Whenever I hang out the laundry on a warm summer’s day, my enjoyment of the mindless task is somewhat marred by the presence of a scuttling multitude around my feet. Ants.
They’ve made their nest this and every year under the patio, and use the hole for the rotary line as their grand front door. I hate them so much I end up dancing around them just to hang the washing out.
To help us all deal with normal ants and their winged brethren, we asked Rentokil’s UK product manager, Berwyn Evans, some itching questions…
Can ant bites cause allergic reactions?
Rentokil Pest Control deals with the common garden ant - the species that customers come into contact with most regularly.
arden ants don’t have a sting and are very unlikely to bite you, although they can become irritated when disturbed and may try to bite a perceived intruder in defence.
However, as their bites are too weak to penetrate the skin, it is very rare for humans to have any sort of allergic reaction to them.
Ants are more of a nuisance than anything else, largely due to their ability to fit through the smallest of gaps.
They can also be the source of cross-contamination, as they move from one food source to another. Worker ants will also leave a pheromone trail, which will allow other members of the colony to find food faster.
Do ants have any preferred environment?
Warm conditions are required for ants to breed and therefore colonies are normally found on the south side of buildings. Sandy soils are popular, which is why ants commonly set up their nests under patios and gaps in the pavement.
What's the difference between ants and flying ants?
Both male and female garden ants will fly at this time of year in order to mate, usually after a downpour when there’s been a hot spell.
Female ants (queens) and the smaller males (drones) mate in the air, often in their thousands. After the mating has taken place, the queen ants will find a new landing spot where they’ll bite off their wings and hibernate for the winter – laying the foundations for a nest the following year.
Is there anything we can do to prevent them building their nests in the first place?
Once the queen ants have been fertilised, there is not a great deal that you can do to prevent the foundations of a colony.
Nevertheless, it’s still advisable to ensure that all foods are sealed, and that any rubbish is properly packaged and placed in closed bins. If you are unsure of how to deal with an ant infestation, then make sure you call the experts for advice, they will know what products are best to use.