Small Bug, Big Problem - Page 2

With the summer heat, Eichler owners cry for help as hordes of ants hit their homes
Fridays on the Homefront
Photo: Renata Virzintaite
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Two common over-the-counter remedies.

Some contributors fear the location of their Eichler is the problem—perhaps unaware that the only places on Earth without native ants are Greenland, Iceland, a few scattered islands in the Pacific, and the aforementioned Antarctica.

"We're seeing hundreds of ants in our house, especially in the kitchen," posted a recent contributor named Kristin, who lives in the San Mateo Highlands. "Is this common to the Highlands?"

Matt Fisher, pest control manager for Omega Termite & Pest Control in Oakland, said Bay Area communities with sandier soil, such as Alameda, are actually more habitable for ants than those with more clay in the soil, like much of the South Bay.

Fisher also said that slab-on-grade construction has a few less entry points into a home than one with "sub-areas" (such as basements). He added, however, that the entire Bay Area is prone to ants year-round because winters are so mild. Ants can reproduce here year-round, unlike in colder climates.

"You rarely hear about ants coming into people's home when there's snow on the ground," he observed. As for whether Bay Area ant problems can be seasonal, he said, "In our area, when you get lots of rain for a few days, people get ants. Same thing with lots of heat: the ants come streaming in."

Another Eichler Network post questioned whether killing the first few scouts from an ant colony will prevent an invasion.

"Most people's natural instinct is to squish them with your finger, which just makes the queen send more [scouts] when they don't come back," Fisher explained sadly. Likewise, he said, using cleaning products or spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to disrupt an ant trail will disorient them briefly, but then they just "fan out to try to find the [scouts'] pheromone trail."

"Remember," he warns, "ants are not stupid. They're just going to go around it."

On the positive side, the Omega man said he believes 'bait' products such Grant's ant stakes or Terro ant traps can be effective, contrary to contributor Ajm's experience.

"I usually try to direct people to attack their ant problem on the exterior," Fisher advised, suggesting that all such bait products be placed outside the house.

"Some people want to deal with it on their own," he said of ant invasions. "Usually when they get fed up, that's when they call us."