There is no denying that finding ants in your house is an unsettling prospect. Whether you see a few traipsing across your kitchen counter or find a whole ant colony inside your wall, you will want to get rid of the ants as soon as possible.
As you first discover ants, you might be wondering if you should try to take care of the problem yourself with some kind of over-the-counter remedy, or if you should call a professional. In order to save time, money, and aggravation, hiring an ant extermination company is a favorable idea.
- Understanding Ant Infestations
- Where Do Ants Live Inside Your House?
- Getting Rid of Ants
- Using an Ant Exterminator
- What Licensing and Credentials Do Exterminators Need?
- What Are the Key Costs of Ant Extermination?
Understanding Ant Infestations
What Do Ants Look Like?
Of course you already know how ants look like. Still, just for the sake of reference, most ants are brown in color, although some are black. They have a narrow connection between their thorax and abdomen. Ants also have bent antennas and chewing mouthparts. Although small in stature, they can cause big problems in your home.
What are they Looking For?
Ants appreciate just what humans appreciate when it comes to food. They are searching for sugar and carbohydrates, as well as a water source. If they can find a way into your home, they will enjoy the feast you have provided them, taking tiny crumbs back to their nests and feasting on all of the food scraps you have left behind.
How Do they Get in?
There are a wide variety of ways that ants can get into your home, especially since they are so tiny. Here are a few of the most popular points of entry:
- Cracks on the floor
- Openings around windows
- Holes where wiring is run
- Gaps in the foundation
- Holes in the floor
What Do they Do When they Get in?
Once inside your home, ants work quickly to create their new nest inside your home and appreciate hidden places such as inside walls or under flooring. Worker ants will then scurry from the nest to the food source you provide in order to support the queen.
What Kind of Damage Do they Cause?
Most ants that get into your home are merely a nuisance. No one wants ants crawling all over their cupboards or inside their dishwasher while they are trying to cook or eat. Fire ants, however, can bite and be harmful, especially to young children. Additionally, carpenter ants can cause structural damage to your home as they tunnel through wood.
Where Do Ants Live Inside Your House?
Once they gain entry to your house, ants will live wherever they want. This can be so disturbing as you are going about your daily business and see ants wherever you turn. Some of the most common places that ants are found include the following:
Ants follow the food, so when you snack on the couch and drop crumbs, they are attracted to those crumbs. They can live in or under your carpet once they find it.
Ants seek moisture in dishwasher drains and enjoy the crumbs of food left behind on plates. In a place that is supposed to be cleaning the dishes from which you eat, this is an especially disturbing place to find ants.
Kitchen Counters and Cupboards
Ants seek food that they can take back to the queen, and your kitchen counters and cupboards are the perfect place to find it! When people make snacks in their kitchen, they do not wipe up crumbs every time.
Inside the Walls or Sockets
As hard as it can be to believe, ants can take up residence inside walls and light sockets, which makes them especially difficult to remove. If the infestation is bad enough, they can also short circuit your electricity.
Under the Floor
Depending on how the ants get into your home to begin with, they can take up residence under your floor or floorboards.
Getting Rid of Ants
There are several steps to getting rid of ants. Keep in mind that most people wait too long to call an exterminator, and you might be better off starting with that step.
Determine What Type of Ants You Have
The first step in getting rid of ants is to figure out what type of ants you have. Black ants, crazy ants, and odorous house ants – all can make their way to your home. These are relatively harmless and frankly are more annoying than anything.
Fire ants, however, can sting people, and carpenter ants can tunnel through your wood home leaving sawdust in their wake. These types of ants are more dangerous for your home and family.
Clean Your House
The first order of business if you have an ant infestation is to clean your house. Make it a point to wipe up any liquid spills or crumbs as soon as they occur so that the ants will have less of a reason to come inside.
Using the vacuum cleaner on carpets, sweeping the floors thoroughly, and taking care of dirty dishes in the sink will go a long way in eradicating the ant infestations.
One of the reasons ants enter your home is because they seek moisture. Make sure to clean up any errant water in your home, and fix any leaks as they occur so there is not any water laying around for ants to enjoy.
Think about window ledges and areas around air conditioners where water can sometimes pool, and where ants can easily find their way into the house.
Eliminate Entry Ports
Eliminating the possibility for ants to enter your house is of primary importance, and you should use caulk to seal off these ports of entry. Pay special attention to the following in order to ward off the ants, and make sure to re-apply the caulk as time and weathering will cause it to degrade.
