5 Tips to Keep Ants Out This Summer

Tips to keep ants out this summer in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Ants are any property owner’s worst nightmare. Not only are they simply a nuisance, they’re infamously difficult to get rid of. Infestations in the summertime spike as ants make their way indoors for food and shelter. To avoid the frustration of an ant problem this summer, there are a few things you can do to limit their access indoors. The experts at Russell’s Pest Control have years of experience controlling these pests and is here to share expert tips to keep ants out this summer.

Types of Ants in the Summer

Did you know there are more than 700 species of ants in the United States alone? For that reason, it is crucial to know which one you’re dealing with in order to properly prevent and control them. An infestation from any of these can be a major pain to deal with, making it important to know what you’re coming up against. The most common ants you will come across include:

How to Keep Summertime Ants Out

If you have had ants before, you know that they can suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere! To avoid letting ants indoors, there are 5 things you can do to make your property less attractive and accessible to them. Our tips to keep ants out this summer include:

  1. Clean your home regularly. Sweep your floors regularly to get rid of crumbs. Ants are attracted to sugary food sources and a few crumbs will keep them coming back for more.
  2. Store all food items properly. Avoid leaving food out uncovered. Keep food in airtight containers or store them safely in cupboards and fridges.
  3. Seal gaps, cracks, and entry holes. Ants can crawl through the tiniest of cracks. Inspect your property and use caulk to seal any gaps, holes, or potential entry ways.
  4. Avoid excess moisture or water. Areas with standing water or leaks will attract ants quickly. Attend to broken pipes and clean up spills quickly.
  5. Trim back trees and vegetation. Plants close to your home can encourage ants to come in. Make sure tree branches, shrubs, and bushes are trimmed away from the perimeter!

Summertime Ants in Knoxville

Pest problems are common in our area during the summer ants. The last thing you have time to deal with is an ant infestation. If you’ve done everything you can to keep ants out and still are noticing the signs of an infestation, it’s time to call the experts at Russell’s. We are committed to providing you with ant-free living all year round.

What Troubles Can Odorous House Ants Cause For You?

What Troubles Can Odorous House Ants Cause For You?

While it is true that odorous house ants are typically considered to be a nuisance pest, that does not mean that they will not cause issues for you. It simply means that they do not bite and transmit serious diseases to humans the way dangerous pests like mice, cockroaches, and mosquitoes do. And while these ants do not transmit dangerous diseases to people, that is not to say that they don’t contaminate food sources, because they certainly can.

Whenever odorous house ants enter homes they are searching to meet their three basic needs of food, water, and shelter. While they roam through your home looking for an area high in moisture to nest in such as behind the walls of the bathroom or under the floorboards beneath the leaking kitchen sink, they will also take note of any food sources. Once they are settled, they will go into your kitchen pantry, into cupboards, across counter tops, or under stoves and refrigerators to feast. As they walk through food stores and across food preparation areas, they can contaminate these with germs and chemicals that they produce and emit. These resourceful little creatures will lay down ‘trails’ to help guide other ants to sources of food such as sweets, meats, grease, dairy products, pastries, vegetables, or fruit. Thus contaminating any food they come in contact with.

The odorous house ant is tiny, about 2 – 3 ½ mm in length. They are dark brown to black and emit a disgusting odor when they are crushed that resembles the smell of rotten coconut. These ants live in large colonies sometimes numbering in the thousands. These nests are typically located in shallow soil under large rocks, logs, mulch, and other debris. Once established inside a home or other building they will nest behind walls near hot water pipes, under heaters and sinks, behind cabinets, and under floors.

Once odorous house ants have discovered your home, the only way to completely eradicate them is with professional help. DIY treatments may kill some of the ants that happen to come in contact with the materials you laid down, but they are incapable of penetrating deep into the hidden recesses of your home where the majority of these ants are nesting. You may even notice a reduction in ant traffic for a short time, but their numbers will swell again and the headache will continue.

If you live here in Tennessee, your best choice when odorous house ants invade is to contact the ant specialists here at Russell’s Pest Control. Our specialists are armed with the latest products, protocols, and technologies that are effective in eliminating odorous house ants quickly and safely.

