Ants are nuisance pests. They are extremely active inside homes in the spring, although they can be problems inside during the summer, fall, and winter, as well.
It’s sometimes impossible to tell if the ants are merely coming in from the outside to forage for food and water, or if the nest is actually located inside the house. If you see winged ants (reproductives), have ants inside during the winter or see frass (sawdust), then the nest is definitely inside the house. Also, if you have an ant problem in the spring, that increases the probability that the nest is inside the house.
Control vs. Elimination
You can try to treat the ants yourself by simply spraying any brand of ant and roach spray on the areas where you see ants (Do NOT spray on food preparation surfaces, such as kitchen countertops). This could give you “control” of the ants. Control means that you won’t kill the colony, but you”ll stop seeing them for a while. If you don’t want to do this yourself, or, get tired of doing it, you can call a professional pest control company.
If you hire a pest control company, you will be able to control the situation. Ant colonies cannot be eliminated on a single application. If you want the ant colony eliminated, you can hire a pest control company on a contract basis for regularly scheduled treatments.
There are two methods used to eliminate ants:
1. Search and destroy: Search and destroy means that you find the nest and apply a direct treatment to it. That will work every time, IF you can find the nest, which is almost impossible. Nests are most often discovered during remodeling. Trying to find the nest by blindly drilling every possible void and injecting insecticide is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Even if you were to find a nest, there might be more, as multiple nests are common.
2. Attrition: A plan is developed to create a situation where the death rate is higher than the birth rate. Then you maintain that situation until the colony is eliminated, generally in about a year with quarterly service treatments. Thoroughness is the key.
As ants usually walk along edges, baseboards (inside) and the bottom of the foundation (outside), all of these areas must be treated. Treatment areas should also include the second floor, the first floor, the basement, the garage and the outside. One time treatment areas serviced during the first trip (called the “clean-out,”) may include the attic (for carpenter ants), crawl space, pipe voids and other natural void areas.
In many ant species, the reproductive form of the ant is winged. If they leave nest all at once, there could be hundreds of them. This is called a swarm.
If the reproductives are inside, they will die without any treatment whatsoever. Of course, you could spray them with any flying insect aerosol or vacuum them up to speed-up the process, but they will die anyway.
There is nothing that any pest control company can do to stop the flying ants from coming into your house. You just have to wait it out until they have all left the nest. In a worst case scenario, this could last up to three weeks. If you don’t want flying ants NEXT year, you can hire a pest control company now. Then, next year, either the nest will have been eliminated, or the population so depressed that they choose not to create reproductives, but more badly needed workers instead.
The treatment for carpenter ants differs little from the treatment of any other kind of ant.