Ant Problems In Houston

Ant Problems In Houston

Protecting their family, pets, home, and belongings is essential for most people. When we think of keeping these things safe, we think of security systems to keep others out. While these systems help protect against people, they fail to account for other dangers. Specifically, security systems don’t defend against pests. You may not realize it, but you are more likely to have a pest problem than a human intruder. Pests are possibly living in your home right now that you may be unaware of. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong. Instead, it is due to how opportunistic most pests are. One of the most common pests that homeowners have to deal with is ants. There are hundreds of different types of ants in Texas alone.

Ants play several essential roles in the environment, including aiding decomposition, aerating soil, spreading seeds, and controlling plant-eating pest populations, to name a few. Many of the ant species you will come across tend to live in large colonies made up of thousands of individuals. In these colonies, adults have a role or jobs they perform. In some cases, there are multiple queens, and their job is to lay eggs. Female workers protect the nest and gather food, and males have the job of reproducing with the queen. The size, color, behavior, and aggressiveness vary greatly depending on the species. Some species are only a nuisance to people, while others pose dangerous threats. Although ants are essential to a healthy ecosystem, they can still become a problem, primarily when they infest the interior of a property.

You can keep your home and family protected against ants in Texas by better understanding this pest. Learn how to identify the different species and the problems they cause and how to treat a problem safely and effectively. For assistance with ant control, you can trust our team of experts at Modern Pest Control. Every one of our pest management professionals is knowledgeable, licensed, and dedicated to providing personalized strategies to each of our customer’s homes because no two properties are alike. Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM), we can ensure you receive the most modern and effective treatments. Keep reading to learn more about the ants in our area, our Houston pest control offerings, and how we can help you with any ant problem you are experiencing.

Wood Destroying Ants

Carpenter ants are the only wood-destroying ant species you have to worry about. Although they look like ants and are sometimes called "white ants," termites are a type of social cockroach. Termites swarmers, flying reproductives, are often confused for flying ants. Misidentifying these pests can have severe consequences as they require different approaches to remove them effectively. So if you mistake termites for flying ants or even carpenter ants, they can continue living on your property, causing internal damage you are unaware of. Although termites can cause more significant damage to a home, this does not mean that carpenter ants aren't dangerous and destructive. Believing that these ants aren't as much of a threat as other wood-destroying pests undermines the risks of infestation.

You might be wondering how you are supposed to tell if you have a carpenter ant or termite problem. The truth is, this can be challenging to do unless you are a trained professional, especially if you are dealing with subterranean termites, which prefer moist and decaying wood, like carpenter ants. However, as a responsible homeowner, you should know that the best way to identify the wood-destroying pests on your property is by looking at the damage they have caused. A significant difference between these two wood-destroying pests is that termites consume the wood while carpenter ants only tunnel through it to create nests. Because of this, termite damage appears messy and disorganized, with carpenter ant damage being clean and smooth. 

Carpenter ants are often called "big black ants due to their size and color, ranging between ¼ to ½ of an inch in length. Compared to termites' light brown or cream color, they are black or dark brown. These ants also have a jointed antenna, two wing sets of different lengths, and a cinched waist similar to wasps. On the other hand, termites have complete opposite characteristics: a straight antenna, two wing sets of equal length, and an undefined waist. If you have a carpenter ant infestation on your property, you will likely hear rustling noises from inside walls and see shed wings that carpenter ants drop. You may also see large winged ants on the walls, ceilings, and coming out of cracks. Don't wait to get assistance if you notice any of these signs. This species is complicated to treat, and the longer they are left untreated, the more damage they can cause.

Nuisance Ants

Many of the common ant species in our area are considered nuisance ants. This means they are not aggressive or dangerous to people. However, these types of ants are still incredibly annoying to deal with, infesting in large numbers and even contaminating food as they scavenge. These ants can be challenging to remove because of how ants communicate. If they find a food source, they leave a scent trail that leads other workers to the food, which is why if you see one or a handful of ants, there are likely many more trailing behind. Another way ants use scent is by detecting and following chemicals produced by dead colony members. So if you have ever heard that killing ants will only bring more, you heard right. But this doesn’t mean you need to live with these unwanted roommates! Understanding common nuisance species can help your get rid of them effectively.

