Bath and North East Somerset Council Does Not provide a pest control service for the treatment of ants.
How to identify them?
Black ants are commonly found throughout the UK, and although they nest outdoors, they are often found inside.
Ants range in size from 1mm to 52 mm and colours can vary; most are red or black.
Where do ants come from?
Ants may build nests on trees, though most are found in the ground, under stones or logs, inside logs, hollow stems or even acorns. You could find ants nests in dry earth around plant roots. The sand used in house foundations, garden paths and patios forms a good site for the queen ant to start a colony, as sandy soil in particular may attract colonies. Nests are increasingly being found inside the walls of properties (cavity walls, for example). Once a colony develops it can be difficult to get rid of.
Why do ants come indoors?
The ants found indoors are usually worker ants, which are foraging for food for the queen and the grubs. They have found that buildings where there are humans are a good source of provision, particularly sweet or sugary items. They will eat almost anything and can easily get in to unopened packages. They are attracted to greasy or fatty foods, meats, sugary foods, and other dead insects. Because of their eating habits, they can contaminate food by wandering over it.
Do ants do any harm?
Black ants do not transmit any serious diseases. However, you should remember that the ants may have travelled through unpleasant or dirty places during their foraging and before entering your home. This means that they can taint any food, making it unsuitable to eat.
How do I get rid of them?
Some ant species are considered pests, and because of the adaptive nature of ant colonies, getting rid of the entire colony is nearly impossible. Pest management is therefore a matter of controlling local populations, instead of destroying an entire colony. Most attempts at control are temporary solutions.
Solutions you can try yourself include pouring boiling water onto the nest. This will certainly control the problem, but may only be a temporary solution. Another way of eliminating ant nests is to buy a household insecticide which you should apply on and around the nest, together with possible entry points for the ants. Entry points would include doors, windows, cracks in walls, even waste pipes. Remember, for your own safety, to follow the manufacturers' instructions on the pack. This again may only be a short term answer, firstly because of the low dosages allowed in domestic insecticides. Secondly, there can be so many ants in one nest that it is difficult to eradicate the whole colony in one go, so the problem may recur.
How to prevent an infestation
- Do not leave food uncovered if accessible to ants. If they have contaminated food, dispose of it in the dustbin (wrapped first to prevent it smelling in the warmer weather)
- Do not feed wild birds or other animals to excess - the food will attract unwanted pests e.g. ants
- Store food and household waste in sealed containers/bins