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The most prolific pest in Massachusetts is without doubt ants. There are many types of ants in Massachusetts, and they all have different habits. As ant control exterminators in Massachusetts, we know some are nastier pests than others. Ant infestations happen every year but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing.
When the moist ground warms to a certain temperature, ants become active. They exit their nests looking to mate and start new colonies. Many species will take to the air (at least for a short time) to accomplish this goal. Warm weather means swarm weather!
Many homeowners first learn they have an ant problem in the spring when winged ants, called alates, leave the nest. Alates are reproductively mature adults without mates, basically potential queens and kings. They fly into the air in order to find a mate then the pair will look for a good spot to start a new colony. Depending on the species, this might mean a mass exodus from the primary nest.
Some species of ants will migrate out in huge numbers. Swarms typically occur outdoors, as nature intended. Sometimes, however, they can occur indoors as well. This is, understandably, very upsetting for the homeowner; it can also be dangerous for the home. If the swarm in question is carpenter ants, an indoor swarm may signal a serious infestation of the home’s structural wood.
Homeowners have reported leaving a normal home and returning to what they see as plague conditions. Dead and dying by the hundreds will blacken the floors by exterior doors and collect on the window screens. Live ants will be circling the air indoors. A swarm can form suddenly and seemingly without warning since the ants have like been burrowing deep inside the ground or their wooden homes for most of the winter.
Usually, the determining factors in the start of any ant activity are humidity and temperature. They like to start their new families when it’s warm and just damp enough to make the ground easy to tunnel through. That’s why spring is the season when most swarms occur. This kind of predictable seasonal behavior is part of what makes having a year-round pest control plan such a wise move. Potential problems are often found before they become a nightmare.
While this kind of home invasion is by no means pleasant, it may actually be a blessing in disguise. These insects keep a pretty low profile for most of the year. The springtime swarm may be the only chance you get to discover and eliminate a potentially damaging infestation. It’s the perfect time to start implementing an integrated pest management plan since you can see what kind of pest you have so clearly during a swarm.
Identifying your pest is the first and perhaps most important step if you witness a swarm, inside or out. Carpenter ants are notorious swarmers but then again, so are termites! Both can cause serious damage to your home’s wood but their methods are very different and so is the treatment. A pest control professional can identify the insect and give you options for the appropriate action based on the type of pest, its location, and the level of infestation in your home or yard.
You’re probably familiar with carpenter ants. They’re on the large side. They grow up to half an inch long! They’ll chew tunnels into wood. Unlike termites, they don’t eat wood. They just construct their homes here. Damaged or softwood is easiest for them to dig out.
Carpenter Ants are large, black ants that create hollow spaces in trees and wooden structures. They don’t eat the wood, as termites do, but they will make their home in it. Areas exposed to moisture, such as window frames, decks, and porches, are most likely to succumb to carpenter ant infestations. Carpenter ants eat other insects, but they can pose a secondary infestation threat – if there are aphids nearby, carpenter ants may collect and herd them. The ants consume the honeydew that the aphids release as they eat. This herding can even include transporting aphid eggs to their colony for safekeeping, delivery of newborn aphids to fresh plants, and protection of aphids from predators. Aphids will tear through a garden, and the pairing of an aphid colony and carpenter ant colony can bring down gardens and hollow out trees in a season.
Carpenter Ants are social insects that form colonies that range in size from a few dozen to millions. Carpenter ants found inside during late Winter/early Spring indicate a nest inside the structure. It is important to remember a few ants carried in on firewood will not survive on their own. Ants are always on the lookout for the same basic necessities that humans need (Food, Shelter, Water) making your home their home too.
Carpenter Ants DO NOT EAT the wood they are excavating tunnels in the wood for the living area. You can sometimes find sawdust the ants discard through “Windows” they make to dispose of waste. Carpenter Ants will also nest in other soft materials like foam boards or even live in hollow doors. With large infestations, Carpenter Ants can be heard inside walls expanding the nest.
