This past April, homeowners in New Jersey have seen an exceptionally active month for ant infestations. During the winter, ants enter a state of slowed metabolism, called diapause, and produce glycerol, an alcohol that works much like antifreeze, inside their bodies that prevents them from freezing. As temperatures warm, ants begin to come out of their winter slumber, and after their long period of downtime, they are on a serious mission to find food and water. Unfortunately, their expert foraging often leads them straight into our homes!
Recently, I went out on a service call in Ocean Grove, NJ, for a homeowner who was complaining of ants invading her dining room and kitchen. Upon arrival, I started with an inspection of her kitchen, I immediately found a trail of ants along her baseboard. I identified the ants as pavement ants, one of the more common nuisance ants that infest our homes. Pavement ants are light brown to black, with appendages lighter than the rest of their body. These ants will sting, but only if provoked; otherwise, they’re quite docile and want nothing to do with us. A pavement ant colony includes multiple reproductive queens and a vast number of workers. A mature colony can contain over 10,000 workers! A queen establishes a new colony of pavement ants by laying eggs. Pavement worker ants then tend the queen’s brood until they develop into adults. During their development, broods are transferred from location to location to protect them from fluctuations in moisture and temperature.
After identifying the type of ants and their inside trail, I began my inspection of the exterior perimeter of the home to locate their entry point. I started with the exterior portion of the home where I had seen the ants on the inside. Sure enough, I found a continuation of the ant trail that was going up underneath the lip of the siding from a nearby mulch bed! Mulch is a major attractant for insects, including termites, and it should not be placed too close to the home. I did some additional detective work and continued to follow their pheromone trail. I discovered that the ants were coming from a tree in front of the home over 100 feet away! Considering their size, only about 3 mm, it’s an amazing distance to travel. Say what you want about pesky ants, but these little pests are determined and focused.
I treated this infestation with a liquid non-repellent application to the ant trail as well as to the tree from which they were emerging. When worker ants forage for food, they'll lay down a pheromone trail to find their way back to the colony. Once ants find a food source, they will lay down an even stronger pheromone scent for other ants to follow. When an ant comes into contact with this application, they will transport it back to their colony and share it with the others, including the queens. Within a short period of time, the entire colony is eliminated, and the ants in your home are no more! You cannot resolve an ant infestation by just killing the expendable workers. You need a professional use application that will reach their nest and, most importantly, the queens.
I treated the entire exterior perimeter of the home, especially underneath the lip of all the siding. Indoors, I applied a liquid gel along the baseboard, cracks, and crevices in the kitchen and dining room. The homeowner was very pleased with our servicing of her home, and gave me, what I consider to be, the best customer compliment of all. She said that she would not hesitate to recommend us to her friends and family for resolving the most troublesome pest infestations.