The first sign seems innocent enough-a single minuscule insect traveling across the windowsill or counter top. But as many homeowners can attest, that solitary ant can soon morph into an army of hundreds, or even thousands.

Since avoiding an ant infestation is always preferable, learning as much as possible about the habitat ants prefer as well as their feeding habits, can be an excellent first step in preventing an ant invasion in your home.

Know The Enemy

Although there are more than 12,000 known species of ants on earth, Californians can take some comfort in knowing that only about 270 species are found in their state. Even more comforting for homeowners is the fact that of that 270, there are only about a dozen species that routinely invade residential homes and other structures.  

Of the twelve house-invading species, the five most commonly found to be a problem in the California area include: 

  • the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile)
  • the Pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis)
  • the odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile)
  • the thief ant (Solenopsis molesta)
  • the southern fire ant (S. xyloni)

Homeowners should also be aware of the dangers that another species can pose. While the carpenter ant (Camponotus) doesn't commonly invade homes, the ants' ability to damage the structure a building should be taken seriously. Carpenter ants seek suitable sources of wood for the purpose of building their nests. Although these ants do not actually consume the wood, they can do serious structural damage to wood supports, timbers and beams as they hollow out the wood to make room for their nests. 

Roll Out The Unwelcome Mat

Nearly every species of ant is simply seeking a plentiful source of suitable food and water. Unfortunately, because of their diminutive size, access to even a small, but steady supply of food, such as crumbs, fruit, grease or pet food is often enough to attract their attention and entice them to move into a home.

In addition to food sources, ants also require moisture, which is why they are often first observed near the kitchen sink. Other conditions that can encourage ants to invade a home include severe weather conditions, such as flooding, droughts, or extended periods of excessively hot temperatures. 

Since ants invade homes where conditions are favorable for them, homeowners who want to avoid an ant infestation can take steps to make their homes unwelcoming and less accessible to them. Some excellent ways to do this include: 

  • removing all possible food sources by keeping foods tightly sealed and keeping surfaces clear of crumbs and food residues
  • fixing leaky faucets or pipes that provide an ant-friendly water source
  • using caulk, foam insulation or other materials to seal all possible entry points into the home including pipes and vents and cracks and crevices
  • promptly removing ripe, dropped fruit from underneath trees that are located close to the home

In addition to removing potential sources of food and water and sealing potential access points, homeowners should also learn to recognize the types of ants that are most likely to invade their home and inspect regularly for their presence. Because ants routinely scout for new territories before actually invading, homeowners should be watchful for even a few ants that seem to be wandering aimlessly near the exterior surface of their home. 

Know When To Call For Special Forces

Homeowners who want to avoid the possibility of a future ant invasion or those who are already dealing with an ant problem can get lasting relief by contacting 49er Termite & Pest Control. Serving the greater Sacramento County area since 1989, their pest control professionals are equipped with the knowledge and tools to successfully remove ant infestations and keep them from coming back.