There are billions and billions more ants than humans in the world, and they play an important role in our environment. Necessary or not, they’re decisively unwelcome when the environment in question includes your home.
Far less than a billion ants qualify as a nuisance and, in Seattle and throughout the Pacific Northwest, the warmth of spring “may cause ant populations to be even higher than previous years, as they seek out water and food indoors,” according to Pest World’s recent bug barometer.
To prevent ants from invading your house, experts recommend Integrated Pest Management, “an environmentally friendly, common sense approach to controlling pests,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Implement IPM in your own home with these four steps.
Step 1: Identify
Monitoring the creatures in and around your home will help you create a management plan.
“Monitoring means checking your field, landscape, forest, or building — or other site — to identify which pests are present, how many there are, or what damage they've caused,” according to University of California's IPM program.
In Seattle, the most common ants include Argentine ants, odorous house ants, pavement ants and pharaoh ants. Local pest control company Paratex offers detailed information about these insects to help residents recognize them.
Step 2: Set thresholds
Determine the effect the ants have on you and the area they occupy. If you decide they are a nuisance, a health hazard or an economic threat — for example, they are destroying a structure in your yard or hollowing out an area in your wall — use that information to set the scope of your plan.
“Once a pest has reached the economic threshold, or intolerable level, action should be taken,” according to extension.org.
Step 3: Prevent
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so do what you can to prevent ants from invading your home in the first place. The National Pest Management Association recommends these preventive measures:
- Seal cracks and crevices around foundations that allow entry from the outside as well as cracks and crevices inside the home.
- Store sugar, syrup, honey and other sweets in closed containers and wipe the outside of the containers to eliminate sticky residue.
- Dispose of trash regularly to prevent ants from becoming a problem indoors.
- Thoroughly clean up grease and spills.
- Inspect potted plants inside the home for signs of nesting and remove the plants at the first sign of an infestation.
- Rinse out empty soft drink containers and store them away from the home while waiting to recycle them.
- Reduce moisture in and around structures that may be attractive to ants by repairing leaking hose bibbs and other supply lines, downspouts, drain lines and air-conditioner condensate lines.
Step 4: Control
When prevention methods are not enough to keep ants below the action threshold you set in step two, it is time to control with pest trapping, heat/cold treatment, physical removal and, finally, pesticide application, according to the EPA.
“These pests do not lend themselves to a ‘one-time treatment,” Paratex warns. “There are no chemical applications that can be made that are safe for you and the environment and that are effective in eliminating and preventing the recurrence of these pests. There is a high probability that when these pests are present they will infest again.”
Instead, you need to implement a long-term plan and use any chemicals on a schedule, as opposed to haphazardly spraying them whenever an ant appears.
Your Integrated Pest Management plan will not only help control pests and keep you and your family safe from unnecessary chemicals, it is also a less expensive option than old fashioned pest control.
“Costs are generally lower over time because the underlying cause of the pest problem has been addressed,” the EPA says. “IPM practices also provide financial benefits unrelated to pests. For example, weatherization of buildings not only excludes pests but also saves energy and reduces moisture problems.”
Have unwanted visitors already breached your defenses? Contact the professionals at Paratex for help. They’ll answer to your questions and can help create an Integrated Pest Management plan for your property. Paratex also help homeowners and businesses with bird control, insect infestations, wood-destroying bugs and other pest problems. Learn more and request a quote at http://paratex.com. Responses are speedy and prices are fair.