Recently, I was sent to Atlantic Highlands, NJ, right on the Jersey Shore, to deal with an ant infestation. Based on my feedback from homeowners, ants rank up there as one of the most annoying pests. We tend to ignore them when they are doing their thing outside, but once they find their way inside our homes, it’s a whole other story. A big problem with ant infestations is their sheer numbers. Once an ant trail is established going into your home, it’s like a busy highway. Once inside, since they are looking for food sources, they usually make their way into the kitchen where they contaminate food, easily crawling all over … even inside dishwashers! As this Atlantic Highlands homeowner found out, Ants can also stink — literally stink. He had an odorous house ant infestation. These particular ants will emit a foul rotten coconut odor when squashed or stepped on.
Like most ants, odorous house ants are especially drawn to sweets, although any type of food is welcome. Ants have a keen sense of smell and sugars are a quick, easily digestible energy source for them. For ants, sticky sugary solutions are a magnet. Items like soda (sugar water), juices, popsicles, jams and jellies, and melted candy and ice cream will all attract ants from far and wide.
Ants, because of their size, have a knack for exploiting the smallest gaps or cracks around your home’s foundation. They will ride on the coattails of other ants, termites, or other insects that have left a network of tunnels in your home. It’s almost impossible to keep them out if they are determined to get in. Often, you’ll see ant infestations inside homes based on weather conditions. Ants will try to escape the outdoor elements and if there is drop in temperatures, heavy rains, or very dry conditions, ants will often make their way into homes. For ants, too much or too little moisture is deadly.
I treated this infestation both inside and around the home’s exterior perimeter. For homeowners, much can be done preventatively to avoid these types of infestations. For example, trees, shrubs, and mulch should not directly abut the home. Likewise, lawn debris, firewood and other lumber, and piles of bricks should be kept away from the home and completely cleared out where possible, Inside, it is important to keep food tightly covered and stored in sealed plastic containers. It’s quite easy for ants to crawl their way into cereal boxes and similar containers that do not fully seal. Counters and surfaces should be wiped cleaned every time after using them. Dirty dishes should never be left for too long in the sink. For ants, even the tiniest crumbs that aren’t noticeable to us are a feast for them. You can go a long way preventing ant infestations by removing food attractants in your home.