To learn more about our ant control solutions or to learn about or effective year-round services that will keep ants and other pests from accessing your home all year long, simply give us a call today.

Ants Invading Kitchens

Ants Invading Kitchens

There is a well-known idiom in The Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms listed as “have ants in your pants.” This idiom is a convenient way of describing someone who is very excited or worked up about something and not able to keep still; someone who is excessively fidgety. That same reaction and effect could easily describe the homeowner who discovers ants in the kitchen.

Ants come in all sizes and colors and are a nuisance to homeowners and business owners. While there are certainly more dangerous and more destructive pests, you do not want ants crawling around in the kitchen helping themselves to your food. Remember, ants are marching across your kitchen floor and up the side of your cupboards or across your kitchen counters with a distinct purpose; they are foraging for food and water.

Odorous house ants are black or dark brown and are of a very small size, ranging from 1/16th to 1/8th inch in length. Their oval, segmented body is much the same of most other ant species. However, there is one very distinguishing characteristic of the odorous ant and that is the offensive smell that is emitted when they are crushed. It is much like a rotten coconut smell. The odorous ants normally build their nest outdoors but, under certain conditions, may move inside homes. Regardless of the location of the nest, these tiny ants will invade your home in search of food. They are known to move in the home in large numbers and contaminate your kitchen and food.

Unlike carpenter ants, the odorous ant is not a threat to the property or structure of the home. Neither are they a major threat for biting and stinging people. The nuisance brought about by odorous ants is their ability to invade in large numbers and work their way inside food containers, eating and contaminating contents. The trick to total eradication is that the entire nest or colony must be destroyed and not just the ants that you see.

Russell’s Pest Control has more than 40 years of experience and our employees are driven to control your ant problem. With their knowledge of pests, Russell’s technicians will know how the ants are getting in the house and from where they are coming. Our technicians will also implement a program for you that will quickly, safely, and effectively resolve your “ants in the kitchen” problem. When you contact Russell’s Pest Control about your ant issues, we will also assist you with several ant prevention tips, identify points of entry, and put exclusion measures in place to ensure that there are no more ants in your kitchen.

Ant Control And Lawn Maintenance

Yesterday while I was mowing my lawn, I had two unfortunate surprises. The first came when I stopped to breathe at one corner of the yard and found that I had my foot in an anthill that the mower had just demolished. The second came when I jumped out of that anthill and found that I had landed in the neighboring ant hill, which was also broken and covered in a sea of frantic insects. While working in this industry, one develops a degree of professional curiosity about the bugs that one encounters throughout the day. In this case, however, I found that I was not curious enough to risk an ant swarm going up my leg, and I set off mowing again at a brisk pace.

I know that I’m in danger of repeating myself too much, but this wet spring is really causing me to eye the peak pest months (which are approaching quickly) with great concern. The reality is that most pests, like ants, are extremely moisture dependent. Dry seasons are hard on them and make it difficult for them to expand their colonies. Wet seasons without too much heat provide an open invitation for a population explosion.

If, like me, you have found some ant hills in the yard, don’t panic yet. Ants belong in the yard, and you will be glad of the cleanup work that they do. They can also serve as excellent predators for other unwanted bugs, so we can appreciate their valuable place in the ecosystem of East Tennessee. But, we must accept their presence in the yard while recognizing that we would rather not share space with them in the house.

If you’re looking for a few easy tips to help you to avoid several thousand unwanted visitors, here they are. To begin with, do everything you can to avoid clutter in your lawn. Infrequently-used toys or lawn equipment can often turn into nothing more than a harborage site for many pests, including ants, mosquitoes, and rodents. This is particularly true if the item is often moist (either because it’s a water toy for your children or because it can collect rainwater). Setting up housekeeping underneath a moist object is good living for many pests, and you can greatly deter their presence simply by removing comfortable housing.

Additionally, make wise decisions about the kinds of plants you put near your house. Many ants, including the odorous house ant and the crazy ant that is gaining some notice from the press, are attracted to sweet-smelling plants that make a large supply of nectar. These ants will tend aphids that feed on sweet-smelling plants like foxgloves or roses. These flowers are beautiful, but they can attract ants to your home. If you want to have sugary plants in your garden, consider putting them in a bed out in the yard instead of right next to the house. This policy also holds true for hummingbird feeders, which always attract ants. If you want a hummingbird feeder, put it out in your yard instead of right by your window.

