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Anna I Peña

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The Problems Caused By Ant Infestations And How To Prevent Them

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Home > Blog >  The Problems Caused By Ant Infestations And How To Prevent Them

What Types Of Damages Can Ants Cause To My Home?

  1. Ants Versus Termites And The Damages They Can Cause To Your Home

In most cases, an ant infestation will not cause physical damage to your home or your property. However, if you are faced with a carpenter ant infestation, you might need to worry about the structural consequences of such an infestation. Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites due to their inclination to destroy the wood which surrounds your home. However, these particular types of ants are different than termites in the ways that they damage this wood. Termites damage the wood in your home by consuming it for nutrition, as they need the cellulose that exists inside of the wood to live. In contrast, carpenter ants gain no nutritional value from eating wood. Instead, carpenter ants will destroy the wood to build the nest that will house the carpenter ant colony.

To understand further how you can distinguish a carpenter ant infestation from a termite infestation, you must first learn about two different types of termites, subterranean and drywood termites, and the characteristics of their galleries of wood. First, subterranean termites will hollow out the wood in your home and leave soil and mud inside of these empty galleries. Conversely, carpenter ants will empty out the wood and leave the hollow inside clean, polished and smooth. In these carpenter ant galleries, you will also find holes where the worker ants will expel debris. This means that if you find wood that has been infested by carpenter ants, you will most likely also find piles of wood shavings, debris and dead insects outside of these nest openings. These debris will all be dissimilar in appearance and will not look to be uniform in shape or size. Similar to the way in which carpenter ants dispel debris from their nest openings, dry wood termites will produce their own type of debris. This debris is called frass and is the fecal droppings of dry wood termites. You can differentiate between the abandoned debris left by carpenter ants and dry wood termites by the way this debris looks. The frass left behind by drywood termites will look be the same size and shape, unlike the carpenter ant’s debris.

A carpenter ant infestation is not as damaging to your home as a termite infestation might be, but these ants can still compromise the structural integrity of your home. As years pass, the number of carpenter ants inside a colony will grow and they will expand throughout the wood causing additional damage. If a carpenter ant infestation is not treated by pest control professionals and the problem continues to grow, the wooden support beams and framing in your home can weaken and warp. This will leave you with sticky doors and windows, sloping floors, bulging walls and sinking ceilings.

What Health Risks Can Ants Cause During An Ant Infestation?

There are risks associated with an ant infestation outside of general annoyance. Read below to learn more about the potential health risks that an ant infestation can pose to you and your family.

  1. Food Contamination

Ants are not only nuisance pests that can be an inconvenience to you and your family, but they can also pose a health risk by contaminating the food in your home. As ants move about your home, they pick up and carry bacteria that can be passed along to your food and kitchen utensils. Some of the common germs that can make their way to your food by way of ants are  E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella. It is more common for ants to catch these particular germs when they have infested your bathroom or trash cans. Additionally, ants can contract and contaminate your food with Staphylococcus, Clostridium and Strepococcus. Pharaoh ants and sugar ants are most likely to transmit these particular germs that are commonly found in feces. The transmission of these germs does not happen through a sting or a bite, but will happen through the contamination of your food as ants infest the food supply in your kitchen or other areas of your home. Even though the risk of contracting these germs through food contamination by ants is fairly rare, it is still essential to remember that it is possible and that you should take steps to keep your food safe. The first step to preventing food contamination is by storing your food in sealed containers that cannot be penetrated by ants. Secondly, it is essential to dispose of food crumbs on your floors or counter tops. You should also make sure to remove any sources of moisture in your kitchen and throw away or safely store food leftovers at the end of the day. Keep your kitchen clean and free of loose food particles or food items to keep ants away and reduce the chance of food contamination due to ant infestations.

2. Bites And Stings

In addition to food contamination, ants can also pose a health risk through their bites or stings. Any ant is capable of biting you by using their jaws to pinch your skin. These bites will usually only happen to humans if the ant feels threatened or if they are attempting to defend their colonies.The biggest danger associated with ant bites is the risk of infection after the bite. The bite alone will generally not cause any health problems for those bitten, but if not cleaned and cared for properly afterwards, you are at risk of a secondary bacterial infection which will leave the the bite inflamed. If your ant bite becomes infected, it can turn into a pustule that could leave a scar.

