Why are ants so hard to control?
Ants don’t play favorites. They are active across the country in just about every commercial field. Just take a look over your lawn and you may find them crawling around.
When ants march their way inside, foraging for food—especially at food processing facilities—they become an even bigger problem.
Ants can enter through the tiniest openings and nest out of sight in walls, storage rooms, and the landscaping surrounding a building. Once ants get into a building, they leave an invisible pheromone trail for others in their colony—the colony can be home to hundreds of thousands of them—to follow.
What’s more, ants can signal a warning via pheromones to the colony to disperse and relocate if they sense a threat. Because of their strong survival instincts, ant colonies can be very difficult to control once inside your facility.
Just what kind of ants pose a threat to your facility depends on where you are in the country. Fire ants show their aggression in the Southeast and carpenter ants can infest any building in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, while on the West Coast, Argentine ant colonies can contain millions of worker ants and hundreds of queens. The Southwest faces the threat of tawny crazy ants, which can be even more destructive than fire ants. No matter where your facilities are, ants are nearby.
Fortunately, there are tactics you can put in place to give your facility a fighting chance. Many of these fall under the integrated pest management (IPM) umbrella. By eliminating conducive conditions, an IPM program can help control ant colonies, as well as other pests. A pest management professional can help customize an IPM program for your facility and target the controlling strategies based on proper identification of the ant species you are dealing with.
Work with a pest management professional to implement an IPM program that keeps ants on the outside looking in.
Make Your Facility a Fortress
While ants can hitchhike their way into your facility via shipments or unsuspecting visitors, they pose their greatest threats from the outside. The entrances to your facility, as well as your building’s exterior, are the front lines of your battle, a battle you can end with the right IPM defenses.
Be sure to add door sweeps and use weather stripping to minimize any gaps around doors and windows. If possible, install automatic doors to ensure entrances stay closed as much as possible.
Survey the exterior of the building, looking for cracks and imperfections. Seal any cracks in the building’s windows, ceilings, floors, and exterior walls with weather-resistant sealant and add copper mesh around pipes and drains before sealing. Use window screens and additional weather stripping as protective barriers to foil ants from crawling inside.
When it comes to landscaping, create a buffer to make sure that no plants, trees, or shrubs touch the building. If possible, add a two-foot gravel strip between bushes and walls, as this makes it difficult for ants—and other pests like rodents—to move around.
Keep an eye on your parking lot and any sidewalks too because any remnants of trash can attract ants to the area. Clean dumpsters on a regular basis, and prevent trash and clutter buildup around them to give ants one less place to hang out.
Don’t Receive and Store Ants
Loading docks are prime pest targets at food processing facilities because they tend to be the most accessible entrance. Pests can find their way inside through receiving doors and, at times, hitch a ride in on shipments.