One of the common home-invading nuisance species in Houston is the rover ant. They are most active spring to summer and are attracted to moisture. Interestingly, this species is not native to our state and is from South America. Because they are still relatively new to the area, it is unclear what effect they will have on native species compared to other invasive ants. They are small, growing between 1/12 to 1/16 of an inch long and yellow to blackish-brown. One notable feature of this ant’s appearance is their eyes, which are large compared to their head size. Like other species, rover ants will infest in large numbers and are challenging to get rid of.

Other nuisance ant species in the Houston area are:

  • Little black ants are about 1/16 of an inch long, usually jet-black, but can be dark brown to black, and are most active during the summer. This species is not known to bite or spread diseases. But they are known for how big their colonies can grow, quickly multiplying by the thousands.

  • Ghost ants are tiny at 1/16 of an inch or smaller. Their name comes from their size and pale color, making them hard to see. Although this species isn’t directly harmful to colonies can have multiple queens. Because of this, ghost ants affect native species and other environmental factors such as fauna. They 

  • Odorous house ants are about 1/8 of an inch long and are brownish-black. This species gets their name from the foul smell they produce when crushed. While this smell is unpleasant, it is not dangerous to people.

While nuisance ants aren’t dangerous, they are still not welcome in any home and should be dealt with immediately.

Some Ants Like Electronics

As weird as it may sound, some ants are attracted to electronics. It’s not entirely understood why this is. Their attraction may have something to do with electrical fields and the warmth this equipment provides but is also likely due to the chemical they release. A few ants may be out foraging and randomly come across something electric that shocks them. Remember how we mentioned that ants release chemicals that alert the rest of the colony of a threat if they are crushed? The same thing applies here. So one or a few ants wander into an electronic, get shocked, and release these chemicals, drawing in many more members of their colony, which subsequently die and release chemicals continuing the process. Two species, in particular, are known for their attraction to electronics, tawny crazy ants, also known as raspberry crazy ants, and red imported fire ants. 

Tawny crazy ants are an invasive species from South America. They are small, about 1/10 of an inch long, and reddish-brown. This species gets its name from the way it moves. Many of the ant species we see travel in straight lines, but these ants move in a zig-zag pattern that is quick and erratic. While this species was only found in the United States in the early 2000s, they have quickly spread throughout the Gulf Coast. Their colonies have multiple queens, and infestations happen in large numbers. This species isn’t dangerous to people, but they are a nuisance that can damage electronics.

Fire ants are another invasive species from South America that are attracted to electronics. They are dark red and can grow to 3/8 of an inch. Accidentally introduced to other countries, fire ants are extremely invasive and aggressive. They not only displace native species but also damage crops and cost billions of dollars worth of agricultural devastation. When we say fire ants are aggressive, we mean it. If threatened, this species will swarm. A threat can be as simple as a person or animal stepping too close. They can also sting multiple times, using their mouths to might and hold on as they do. An attack from fire ants can be life-threatening, especially to those allergic to their venom. What makes this species even worse is that they create large mounds with no visible entrances but tunnels extending several feet away. This makes it difficult to control and eliminate a fire ant infestation.

How To Deal With Ants In Your Home

People often turn to store-bought products such as baits and sprays to remove active ant infestations. These products can be costly and ineffective. Because of the chemicals ants release when they perceive a threat, these products can worsen an infestation, which is the last thing you want to do. Plus, some species are problematic, like fire ants, which are dangerous and should not be handled if you aren’t trained.

For effective ant control, contact us at Modern Pest Control. We offer ant control solutions that are customizable to meet your needs. Many species we have discussed require specific methods to remove them and keep them from returning.

Our five-step process for effective ant removal includes:

  1. A thorough inspection of your entire property, even if you only see ants in one area. During this inspection, we will look for other infested areas, determine where the colony is located, identify entry points, and diagnose other conducive conditions.

  2. Cultural, mechanical, and physical control means we will look at your property and the surrounding environment to identify what can be changed to make your home less attractive to ants.

  3. After our assessment, we will customize a plan with specific products and use them.

  4. A licensed pest control technician implements all ant control treatments for the interior and exterior of your property. 

  5. Communication and follow-up are key to successful pest control. We pride ourselves on our excellent communication with our clients. If you still see ants after our services, give us a call!

Don’t waste your time or money trying to use ant control solutions on your own. Let our pest management professionals use their home pest control skills and knowledge to provide an ant-free home for you. Call us at Modern Pest Control to schedule your free inspection!

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