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First of all, there are a lot of ants. In fact, there are roughly 12,000 classified species of ants in the world. As far as North America is concerned, there are close to a 1,000 different ant species here with Pavement Ants, Odorous House Ants and Carpenter Ants being the most common.

Usually there is only one queen ant per colony but that can vary depending on the type of ants we are talking about. And one queen can have millions of babies in her lifetime. There is a caste system to ant colonies with it having a queen, workers and reproductive females and males. There are also soldier ants that protect the queen and colony, gather food and attack other colonies for food and nesting place. 

Fun fact: an ant can lift up to 20 times their body weight! So that means a 150 pound human could carry around an object that weighted roughly 3,000 pounds. An average sized car weights that much. Don't see too many people doing that!

One of the reasons that ants travel in a straight line is the pheromone trail they leave when food is found. It's so the other ants in the colony can find the food and bring it back to feed everyone. That's why, if they've found a way into your home and are making a line around the sink, up a wall, around a picture and into a cabinet to a bottle of honey or a leftover piece of Halloween candy, it's because others have left a trail for the rest to follow. Walk this way for the good stuff!

Here in New Mexico, I typically deal with Odorous house ants, little black ants (which are sometimes called sugar ants, grease ants or piss ants), pavement ants, harvester ants and carpenter ants. There are other species that come into play but usually it's one of those listed above. And with our warm temperatures and dry climate, ants are everywhere. It doesn't matter what part of the city you live in.


But they aren't all bad. Ants can be beneficial for our environment. They aerate the soil which allows water and oxygen to reach plant roots. They also act as decomposers, feeding on waste, dead animals and other insects. That seems sort of trivial but when you realize that ants outnumber humans 1.5 million to 1, it's pretty significant. If they collectively turned on us, we'd be in trouble!

Odorous house ants love water and you typically see them in your house around kitchen and bath areas. They get the name Odorous because if you crush them, they give off a rotten coconut smell. Not pleasant.























In the Spring and early Summer months, when the sun is shining and we are coming out of winter, ant colonies are looking for proteins for themselves and the larva. The previous year, the colony gathered up all sorts of food to survive the winter. As the ground begins to warm up as temperatures rise, ants emerge hungry and looking for any sort of protein they can find. Once we get into summer and fall, ants are looking for carbohydrates to keep up their energy levels. Pretty important when trying to figure out how to deal with them.

Carpenter ants don't consume wood or cellulose like termites do, but they actually chew through the wood with their strong mandibles to create galleries where the queen can lay her eggs. You can always tell if you have Carpenter ants by what is left over. If you see frass (poop) AND sawdust, then it's most likely Carpenter ants. Since Carpenter ants don't eat the wood, they discard it or kick it out for clean tunnels. So if you see a pile of sawdust, you could have Carpenter ants. 

There are all sorts of ways to deal and combat ants in and around your home. If you find ants on your kitchen counter, the worst thing to do is to squish or wash them down the drain. They are scouts and they are looking for food and water for the colony. And the colony is eagerly waiting for their return. If you squish them, the colony says, "Where's Bob? And where's Mary? Send more! Send more!" And they just keep coming and coming. There are all sort of "home remedies" to repel ants but in all truth, they just persuade them to stop for a little while. If hungry enough, they will find a way around to get what they want. Remember they can squeeze through the smallest of cracks. Pesticides are always an option but you must be careful around food prep areas and you must read the entire label. In the pest control industry, the label is the law! 

Baiting for ants is usually the best way to take care of ants that have invaded your living space. While pesticides work, they only take care of the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the ants are underneath, waiting for food. So why not give it to them in the form of bait. If you have ant issue and have tried everything, please contact me and I'd love to tell you what I do and what I've had the most success with. And sometimes it's a process to get rid of ants. After all, there are a lot of them!

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