TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How to Identify Ants in Singapore
- Is that a Flying Ant or Termite?
- Inside the Ant Colonies: Ant Life Cycle & Caste System
- Nearby Nest & Entryways
- Your Neighbours Have an Ant Infestation
- Other Causes of Ant Invasions
- Signs of Ant Infestations
- Natural Ant Deterrents
- Practical Ways to Get Rid of Ants
- Fact or Myth: How Effective Are These Ant Control Measures?
- Special Considerations for Carpenter Ants
Ants are social insects that live in colonies. Therefore, when there is one ant, there is probably thousands more. While this does not sound bothering when you find them outdoors, that is not just the case when an ant infestation is occurring in your home.
There are many natural ways to control ants in your home—at least 21 ways you can explore. In this article, we will go in-depth on how to get rid of ants in your home.
Part I: Pest Profile – Ants in Singapore
There are more than 10,000 species of ants that can be found in almost every space and the only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a handful of inhospitable islands. While they are generally not as damaging as termites, they are capable of potentially spreading diseases, contaminating food, and inflicting bites. There is also the carpenter ants that are known to cause damage to wooden structures.
In Singapore, you will commonly come across the following ant species.
Black House Ants
This species of ants are regarded as more of a nuisance than pests. They are intensely black in colour and measure about 2.5-3mm long. These ants prefer sugary liquids and tend to attract aphids that results in extensive plant damage.
A major agricultural and urban pest that destroys crops and invades residential properties. When aggravated, they can inflict stings that may result in a pustule some 48 hours later and trigger allergic reactions.
These ants also called sugar ants, have black heads and pale to translucent legs and abdomen. They feed and nest indoors and are usually attracted to moisture-prone areas including the kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
Odorous House Ants
They get their name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed. They feed mostly on sugary food such as sweets and fruits and can be found in areas where there is moisture, including your houseplants.
Light yellow to red in colour, with black markings on their abdomen. They are quite difficult to get rid of because when sprayed, they tend to break up their colony and scatter to new locations, thus further spreading the infestations.
Often mistaken for eating wood, actually burrow into wood to make a nest. Carpenter ants spread fast and often move to accommodate the colony, thus illustrating the necessity to address a carpenter ant infestation immediately.
They ave long legs and are usually black or dark red in colour. They derive their name from their defence mechanism: when disturbed, they will scatter in all directions, making them difficult to kill.
How to Identify Ants in Singapore
Very often, ants are mistaken for termites and vice versa. Understanding the difference between these two is essential to ensure the effectiveness of pest removal.
It is actually easy to recognise ants with their elbowed antennae, narrow waists, and bulbous abdomens. They have three distinct body segments—head, thorax, and abdomen—while termites do not have. They are also different in colour, where most of them are black, brown, or reddish-brown in colour.
Is that a Flying Ant or Termite?
Some ants are winged and they are called swarmers whose primary objective is to find a mate and start new colonies. Similarly, they are also often mistaken as flying termites but one way to tell between them is by looking at their wings.
While ant swarmers have two sets of wings, with the front pair larger than that of the rear, termite swarmers have four wings that are all identical in shape and size. Ants mate in the air and after which the male will die soon after.
Inside the Ant Colonies: Ant Life Cycle & Caste System
Ants go through four different life stages from eggs to larvae, pupae, and adults. The larvae are white, translucent, and resemble maggots. They will undergo different moulting stages until they metamorphose into pupae. In some ant species, the pupae spin cocoons around their bodies until they develop into adults, while others get by without them. The process takes about 6 weeks to 2 months to complete and ants can live for about 90 days or for as long as 6 months to a year.
In an ant colony, there is the queen, female workers, and males. The queen is responsible for laying eggs while the male ants’ role is to mate with future queen ants—they do not live very long afterwards. Meanwhile, the workers do all the labour, which involves tending to the offspring and rescuing the pupae in case the nest is disturbed. They are also responsible for gathering food, constructing the nest, and keeping the colony clean.
Depending on the species, an ant colony can consist of millions of ants and may have one or more queens. It can also have soldiers that protect the queen, defend the colony, and attack enemy colonies in search of food and nesting places.
Ants live underground and sometimes in dead wood and plant cavities. In Singapore, they are often found in homes, particularly where their food sources are: bathroom and kitchen. They can also be found nesting in the cracks and crevices of your wall or outside your home where they can build anthills.
