Problem with ants? Ask a Pest Control Expert:
How do I Get Rid of Ants?
Did you notice ant trails in your house? are hundreds of flying ants suddenly emerging from a little crack? Ants can be a very frustrating pest to get rid of. They can also damage your property, and some of them sting and can contaminate your food.
You must determine the ant species
Although around 20 species of ants occur in Ireland, we only have problems indoors and around buildings with the native black ant and a few exotic ants. These are:
- Black Garden Ants
- Roger’s Ants
- Pharaoh Ants
- Common Red Ants (or European Fire Ant) which delivers painful stings
It is important to identify which ant species are infesting your property, as successful treatment strategies differ completely from one species to the next. For instance, using insecticides on Pharaoh Ants only spread the nests and make things worse.
The black ant is black in colour and has a segmented body. Workers are 5mm in length and the queen 15mm long. Although garden ants can become a nuisance when they enter a facility, they do not present a threat to health. Finally they do not transmit disease and they do not bite.
Black ants are social insects. Each nest contains one single queen and between several hundred and 10,000 workers.
From January onward, little black ants (or garden ants) create issues indoors. Indeed, sweet foods attract black ants which they carry back to their nest. In Dublin, they start being active as early as January. As a result, it is very frequent to notice ants in kitchens, presses, living rooms, and all other indoor areas where food may be available.
You will usually find black garden ant nests under pavement, concrete, flagstones and rocks, in lawns, flower beds, beneath stones and paving slabs etc. In addition, we increasingly find them in cavity walls and foundations of properties. In our two example videos below you can see black ant infestations in an outer brick wall and a hot-press.
During summer, workers rear large numbers of winged females in the nest. Subsequently on a warm and humid day, normally between mid-July and mid-September they swarm out and take flight. Sometimes they all follow a trail inside premises and hundreds of them may appear in a few hours, causing distress to staff/residents.
Most of black ant nests are hidden underground so unless you find the location of a nest it may be difficult to control them. Lastly, you can contact our pest management specialists for fast results and effective ant treatments.
Black ants' nest inside wall cavity
Flying Black ants' infestation in a hot press
All Pharaoh ants are very small (2mm) and golden brown in colour. The queens are much larger than workers.
Each colony contains approx. 2,500 workers and also have multiple queens – as many as 100+ per colony. Hence you usually only see a small portion of a colony at any one time.
Pharaoh ants in Ireland
These particular ants came to Ireland from the tropics through commerce in the early 19th century and the first reports of them were in Wicklow in 1928. Since then they spread by travelling on packages, boxes and food containers, and we frequently find them in Cork, Donegal and Dublin.
Once brought into a new home or building they can easily find a suitable means to thrive.
Due to their high protein diet, we regularly find Pharaoh ants in Dublin hospitals since the 1980s, feeding under bandages on patients’ wounds. They also appeared in infant care centres and nurseries, feeding around the mouth and eyelids of babies.
Ready for defense
Pharaoh ant nests hide inside wall sockets or wall voids, inside insulation, hot presses and around water pipes. In addition, they are attracted to heat and need moisture to develop.
A specificity of Pharaoh ant colonies is their ability to bud their nest when they are under threat. In other words, they divide the main nest into several new colonies, and especially when they feel at risk.
Consequently, we do not recommend using insecticides to get rid of Pharaoh ants. If the correct methods are not used to treat them, their population will spread and explode.
What happens if you use insecticides against pharaoh ants?
Some years ago we treated an apartment block in Dublin north where over a 100 units were infested in less than a year due to DIY spray insecticide treatments! It took nearly 3 months to eradicate them.
In conclusion, Pharaoh ants can develop into a widespread issue where professional pest control expertise is needed to get rid of them.
Workers are 2.5-3.2mm long, and males 3.4-3.6mm reddish yellow to dark brown. We find Roger’s ants in heated buildings such as bakeries, factories, conservatories, greenhouses and kitchens, and particularly in the vicinity of the Liffey river in Dublin.
Roger’s ants are usually carnivorous, feading on small insects. They can pose a problem in food factories were the nest is almost impossible to locate and eradicate, e.g. under floors, wall cavities, concrete block cavities, etc.
Unlike with most other species of ants, we notice Roger’s ants when winged queens emerge to swarm and mate with the wingless males. In addition, it takes temperatures in excess 22°C for them to become active.
Issues with Roger’s ants
These ants are not considered to be a serious pest in Dublin. Nevertheless, they can be annoying when swarms of winged ants land on people or get under clothing where they may end up stinging if in contact with the skin.
In conclusion, controlling Roger’s ants is best left to pest control professionals. They will conduct an inspection to locate the ant nests and use chemical and bait products to get rid of the infestation. Generally, these ants are very difficult to control and may require sub-floor treatments with an approved insecticide.
Fire ants are mainly red in colour and have a slightly darker head. Workers measure between 2.4 and 6 mm. They live under stones and deep in the soil (3 to 4 ft down). They are very easy to identify with two backwards-pointing spikes on the middle section of the body (see picture).
They are capable of inflicting a burning and painful sting.
Red fire ant colonies can vary from single queen nests of 100,000 ants to multi-queen colonies with near to 300,000 ants.
These ants are active during the summer months and we notice them under rocks or pavers, in the woods, or nesting in grassy areas in gardens. Also, Fire ants do not construct mounds so until they attack there is no warning of their presence.
We get several calls to treat them every summer in all areas of Dublin.
Problem with Fire Ants
What sets European fire ants apart from other ants is their potent sting. They will readily sting humans, pets or livestock making them a problem in urban areas. Furthermore they attack in large groups so you may get stung multiple times.
Their sting is comparable to a wasp sting, giving lasting soreness and resulting in an inflamed red area of up to 4″ in diameter.
Finally, in some cases stings have led to severe allergic reactions.
Advice on How to get rid of ants
How to reduce ant activity in the house?
- Keep food in air-tight containers
- Make sure to clean the kitchen sink regularly (dirty dishes, food residue and water attract black ants)
- Check regularly that no food debris are gathering under your kitchen appliances
- Cleanup liquid or food spillages immediately
- Make sure to keep your bins clean and have a sealed lid
- Put pet food bowls in a larger bowl to prevent spillages and remove pet food after eating
- Seal doors, windows and any cracks black ants use to access indoors
- Kill ant scouts as soon as they appear
Amateur DIY ant control products such as ant spray, ant powder (and other DIY ant killers), can be an inexpensive way of killing ants, but they are not effective for controlling a large infestation.
Professional help to get rid of ants
Owl Pest Control qualified Technicians use the best professional and safe ant control products on the market. They have extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with ant infestations in any area around buildings including:
- Ants in kitchen presses and counter tops
- Flying ants gathering around windows
- Ants around sinks and dishwashers
- Ants coming out of skirting boards, walls and floor cracks
- Black ants in Hot Press
- Pharaoh ants in bathroom areas
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