Recently, I met a new client, a homeowner in Cranbury, NJ, who contacted Cowleys after finding herself inundated with ants crawling throughout her kitchen. As generous as she was, she had zero interest sharing her kitchen with foraging ants on a mission to find food for the queen and the rest of the colony. I can't say I blame her. Ants will crawl into anything and everything, easily getting behind making their way behind cabinet and cupboard doors, making them one of the most troublesome nuisance pests to have in your home.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a homeowner who looked exhausted and frustrated after trying to battle these ants on her own with do-it-yourself products for the last 6 weeks. This “I can’t deal with this anymore” look is something that I see often and have become very familiar with. She understood that foraging ants make their way to and from a hidden nest, but she was at a loss trying to figure out where they were coming from and how they were getting inside her home.
The first and most important part of resolving an ant infestation, or any pest infestation for that matter, is inspecting the home’s interior and exterior perimeter. The pest control technician needs to determine where the pests are congregating, what is attracting them inside the home, and how they are gaining access. I told the client that I needed to first go outside to perform my exterior inspection. She was a bit perplexed and asked, “Why are you going outside if the ants are inside my kitchen?" I explained to her that ants will travel back to the soil that is housing the nest, and they very rarely build a satellite colonies inside a structure. I wanted to determine how they were getting inside the home, and ideally, trace the ant trail back to the nest.
When I began inspecting the exterior perimeter of the home, I hit the mother load! Even after doing this for all these years, there is a feeling of great satisfaction when I catch them in the act red-handed and discover the source of the infestation. With this home, there were ants trailing all around the house. And the ant trail that I found was over 400 feet long and very populated. This was more than an ant trail — it looked like an ant super-highway! I was able to follow the trail all the way back to the nest. This “ant-production facility” was hidden in a mulch bed under a steppingstone.
I quickly sprung into action and began lightly treating the nest as well as the ant trail. The client was curious why I wasn't drowning the ants with treatment and allowing them to walk freely. She wanted to see the ants dead in their tracks. I explained that to resolve an ant infestation, we don’t want to immediately kill the foraging ants that we we see. We want to leverage the behavior of the ants so they work with us not against us. Foraging ants are programmed to travel back and forth from the nest. The most effective way to resolve an ant infestation is to use a product that will keep them alive long enough to carry the product back to the colony. The foraging ants will then share the product with others in the colony when they feed and groom each other. Simply killing the foraging ants on contact will allow the queen to continue breeding more ants, prolonging the infestation.
The following day, I contacted the homeowner for a status update and whether the treatment was effective. She told me exactly what I love to hear. She excitedly told me that she hadn’t t seen a single ant in her kitchen or anywhere else inside her home since about twelve hours after the treatment. While I was very happy to hear the news, I also let the client know that it's possible to see some isolated ant activity over the next 14 days. That’s about how long it takes for the entire ant nest to come in contact with the application. She understood the process and that the results would not be instantaneous. Just seeing the precipitous drop in the number of ants in her home so soon was more than enough for her. She was very satisfied with the results of my treatment, and I was happy to evict these pests from her kitchen so she could once again enjoy her home.