In springtime you can count on the bright, smiling faces of University of Wisconsin – Madison graduates as they prepare to march down the aisle and receive their diploma. They aren’t the only ones readying their march though (and I’m not referring to Madison Area tech or Edgewood). Ants. Every spring ants begin their marches into parks, residences, apartments, and businesses to start their prep work for the next year. Madison ant control requires a combination of steps.
Why ants like lines
The first reason that ants like to follow lines such as cracks in the sidewalk, seams in pavement, edges of home and landscaping, and branches is they provide protection. Ants are relatively soft and vulnerable to the squish factor. By staying in at least semi-protected areas, they increase their chance of survival.
The second reason they love lines is lines mean food. Tree branches lead to food. Food falls in cracks, so cracks may mean food. Most importantly, they have a self motivation system called trophallaxis. This is the process by which the returning ants can regurgitate a bit of the food they found at the end of the trail and share it with ants on their way to the food. This lets the ants know that it is worth their time and energy to keep moving in that direction. When ants know a trail to be good, they can also mark it with a pheromone that signals good things ahead to trailing ants.
Since ants love lines, lines are the first step to Madison ant control. Inspect the seams and lines of your home for gaps and cracks that can be patched or sealed. Don’t forget about window tracks and entry ways that are the most frequent culprits. In addition, inspect landscaping plants throughout the year. As we know, these things continue to grow and may end up being a highway from ant hill to home or business.
The power of the queen
When queen ants set up their colonies, they do the hard work of burrowing into the ground and raising the first brood. After that, they just hang out in the heart of the nest cranking out more and more ant eggs. Some species have just one ant while others may have tens or hundreds. The important thing isn’t so much how many queens there are to begin with, but the fact that the queen doesn’t come out to play.
If you want to get control of ants, you have to do more than attack the workers. Otherwise, the queens will just keep replenishing the colony. In some cases, they may even engage in a process called budding where they split the colony into 2 giving you twice the threat of invasion. Successful Madison ant control starts with the queen and works out from there.
Effective products against ants
Magnifying glasses and the sun or various tactics using gasoline and other incendiaries will always be around, but they are not the solutions to aim for. The best tools for ant control include:
- Food source reduction or elimination
- Monitoring & Identification
- Ant baits
- Sprays, dusts, and other insecticides
With regard to ant baits, there are several factors to consider. You can get baits in granule form, liquid form, or gel. Some ants are going to prefer one over the other. When our technicians are on a property, they have several options with them which they can leave along the feeding lines and observe the ant preferences of the time. Also, ants may be seeking proteins, carbs and sugars, or fats & oils at any given part of the year depending on what they are focused on as a colony. Selecting the best nutrition base to match their colony needs will lead to quicker and more complete control.
Why monitoring and identification matters
Different ant species prefer different habitats and have different needs. A Carpenter ant will have a very different set of lifestyle choices from a pavement ant. Ant identification has some to do with color and size, but many ants have different size ants in the same colony. This does not mean that they are youngster ants still growing, they are fully grown ants with a different caste than the other size ants. Identification keys are based off of key differentiators such as:
- Number of nodes
- Antennal segments
- Thorax shape
- Head ridges
- Abdomen hairs
Scouting for scouts
Ants typically find their food by sending out a few scouts to see what is available. Keeping an eye out for both where ants are foraging and where a few hare hanging around can give you clues as to what is potentially around the corner for ant activity. An ant or two in the kitchen may not mean a bunch are coming, but it can be a good signal to inspect for entry points or reinforce protective barriers as well as ensure there isn’t a food source somewhere nearby that will begin the food sharing and motivation of trophallaxis.
Ahead of ants
The ant experts at Rove Pest Control know the places to look and the places to look and treat to protect your home or business from ants. Years of experience and hundreds of different property situations under their belt give them the upper hand in customizing ant solutions for anything under Madison’s share of the sun. If you want to have a solution in place before they even think of scouting out your home or you want some help in the middle of a battle, reach out to a Rove ant expert to cover your ant control needs.