Ant infestation can be annoying especially when they invade in troops and across the home. Destroying one or two that appears during our home activities is easy, but dealing with recurring visits can be frustrating. Rentokil shares interesting facts about ants and some best ant control methods to adopt to get rid of ants effectively.
- An ant can carry 50 times of its body weight
- They do not have ears for hearing purpose
- Ant colony can have as many as thousand members
- Ability to communicate with one another
- Ants can survive underwater for 24 hours
- They take multiple naps in a day
- Their body consists of 2 stomachs
- Planting mint or using peppermint oil to deter ants
- Spray lemon or vinegar around the spaces
- Sprinkle spices such as pepper and cinnamon
- Using a chalk to draw a defence line
- Flushing groups of ants with water
- Mix borax solutions with sugar to trap ants
- Differentiate between termite and ants
- What are the four different types of ant species?
- Where are the ants’ hiding spots in your home
- Common home mistakes that attract ants
- Ants control solutions to consider
- How to maintain a pest-free home
- What are the different ways to deal with ants?
- Why is my ant elimination method not working?
- How do I get rid of ants in the kitchen?
- What is fire ants? Are they harmful to us?
- Can ants damage our furniture besides termites?
Part 1: Seven facts we did not know about ants
An ant can carry 50 times of its body weight
Just a tiny and minuscule size, but the might fact about ants is able to carry 50 times of their body weight. They are equipped with thicker muscles as compared to animals and able to lift objectives bigger and heavier than their size. In fact, for some species such as the Asian Weaver, they can lift up to 100 times its own mass. Therefore, do not belittle their super strength in lifting off those food crumbs and sugar items in your kitchen.
They do not have ears for hearing purpose
Ants do not have ears but they can hear by using vibrations to source for food or alert a danger. They pick vibrations in the ground through a subgenual organ found below their knee. In fact, some ants do not even have eyes, but rely a lot of feeling the vibrations coming from the ground for hearing purpose. Additionally, they leverage on their antennae and body hair to feel around. In summary, they can still navigate around even with the absence of ears.
Ant colony can have as many as thousand members
If you think by squashing that one or two ants is a small deal, then you might want to rethink again. A colony contains an average of thousands of members. These colonies tend to reside in cracks, crevices or any gap opening, with bigger colonies building a nest for food foraging activities. In fact, their colony is in an organised and orderly structure and every member have a specific role. This includes laying eggs, tend to the larvae and pupae and source for food.
Ability to communicate with one another
Ants may not have communication organs such as ears to hear each other, but they leverage on pheromones to send signals across one another. They send messages to alert other ant members in the event of danger and predators’ presence. These chemical signals are also a form of trail for food sourcing, by informing there is food located. Hence, there are common efforts around using strong smell natural ingredients to musk these scent trails and disrupt ants’ communication plan.
Ants can survive underwater for 24 hours
Ants are too tiny to house a complete respiratory system such as lungs. However, they are still able to function by transporting oxygen around for their breathing purposes. They make use of their spiracles which are actually holes found on their body to breathe. They connect to tubes that distribute oxygen supply to the entire body. Hence, ants are also good swimmers by staying afloat for long period and able to survive underwater pretty well.
They take multiple naps in a day
Ants do sleep, however their sleep patterns are quite different from us humans. They adopt multiple resting period, usually around 250 rests that last a minute each for the entire day and night. The queen however has a longer resting duration of six minute at one time and require just 90 sleeps a day. Hence, a worker ant generally lives a range of one to three years; however, the queen lives up to 15 years.
Their body consist of two stomachs
Ants may not have complete set of organs, however in the absence of this functionality, ants actually have two stomachs. Not that they have incredibly good appetite, but they are present to serve different purposes. One to hold and store food for their own consumption and others to store food supplies for fellow ants. Also known as the trophallaxis, that enables an ant colony to function efficiently among the roles of food foraging and nesting duties.
Part 2: Ant control that do not work
Planting mint or using peppermint oil to deter ants
Planting mints or peppermints around the home is one of the many home remedies to repel ants. Sometimes they are used as natural repellent as ants generally dislike the minty and fresh smell and will avoid places with this scent. They are largely applied in key risk areas where ants enjoy lurking around such as kitchen cabinets and along wall or counter tops. Peppermint oil is also a favourite choice to repel rats. Find out if it works on rat eradication.
Spray lemon or vinegar around the spaces
Some would like the tangy and zesty flavour of vinegar and citrus lemon, but not among ants. These are simple remedies by mixing vinegar or lemon with water in a spray bottle and either spray onto the ants, or target at ants’ hot spots, such as entrances, walkways, wall, table-tops, cabinets and above appliances. It works similar to mint by destroying ant trails and prevent them from communication and navigation activities.
