As the mercury rises, so will ant pressure and activity levels in and around commercial properties.
Ants can carry bacterial and disease-causing organisms that can possibly contaminate food including E. Coli., Streptococcus, Shigella, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus. Their presence in a food processing, service or healthcare facility will raise a red flag with auditors and inspectors.
What are a few ants you might say? Ants seen trailing into a building are worker ants searching for food for the colony. It’s safe to assume that if you see one ant there are many more nearby.
It takes a trained expert to track ants to their source and eliminate the threat. Also, finding the right solution depends on identifying the type of ant that’s causing the problem.
What Attracts Ants to Commercial Properties?
What attracts ants to commercial properties?
Jason Everitt, A.C.E., director of technical services for Rottler Pest Solutions, says ants are attracted inside commercial properties to get away from overly moist conditions resulting from spring rains and melting snow and ice.
“Ants will look for dryer areas to establish harborage locations,” says Everitt. “These locations, however, still must have easy access to food and moisture sources. As a result, your commercial property could be a prime target.”
In Missouri, Illinois and Kansas the primary ant threat to commercial properties is the Odorous house ant. This widely found species is recognized for its ability to quickly establish satellite nests that can include thousands of members.
Odorous house ants are known to move their nests multiple – 10 or more – times to avoid the rain. They like to eat sugary foods. That is why food spillage and waste found in commercial kitchens, bakeries, candy or beverage production facilities makes them prime targets.
Where Are Ants Found in Commercial Properties?
Once indoors, odorous house ants nest near moisture sources in kitchens, break rooms or in wall voids or under slabs near hot water pipers, in machinery compartments of food processing equipment and beneath leaky fixtures. On the exterior, they are often found in exposed soil or under stacks of brush or wood debris including shipping pallets.
Everitt says ants seen carrying food are heading back to feed the colony and this can help pinpoint the location of the nest or the access point they used to get inside.
It is important for clients to remember that an effective ant management program is not an overnight process. Because of their behavior patterns, biology and large colony sizes they won’t disappear instantly following a treatment.
Ant Prevention Strategies
How do you prevent ants from becoming an issue? Focusing on exclusion and sanitation practices and modifying the physical environment in and around your facility is where effective ant management starts.
- Exclusion – How are ants getting in and what can be done to keep them out? Seal cracks in the foundation, install door sweeps and caulk around door frames. Seal cracks and crevices in slab floors.
- Sanitation – Clean up food spillage and debris and deep clean food processing or storage equipment to make your interior spaces less attractive to these invasive social insects.
- Environmental modification – Your commercial property is not an island, and the nearby environment can impact pest pressure. Weeds provide harborage and tree branches touching a building provide access points. Eliminate moisture sources – leaky faucets, irrigation systems or standing water.