Ants: A First Sight of Spring

Pest Prevention Tips: Ants

Ants are the most common cause of pest related complaints in the United States and one of the first pests on the scene in the spring. They are a diverse group with a variety of preferred habitats. Ants are social insects which may nest in soil, wood or structural voids. Retail stores may experience problems with ants being shipped in on product or inside wooden pallets. They may also come inside from the surrounding exterior as they search for food or new nest sites.

The type of ant pest a site will experience will vary based on geographical location and available resources. There are hundreds of different species of ants in the U.S. A native ant species, the odorous house ant can be found in most parts of the U.S. and is highly attracted to sugar-based food like beverage syrups. A more northern species is the pavement ant.  It can be recognized by the small soil craters it creates around paved areas in the soil. It is a more general feeder, eating sugar and protein-based foods.

Regardless of the species, there are some things that retail food stores can do to help minimize issues with these common pest:

  • Inspect all incoming shipments to make sure that ants are not brought into the facility inside shipping containers or wooden pallets. Carpenter ants will create galleries in wooden pallets or may harbor in voids of product containers. A variety of ants can be brought in on cardboard boxes or products where they have been foraging for food. All ants can contaminate food or food packaging as a result of their nesting or foraging habits. Nest disturbances can cause a colony to move the entire nest and it could be in a semi-trailer of filled food products. Keep food spills to a minimum both outside and inside the store. Ants are constantly foraging for food and will recruit other ants to spills.
  • Keep expansion joints well sealed. Ants like the pavement ant can come up through cracks in floors and expansion joints.
  • Keep doors and other entry points sealed. Ants tend to utilize natural lines like wires and pipes. They can easily follow these lines inside, for example, if the pipe/wall junctures are not properly sealed.
  • Avoid the use of wood mulch around the exterior of the structure. Some ants like the odorous house ant will build shallow nests under mulch, rocks and leaf litter.
  • Select landscaping plants wisely, especially those plants which are close to the building. Many ant species feed on the honey dew or secretions of aphids or other insects which are plant pests.
  • Minimizing these honey dew producing insects through proper plant selection can minimize your ant populations.
  • Report any observed ant activity to your pest management professional. Insecticide baits in conjunction with non-repellent insecticide sprays are the frequently used chemical control methods for ant control. Supplement chemical control with good sanitation and exclusion.

Have a Pest Problem? Contact McCloud Services to help you today! 

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