Part II: Why Do You See More Ants in Your Home Lately?
Everyone gets the occasional ants at home in Singapore, as they easily sneak in through open doors and windows in search of food, water, and shelter. However, a sudden ant invasion does not just happen randomly—there are usually triggers that cause it, some of them are as follows.
Crumbs, spills, uncovered food, pet food, and even the food waste in the bin are all typical causes of ant invasions. When ants discover these food sources, they travel back to their nest, send a signal to other workers, and suddenly, a swarm of ants are marching back into your home to pick up the food.
Nearby Nest & Entryways
Another potential cause of sudden ant invasions is the presence of ant colonies near your home, coupled with the many cracks, holes, and openings that serve as an entryway into your property. It pays to engage a local pest control service to inspect your property for colonies, address them, and seal all the possible entries that ants are entering.
Ants, like many pests, thrive in the warm and humid weather in Singapore. They are most likely to enter homes in wet conditions in search for dry grounds and likewise, they may also seek protection from the heat in your homes, where they have easy access to water. They may even build nests near your home, where they are closer to resources.
Your Neighbours Have an Ant Infestation
Sometimes, it is not you, but the people around you. No matter how well you may be keeping your home, if you have neighbours who have an infestation, they may start invading your home as well. This is particularly true if you live in an apartment where you share walls with your neighbours.
Other Causes of Ant Invasions
There are many other reasons why you may be suffering from an ant invasion. For instance, carpenter ants may have discovered wood in your premises or they may have already created a nest within your property and are living indoors. Whatever is the case for you, the most effective way to get rid of ants is by eradicating the colony and reducing, if not fully removing, all their potential entry points.
Signs of Ant Infestations
While there may be a few ants in your kitchen, do not be fooled. Underneath your sinks or behind your furniture, there could be more ants lurking. Below are some of the signs of an ant infestation to keep an eye out on.
Live Ants: The most obvious way to see if you have ants is to look at any food that you have left out. If ants are present, so does a likely infestation.
Ant Trails: Ants produce pheromones that they use to create chemical trails from their nests to their food sources. Trails like these in and out of your home could indicate an infestation.
Ant Nests: A nest site can look like anything from a small pile of dirt to the classic anthill. However, carpenter ant nests can look like a small hole on wood in areas like your windows panes, furniture, door frames and cabinets.
Ants can be found anywhere there is food, moisture, shelter—the primary things they need to survive. When searching for ants, it pays to know what attracts them into your home in the first place.
Any food that appeals to you probably appeals to ants too, but what ants are particularly fond of are sweet foods. Any exposed food or spilt liquids can be a tempting source of food for ants.
Any leaks, drips, and moisture build-up in and around your home are enough to attract ants into your home. It explains why besides the kitchen, ants are found in your bathroom too.
The sweltering heat and the wet conditions during the occasional rains are two ways to drive ants into your home. Do not be surprised when you find that ants have moved their nests into your cosy home.
Ants are opportunistic and they will take any possible way to get into your home. If you have ants, you probably have an existing entry point somewhere. There is not much you can do to keep ants away, as they do not require much space to get inside. However, there are ways to keep your home as uninviting as possible to ants.
Part III: How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Home
There are several ways to keep ants away from your home, makes your home as unattractive as possible.
Here, we suggest some all-natural pest control remedies to drive and eliminate ants in your home, starting with some natural solutions that do not add harsh toxins to the environment.
Natural Ant Deterrents
- Peppermint – Mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with water and spray the mixture around your home where you usually see ants. You can also plant peppermint around your home to deter ants.
- Lemon Juice – Lemon juice is said to destroy the trail that ants follow. Mix 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts water and use it as a spray.
- Vinegar – Like lemon juice, you can also use vinegar as an all-around spray. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water and spray it directly on the ants to kill them.
- Spices – Ants dislike spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. The strong and pungent smell simply repels them.
- Cornstarch – Pour cornstarch over a large group of ants and add water like you are making a slurry. The result might stick and glue away the dead ants trapped in the gooey mixture.
- Coffee Grounds – Sprinkle coffee grounds near areas that attract ants like plants, pet bowls, and kitchen counters to keep them away.
- Borax – Mix sugar, borax, and dissolve it in warm water. Soak cotton balls in the mixture and place them in ant-prone areas to serve as ant baits. The active ingredient in borax has eliminating effects within some hours of consumption.
