A homeowner in Beachwood contacted Cowleys after he was overwhelmed with ants. This particular job highlights the ineffectiveness of DIY pest control attempts, and how homeowners often inadvertently make the problem worse. This particular job was also a lesson one of the Internet’s biggest issues: the spread of incorrect information. Anyone can pretty much post anything on the Internet. There is absolutely no filtering or quality control of the information, and there is no shortage of bad Internet advice. When it comes to getting rid of pesky insects, old-wives’ tales are circulated on the Internet as thick and as fast as the insects themselves. Always ask yourself who is posting the information and what are their credentials? Don’t take medical advice from someone with no medical training, and don’t take pest control advice from someone who is not an entomologist or a licensed pest control technician.
So what sage Internet advice did this Beachwood homeowner find? According to some “mother earth” websites that tout natural DIY home pest control techniques, homeowners should sprinkle cornmeal as a way to kill ants. The underlying “theory” is that when the ants eat dry cornmeal (other DIY experts suggest grits!), the food will expand inside their bodies, causing them to explode! Other DIY pest control sites on the Internet suggest that the ants will die from eating cornmeal because their body can’t process it, so they’ll slowly starve to death.
Not surprisingly, this “death by cornmeal” technique for killing ants is pure bunk. The worker ants, the foraging ants that actually find food to share with the colony, will gather up the crumbs and happily march themselves back to the nest to share with the colony. All this Beachwood homeowner accomplished by sprinkling large piles of cornmeal around the perimeter of his home was giving the ants plenty of more food to grow and prosper. By doing so, he turned a minor ant infestation into a major one. No doubt, every ant in the neighborhood got wind of this homeowner’s generosity!
Once I arrived, I told the customer, in the nicest way possible, that he should immediately clean up all of the cornmeal that he sprinkled all over his property because all he did was provide the ants some tasty bait to attract them to his property without any accompanying active ingredient to kill them. I properly treated the infestation with a proven, effective residual products and material. With social insects like ants, it is critical to kill the colony and the queens. It is ineffective to just kill isolated foraging ants. With ant colonies, foraging ants are expendable. There are always hundreds, if not thousands, more where they came from. As such, to effectively resolve an ant infestation you need to use slow-acting applications that the workers carry back to share with the rest of the colony. The goal is to kill the queen and the entire colony.
The customer was very happy with the thoroughness of the treatment that I performed during my initial visit. He also learned a valuable lesson about what information you happen to “google” on the Internet! I’m confident that once these professional applications have a chance to spread throughout the colony, the ant infestation will soon be history. Finally, before leaving, I set up a two-week follow-up appointment. I use these follow-up visits to reinspect and assess the effectiveness of the treatment. If necessary, I’ll re-treat certain areas to make sure that the pest infestation is gone for good.