The Ants are Busy

It’s Winter and the thermometer is reading -4 deg C and yet at Aberkil Pest Control here in Aberdeen, we’ve had several call-outs for ants in the past week. It just goes to show that not much will get in the way of the industriousness of these very small but capable little creatures. Many people will be unaware that ants belong to the same insect order as bees and wasps (Hymenoptra to be exact) and that ants evolved from an ancestor of the modern-day wasp that continued to branch out and diversify. It is easy to identify ants as they have very recognisable elbowed antennae and segmented bodies with an extremely narrow waist (any dieting tips lads?).

Ants live in colonies that can be few in number and all the way up to colonies of millions and anything in-between. Like wasps, colonies have very defined roles for different members to carry out, such as workers or soldiers and it is only the few queens and fertile drone males that have anything to do with reproduction.

While ants are not known as a public health concern as such, the fact that they may come stomping all over your food preparation areas after stomping over goodness-knows-what outside is enough to classify their presence in our living spaces as a problem. When customers tell me they’ve got ants crawling around their kitchen worktops, my first question is always ‘Does anyone take sugar in their tea or coffee?’ There’s an obvious hint in that question as to where I’m going with this line of questioning and that is that ants are crazy about sweet things and nothing will attract them quicker than a sugary liquid spilled onto the worktop surfaces. As pest controllers, we can utilise the ants’ sweet tooth to narrow down where they are likely to be living and gaining entry to a home or office. It simply isn’t practical to try and proof a building against ants as they are just too small. The size of hole or gap that an ant can exploit is bordering on invisible to the naked eye and it would really require airtight windows and doors to fully exclude ants and that just isn’t practical.

Ants Be Gone!

Thankfully, treating an ant problem is usually pretty straightforward with a very good likelihood of success with a single treatment. If the colony site can be identified readily, a number of residual insecticides can be applied in the surrounding area and the areas where the ant presence is causing the issue. Whilst this is an acceptable treatment option, at Aberkil, we prefer to use a more targeted approach that uses much less volume of insecticide per treatment, which is obviously far preferable from an environmental and health and safety point of view.

An insecticide bait strategically placed in spots of ant activity will attract passing ants with the high sugar content. The foraging ants go back to their colony and pass some insecticide on hopefully to the colony queen. As long as she is eliminated, the colony  will soon collapse removing the problem. Excess bait outside will quickly disappear and any used indoors can be safely wiped away with some kitchen towel.

Ants don’t pose a health risk to humans but if you have them crawling all over your kitchen counter, you’ll want them gone and it’s good to know that it’s a problem with a solution. If you have a problem with ants, call a professional pest controller to ensure complete eradication.

Gordon Mackay

Aberkil Pest Control