Are ants really harmful for people or a home? The answer is a resounding yes! How severely the impact will be depends on a couple of different factors; primarily the type of ant and the severity of the infestation.
Odorous House Ants
Yes, they are accurately named. These pests stink! They produce a terrible smell when threatened or crushed. They are also notorious for getting into garbage and food sources, and therefore are very effective at spreading bacteria which can lead to several health problems for the unfortunate homeowners who unwillingly host them. These guys will literally nest anywhere!
These are those little black ants that we most commonly see in the driveway or by the back patio. The reason we see them so often is a hint as to why they are harmful. These small, seemingly innocuous creatures are known to breed into the thousands very quickly! Once an infestation occurs, they can quickly find their way into the important areas of our homes including our kitchens. There will be contamination of food preparation surfaces, and they even sometimes find their way into food packaging.
There are a myriad of theories and old remedies for getting rid of these nuisances, but unfortunately these are not effective as the majority of the ants will be unseen, nesting in the walls. Ants build their nests in walls and other enclosed spaces because they are attracted by food sources, moisture and protection.
You have probably heard about these large ants, and you are right to be concerned about them as these are the most dangerous and destructive to your home. Carpenter ants are black, similar to pavement ants, but it is very easy to tell them apart as these are much larger: about 5/8 of an inch! These wood destroying ants will literally eat at your house from the inside out, ultimately causing severe structural damage. It is important to watch for early warning signs such a single scout or two, or the presence of frass (sawdust size wood debris).
Locations of concern are the areas that are cool and damp. For example bathrooms, under sinks, by kitchen pipes and plumbing, and in crawl spaces under the home. Really any cool, moist area is a haven for these dangerous pests. Damaged or decaying wood is easy prey but they won’t stop there, and ultimately, although it will take some time, significant damage will be done to the foundation and integrity of your home.
When an area becomes infested with fire ants, it is considered a community wide emergency. These red and black ants build huge mounds on top of the ground. They are aggressive and will swarm quickly. Since their stinger is not barbed they can sting more than once, and will do so continuously. Their sting causes a painful burning, and the resulting blister can fill with puss.
Remember that fire ants can affect our pets as well. If you see your animal licking a paw or other area repeatedly and detect a fire ant sting, there will undoubtedly be others. Take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Control of fire ants can be tricky, since they nest up to 10 feet below the ground. Call us today for both preventative measure and for control of those pesky fire ants!