Spring and summer is high season for ants and for ant pest problems in our California homes and gardens.

There are about 300 species of ants here, but fewer than a dozen are common household pests in our area. One of the most common pests is the Argentine ant, a dull-brown ant about 1/8-inch in length. Less common but also significant are the carpenter ant, the pharaoh ant, the odorous house ant, the thief ant and the southern fire ant. Carpenter ants are black or red and black and larger than the Argentine ant at a quarter to half inch in length and, because they hollow out and nest in wood, can do significant damage to homes and buildings. You may recognize an odorous house ant, which is dark brown to black and about the same size as the Argentine ant, by its strong odor if you step on it. Our Southern California neighbors are dealing with a serious problem from the red imported fire ant, which has recently established a population there; but they have not yet been found in Northern California.

Most of the ants in the area are easily recognizable. However, in the warm spring months, mature ant colonies produce winged ants, which travel away from the nest to mate and form new colonies. For that reason, ants are sometimes mistaken for termites.

Ants often make their trails on pipes or wires and enter buildings via cracks and crevices. Inside your home, ants may feed on sweets such as sugar, honey or fruit juice, or on fats and meats. Your first sign of ants may be of a long chain of them leading from the food source inside your home to their nest outdoors. Caulking cracks and crevices can help prevent ants from entering your home. Rinsing out soft drink and juice containers before putting them into the recycling bin and storing sugar and syrups in airtight containers can also help.

Earth Guard Pest Services can assist you by identifying the type of ant or pest problem you have, assessing the best way to eliminate them and prevent future invasions, and help you decide upon the right combination of pest control services for your household or business.

For a free pest assessment and estimate from our licensed, bonded and certified pest control professionals, contact Earth Guard Pest Services, (916) 457-7605, [email protected].

Source: University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program