants are in the house it can be difficult to get rid of them, so if neighbours are experiencing problems with ants then it can be best to take steps to stop the problem before it starts. Go around the edges of the house with an insecticide powder of spray, treating every inch to stop the ants crossing into the house. The main disadvantage of this is that these sorts of insecticide products can also be toxic to pets and children, and every time it rains, the treatment has to be repeated. There are also numerous claims that using special plug-in electromagnets will scare the ants away, but these have mixed reviews and are quite expensive to buy.
Don’t attract them
Ants don’t come into your house just for the fun of it; they come in on a hunt for food. Ants particularly love anything sugary or sweet but will eat practically anything. Never leave food out on kitchen work surfaces. Always wash plates straight away after eating or place them in the dishwasher, don’t leave bowls with pet food sitting around and wipe down work surfaces with soapy water after cooking. Empty food packaging or containers should be put into the bin outside rather than left sitting around in the kitchen.
Find the nest
If you can find where the ants are coming from, you can deal with the infestation by pouring boiling water on the nest and killing the queen ant. This is easier than it sounds though, as finding the nest can be tricky and getting in at it with a kettle of boiling water and some insecticide can be even trickier. It is also only a temporary solution, as if one nest is destroyed the ants will just move somewhere else close by and build another one, and the risk is that you end up with even more ants inside he property on the hunt for a new home.
Spray them or trap them
If you keep seeing ants in the same place in the house, one of the best deterrents can be spraying them whenever you spot them. There are lots of different ant killing products on the market, and your local DIY store will have a good range to choose from. All of them do pretty much the same thing and over time the ants should stop coming in. You can also buy ant bait or traps which are filled with sticky, sweet liquid which attracts the ants in, and then traps them. This is a good way of dealing with a small number of ants, but if the infestation is particularly severe, spray and traps might not be enough.
Call in the professionals
If the ants seem to be everywhere, you have tried stopping them getting in and keeping the kitchen clean, and tried the sprays and traps and still have a large infestation problem, then it might be time to call in the professionals. Professional pest controllers have access to stronger and more effective insecticides and many guarantee to make as many visits as are necessary to eradicate the ants completely.
Nearly all ant infestation cases in the UK are of the common or garden black ant. Less common is the tropical Pharaoh’s Ant, which is found in tropical areas and is increasingly being found in southern parts of the UK too. They are yellow in colour, and are far harder to deal with. Pharaoh’s Ants need to be dealt with professionally, and many local Council Environmental Health departments will do the job for around £120.