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Planning Retirement Online

Ants in Your... Kitchen!

September 2012  

Ants!The wet summer we have just had has led to an increase in reports of ants coming into houses. The warm temperatures have helped in their reproduction and the heavy downpours have encouraged them to march into homes in search of food and sometimes shelter.

But really one can experience ant infestations at any time and the sudden invasion of what seems like thousands of ants scuttling in long lines along window sills and cupboard edges as they transport minute portions of food back to their nest can be horrifying.

There are many different types of ants in the UK but the most common one to invade a home is the garden or black ant. Generally they are very small, just 4-5mm, although the queens can be as big as 15mm. They usually nest in soil or dark places such as under bark or brickwork, but the worker ants have a great nose for sourcing their favourite sweet or sticky substances. Rotting fruit, spilled fruit juice, the lid of a jam jar - all these things can attract a huge following in the ant population!

Once one ant has found a source of food, it will leave a pheromone trail from its nest to the source so that other ants can quickly follow the route. In no time at all you can see hundreds of little ants scuttling back and forth.

The garden ants are the most likely species you are likely to see coming into your home, but another common species is the Pharoah ant. These are tiny, just 1.5 - 2mm long and are a yellow brown colour. Because they originated in tropical climates, they prefer warmer temperatures and can move into heated buildings. Their diet is largely made up of decomposing foodstuffs and this means the Pharoah ants can carry harmful germs around.

Red or red fire ants are around 3mm long and live in colonies of up to 100,000. These really are not ants you want in the house, they can sting both animals and humans and their sting is extremely painful. Luckily they prefer to live in open, sunny spaces.

If you discover ants, the easiest way to get rid of them is first to destroy the food that attracted them. Wash and clean any areas which could contain tiny fragments of spilled food or liquids; make sure all food is stored tightly; don’t leave any uncovered food out in the kitchen; make sure any rubbish or storage bins have tightly fitting lids. Then simply wipe away all the ants and disinfect along the track they used.

However, sometimes ants do get a “taste” of an area and can be very hard to turn away. You may need to look at sealing access points such as cracks and crevices in door and window frames or turn to some professional DIY products. These include ant sprays and ant powders which work quickly and efficiently.

An infestation of Pharoah or red fire ants may need professional assistance from a qualified pest controller to ensure they do not return. Rentokil say there is now special gel that can be used which works really well as the ants pick it up and carry it into the nests so that the whole colony can be destroyed.

If you are suffering from ants and can’t seem to get rid of them, Rentokil say they are happy to offer free advice to Laterlife vistors on 0800 218 2210.

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