Ant control is a common pest control problem across the country. While there are many different types of ants that find their way into our homes, including pavement ants, carpenter ants, odorous house ants, thief ants, fire ants, and pharaoh ants, just to name a few, for the most part the strategies for dealing with them are all the same.
Get Them Where It Counts
Far and away the biggest mistake homeowners make when facing ant infestation is to kill the ants they can see as quickly as possible and hope they’ve solved the problem. Whether you’re using an insecticide spray or your shoe, however, you’re missing the boat if this is your preferred course of action. While it may seem like there’s a lot of ants marching across your kitchen floor, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s anywhere from several hundred to several thousand more in a nest nearby. And that includes at least one egg-laying queen who is doing her best to increase those numbers by the day. Spraying the ten or twenty making their way to the pantry might make you feel productive, but what you really need to do is find a way to get rid of that nest.
A Solution to the Problem: Ant Baits
Perhaps the best solution for indoor ant control is to set out ant baits throughout your home. Ants are drawn to the “food” inside the baits (which is really poison) and then will take it back to the nest to share it with others. It’s really the only way to attack the nest where your ant problem is originating. When laying your bait try to do so next to scent trails (invisible trails that ants follow to get to a specific place. It’s why they all walk together in such perfect lines). You’ll get more traffic by doing so and the ants in house will come across the bait faster. Also, never spray ants that are gathering around the bait. Remember, the goal is that they take the poison back to the next. Don’t kill them before they get the chance. Finally, be sure to place bait traps out of reach of pets and children, since they are toxic and harmful if played with or swallowed.
Some ant control issues aren’t solved indoors. There are ants that next outdoors and travel in to find food and water. And there are ants, such as fire ants, that generally stay outdoors, but present a nuisance or danger for homeowners. In the case of these types of ants, find the nest or anthill, then douse it with a liquid insecticide. Don’t skimp here. There more you apply and the deeper the treatment penetrates into the mound, the better your results will be. To prevent outdoor ants from becoming ants in house, you can also apply an insecticide/repellent around the outside edge of your home. Spray a 2-3 foot strip of insecticide at the base of your home, as well as a 2-3 foot strip on the ground around it. This should help repel ants looking for a way inside.
Remember, most outdoor ants are actually very beneficial to your yard and plants. They clean up plant debris, dead bugs, and often help control other insect pests. Don’t eradicate them unless you’ve got good reason to. Finally, keep in mind that certain species of ants, including carpenter and odorous ants, can be a very difficult ant problem to eradicate (and in the case of carpenter ants, can result in structural damage if your extermination isn’t successful). If you’ve got a persistent ant problem that won’t go away, it’s probably a good idea to bring in a pest control professional. They have access to ant control techniques and products that aren’t available to the general public.
Of all the critters that may haunt your home, termites are the most troublesome. In fact, termites cause more damage to homes each year than all other natural disasters combined. Termites live underground in a network of tunnels in the soil. They feed on wood and wood-derived products, making termite damage expensive for homeowners.
Detecting Termite Control Problems
Termites usually appear in spring. Generally, the first sign of infestation is the appearance of winged termites, known as “swarmers.” These are small critters that act as scouts for the rest of the colony. They look like winged ants, but will shed their wings when they mate—it is often the appearance of these lost wings that alerts homeowners to a problem. Swarmers are attracted to light, so they often appear around doors, windows, and light fixtures.
Another sign of termite damage is the appearance of foraging tubes along foundation walls and subfloors. These pencil-wide tubes made of dried mud are used as shelter by the termites as they move from their underground colonies to their source of food, your house. The termites then tunnel into the wood along the grain, leaving dried mud or soil caked on the walls of the tunnel.
There is often no sign of the mature termites, which resemble small, white ants. Because they hide behind drywall or paneling and under floors, they will often go undetected for years. For this reason, confirming a termite control problem often requires an experienced termite inspector.
