The ants that we see day to day are adult ants. Immature ants or “brood” are usually a whitish color and somewhat resemble fly maggots. They are found inside the nest where they are tended by adult workers.
Ants are social insects – they live in colonies that contain three castes or groups: workers, queens, and males. Most of the ants you find in a colony are the workers, which are sterile females. They are responsible for gathering food, feeding the brood and queen(s), and defending the nest. Most ant species produce winged males and females during certain times of the year. These winged individuals, called swarmers, leave the nest to mate and start new colonies.
Ants invade homes and other structures in search of food, water, and shelter. Therefore, effective ant management needs to be a combination of control methods that involve inspection, sanitation and exclusion, habitat modification, and often some type(s) of insecticides
It is important to check carefully and thoroughly both indoors and outside to determine areas of ant activity, nest locations, and type of ant present. Indoors, follow ant trails to locate their entry point such as an electrical outlet or gap along a baseboard or around a water pipe. Outside, check the foundation, walkways, trees and shrubs, and in mulched areas for ant trails. Look for nests in mulch and vegetation next to the foundation. Check under potted plants, patio blocks, and stepping stones, and in piles of rocks, lumber, and firewood. Inspect the foundation to find possible ant entryways such as areas where pipes enter the building, foundation cracks, and around doors and windows. If swarmers were found indoors, then you could very easily have an indoor infestation, e.g., in a wall void, in the crawlspace or in the ceiling. In those situations, a careful inspection of the crawlspace may also be needed.
Granular insecticides can be used in the place of sprays to treat the soil around the home.
Nests within damaged wood can be treated by injecting insecticidal sprays or dusts into the nest. Such a treatment may require drilling small holes be drilled into the affected area. However, control will be most effective if damaged wood is replaced and moisture problems are corrected. Ants invading the home from outdoor areas can be managed by sealing cracks or other openings in the foundation. An insecticidal barrier may also be applied around the perimeter of the home. Check that doors and windows fit properly; install weather stripping where needed. Spot treatments around areas where power lines enter the home can be effective. Treat ornamental trees and shrubs for honeydew-producing insects.