- Seal cracks in the siding
- Seal around the input of cable cords and telephone lines
- Eliminate the foundation cracks with caulk
- Seal around windows and doors
Remove Clutter from the Outside of Your Home
Another piece to the puzzle of ants getting inside your home is if you have a lot of clutter around the outside of your home. Piles of wood, tarps, clutter or any junk give the ants an easy way to approach your home in search of food. Keep the wood piles away from your home and keep the outside of your home clean as well as the inside.
Using an Ant Exterminator
There are many do-it-yourself remedies for ant extermination, but if you want it done correctly and in a timely manner, hiring a professional is your best bet.
Professional exterminators understand the motivations of the ants, and also how to eradicate them quickly and safely. Hiring a professional also saves you time and aggravation, and offers you the opportunity to do it right the first time.
What Will the Exterminator Do?
The first thing to understand is that an ant exterminator has the proper tools and knowledge to take care of your problem quickly and efficiently. There are many things exterminators will use, depending on the type and severity of the ants in your home.
- Spray the area with foggers
- Sprinkle granules in affected areas
- Use liquid sprays
- Dust the area with ant killing dust
How about Hard to Reach Places?
Some people think that they can just deal with an ant infestation themselves because they can buy over-the-counter remedies. If you have a tiny problem in a specific area, you might be able to get by with a spray or some ant bait.
But if you have an ant infestation in a crawl space or behind a wall or in other hard-to-reach places, you would be better off getting an exterminator and will save money, time, and aggravation in the long run.
What Licensing and Credentials Do Exterminators Need?
Hiring an ant extermination company that is licensed, certified, and insured is extremely important. A company that checks all of these boxes will tend to deliver more quality work, and if they are licensed, certified, and insured this will certainly make the process safer for you as a homeowner.
In order to be in good standing as an extermination company, the company needs to be licensed to do the work that they do. They will continually need to be re-licensed and need 20 hours of continuing education every two years in order to keep their license.
By doing business with a licensed company, you will ensure that you are working with experts who are up to date in their industry.
There are several ways that exterminators can be certified. They can be licensed to perform structural fumigation, which means they can safely use a fogger to get rid of your ant problem.
Secondly, an exterminator can have a more general Household Pest Control license, which allows them to do a wide variety of pest control things. Finally, there is a license for Wood-Destroying Organisms Control, which is obviously necessary if the problem is extremely invasive in your wood home.
Hire an extermination company that has insurance, so that you will not be held liable if something happens in your home. Exterminators who are insured are more professional, and this will cover you if the exterminator gets injured on the job or some other unforeseen circumstance occurs.
What Are the Key Costs of Ant Extermination?
There are several ways to pay for an ant exterminator, depending on what you need. In several areas of the country, ants can be more prevalent than others, so you may want an extermination team to take care of your home a lot. Conversely, you might just need one visit to take care of the problem.
One Time Visit
Depending on where you live, a one-time visit from an ant exterminator will generally cost between $100-250, depending on the severity of the problem. Because people tend to wait too long to call an exterminator and the problem is so far gone, you might expect the high end of this if you have procrastinated.
Another way to get rid of ants and other pests is to have an exterminaor under contract. If this is the case, you would generally pay around $40-45 a month to an ant extermination company, with quarterly visits to take care of your home. This method helps you to keep ahead of any problems that arise, rather than wait until the problem gets really bad.
How About Special Circumstances?
There are several situations in which you will need to pay more to get your extermination taken care of. These include types of ants, level of infestation, and location where the ants are actually located.
Types of Ants
Carpenter ants are very problematic, and if you have an infestation of these, you are definitely in for a more difficult process to eradicate them. A visit from the exterminator, in case of carpenter ants, will be between $250-500 dollars, because they are so difficult to deal with. Add to this the fact that you might need more than one busy, and the money can really add up.
Level of Infestation
The level of infestation will also affect the cost, If you have a mild ant problem that will take one quick visit to fix, you will pay on the low end of the scale.
If you have a middle-of-the-road problem, that might require a few visits and of course a higher price tag. Unfortunately, if your infestation is severe you may be battling it for a while and it could cost $1,000 or more.
Location of Ants
The price of ant extermination can also be adjusted based on the location in which the ants are living. If the ants are in easy to reach places, the cost will be lower, but if the ants are under flooring, inside sockets, or behind walls, the cost could rise exponentially.
Although no one wants to have ants descend upon their home to eat crumbs off their cupboard shelves, crawl through their dishwasher, scurry behind the walls, or tunnel through wood furniture, pests are a part of life.
Hiring a reputable ant extermination company as soon as the problem occurs will actually save you time, trouble, and money in the long run. Though the cost will vary based on the type and location of the ants, letting a professional take care of it is the best choice you can make.