Carpenter ant control begins with a search for the colony or nest. Don’t spray an over-the-counter pesticide because this will simply spread the colony over a larger area and make it more difficult to treat. Remember spraying has no effect on the queen. If a large number of worker ants begin to die the queen will increase egg production to replace the lost worker ants. Many chemical sprays act as a repellant to the ants and the ants will go to great lengths to avoid it. This can result in a colony splitting into several new nests and “satellite” over a much larger harder to control area.
Ransford technicians are trained to inspect your entire building for Carpenter Ants. We will look for nest signs inside and for ants entering the structure from the exterior. The technician will then discuss treatment options with the Owner. If a nest is found in a window the molding may need to be removed and non-repellent dust will be inserted into the wall void. All materials Ransford uses are designed to eliminate the WHOLE Colony. After treatment, the number of ants will start to decline with reductions in 2 weeks and no more ants after 4 weeks. While we realize that 2 weeks is a long time we need the material to make its way through the colony before ants start dying off. All our products are non-repellant so the ants will not notice it and bring it back to the nest. While “Contact Kill” sprays kill instantly they are repellant to ants and the other ants will stay away from the area not giving long-term control.
Ransford stands behind their treatment until the end of the year December 31st. If you are still seeing Carpenter Ants in the treated area after 30 days Ransford will re-treat the area for free.
If you’ve seen ants nesting between the cracks in the pavement, or where pavement runs up against a lawn, they’re very likely pavement ants. Pavement ants grow up to an eighth of an inch long. They’ll usually gain access to your home and the food inside through cracks in the foundation, or through improperly sealed gaps that allow pipes in. These ants also go by the aliases of Picnic Ants or Sugar Ants.
Pavement Ants. These are reddish-brown ants that tend to make their nests where other ants can’t – in cracks of pavement. They’re very aggressive to other ants. If you ever come across a battle between two ant colonies, Pavement Ants may be the aggressor. If that means infesting a house, they’ll take up that challenge.
These ants originally come from equatorial regions. In a place like Massachusetts, pharaoh ants will seek out warm buildings. They make very large colonies and are one of the most likely ants to spread various diseases.
Pharaoh Ants are a little creepier, and their small size and semi-translucent body make them very difficult to see. They tend to be a problem in health care environments and food service areas. This is because they are known carriers of diseases. They tend to favor multiple small nests rather than one large one, and seem to have a preference for the things we’d rather not think about – toilets, drains, and people’s wounds. While they are not aggressive or dangerous themselves, the diseases they carry and their pervasiveness in getting into every nook and corner available to them make them unacceptable in environments where someone has a compromised immune system.
These are very small ants that like to nest near moist areas – bathtubs, drains, and especially pipes. They won’t damage wood, but odorous house ants can quickly create several colonies in a home with accessible food and water. This is because each nest boasts several queens capable of reproducing. As you can probably guess from their name, their smell when crushed is very unpleasant.
They may have a fun name, but these ants will bite if they feel threatened. You don’t want to leave acrobat ants in your home for long.
These ants are rare, and easy to miss if you’re not looking for them. Because little black ants are so small, they can get into your food quite easily before you notice.
Taking these four steps can help you create an ant prevention program:
Each of these ant types must be dealt with in a different way. Chemical sprays can often disperse carpenter ants, making them a wider problem than they started. The insecticides aimed at pharoah ants must be precise and targeted with their queens in mind. Their tendency to fracture into multiple smaller nests means a plan of action against them must be thorough. Pavement ants can be a little simpler, but finding each and every area they’ve chosen to infest can be a chore. Call Ransford Environmental Solutions so we can identify your potential infestation and come up with a customized plan aimed at eradicating your ant problems once and for all.
You may also spy thief ants, which feed off the colonies of other ants. Any ant colony in your home will only grow larger over time. Killing ants without attacking the colony won’t have much impact. Consult an ant control specialist in Worcester for help in eradicating ant infestations.
If you need help with routine ant control or any other specialty pest control problem, contact the experts Ransford today. For over 125 years we've been the go-to leader for eliminating and controlling even the worse of ongoing ant problems, giving peace of mind to our customers in Central Massachusetts since 1896! For your convenience, we provide local ant control services in the following cities and towns near you: