The Best Way To Get Rid Of Ants In Your Houston Home
Colony of ants crawling on wood.

The Best Way To Get Rid Of Ants In Your Houston Home

Our world is full of insects, arachnids, rodents, and wildlife, all cause problems for Houston homeowners; however, the number one nuisance pest is ants. Even though they are tiny creatures, an invasion by ants can cause many problems ranging from structural damage to health concerns. Ants are a part of our ecosystem, but we want them to stay outdoors and not enter our homes. 

Stepping on a few ants or dousing them with a potentially dangerous store-bought product will not stop an infestation. If ants are inundating your house, you need professional help from the Houston pest control company serving our community since 1952, Modern Pest Control. A company like Modern Pest Control does not stay in business for seven decades unless it provides high-quality, customer-oriented service. We bring decades of experience and knowledge to the battle against pests. We hope you continue reading this article, so you can learn about the ants in Houston and why they invade homes. 

Common Species Of Home-Invading Ants In Houston

There are 15,000 ant species worldwide, and about 700 are in the United States. The following ants are in or around homes in the Houston area: 

  • Bigheaded ants

  • Carpenter ants

  • Fire ants

  • Pharoah ants

  • Pyramid ants

  • Rover ants

  • Tawny crazy ants

Let's learn about these ants so you can identify the type of ants invading your Houston home and understand why ant control in Houston is needed:

  • Bigheaded ants: These invasive ants have the dubious distinction of being listed among the "World's Worst" invaders. As the name suggests, the identifiable feature of these reddish-brown ants is their big head! These 1/16 to 1/8 inch ants create nests outside in tree stumps, rotting wood, and piles of debris on the ground.

  • Carpenter ants: Carpenter ants in Houston do not consume wood like termites; instead, they bore through the wood in your home to create nests. You will find red or black 3/8 to 1/2 inch long carpenter ants around moist, softened wood in the crawl space, basement, or around leaking pipes. One sign of carpenter ants in your Houston home is the presence of sawdust-like debris next to tiny holes in wood. Carpenter ants establish themselves outside before they enter a house. They build nests in rotting tree stumps, decaying fence posts, old stacks of firewood, or under stones. A mature carpenter ant colony may have up to 50,000 workers. Once a nest is matured, which takes about two or more years, winged carpenter ants, called "swarmers," leave the nest in the spring to create satellite nests nearby — often in Houston homes. 

  • Fire ants: Fire ants are not native to Texas but came to the United States in the 1930s from South America. These ants are common throughout most of the southeastern portion of our country and most of Texas. Fire ants in Houston have a dark red inch body 1/16 to 3/16 inches in length. At first, you may not know you have fire ants in your yard, but after a heavy rain, they start creating their fire ant mound in your yard above ground to escape the groundwater. The nests are flattened, irregular mounds outdoors in sunny areas in proportion to the colony's size. A nest of two feet houses a population of about 100,000 fire ants; nests can grow as large as four feet with over 200,000 fire ants! Fire ants build nests in areas where there are warmer soil temperatures. Examples of fire ant locations are next to foundations, landscaping, sidewalks, and driveways. 

  • Pharaoh ants: One of the smallest ants inside Houston's homes is the pharaoh ant. These light yellow to orange 1/16 inch ants create large colonies with thousands of ants in humid areas of the house near water and food sources. Most ants have one queen per colony, but pharaoh ants are polygynous. In other words, they have more than one queen in the nest. If the group feels threatened, one of the queens will take workers and leave the nest to form a new colony through a process known as "budding." The new group does not compete with the old nest; instead, they work together by producing pheromones to lead ants from all their colonies to food sources. The budding ability of pharaoh ants quickly makes them problematic for homeowners. 

  • Pyramid ants: Ants are insects, and one feature of insects is that their bodies have three segments: head, thorax, and abdomen. Pyramid ants are so-named because of a pyramid-shaped structure on the top of their thorax. These 1/8 inch long ants have a body color combination of a reddish head and thorax with a black abdomen. Fortunately, their nests are small and consist of a few hundred to a few thousand ants. Pyramid ants create nests nearby other ants in open areas. In the summer, winged pyramid ants leave the nest to start new colonies. 

  • Rover ants: Rover ants are recent newcomers to the United States from Argentina and Paraguay. In recent years, these somewhat obscure ants have become a nuisance pest in Texas. Rover ants have a 1/16 inch body and range in color from pale blond to dark brown or black. They create small colonies of a few hundred to a few thousand in rotting wood, potted plants, and wall voids. During the summer, winged rover ants capable of reproduction, known as alates, leave the nest to create new colonies. 

  • Tawny crazy ants: This ant species was discovered in Houston only 20 years ago. Tawny crazy ants are so-named because they do not march in formation but appear directionless and erratic when traveling. These long-legged, 1/10 inch dark grey to black ants from South America have long antennae and live under logs, stones, wood, and around above-ground swimming pools. Tawny crazy ants, or raspberry ants, create nests under rocks and piles of debris; their nests do not have a centralized opening like other ants. 

The Problems Ants Can Cause In Your Home

Not all of the ants on our list make their way into Houston houses but invade areas around homes; however, others enter homes and can cause damage, disease, food contamination, and pain.

