Tips on Controlling Ants

The proverbial picnic scene aside, ants are pests all of us have to deal with from time to time. Both inside and outside our homes, they feed on and contaminate our food, they build ugly mounds on our lawns, and some ants can inflict painful bites or stings.

Several species of ants are found in Florida. The most common can be grouped into three categories: House-infesting ants, yard infesting ants, and carpenter ants. In this article we’ll talk about ant biology and behavior and how to control them.

Florida Carpenter Ants. Photo credit: UF/IFAS.
Florida Carpenter Ants. Photo credit: UF/IFAS.

Ants have a life cycle similar to many other insects. They go from egg, to larva, to pupa, to adult. Eggs are almost microscopic in size and hatch into soft legless larvae. The pupa resembles the adult ant, except it is soft, uncolored and immobile. It can take from six weeks to two months from egg to adult.

Ants are social insects. They live in colonies much like bees do. Most colonies have a queen ant, male ants, and worker or female ants. Colonies are started by queens, whose primary function is reproduction. The queen may live for many years and is usually replaced by a daughter queen. Males are produced in very old or large colonies, and their sole function is to mate with the unfertilized female, after which, they die. Worker ants construct, repair and defend the nest, provide food for the colony, and take care of the young ants.

Most ants are omnivorous, which means they will eat anything, through some do have specialized food habits. Ants locate food by random searching; when one ant finds food, she informs the other workers in the colony. The exact method of communication is unknown, but in some cases, ants can leave scent trails that other ants can follow to the food source.

Because ants are attracted to any type of food or food particles, your best bet to controlling ants inside your home is to keep it very clean. Store food in airtight containers. Never substitute insecticides for inadequate housekeeping.

The key to eliminating ants is locating and destroying the colony. Sometimes this can be a real problem, because ants are very adaptable. Outdoor nesting species can sometime nest indoors and vice versa, depending, on the food supply.

To find the ant colony, you have to watch the movement of the ants very closely. Outdoors, many ants are easy to locate, because they deposit earth on the soil surface, and form ant hills. But some outdoor ants build nests under house foundations, in decaying logs, and tree trunks. These can be difficult to locate indoors. Ants may nest in walls, behind baseboards, in cracks, and in decaying wood.

Spray, dusts, granules, and baits can be useful in controlling ants. When using these products, treat baseboards, door and window frames, and cracks and crevices between walls and flooring. Treat all areas where ants appear to have trails. If the nest is located, apply an insecticide to the nest according to the pesticide label.

For more information:

Ants

Fire Ants

Carpenter Ants

 

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Posted: May 26, 2015


Category: Horticulture
Tags: Ant, Ants, Home Insect Control, Insects, Panhandle Gardening, Pest, Pests


Comments:

wordpress revisions not showing
January 24, 2022

Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this blog.

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October 5, 2021

Woman of Alien Great do the job you have completed, this page is actually interesting with wonderful facts. Time is God as way of keeping every little thing from occurring at once.

Samantha Kennedy

May 22, 2020

Merry, I never use salt when cooking rice and prefer to add a little bit of butter instead of olive oil because I like the taste butter imparts. However, neither olive oil nor butter are necessary for cooking rice. Another great way to cook rice is by using chicken broth instead of water. The finished rice has a delicious chicken flavor that can boost the overall richness of the final product. As for short- and medium-grain vs. long-grain rice, they are not created equal. You will generally not get the same results from short- or medium-grain rice as you will from long-grain rice, especially if a recipe specifically calls for long-grain rice. Long-grain rice, when cooked, is dry and loose, whereas short- and medium-grain rice is sticky and clumps together. For fried rice, long-grain is best. Short-grain rice is great for rice pudding and sushi, whereas medium-grain rice is best used for dishes such as risotto. Samantha Kennedy, M.S. Family and Consumer Sciences Agent UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County

Merry Pearl
May 21, 2020

This is quite helpful. Being in self isolation quite a distance from home, I inevitably needed a culinary companion. This site has been the guide I so much needed. Cooking rice is the combination of art and science. I sometimes see chefs sprinkling salt and olive oil when preparing rice, what’s your take on this? And would you get the same results if you used short or medium grain variety?

