Ants are one of the few bugs that most people seem to be able to, for the most part, live with peacefully. Even if someone hates ants, they are not likely to panic when one or two are encountered.
Why Aren’t Ants as Vilified as Other Bugs?
There are several theories about this, though there isn’t any real scientific research to back it up. Some think that growing up seeing parents just swat at or sigh over ants as opposed to shrieking and running away from spiders taught us that they aren’t that big a deal.
But Ants Aren’t Really Harmless Are They?
Most ants are fairly aggressive and are more likely to bite a handler than a spider is. Some species of ants are incredibly destructive and need to be “taken care of” as soon as they are discovered.
Which Ants Should I Worry About?
In North America, there are several species of ants that should merit at least a modicum of concern. For example, if you live in the gulf regions of Florida and Texas (and, to a lesser extent, the other states that border the Gulf of Mexico) you definitely want to worry about Crazy Ants. Crazy Ants are ants that swarm by the millions and can do tons of damage to electrical systems.
Carpenter Ants are perhaps the most common and one of the most destructive species of ants that you’ll find in your home. These ants burr into wood and create intricate living structures. Keep in mind that they don’t eat the wood. They eat other dead bugs and decaying materials so, in that respect, they can actually be fairly helpful. The amount of damage they cause by building their homes in your home, though—that’s enough of a reason to want them out.
Fire Ants (sometimes called Red Ants) are found all over North America. While fire ants prefer to live outdoors and away from humans, they can still do quite a lot of damage during an encounter. Their bites and stings can make the victim feel like he or she is on fire.
There are, of course, other types of ants that are problematic and pose threats to you and your home, but these are the most prevalent and likely encountered.
What Should I Do If I Find a “Bad Ant?”
First of all, if you encounter an ant that is known for being “one of the bad ones”, don’t panic. Trap it under a glass so that you can get close to it and figure out what kind of ant you’re dealing with. The type of ant you have in your home will dictate a lot of your next actions.
Next, try to find the source of the ant. Is this ant merely a scout or is it part of a line or a swarm? Do a close inspection of your house, starting with the area in which the ant was found.
How to Get Rid of Ants When You Find Them
There are all sorts of natural and “DIY” methods that you can use to discourage or eradicate the ant population that has invaded your home. These are just a couple of them.
Use Powder: you don’t have to use toxic powder—anything powdery (like nutmeg, baby powder, etc) will work fine because it will suffocate the ants as they try to walk over or through it.
Diatomaceous Earth: it’s the stuff you see used often in fish tanks—it’s actually the fossilized remains of diatoms and is incredibly sharp. As the ants try to walk over or through it, it cuts into them causing them to dehydrate and die.
When to Call a Pro
At some point—if you are part of the population that is afraid of ants or if natural eradication methods have failed, you should call a professional pest control expert. If the population is incredibly large or you find an extensive nest, you’ll want to call a professional. If the ants are crazy ants, it’s time for a professional.
Basically, you’ll want to hire a pro to help you with anything that isn’t “just a few here and there.”