Carpenter ants damage the wood inside a home by the holes they bore to create nesting areas. Damage from carpenter ants is not often noticeable for a few years when the colonies are few and small. As colonies of carpenter ants increase in size and proliferate, the damage they cause increases. Ultimately, damage from tens of thousands of carpenter ants manifests itself in sagging floors and collapsing structures. If you see signs of carpenter ants like holes in wood, sawdust-like shavings outside small holes in wood, and sounds of crackling or rustling in walls, you need Modern Pest Control's help!

Pharaoh ants in your home can expose your family to diseases. Pharaoh ants spread pathogens like salmonella, streptococcus, pseudomonas, and clostridium. Open wounds attract pharaoh ants, and as they crawl across the open area, the pathogens on their body may shed, infecting the wound and spreading disease. 

Another way pharaoh ants may spread disease is by crawling to the mouths of sleeping people. Many people fear that spiders will crawl into their mouths while sleeping, but that fear is unfounded; however, pharaoh ants may creep into the mouth of individuals searching for moisture. Before you get too nervous about this issue, please know that this is more problematic for patients in hospitals with breathing tubes and not homeowners. Although pharaoh ants possess a stinger, they will not sting humans, but they do bite if they feel threatened. Fortunately, a bite from a pharaoh ant will not hurt you.

In addition to the ability to spread disease, pharaoh ants cause the same problem most of the ants on our list cause: food contamination. Ants travel over all kinds of surfaces. Rotting food, animal feces, and other unsanitary areas have bacteria and germs on the surface; when ants travel over those areas, the disease-causing organisms attach themselves to the ants. Later, as the ants move over food products, exposed foods, kitchen countertops, inside kitchen drawers, and cooking surfaces, the pathogens fall off and contaminate the foods, products, or area. Ants may contaminate food when they defecate. Some ants, like the tawny crazy ant, feed on larvae of fleas and flies. If these larvae have a disease, it may spread to the ant, and the ant then spreads it through its feces, urine, and saliva. 

Ants may cause problems with electronic equipment and appliances in the house. For example, electrical wires attract swarms of tawny crazy ants. When these ants invade electronic equipment like computers and other devices, they can destroy the circuitry and ruin the machines. These ants, and other ants species in Houston homes, destroy wiring, appliances, and electronic components by the moisture from the soil particles on their bodies and cause a short circuit. Dark areas in wall voids, electrical boxes, and inside appliances attract ants for nesting. Ants in these areas chew on the wiring and, over time, will trip circuit breakers and cause wiring damage. If you want to protect expensive electronic equipment, pest control in your house is worth the investment. 

Ants can cause pain to Houston homeowners. When you see a large mound over a foot high in your yard, do not disturb it; you have red fire ants on your property! Fire ants are aggressive and attack and sting anything nearby when their nest is disturbed. Fire ant stings are painful; they create a red welt with a white pustule. Since nests have possibly hundreds of thousands of fire ants who attack aggressively, you can quickly receive multiple stings from them. When you see fire ants, do not hesitate to enlist Modern Pest Control for your fire ant control needs.

How And Why Ants Find Their Way Into Your Home

The reason why ants enter Houston homes is for food, water, and shelter. For example, carpenter ants enter homes to create nests. Once carpenter ants establish a colony in a nearby rotting tree stump or fence post, winged reproducing ants will leave the colony to begin a satellite nest. If a home is nearby with moist, unprotected, or damaged wood in the basement, crawl space, or around window and door frames, they will form a new colony inside the house. 

Food attracts ants. Ants eat sweets, proteins, and fatty foods. Homes with exposed food on the floor in the form of crumbs, open pet food containers, and open indoor garbage cans all attract ants. Some ants feed on dead insects, so if you have a high insect population around your Houston home, the ants will follow. Some ants use pheromones or chemical trails to alert other ants of food sources. If ants find food in your Houston home, they will alert other ants, and soon you will have a line of ants marching into your house. 

Warmth entices ants. Like many pests, ants enjoy the heat (as long as it is not too hot), and when outdoor temperatures plummet, ants look for warm places. If they find easy entry points into your house, they will enter. 

Moisture allures ants. Like all animals, ants need water for survival. Some ants build colonies inside moist wood (carpenter ants), while others, like rover ants, build nests near decaying, wet areas. Ants locate near drains, leaky pipes, in the soil of potted plants, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other humid places in the home. 

Finally, ants like to live in dark places. Cracks between baseboards and the walls, crevices, electrical boxes, wall voids, spaces between door and window frames, crawl spaces, attics, basements, and underneath insulation are favorite areas for ants. 

Now that we know why ants like to live in our houses, the next question is: how do ants get in my house? Ants enter homes through the following: 

  • Cracks in the foundation

  • Gaps between incoming pipes and wires

  • Outdoor electrical boxes

  • Holes in window and door screens

  • Unscreened vents

  • Gaps around soffits and skylights

  • Cracks between siding and window frames

  • Underneath doors without a door sweep

  • Open garage doors and exterior doors

A key to ant control in your house is to prevent them from entering by sealing all cracks and gaps with caulk and screen vent openings.

The Trick To Completely Getting Rid Of An Ant Infestation

The best way to eliminate ants is to use the best ant control near you, Modern Pest Control. When we inspect your home, we will look for entry points, attractants, and hot spots. Then, using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies, we will stop the ant infestation in your house. Contact us today and request your free inspection!

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