Rainy summer means more ants now, other insects later. Here’s what to do about it

Joe Kaegi, who does public relations for Terminix, called to day that  our unusually wet summer is causing ant problems “to hit unusual highs in Lexington” because the insects are flushed from their nests and go indoors in search of shelter and dry food.

The Lexington Terminix office has seen 30 percent more calls that is usual for this time of year, and expects to see increases in spiders, roaches, crickets and other bugs throughout the year.

In the meantime, here are some Terminix tips for dealing with ants,  an ant FAQ, and some fun ant facts:

Tip 1: Seal as many cracks in the building’s exterior as possible. Ants can invade homes, apartments and other buildings through very small exterior openings, allowing them easy access to food and other resources indoors.

Tip 2: Trim tree and shrub branches to prevent them from touching the building. Ants can scale trees, bushes and other surfaces in order to access entry points. Plants or other objects touching a building can help direct insects to these vulnerable areas.

Tip 3: Eliminate piles of debris from around the home. These could serve as nesting sites for ants.

Tip 4: Do not allow food (human or pet) to sit out. Store all food items in sealed containers. Ants are opportunistic and will exploit any resources they can find.

Tip 5: Dispose of trash regularly, and discard it in a lid-sealed container.

Tip 6: If you notice ants in your home, clean their path with soap and water. Ants use scent trails to navigate. Eliminating these trails will force the ants to relocate the sources of food they were exploiting.

Tip 7: Immediately clean food or drink spills to remove any residue that could be left behind.

Ant FAQ

Why do ants invade human structures?

Ants invade structures in search of food, water and shelter. These pests commonly enter homes, apartments and businesses to either escape parched conditions outdoors or in some cases to find drier habitats if conditions outside are saturated.

How do ants get into structures?

Ants can scale trees, bushes and other rough surfaces, to gain access to entry points in a structure’s exterior. Plants or other objects allowed to touch the side of the building can help direct these insects into homes, apartments and businesses. Because of their size, most ant species can slip through very small openings.

Are ants a sign of unsanitary conditions?

Ants are more likely to establish themselves in areas that provide access to an abundant supply of food (crumbs, dog food, etc.) and water, but their presence is not necessarily a reflection of cleanliness. Ants are opportunistic and will exploit any resources they can find.

Do ants pose a health risk to humans?

On rare occasions, stinging ants have caused humans to experience anaphylactic shock, which may be life threatening. While ant stings can be painful, encounters that require medical attention are rare.

Can ants cause structural damage?

In most cases, ants are only a nuisance pest. However, species such as the carpenter ant can cause extensive structural damage if left undisturbed. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not devour wood, rather they hollow it out in order to build their nests. Fire ants can also have negative implications for humans. In areas of the country where they live, fire ants are credited with damaging farm equipment, electronics and other types of property.

Why do ants march in lines?

Ants use scent trails to navigate. Worker ants will follow these trails to find food or other items and return with them to the nest. If finding a trail of ants indoors, washing the area where the ants have traveled will force them to relocate the resources they were exploiting.

ANT FACTS

  • Ants are so numerous that their combined weight is estimated to be more than the collective weight of the human population.
  • Ants can carry 10 to 20 times their own weight.  That would be the equivalent of a 200-pound man carrying a mid-size automobile.
  • Ants eat more meat each day than all other carnivores combined.
  • Ants, like humans, will herd and milk other species for food.
  • Some ant species enslave other insects by raiding their nests, stealing their pupae and forcing the captives to work for the ant colony.
  • Queen ants of some species can live as long as 20 years.

To learn more about ants and other seasonal pests visit: www.terminix.com