Ants are also capable of stinging their victims, which differs from an ant bite. When an ant stings, and specifically fire ants, they will inject venom into your skin which causes localized pain and can even be life threatening for those who are allergic. When stung by ants, most people will see itchy, red bumps where the bites occurred. If you have no adverse reaction to an ant sting, these bumps will usually dissipate in about an hour’s time leaving small blisters behind. Signs of an ant sting differ between individuals, but if you have suffered an ant sting, you will generally experience pain, swelling, redness and itchiness. Some people will experience more severe symptoms as the result of an ant sting including nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, dizziness, hoarseness, chest pain and difficulty breathing or swallowing.

3. Allergic Reaction

If you are allergic to the venom injected into your skin after an ant has stung you, the consequences can be much more serious. Allergic reactions to ant stings will usually include swelling of the throat and tongue, hives, stomach cramps, nausea, tightness in the chest, trouble breathing, nausea and dizziness. At the most severe, a condition called anaphylaxis can take place which will cause a serious, whole body reaction. This reaction can start to happen within minutes of being bitten and includes a drop in blood pressure, dizziness, unconsciousness or cardiac arrest. If you experience some of these more acute symptoms after an ant sting, it is recommended that you seek medical attention.

How To Identify A Fire Ant Bite Or Sting

The most painful and potentially dangerous ant bites and stings come from the red imported fire ant. The bite or sting of this type of ant will cause a stinging and burning feeling at the site and will first appear as red welts on your skin. One way to know if you are being stung by a red imported fire ant is to judge how aggressive the ant’s efforts are to sting you. Red imported fire ants will emerge in very large numbers from their nests to attack anyone they perceive as a threat. Once you are bitten, the red imported fire ant will repeatedly sting you until it is removed. If you are stung multiple times in the same area, you will see several stings in a semi circle pattern.

How Do I Know I Have An Ant Infestation?

If you notice a few ants inside of your home or on your property, that does not necessarily mean you are facing an ant infestation. There are certain signs to look for if you suspect that your home is being invaded by ants. Read below for more information about how you can recognize an ant infestation.

  1. You Have Seen Live Ants

As mentioned, live ants are not always an indicator that you have an ant infestation in your home. However, if the number of ants you see indoors is higher than what you would consider to be normal, then you might have an infestation. If you are noticing a large number of ants inside of your home, it is likely that there is a larger colony or nest close by. Because ants are always on the hunt for food, you can safely assume that any ants you find in your kitchen are searching for a meal to take back to their nearby colony.

2. You Have Seen Live Ants Marching One Behind The Other

If you spot a trail of ants inside your home, it is highly likely that you are facing an infestation of ants. Ants will march one behind the other as a result of the pheromone trails they lay down once they have found a reliable food source. This trail helps them to easily go back and forth between their colony and the food. The pheromones will attract a large number of ants making it easier to identify whether the ants you see in your home are isolated or if there is a larger issue at hand.

3. You Pet’s Food Bowls Are Being Overrun By Live Ants

Ants do not discriminate when it comes to their food sources. Much like they will find and eat the food in your kitchen, ants are also attracted to your pet’s food bowls. If you notice your pet’s food is infested with ants, this could be a clear indicator that your home is also experiencing an infestation. To prevent ants from eating your pet’s food, try to keep the feeding areas clean and dry.

4. You Have Seen Ant Piles Or Nests Outside

The presence of ant piles around your property is another sign that you might be facing an ant infestation. The ants outside of your home are likely making their way inside as they forage for food in your kitchen. These ant piles are large mounds of dirt where ants have established their colony, which depending on the ant species, can contain thousands of ants. These nests are especially problematic if they are situated near or up against the side of your home.

How To Prevent An Ant Infestation In Your Home And On Your Property

There are a few steps you can take to prevent ants from infesting and causing problems inside of your home. One of the most crucial steps is to make sure surfaces inside and outside of your home are clean. Areas in your home with exposed food scraps or crumbs are highly vulnerable to being found by scout ants, whose job is to find a food source for the colony. Specifically, make sure to clean up your dirty dishes, sweep and vacuum on a regular basis and wipe down any surfaces in your kitchen daily. Additionally, it is important to keep the food in your kitchen locked tight in sealed containers. If ants can smell the food in your kitchen, chances are they will find it. When you keep your food sealed, it is less likely that scout ants will be able to track it by smell. Next, seal any cracks that you believe ants might be using to enter your home. This includes around windows, doors and the foundation of your home. Lastly, remove the pheromone ants trails by wiping them with a mixture of vinegar and water. This mixture will remove the pheromones in the trail that allow ants to travel to your kitchen from their colony.

Contact Natran Green Pest Control if you find that you have not been able to successfully prevent these tiny creatures from entering and taking over your home. Our eco-friendly pest control services offer the perfect solution to any of your pest infestation woes.

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