12 tips for following the ant trail


October 26, 2017

Article after article talks about the success of ants. Ant management relies heavily on finding the ant trails. There are ants that are just not trailing when you come to provide service. You arrive about the same time each visit. Therefore, you may never see any ants trailing. The best thing to do at this point is create a probability list of where the ants will most likely trail. Apply your bait or residual in these areas.

Remember, you cannot always rely on customers to tell you where the ants exist. They may not be home when you provide service. They may have poor eyesight. They may exaggerate where and how many they have. In fact, I always advocate asking small children where they see the ants. They know best.

Photo: ©iStock.com/DieterMeyrl

After you get recommendations from your young experts, there are a dozen other locations to inspect. You will find your chances of discovering the ants will quickly improve by honing in on one or more of them.

  1. Lift the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting at the floor/wall juncture. Do so in areas closest to where the ants are appearing and/or near pet food.
  2. On the exterior where grass grows up against the foundation, bend the grass backward — away from the structure — and look at the exposed dirt. Even in the daytime hours, ants may be very active below the grass covering.
  3. Look up along the exterior edge of a rain gutter (a rarity in Nevada) or roofline. For tall buildings, improve your chances by using binoculars.
  4. Edges of sidewalks and walkways leading up to a structure create ideal ant trailways. The reason the ants select edges is very simple: Ants mark their trails with a pheromone. Other ants have to keep checking where the pheromone is to stay on the trail. In open areas, the ants spend extra time and energy attempting to stay on the trail. They wander off and spend energy trying to find the trail. A straight edge makes it easier to follow.
  5. The top and bottom of fence lines make excellent ant trail opportunities. So does a garden hose left on the lawn for a few days. Concentrate your pesticide application on the structure at or near the part where the hose is attached to the foundation. Pest-proof any opening into the structure.
  6. Look at vegetation touching the house, both at lower locations and at the roofline. Residuals placed around the perimeter of a structure at ground level will not eliminate ants trailing high. Trim — or instruct your customers to trim — the vegetation so it is away from the building.
  7. Inspect around any pet food dishes, indoors or out.
  8. Check around the moldings of door entrances, again thinking lines.
  9. Bend down and look underneath the overhang of kitchen and bathroom counters. You may see the ants on top of the counter, but the trail is more likely under the counter or along the backsplash.
  10. Sometimes the ants have main trails underground, including on roots from large trees leading to the structure as well as buried water sprinkler lines (again, a rarity in Nevada).
  11. In a desert climate, moisture sources are of utmost importance for all living organisms. Ants are no exception. A potted plant, a welcome mat, and an outdoor bench all provide shade. Lift such items and check.
  12. Last but not least, rodent bait stations provide food and shelter. Check inside and underneath bait stations.

Contact Contributor Dr. Austin Frishman, BCE-Emeritus, a PMP Hall of Famer, at PMPEditor@northcoastmedia.net.


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