Renee Perry
August 19, 2016

Thanks for writing about organic gardening. More and more gardeners are turning to it, but there are still more to convince. I want to correct the notion that organic gardens require lots of work, particularly weeding. I practice a form of organic gardening that uses heavy mulches to suppress weeds. Mulches also protect the soil from burning up under our hot subtropical sun, promote beneficial microbial activity, and add organic matter to the soil when they eventually break down. This results in an average of about 5 minutes a month spent weeding a 1500 square foot garden. I'm guessing it takes quite a bit longer than that to spray poisonous herbicides over the same area. I've been using this method for over 17 years with wonderful results and would never go back to bare earth gardening.

Matthew Orwat
July 18, 2016

I am not familiar with nurseries in Okaloosa County, but you should try calling the extension office located at 3098 Airport Road Crestview, FL 32539 Phone: (850) 689-5850 or email the horticulture agent Larry Williams lwilliams@co.okaloosa.fl.us

Glen Pratt
July 17, 2016

Where can I find a kumquat tree in Okaloosa County?

Ray Bodrey

June 29, 2016

Hi Donna. For better results, zoysiagrass require frequent fertilization. Periodic soil testing should be conducted every 2 to 3 years as the basis for applications of lime and fertilization. Your local county extension office can help with your soil testing needs. Soil test results will help determine management measures, such as to maintain the proper soil pH between the desired range of 6.0 to 6.5 and keep the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels at recommended levels. For minimum maintenance, it is recommended to apply between 2 to 3 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of zoysiagrass lawn per year in north Florida. To accomplish this, apply a complete fertilizer such as 16-4-8, 13-13-13, or10-10-10 at least three times a year in April, June, and August.

Donna
June 22, 2016

So what months should zoysia be fertilized and with what type fertilizer? I put it my small backyard a couple years ago.

Ann Poppy
May 1, 2016

Two green thumbs up! Old-timers here in Pensacola say you can pinch back azaleas 'til the Fourth of July and still get a good bloom; this works well for me. (They also say you should plant your potatoes and fertilize your rose bushes on Valentine's Day and that you can pinch back your poinsettias until Labor Day. This also works well for me as far as the rose bushes and poinsettias go. I haven't tried potatoes yet, but maybe I'll try planting some on Valentine's Day, 2017.)

Lectii Apicultura
March 20, 2016

Very well written article, and easy to follow http://www.lectiiapicultura.ro/

Mary Derrick
June 10, 2015

We know all about plants, but not about the law. You may want to consult a lawyer or state agency that deals with these issues. Good luck!

JERI
May 31, 2015

Can the HOA's stop you from having a small garden? There is nothing in the Master Documents that address this issue in particular.

Carole
May 28, 2015

Ants are also amazing. They aerate the soil, help with decomposition and waste removal, plant seeds, and are food for many birds and other animals. I'm all for getting rid of the invasive fire ants but I'd discourage people from killing the other ants in their yards.

Richard
August 20, 2014

Thanks for the timely article. One of the things I dislike about vacations is that I have to leave my plants unattended. I think the points you raised were just perfect. As to houseplants, I would only add that there are self-watering systems one can use as well. They’re better than nothing if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Richard www.naturehills.com

Brett
August 1, 2014

Hello Roy, My wife and I have been raising bees for about a year. As novice beekeepers we are seeking natural methods instead of the chemical practices you mentioned in the article to ensure a healthy hive in the spring. We are open to any suggestions you may have. Thank you in advance for your help. Brett

c. orchard
May 24, 2014

Great article but you did not mention soil Ph. I have quite a few daylilies but their foliage is slightly yellow. I have used a good fertilizer but wonder if the Ph is not right. Thanks for any information you can provide. Carolyn

loupa pius
November 8, 2013

am really happy for the services you offer to, to me am a student studying apiculture in uganda, am more interested in knowing how robbing occurs within on colony. thanks to you

Matthew Orwat
November 6, 2013

William, thanks for your question. This is a common issue, since many folks apply fertilizer to centipede grass late in the year to green it up. Doing this does little or nothing for greening up the lawn and can actually harm the grass by encouraging growth when it is entering its dormant period. This can also encourage late season root rots. As a general rule, I would recommend the last application of fertilizer to Centipede and St. Augustine in mid September. Absolutely no ferteilzer should be applied after September 31st. For more information, take a look at this publication on Centipedegrass from UF IFAS Extension. Hope this helps, Matt

William Dockery
November 5, 2013

Mr. Carter- i work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and need to know when the best time to apply fall fertilizer to St. Augustine and Centipede grass; I learned in an earlier artical about the right time to apply lawn fertilizer for the spring is after the soil has warmed up...but didn't see anything mentioned about fall/winter applications. Your response is greatly appreciated. Thank you, William Doc Dockery

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