Treating Your Termite Control Problem
Although there are a few do-it-yourself termite control products on the market, getting rid of termite problems is often a long, complicated process. It requires knowledge of your house’s construction and an understanding of where the termites will most likely enter. Termite control also requires some costly, specialized equipment and large amounts of chemicals that most people are not willing to invest in. Add to that the importance of the investment you have in your home, and it’s clear that this is a job best left to the pros.
Choosing a Termite Control Company
The first consideration when choosing a termite control professional is licensing. Be sure your contractor is a member of the National Pest Control Association, and is licensed by your state’s Department of Agriculture. These things suggest that a company is well-established and has the technical training that the job requires.
Prices of termite control services will vary according to the extent of your termite problem, the techniques and chemicals used, and any warranty or follow-up services provided. Get inspections and estimates from several contractors in order to be sure you are getting both thorough treatment and a fair price. Take your time on this—termites work slowly. And watch out for companies that try to pressure you into signing on immediately.
Treatment techniques include rodding and soil trenching, drilling of slabs and foundations, as well as the use of baits. Companies will use combinations of these treatments, depending on the type and extent of your termite problem. If problems persist after treatment, and they sometimes do, your company should be willing to do follow-up work at no additional charge. If done correctly, termite control will usually last at least five years.
Remember that these little guys can do big damage, so don’t treat termite problems lightly.
While cockroach infestations are generally despised by everyone, some homeowners want to avoid the use of dangerous insecticides and poisons while attempting to rid themselves of the problem. Small children, pets, and even some adults can be adversely affected by harsh chemical agents, making the search for natural roach control a common endeavor. If you’re looking for a natural roach control alternative to the traditional fare, here’s a list of proven alternative strategies to help rid yourself of unwanted six legged guests.
Bring in a Hired Gun
Natural roach control is more often than not a case of thinking outside the box. And when it comes to members of the natural world, why not fight fire with fire? Purchase a gecko or two and give them free reign of your home while your infestation persists. They are natural predators of cockroaches of all varieties and will tirelessly hunt down and eventually eradicate your problem. At first you won’t even know they are there, but when food sources become scarce, you’ll notice your gecko making more frequent appearances out in the open. Some people swear by this method. Although you should go into it knowing you’re not only investing in organic roach control, you’re acquiring a pet, or two, as well. Once the geckos have cleaned your house of the problem, you’ll need to put them up in an aquarium or other suitable enclosure and make sure their needs are being met, including cleaning their tank and providing daily feedings.
Lizards a No Go?
Of course, not everybody is comfortable bringing free ranging reptiles into their home. Luckily there are a number of other natural cockroach control solutions out there to try if you’ve got cockroaches in house. Here’s a few of the more common ones.
- Set Out a Mixture of Baking Soda and Sugar. Cockroaches have a very high acid content in their stomachs. When they ingest the sugar, and the baking soda along with it, the subsequent reaction between the soda and their natural make-up results in death.
- Mix Up a Non-Toxic Bait. Also taking advantage of the adverse effects of baking soda, mix up a dough made of baking soda, bacon grease, minced onions, sugar and flour. The bait is easier to distribute and cleaner than the above mentioned strategy, with the same deadly results.
- Try Boric Acid. Boric acid isn’t non-toxic, but it isn’t as volatile as most insecticides, either. You can purchase it as a powder that you sprinkle in areas where you suspect roaches are congregating. It’s not exactly organic roach control, but your roaches in house will get the boric acid on their exoskeletons through contact, after which the acid eats away at them until they die. You can also make Boric Acid-based bait, similar to the baking soda bait listed above, though be sure to keep pets and children away from any area where boric acid is used.
A Few Other Ideas
Besides the above mentioned natural roach control methods, other things you might try include spreading diatomacious earth, using epsom salts as poisonous bait, and placing bay leaves in cupboards, pantries and other areas as a repellent. Finally, keep in mind that none of these organic roach control remedies will work if you don’t take other important steps of cleaning your house and putting food and sources of water out of reach. Also, don’t forget that cockroaches are nature’s ultimate survivors. Even the use of high potency chemicals can come up short, let alone home remedies. If you’ve got a roach infestation that won’t go away, track down a pest control company that specializes in organic roach control practices to come in and take care of the problem for you.