Sprinkle spices such as pepper and cinnamon
A more pungent and strong option by using spices as an ant repellent remedy. These spices are sprinkled on surfaces, pathway, entry points and cracks where they hide to destruct ants. Some studies shown ants will suffocate when they inhale cinnamon. Pepper, on the other hand, will not kill the ants; however, it will deter them from returning to the same ant trail until the scent musk is diminished. The main problem in distributing these spices around may end up as a food source for other pests to feed on.
Using a chalk to draw a defence line
One of the most common or known pest myth on ants is by drawing a barrier line with a chalk. Some experiments do show that the ants do not seem to cross the border, partly due to the calcium carbonate that disrupts the scent trail. However, once ants have regained their sense of navigation and scent familiarity, ants will return soon after. This deterrent method is merely shifting ants to another location temporarily but the actual ant nest and root source is present.
Flushing groups of ants with water
The flushing method with water seems to work commonly on ants. Do you find it familiar using water hose or a container with water to chase ants away? While this just floats them away, we forgot ants do swim and has amazing stamina under water and we are not eliminating the actual ant nest hiding in some corners. In addition, water and moisture are the main causes of pest infestation as they seek them for survival.
Mix borax solutions with sugar to trap ants
A mixture of borax and something sweet such as sugar or syrup is mixed together to lure them with the sweetness and destruct them with the borax. Borax is sodium borate that is powdery and alkaline and used in cleaning agents or grease reduction, such as laundry washing powder. Ants consuming borax will damage their digestive systems, causing them to die eventually. It has some form of toxicity and safety issues and is best to avoid using them for ant removal especially with kids or pets in the home.
Part 3: How to get rid of ants with pest control
Differentiate between termite and ants
A common confusion between both species that identifying them wrong could bring some home disaster. Wrong pest identification would mean delivering the wrong treatment, incurring unnecessary expenses and worsening the current termite or ant infestation. Here is a list of differentiation between termites and ants:
- Difference in waist size and shape where termites are thicker
- Termites come with a straight antenna and ants are bent
- Ants are usually black, dark red or brown in colour, termites are light or dark brown
- Uniform wings for termites while ants are unequal for the front and back
- Ant nests look like a pile of mud while termite nest is a straight line tunnel
- Termite mud tubes are found on the wall while anthill may buried underground
- Ant nests consist of dirt and soil, however dirt, saliva and faeces makes up termite nest
What are the four different types of ant species?
We can relate to sugar ants, and as their name suggests, it is easy to identify them as a fan of sugar and sweet stuff in our home. With a sweet tooth, they are generally less harmless and do not bite or sting. They enjoy part of the home that we all do which is the kitchen (especially sinks and cabinets) and dining hall. They can turn into a home battle when ant infestation like this go serious. Did you know? There are other ant species commonly found in your home.
- Pharaoh’s ants: Prefer protein and grease diet, hide among stacks and clutters, and spraying insecticide will break the colony and sending ants to disperse wildly
- Crazy ants: Black in colour, often lurks outdoors such as potted plants, garden and common walkway and enter your home through cracks, gaps or door openings
- Carpenter ants: Very similar to termites as they destroy furniture and wood from inside out. However, they do not feed on wood and instead, they are still attracted to honey and sugar.
Where are the ants’ hiding spots in your home?
It is fairly an easy task to deduce where ants will favour and hide within our home. Here is a list of ants’ hot spots for ease of detection:
- Kitchen: Cabinets, table tops, sinks, cupboards, above and below appliance, wall
- Bathroom: Wash basins, floor and cabinets
- Dining hall: Table surfaces, flooring and seats
- Patio and Garden: Flower pots, shrubs, trees, walkway, along corridor
- Wood structure, furniture, sculptures and landscaping
Common home mistakes that attract ants
Ants do not come by unless there is an opportunity to knock on your doors. Firstly, with their absolute tiny body size, they can slip in through cracks, gap, crevices and any possible openings they can find. Secondly, water is what all pest need to survive and think about the wet kitchen and bathroom floor in the home. Thirdly, newspapers, boxes and clutters are perfect hiding and nesting locations for ants and other pests. Fourthly, we may have the tendency to leave the trash in the home for as long as we can before disposing them. Finally, housekeeping and sanitation may have a gap and lapse, thus offering abundance of food supplies for ants. Above all, our eating and snacking habits could be a cause of ants’ infestation by leaving behind residues and crumbs.
Ants control solutions to consider
There are various options in dealing with ant infestation. Majority would still rely on daily maintenance by purchasing insecticide sprays from retail shops and deal with crawling ants once they spot them. The problem with this is, we tend to overspray that harms our health and safety with the toxicity of the active ingredients it contains.
