Now that spring has officially sprung, New Yorkers can look forward to all the outdoor activities that we have waited for all winter. For many, that means getting out and enjoying the warmer weather with family and friends. For others, it might mean watching the animals come out of hiding for the season. Songbirds have returned to the area, and squirrels are out in full force taking care of business after a long winter. Unfortunately, that also means that pests like ants have also made their way out of their winter nests as well.
When ants are coaxed out of their winter nest by the warm spring air, they get right to work increasing the numbers inside their colony. By late spring, these nests have usually reached their capacity and the queen produces winged ants called swarmers to go out into the world and find a new nest. This can be bad news for homes in the area that might look like the perfect place to move into.
New York has several species of ants that can become a real problem for homes in the area. Namely, the odorous house ant, the pavement ant, the carpenter ant, and the pharaoh ant all frequent the area. Each can wreak havoc in homes and yards in their own special way.
Odorous House Ant
This ant generally will live in large colonies of up to 100,000. When they are outside, they prefer the honeydew from the aphids found in gardens for food, but they are also perfectly content to enjoy sugary or greasy foods found in the typical kitchen. When a colony moves indoors, thousands can be living in the walls of any structure. Though they do not spread disease or damage the home, the presence of smaller pests can attract larger ones. Plus, when these ants are crushed, they can leave behind a foul odor that no one wants in their house. The odorous house ant’s attraction to sweet or greasy foods means that you can find them crawling across the hood of your stove as well as in your sugar bowl if you are not careful.
The ants that you might see crawling around the cracks in the sidewalk or around the paving stones in the yard are probably pavement ants. They typically will create their nests under those stones but are just as comfortable doing so inside the walls or floors of a home. These ants are a bit different than the odorous house ant mainly because of their dining habits. These guys are not at all fussy about their menu. They will eat other insects, bread, meat, nuts, sugar, or seeds making most things in the pantry fair game. Though they do not pose a health risk to people, they can contaminate bags of flour, sugar, and rice, or even boxes of cereal very quickly.
For homeowners, there is no such thing as a good ant living inside the walls, but the carpenter ant is the worst of them all. Unlike the other ants who are a terrible nuisance to have around, the carpenter ant can do thousands of dollars in damage to your home before anyone is even aware there is a problem. The carpenter ant, the largest of the ant species in New York, builds its nest in wood. Generally, that is in trees and fallen logs, but they are just as likely to find a nearby structure to live in as well. When that happens, the carpenter ant workers will immediately begin burrowing into the wooden framework to form a nesting area and tunnels to get around in. They do not eat wood, but the damage they cause can seriously weaken the integrity of the structure.
This ant is not nearly as majestic as its name suggests. These ants will usually target homes and commercial buildings to nest in as they cannot survive winter in the northern states outside. These ants also have been known to spread disease through contaminating the food supply. They spread pathogens like salmonella and streptococcus through the staples found in the pantry and deposit pathogens across counters and other surfaces.
Spring in New York means you must be on the defense against pests who are on the move. It is essential that you know that there are a few ways to help protect yourself from invading ants. First, make sure that doors and windows have proper screening and weather stripping to close any gaps around them. Then, make sure that any cracks in the foundation are sealed. It is a good idea to even check the pipes that go into your home to make sure that the space around them has been properly caulked. Inside, it is necessary to make sure that damp areas are dried out. Fix any leaks, and perhaps set up a dehumidifier in the attic, basement, or crawlspace. Ants, just like other pests, are always looking for places that they have access to food and water. It is best, while everyone is in spring cleaning mode, to put all of the food staples you have in the kitchen into plastic bins that seal tightly. Spend some time making sure that the kitchen stays clean of crumbs or debris that might attract pests.
At the end of the day, you may still find that a colony of ants has gotten a little too close for comfort, or maybe they have moved right in. If that is the case, it is almost impossible to get rid of the infestation on your own because of the sheer number of these pests. Give us a call at Parkway Pest Services. Our staff has a lot of experience dealing with ant infestations and can work with you to make sure that each and every ant is taken care of.