What Does Sherlock Holmes and Pest Control Have in Common?
Sherlock Holmes was a master detective and the literary creation of Sir Arthur Conan featured in multiple stories published between 1887 and 1917. Holmes was known for his incredible skills of observation and deduction, and was able to solve mysteries that were beyond the logical conclusions of his contemporaries, including even the police at Scotland Yard.
When it came to solving a mystery, he was immensely successful because of his knowledge, skill, experience, and his unwillingness to give up. In the same manner, successful ant control requires good detective work which entails knowledge, skill, experience, and a bit of tenacity. Knowledge is the foundation of effective ant control and begins by being able to answer one very important question. Who is your suspect?
Ants: The Usual Pest Control Suspects
Some experts estimate that there are possibly 10,000 or more ant species worldwide. Ants vary widely in their nesting habits, physical capabilities and characteristics, geographical locations, food preferences, and level of difficulty in controlling. This is why it is so important to identify the ant correctly.
Is it an Odorous house ant? How about a Pavement ant? A Carpenter ant? How about the elusive Pharaoh ant? A few key clues are Odorous house ants do have an odor, Pavement ants have groovy heads, Carpenter ants do not wear tool belts but are frequently covered in sawdust, and Pharaoh ant colonies can vary in color from golden yellow to red.
Where do Ants Live?
There are multiple possible nesting sites for ants that can include under leaf litter, paving stones, garden hoses, yard decorations, concrete slabs, and asphalt driveways. They can dwell in damaged wood in door and window frames, decks, and porches.
They like wall voids, hollow posts, space behind cabinets, and masonry cracks at bricks. They live in tree stumps, live trees, shrubs, and bushes, wood piles, and under your picnic table. They can be almost anywhere. In addition to where they live, do you know how big can their colony be?
Ants: Different Sizes and in Numbers
When it comes to ants, size does matter. Individual members of common ant species in our area can be anywhere from 1/16 to ½ of an inch. Some ants are polymorphic, meaning there can be various sizes of workers all from the same nest.
Depending on a species, it could be only a few thousand to potentially several hundred thousand. In addition, some ant colonies have multiple queens and can quickly develop satellite colonies and invade your home at multiple points.
Ants communicate with one another chemically through pheromones and establish trails from their nest to food and water sites using these pheromones. Pheromone trails are specific to ant colonies and can be easily detected by worker ants sent out to forage. But, there is more to any ant colony than meets the eye because the workers you see are only a very small percentage of the colony population.
Do you have the skills to be in hot pursuit of your suspect? How about any experience? Sherlock Holmes was able to recognize clues in his surroundings that were not noticed or paid attention to by the untrained eye. He honed his skills and fine-tuned them, exercised them, and continued to grow in his ability to solve complex problems. Can you recognize the clues the ants are leaving you to be able to find their nest or foraging trails?
How to Crack the Case on your Ant Problem
Once you find the ants do you know how to apply the right ant control materials according to label directions to achieve the desired results? What type of surface are you treating? How will the material adhere to and interact with the treated surface? Will the product leave a stain? Is this the best product available? Anyone can apply an insecticide but can you solve the problem? Sherlock Holmes was a problem solver and in a similar manner Pest Control Professionals are problem solvers for your pest dilemmas. Pest Control is so much more than applying pesticides.
In fact applying products to control ants and other pests is only one facet of IPM, otherwise known as Integrated Pest Management. IPM uses pest monitoring and includes physical, mechanical, biological, cultural, and chemical programs to keep pest populations at a tolerable level. This approach is standard in the Pest Control industry and Pennsylvania licensed technicians are trained to comprehend and implement these skills.
Successful detective work and successful ant control requires a commitment to not give up. Do you know how to monitor and assess how your ant control measures are working? Will you remember to keep “on top of” your ant elimination crusade as life gets busy? Will you be tenacious enough to not give up?
In light of all of this information, should you attempt ant control yourself or contact a Pest Control Professional? The answer is “elementary my dear Watson”. Your local trained, licensed and professional pest control technician is knowledgeable, skilled, experienced, and committed to the task. Case closed.