In my opinion battles with ants are won or lost before the first ounce of pest control is ever applied. It is in the inspection that you can formulate your plan and see exactly what you’re dealing with and only by taking a few minutes to survey the situation will you ever get ahold of any hard to deal with ant problem.
Identification is the key
I don’t expect the average home owner to narrow down any ants other than say fire ants or perhaps carpenter. To them it’s usually just a “little red one or little black.” I have been so misled over the years by descriptions from people that I disregard more of what they say than I probably should. Things like ‘baby ants’ get me to thinking of polymorphic species because there aren’t any babies, so I run down that list and start looking around only to find out they have two or more kinds of ant species running around so of course there’s different sizes. Long story short I love my customers but sometimes it pays not to listen to them. (sometimes) Regardless if you are a home owner or a professional reading this now the rule stays the same. CORRECTLY IDENTIFY YOUR ANT and you’ll be on the right track to getting rid of them.
Bait first then spray- a prime example
We’re all in a hurry and especially if you’re running a route and you have 10 more accounts to get done before 5. It’s tempting to just breakout your dusters or B&G and start treating figuring you’ll see your ant somewhere along the way. If I don’t see any ants on my inspection I always start putting down dabs of ant gel baits. Some ants don’t go for the sweets but it’s at least a start and you can narrow it down to protein or grease eating ants this way too. Just recently I was called into an office that swore they were infested with ants but none were visible when I got there. They said it was so bad they couldn’t even put their lunches down before swarms of them descended like flies. Not seeing any I began baiting and the office mgr. was a little miffed. “Aren’t you just gonna blast this place? I want them gone NOT FED!” I simply smiled and assured him this would work and lo and behold on my second trip around the many offices I had them coming out in droves. Now I had my ID so I knew what to look for, areas I could treat and how and I even found out they had two different types – Fire ants and Odorous House ants. With this information I knew I’d be checking outside near the foundation for the fire ants and I would probably find my house ants near water. Since I always treat exteriors I decided to tackle the fire ants first and give my bait more time to work. Sure enough I found fire ant mounds near the entry in an expansion joint at the bottom of a pillar and on the only grassy side of the building. I made quick work of them and made sure to hit around all the a/c drip line areas and anywhere else moisture wise that my inside odorous house ants might be attracted to and was probably the reason they got in in the first place.
Back inside and the mgr. still in a bad mood because it didn’t seem to him I was doing anything, I checked in the owners office bathroom and found a stampede of odorous house ants coming from behind the commode tank right to my line of bait. Not seeing any hole or crack I knew right where to look. Lifting the tank lid off I found hundreds of them scurrying in and out of the hollow core hole of the tank lid. They had their moisture and their harborage but I might have been looking for days had I not taken the time to inspect and get the proper ID. Since the rest of my bait had attracted only foragers not near any moisture I was sure this was the nest (plus the fact the workers were trying to escape with eggs and the rest of the brood in their mouths) and within minutes my job was done. The office managers jaw just dropped when he saw how many poured out and asked how I knew they were in there. Again I just smiled and said, “they told me where they were” and I handed him my bill.
Now some techs prefer to just let the bait work in this situation and the way they were tearing it up it probably would have been just fine.Me, I always seize the opportunity to leave the job with zero bugs alive when ever I see it’s available, it’s what I’m paid for and there’s no better way to get referrals when you can instantly reduce a problem to zilch. Had my inspection revealed pharaoh ants or if I didn’t find the nest I would have used just my baits because I would need the ants to do some of the work for me by taking my pest control where I couldn’t reach. This decision however could have never been made no matter what kind of ant unless I first took the time to inspect my account and correctly ID my foe. The ants would reoccur and be even more of a problem and any chance I had at getting some repeat business or referrals would simply –be in the tank.