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Why Do I Have Ants in the Fall?

 In Ants, Antworks Pest Control Portland

Antworks provides expert pest control services in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.Most people understand when they see ants in the spring and summer–we’ve almost come to expect them! But as fall approaches, you might be seeing even more ants. Why is that, anyway?

Ants want the same things we do: food, water, and shelter. When summer begins to wind down, and resources get more and more scarce, ants start to do the same things we do, too–they try and find a snack inside! Antworks Pest Control wants to give you the tips and tricks you need to stay ant-free through the fall and winter, so we’ve put together a little guide!

Ant Behavior During the Fall

Some of the most common ants that wander indoors during the fall are odorous house ants–colloquially known as “sugar ants”. Small, black, and attracted to anything that remotely resembles food, these ants can be found year round in the Pacific NW. But you’re not imagining it–they sometimes get worse right before winter! There are two reasons driving this behavior: rain, and lack of honeydew. Any kind of rain can motivate an ant to move to another location, but the heavier rains that occur in late September and October seem to move them faster. They seek “higher ground” to avoid being flooded. The lack of honeydew is caused by plant life death. Plants die, aphids die, and no longer produce honeydew–so odorous ants have to find another source of food.

How to Prevent Ants from Coming Inside

The ant behavior is clear: but the path to prevention might not be! Here are some ways to keep ants from getting inside during the fall and winter:

  • Seal all entry points
    • This includes cracks in foundation walls, cracks in caulking, and any smaller cracks along joints or corners.
    • Check all utility pipe entrances. Are they sealed as well?
    • Remember to check your weather stripping, too!
  • Trim vegetation away from the house.
    • Don’t provide any kind of pathway for ants to explore your home, even if it’s the exterior!
  • Seal garbage containers tightly.
    • Ants are desperate–and they will get into your garbage.

And as for preventing ants indoors, here are some more helpful tips:

  • Clean up all food items, crumbs, and puddles.
    • Never leave anything on the floor, counter-top, or table that ants might find!
  • Sweep and mop regularly.
    • This is for two reasons: To clean any stray crumbs, and to eliminate any potential pheromone trails.
  • Fix any leaks or drips.
    • Ants need water, too! This is a common reason why ants end up in the bathroom.

How to Treat for Ants

Odorous ants are physically different from other species of ant, and their behavior is different, too. You can’t just pick up a traditional anti-ant pesticide and expect it to work. Spraying does not work with this species. Odorous ants can also be difficult to identify, because there are several species that are small and black. If you can’t identify the ant, and you use the wrong treatment, you could end up with a far larger problem than in the beginning.

Odorous ants leave trails of pheromones behind them, using a sophisticated “coding” system. They leave a scent trail to signal a food source to their fellow ants, but they also leave another signal: Danger! This signal tells other odorous ants that cross the same trail that they need to go–and fast! This is a problem for one very big reason: if you use a common ant spray to dissuade them, they will run–into the other room! The danger signal indicates that the nest should separate into smaller colonies–also known as budding. So if you have a large number of odorous ants or even a nest in your home already, you’re just encouraging them to find safety somewhere else, and it’s not going to be outside. They will split into smaller groups and keep on multiplying, spreading throughout your home.

So what can you do? Give us a call at Antworks Pest Control–we can help to identify the ant, identify how large the problem is, and apply the correct treatment to fix your ant problem. You don’t have to live with ants, and you don’t have to spend the entire winter battling them! Contact us today to schedule your appointment!