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Home >> Departments/Offices >> Cooperative Extension >> Pest of the Month >> December

December

Ants in the House

Have ants been streaming into your home? Many Rockdale Coiunty residents are plagued by legions of ants searching for water. These ants you probably Argentine ants. Argentine ants are one of the most common nuisance insect pests encountered by property owners and pest management professionals in the Southeastern United States. They are native to South America, and were accidentally introduced into the U.S. in one or more New Orleans' coffee shipments in the late 1800s. Argentine ants are opportunistic nesters, and are most commonly found nesting outdoors in mulch, leaf litter, in unmaintained rain gutters, compost piles, rotted logs, and under rocks, patio stones, potted plants, etc.

Argentine ants form large colonies with numerous nesting sites and large foraging ranges. They have a strong natural tendency to trail, and their trail pheromone is strong. Ants can trail hundreds of feet from nest sites to feeding sites on highly visible foraging trails.

To control them, limit moisture around buildings by limiting leaf litter buildup, mulch, and any other moisture-holding media. This will help keep them off your property, but if your neighbors don't take steps to eliminate these ants, then they will easily trail from one property to the next. An application of Over-N-Out to mulched areas, followed by a good watering in can help. In addition, use Terro ant bait and Combat bait stations and gel where ants are seen. The key is keeping the bait fresh over a week or so period so they can carry enough back to the colony. You’ll see lots of ants the first few days, and then the numbers will deminish as they begin to die. Re-use baits as needed. Professionally, a pest control company can apply Termidor around the structure up to two times a year. This product is not available to homeowners, but is an excellent remedy to this ant.

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Ants on Plants

Ants on plants often concern people. Except for leaf cutting ants, these insects generally are not a problem.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Ants are commonly found on plants because the plants have aphids, whiteflies, scales and mealy bugs. These insects produce honeydew, a sugary substance ants like to eat. Ants pay frequent visits to the aphids to collect this liquid, and often encourage them to produce more by touching them with their antennae. This behavior is called "milking."  The ants manage the aphids much like a dairy herd and will even carry aphids around on a plant to find better spots for the aphids to feed. In return for a rich supply of food, the ants protect the aphids from insect predators.

WHAT TO DO ON PLANTS:
Controlling the aphids will make the ants go elsewhere