Pest control advice and fees - Ants
There are two main types of ant that cause problems:
- Black Ant (Garden)
- Pharaoh's Ant
Our Pest Control team can help with treating both sorts of ant for you. Ants nests are particularly difficult to eradicate.
How much does this service cost? View the table of charges.
Book a pest control service (domestic properties only)
- Home treatments are usually effective and are much cheaper than calling in a pest controller.
- If you do make a booking, no guarantee can be given for a permanent remedy and no refunds will be given.
- We cannot treat ants in gardens.
- One payment covers the initial treatment plus a maximum of two re-treatments within four weeks of the initial treatment.
- If re-infestation occurs after four weeks of the original treatment, a further fee will be chargeable.
More about Black (garden) ants
In Britain indigenous species nest outdoors but are likely to enter houses regularly. One such species is the Common black ant (Lasius niger). An active insect, it nests outside in grass and walls and under paving. It will forage widely in search of food, which is how it comes to enter domestic premises.
Foraging worker ants cause a nuisance as they travel widely in search of food, following well-defined trails and clustering around the food source. Sweet foods are preferred.
In gardens their excavations around plant roots make the soil excessively dry. They will also cultivate greenfly, themselves pests, in order to obtain the sugary honeydew secretions that these aphids produce. On the other hand they can be beneficial as predators of other insects and general scavengers. They can be an unpleasant sight and may damage food used for human consumption.
The gregarious habits of ants have resulted in the development of a caste system, whereby individuals are responsible for specialised duties within the community. There are: workers (sterile females); fertile males; and queens (fertile females). The worker ants build and extend the nest, look after larval forms and forage for food, whereby they become pests. The queens perform none of these duties, but remain almost exclusively within the nest. Mating amongst sexual individuals takes place on the wing. These spectacular swarms involve large numbers of ants.
The actual swarms only persist for 2-3 hours. After mating the males perish but the females shed their wings and dig a cell in the soil where they overwinter.
The eggs are laid in late spring and the white legless larvae hatch 3-4 weeks later. The larvae are fed on secretions from the queen’s salivary glands until fully grown, when they will pupate, forming the well-known "ant eggs". From these pupae emerge the first brood of worker ants. These workers take over foraging duties and tend subsequent broods. The sexual forms are not produced until later. The entire cycle takes about 2 months to complete. Under favourable conditions a nest may persist for several years.
Although frequently inaccessible and difficult to destroy, ants’ nests must be eradicated if infestations are to be successfully controlled. The nests of Black ants can be located by following their trails. Potential food sources should be identified and protected from attack.
Insecticide treatments can be applied in and around the nest. Aim to ensure that a residual film of insecticide is maintained at strategic points, for example points of entry to buildings, such as doors, windows, ventilators, ducts and drains. Wall and floor junctions, ant runs and all other harbourages should be treated, using the product according to the label directions. Particular attention should be given to small insignificant cracks which may be major points of entry for the ants. Insecticidal baits, too, can be used around the entry points.
More about Pharaoh's Ant
Pharaoh's ants originated in the North Africa/Mediterranean region, spread along international trade routes and are now widely distributed. Their need for warm humid conditions means that in temperate lands they are confined to buildings. Infestations can he found in a wide variety of locations including residential blocks, hotels, hospitals and other institutions, food handling premises, zoos and on board ship. In warm climates infestations can be found outside.
The insects may be associated with the fabric of buildings (eg wall voids, windows, storage areas etc), plants and sterile supplies. Infestations spread through buildings by way of service ducts (eg heating and electrical conduits). The ants will forage for water around sinks and where condensation has occurred (eg windows, walls etc).
The ants can survive low temperatures for prolonged periods with the workers continuing to forage for food. The minimum temperature for success is 18ºC and the colonies thrive at 30°C. Infestations in buildings are relatively unaffected by the seasons although may be encouraged when heating systems are switched on during the winter.
Pharaoh's ants are social insects and live in colonies. These range in size from a few dozen to 300,000 ants.
Colonies consist of workers (sterile females), fertile males and queens (fertile females). There are usually many queens in a colony (multi-queen colonies) and they co-exist amicably. The queens can he replaced so colonies will survive indefinitely.
New colonies are typically formed by budding and may be encouraged by disturbing nests. Adult ants are responsible for this process which may include queens. Worker ants carry larval stages to anew nest site from which they can rear queens and males. Temporary nests may he established whilst the workers search for new sites. If established in mobile equipment infestations can he widely distributed.
The workers provide food for the colony and maintain the nest. Only 5 to10 per cent of workers are actually engaged in foraging. Fertile males and females develop from well fed larvae. Flying swarms are never seen, with mating taking place in the nests and interstices of buildings.
Each queen produces up to 350 eggs. These hatch in about a week to give legless larvae which are fed by the queens and tended by the workers. Larval development takes approximately three weeks. The pupal stage lasts about nine days. The whole cycle from egg laying to adult takes about five to six weeks depending upon temperature.
Successful control of Pharaoh's ants requires the destruction of nests. This is difficult to achieve because nests are often located in inaccessible places. You should seek professional help to control Pharaoh's ants.