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Identifying and Eliminating Winter Ants

When winter rolls around, ants crawling around your house are way down on your list of concerns. There’s every reason to put them there, too. During the winter, most ants become sluggish as their body temperature lowers with that of the temperature outside. However, when ants take shelter in your home, that activity can pick up.

One of the more active winter ants is the honey ant. These small honey ants are sometimes called winter ants because of their activity during the colder season. A honey ant won’t even look like a typical ant at first glance, partly because of their size. Honey ants typically have a length of 0.08-0.2 inches. Their body has a triangular shaped abdomen with a circle of hairs at the tip, and they appear to have a glossy light or dark brown color, or sometimes black.

During the summer, honey ants will spend a bulk of their time below ground in their nests, which can go as deep as several feet. They favor using foraging trails near their nests in soil. However, the small honey ants also like the taste of sweets, and will actively search for food sources indoors. Honey ants are also very tolerant of the cold weather and are often the first species of ant that will send out foragers during the winter. 

Although honey ants normally construct nests in the soil in open, shaded areas, they will go wherever the food is. If there is not a sufficient amount of sustenance for the nest outdoors, workers will forage into homes and can start building nests indoors. One of those possible nesting sites could be in the soil of potted plants.

Once inside, the honey ants will focus on the kitchen for most of their activity. They may also set satellite colonies up in your home, likely near the kitchen or the bathroom, anywhere that is warm and offers shelter, food and water.

Like many pests, the best way to prevent their presence is to eliminate the temptations of what makes your house a likely candidate for their home. Seal all food containers, don’t leave dirty dishes or food waste in the sink, and wipe down counters and tables after preparing food and eating.

Fortunately, winter ants are not harmful to humans. The damage that they do is mostly through contaminating your food. They can get into cereal boxes or feast on any fruit that is left out, leading to food waste. Outdoors, they might inflict damage on some plants in your garden. 

Spotting an ant in your home could be a sign of an infestation. Finding live or dead ants, or a cone-shaped nest outdoors, might show that there are much more ants than you can handle on your own. Also, because honey ants have a high tolerance for the cold, an infestation could occur and last longer than other species.

Preventing a winter ant infestation is possible by cleaning up around the house, and especially in the kitchen. But when you find increased ant activity, that’s when you should contact the pest control specialists at Van Den Berge Pest Control at 616-392-7367.

Trust the locally owned, widely renowned experts at Van Den Berge Pest Control for all of your pest needs. With over 100 years of combined experience throughout the Holland, MI-based pest control team, you know you’re in expert hands with our state-certified experts.

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