Q. I have recently noticed winged insects crawling around in the kitchen and bathroom. Do I have termites? Where did they come from? What can I do to control them before they take over?
A. During warm sunny spells during the winter, ants begin to wake up from their inactive state and forage around the house. When the ants sense weather changes, some will wake up and make their way into the house to have a peek around. Ants also are good housekeepers, so sometimes you might also see debris from the ant tunnels the ants have graciously deposited on your floor for you to clean up. When ants have wings, it means that the nest (wherever it may be) is large enough for the queen to lay eggs that turn into reproductive ants that will fly off somewhere else – mate – and establish a new colony. Thats not so great news.
Ants differ from termites in several ways. Ants have antennas that are bent or forked compared with termite antenna that is straight. The body segments of ants are distinct with pinched waists. Termites are just plump with no distinct segments. The wings of ants have fewer veins than the wings of termites.
There are many different types of ants that can infest a home. Homeowners often want try to tackle the problem themselves. But in many cases, pest control services have better weapons (and more time) to handle difficult ant problems.
Always check for moisture issues in and around the home because ants love moist areas for their nests. Dont store firewood near or in the house. Pay special attention and caulk or seal entry points for pipes and utilities.
Bait traps are a good way to treat ants in areas that are inaccessible. Bait traps usually contain boric acid placed with a variety of sweet mediums or attractants. The idea here is to have the ants visit the traps and take the material back to the nest. Terol is a liquid form of boric acid that can be placed in a pie tin or a plastic container with holes in the top. Sometimes adding a drop or two of vegetable oil can help attract ants that like grease instead of sugar. Just remember the traps need to be placed in locations where children and pets cannot reach them.
Perimeter controls around the home using products labeled for outdoor control of ants and other insects should be sprayed around the foundation of the home in April, late June and August. Also spray the trunks (up to 24 inches) of large trees on the property.
Indoors, one can use contact spray products labeled for indoor use when ants are seen. One alternative product that can be used in and around food areas is Ortho Indoor Home Defense, which contains concentrated citrus.
Residents can bring in samples of ants to be identified at the Allen County Extension office for a $2 fee. Call 481-6826 for directions, sample procedures and hours.