- Chalk – Drawing a line of chalk is believed to be effective in keeping the ants away and temporarily derailing an ant trail.
- Cucumber – Ants hate the scent of cucumber peel because it is said to contain chemicals that remove fungi which ants are attracted to.
- Essential Oils – Aside from peppermint oil, oils like citrus, tea tree, cinnamon, and cedarwood also make great ant-repellent sprays. Spray them in ant-prone areas or use them as a diffuser.
Practical Ways to Get Rid of Ants
- Keep Your House Clean – Procrastinating to clean your home is a habit that attracts ants into your home. While the clutter is an annoyance for you, they are a great source of food, water, and shelter for them. Keep your house clean to keep it from inviting pests.
- Store Food Properly – Leaving your food exposed invites ants into your home. Store them properly by keeping them in the fridge or in airtight containers.
- Use Soap and Water – The conventional splashing of soapy water works every time in killing ants and removing their scent trails. Using hot water can be just as effective.
- Remove Their Resources – This involves removing any food crumbs, spills, and stains as well as any moisture from the leaking pipes, faucets, and the clutter that may serve as their shelter.
- Keep Your Place Dry – In line with the previous point, inspect your home for damaged plumbing and any openings where water seeps through. Address these issues properly to remove any source of moisture.
- Remove Rotten Wood – Remove rotting trees and limbs in your yard where ants are likely to build colonies.
- Set Ant Baits – Liquid baits are the best way to address ants. Others may prefer solid baits. They primarily use borax as an active ingredient, which has a low level of toxicity for humans and pets but is harmful to ants.
- Seal Possible Entry Points – Trace ant trails back to their point of entry and make sure to caulk or seal as many of these entrances as possible: cracks and crevices on the walls, windowsills, doorframes, etc.
- Dispose of Trash Regularly – Aside from sweeping up food crumbs, make sure to wipe up spills, take out the garbage every night, and do not leave dirty dishes sitting on the sink.
- Detect Ant Nests & Root Source – Fully getting rid of ants involves detecting ant nests and root sources. When detected, spray the area with insecticide.
Fact or Myth: How Effective Are These Ant Control Measures?
There are cases when these home remedies and all-natural pest control measures work just fine to catch a single rat or kill ants in sight. While they are effective to some extent, things can easily get out of control. It may not only compromise the efficacy of the method but may also implicate health and safety risks to your family and the environment as well.
Special Considerations for Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants, for example, require different control techniques due to their behaviour. They burrow into wood to make nests and in the process, damage wooden infrastructures, including your support beams.
Below are some tips to avoid carpenter ant infestations:
- Trim back trees, shrubs, and bushes that touch the sidings or roof.
- Keep wood construction away from moisture.
- Replace or discard rotten or ant-infested wooden materials.
- Store firewood off the ground and away from your home.
Understanding what type of ant is infesting your home is necessary to determine which control measures will be most effective. In this case, you will benefit from engaging a pest removal specialist in Singapore who has the right tools, skills, and equipment to fulfil the job.
Part IV: Ant Control by Rentokil Singapore
Like when seeking medical treatment, you probably often ask yourself when exactly do you need to engage professional help?
Should you wait for physical damage to become visible?
What if the infestation has already gotten out of control?
When your health and safety is already compromised?
Do I wait until self-help measures no longer work?
Prevention is always better than cure, even in terms of pests. Therefore, as pest control specialists in Singapore, we always recommend that you do not have to wait for risks to become visible to engage pest control treatments.
Instead, we encourage to proactively take preventive measures in order to detect early signs of infestations and keep them from creating costly, irreversible damage. By having pest control measures in place, you can have the peace of mind that any pest problem will be handled immediately and effectively.
What Should You Expect in an Ant Control?
Ants may carry bacteria that contaminate food. You can avoid this risk by immediately addressing the infestation and prevent reoccurrence.
Rentokil Singapore offers professional ant control services that target infestations both indoors and outdoors. Our treatments target specific ant species to ensure efficacy in eliminating ants in your property.
We also offer advice on how to prevent re-infestation by using proactive measures to keep ants away. The truth is, you cannot keep ants out of your home forever, but a long-term commitment to pest control and removal should help keep their population under control.
We provide long-term treatment programs where our specialists will visit your premise for regular inspection, detection, monitoring and treatment.