However, you should engage pest control services to manage the ant population in your home. Pest control company in Singapore possess licensed technicians by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to perform site survey and routine treatments to eliminate ants. Ant control solutions comes in two forms.
Firstly, a scheduled monthly (or can be weekly or fortnightly depending on severity) service with technician applying residual sprays with active ingredient around skirting and risk areas. Secondly, a flush-out or ad-hoc ant treatment to eliminate existing infestation is available. Above all, inspection and monitoring of the premise and infestation level is essential to ensure the problem is under control.
How to maintain a pest-free home?
Firstly, you should start to be more aware of where ants come and what attracts them to your home. Secondly, ensure diligent housekeeping and maintaining patio and outdoor to minimise food sources for ants. Thirdly, keeping place dry from water spills not only eliminate pests but also enhances the safety of your family. Fourthly, you may want to consider doing minor home fixes or renovation depending on the property integrity. Finally, store all food supplies well in containers and into respective storages. Besides attracting pests to feed on them, is to minimise food contamination. Rentokil Initial shares four ant prevention tip you can apply easily for your home.
Part 4: Frequently Asked Questions about ants pest control
What are the different ways to deal with ants?
Firstly, keep the place clean and dry to eliminate food source for ants. Secondly, ants can enter from various entries and proofing is essential. Thirdly, some would go for deterring and repelling method that helps short term. Fourthly, do not neglect the outdoor area as it houses many other pests besides ants. Finally, maintain consistent and regular pest management that helps eliminate and control ants population. Above all, it is good to keep a lookout for potential signs of pest infestation. This helps to minimise impact and damages while addressing the problem in a cost efficient manner.
Why is my ant elimination method not working?
This is a common question and frustration faced by many homeowners. Due to the environmental and urbanisation changes in Singapore, there are factors that may explain why you might be facing with recurring ants problem.
- Ants travel around from location to location and they might enter from elsewhere
- Home integrity may worsen over time and thus creating cracks for ants to slip in
- We tend to miss spotting them due to their secretive hide outs and mini body size
- Daily lifestyle and habits can lapse as and when, thus creating harbourage chances
- You may be treating the wrong pests, for instance mistaken ants for termites
- There is also outdoor ants to consider, besides treating indoors.
- Treatments may be targeting at the current visible problem but not root source
- There could be efficacy gaps or quality issue with the treatment you are receiving
How do I get rid of ants in the kitchen?
Kitchen has almost everything that ants required. Ranges from all the desserts they can find such as cookies and cakes to drinks and water. Not forgetting trash and waste that is often neglected for disposal. Make an effort to store all food properly, by sealing them in a zip bag or container instead of lying them around exposed. Wipe the table after consumption or food preparation to avoid any possible leftovers for ants to feed. Purchase waste bins that have a lid on and tie the garbage bag tightly before disposing. We tend to clutter kitchen with items, appliances, boxes and containers. Free up this clutter to allow easy cleaning and less hiding opportunity. Keep the storage and premise clean with kitchen organisers and do wipe off grease and stains among appliances. More importantly, seek help from pest control specialist who can give expert recommendations and advices. Read more on kitchen organising tips to keep pest away from your kitchen.
What is fire ants? Are they harmful to us?
We can identify and connect ants love sweet stuff and are generally harmful besides causing some food contamination symptoms. However, there is a species not as friendly or harmless such as the fire ants. They are named fiery for a reason, causing painful and stinging bites. Aggressive nature, they move very fast and we should avoid provoking them or disturbing their nest. They are usually lurking outside, commonly red in colour, and tend to hide in tiny cracks and holes on the wall. Do take note of their presence among plants, mulch and lawn when you do the outdoor maintenance.
Fire ant bites are itchy, painful and stinging that causes irritation and infection. In some cases, it may result in allergies with blisters developing. Do take note of severe allergic symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, dizziness and throat swell. It is important to seek quick medical attention rather than self-medicating the symptoms.
Can ants damage our furniture besides termites?
Yes. Carpenter ants that is nocturnal nature seeks moist wood and damage from the inside out. While they do not feed on wood, they tunnel their way out by chewing on the wood to create spaces for excavation. They seek moist and rotting wood and furniture, and signs to look out for includes holes found on the wood item, shavings or sawdust accumulation and gallery wall surfaces they have created. Besides carpenter ants and the notorious termites, it is possible for other pests that attack wood. Hence, it is important to ensure to engage professional pest control service to perform accurate pest identification to carry out the right pest treatment for you.
Call Rentokil Singapore at 6347 8138 for ant control solution today.