Ants may be black, brown, red or yellow. Adult ants range in size from as small as 1 millimetre (1/ 16 – 1/32 inch, e.g., little black ants and thief ants) to as large as 13 millimetres (3/4 inch, e.g., carpenter ants). Ants are social insects that live in colonies that may include thousands of individuals.
Depending on the species, a colony is made up of one or more queens, and workers. The queens lay the eggs, while the worker ants defend the nest, care for larvae (hatched eggs) and forage for food. The workers carry food back to the nest to feed the queen, larvae and pupae (developing young ants).
Most ants nest in the soil, but some will nest in wood or wall voids. They choose sites that are close to moisture and food. Nests must have a protected area for the queen and for rearing the larvae. The best way to find an ant nest is to follow a trail of ants that are carrying food back to the colony.
- Flood ant nests repeatedly with a garden hose to encourage ants to move outdoor nests further from the house
- Pour boiling water and detergent down the nest to temporarily reduce the population of a colony
- Diatomaceous earth can be placed in the cracks and crevices as a non-chemical means of control (this powder is composed of microscopic fossils that scratch the outer ‘skin’ of ants, causing the ants to dehydrate and die)
Foraging ants gather food and bring it back to the nest to feed to colony members. A bait system,
therefore, does not try to kill foraging ants quickly. It must work slowly enough so that the poison can be fed to all members of the nest.
Prepare sweet baits using 1 part of Borax and 19 parts icing sugar. Add enough water to make a thick slurry and deposit it anywhere you see the ants. Borax can also be mixed with grease to bait the ants. It is important not to add too much Borax, as a high concentration will kill the worker ant before it can get to the queen.
- Place bait stations directly in the path of foraging ants, but out of the reach of children and pets
- Be generous! use plenty of bait stations
- Use of two different baits at the same time may give better results
- Repeated bait applications may be needed – keep baits available for at least two weeks
- Do not use chemical sprays to kill visible ants while using a bait system or the bait system will not work!