Ants can be a major annoyance to homeowners, and no species of ant can be more annoying than the odorous house ant. A colony of odorous house ants can grow to contain many thousands of ants and has multiple queens. Many over-the-counter sprays, ant baits, and other do-it-yourself (DIY) methods are sometimes a good temporary fix, but never really eliminate the problem.

Odorous house ants behave differently than other ant species. Most ant species spread their colonies by a process called “swarming.” Swarming involves males and females being launched from the nest then flying and/or crawling to look for the perfect spot to establish a new colony.

Odorous house ants are different. Along with swarming, they look for more “elbow room” by a process that entomologists call “budding.” Budding can also be caused by the introduction of a chemical irritant (like spraying Raid or other similar products) into their physical environment. Odorous house ants will take one of the colony’s queens, along with several workers, eggs, and larvae, and simply move to another area to set up a new colony or sub-colony. Odorous house ants most often have their colonies located inside the walls and foundations of your homes, often near a water source. As a result, the house ant colony may have several sub-colonies located in several different areas in and around your structure. It is even possible that your neighbors’ ants and your ants are related, and may in fact be part of the same colony.

A common problem that may occur with a DIY option is you will almost certainly be addressing only part of the population, and could be causing the colony to “bud” and making the infestation worse. Our trained and certified pest control professionals will place baits and treat in very specific locations, using the correct baits that will best attract the ants and help to eliminate your problem. House ants are one of the most difficult insects to eliminate so we recommend a program of regular treatments.

Treatment for odorous house ants is multi-faceted. Along with interior baiting and treatment, our Quality Pro certified technicians will apply an “undetectable” insecticide to the exterior perimeter of your home, where heavy house ant traffic is often found. The ants will continue to move through the exterior application for a period of time, picking up the active ingredient on their bodies. The ants then carry the material back to the colonies on their bodies, and spread it around from ant to ant via their social behaviors, almost like a disease. Isn’t science great?!?

A single application, no matter which materials you use, will almost never eliminate a house ant colony. House ants are extremely resilient. When they sense extreme distress, they can fall into dormancy for a period. If your house ant colony has many sub colonies, they will send in reinforcements from one sub colony to another. It is even possible for your neighbors’ ants to send in troops to your home when the populations drop too low in that part of the “super colony”. This is why you can sometimes go for months without seeing ants, and then they seem to bounce right back in full force. A formidable opponent indeed, but with repeated applications elimination is possible. We may have to fight many battles to win the war against your odorous hose ants, so patience and understanding needed.

Odorous house ants are one of the pests that are covered under our Quarterly Pest Control program. If you have any questions about this service, or about other pests that are covered, we would be happy to discuss this with you!

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What is covered? Ants, spiders, stink bugs, centipedes, millipedes, fleas and ticks (indoors), silverfish, cockroaches, yellow jackets, carpenter bees, wasps, hornets, crickets, pantry pests, box elder bugs, voles, mice, and rats. Although not part of our quarterly program, we also offer services for termites, bed bugs, ticks and mosquitoes!

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