Finally, don’t go overboard if you decide to get some mulch this spring. Mulch is like a paradise for pests. It holds moisture well, but it’s also very warm since it’s full of decaying material. If you do get mulch, use it sparingly so that you don’t end up with enormous mounds that can be converted into ant or roach hotels. Try to avoid placing mulch directly against the house since that provides an access point for pests to get in without crossing through open ground. And, if you put mulch around your trees, do not mound the mulch up in a volcano around the trunk. If you leave a small, open ring around the tree trunk, you will save the tree from the diseases that some pests may carry to plants, and the pests will be less likely to damage the tree itself while foraging.

These are just a few tips to help you with ant control this spring and summer. Of course, a pest control prevention program is another very reliable way to make sure your home remains comfortably ant-free during these warm months. If you need to talk to a pest professional, I know where you can find one, or you can call us here at Russell’s at 865-584-8549.

Ants In The Kitchen? They’re Probably Odorous House Ants

We did some research to discover which sorts of bugs our pest control customers in Knoxville, Sevier County, Blount County, and other surrounding areas encounter most often. One of the top three problem pests was a critter that we haven’t covered yet on our blog. We apologize for the delay and would now like to give you an introduction to the odorous house ant, a bug that causes a great deal of trouble for East Tennessee homeowners.

The odorous house ant gets its strange name from the unpleasant smell that it gives off when you crush it. The scent is usually described as a rotten citrusy smell; imagine something that’s somewhat sickly sweet. Another common name for these ants is sugar ants (due to their tendency to forage for sweet foods). Growing up, we just called them “little back ants.” There are a lot of little black ants in the world, but these are the ones that are most likely to cause trouble in your house.

The problem with odorous house ants is that their colonies can contain thousands of workers (actually, 10,000 is not an uncommon population), and they can spawn multiple colonies in the same area. Each of these sister colonies has its own queen; in fact, unlike some ant species, odorous house ants have no problem with maintaining multiple queens per colony. Since only the queens lay eggs, having several queens at a time can result in major population explosions.

Odorous house ants build shallow nests under almost any sort of debris that they may find around your house. You may frequently recognize them by the orderly lines that they make while foraging. You are particularly likely to see these trails leading to a sweet food source, including starchy pet foods, sticky garbage cans, and sweet-smelling house plants. Like all bugs, ants’ foraging cycles are dependent on moisture. You may be more likely to find them in your house after or during major weather events like soaking rains (when they are avoiding floods) or lingering droughts (when they are seeking water in your house).

If you want to try to control odorous house ants on your own, you need to consider what ants need to survive. The key factors that every insect pursues are shelter, food, and water. Begin your ant control by removing any debris that could be harboring a colony. Move wood piles away from the house, and rake leaf litter and branch debris away from the walls. Also, bear in mind that ants are expert climbers and can easily enter your home from above by using an overhanging branch to reach your roof.

As I mentioned, these ants are very methodical. It’s possible that you’ll be able to follow one of their foraging lines back to the nest. In that case, use an over-the-counter pesticide labeled for exterior use to treat the nest itself. Don’t forget, though, that it’s quite possible more than one nest is in place around your home. Keep your eyes peeled for other ant trails even if you’ve successfully treated one or more nests.

However, it is possible that you cannot follow the ants’ trail because it is not immediately evident. We’ve heard of these ants coming right out of electrical outlets or underneath baseboards, which makes it hard to track them. In such cases, use soapy water to wipe down the areas where you find them. This will remove any sweet spills that may be attracting them and will help to eliminate the pheromone trails (basically, scent trails) that they are leaving behind for other ants to follow. Once the area is very clean, rely on ant baits to try to eliminate the hidden colony. Hopefully, if their original food source is removed, they will take the bait back to the waiting colony members and handle all of the ant extermination themselves.

Of course, Russell’s Pest Control knows that ant removal can be very tricky. If you don’t want to tackle the little black horde on your own, feel free to give us a call or visit our contact page. Ants are one of our specialties, and we’d be glad to handle the issue so you don’t have to spend time on it.