They may look harmless, but ants can pack a big punch, especially inside a home. So, before you let those ants march their way one by one across your floor, here are some reasons why you may want to take measures to keep those tiny insects at bay.
They threaten the structural integrity of your home
Sure, ants won’t consume the wood in your home like termites will, but they build little tunnels and set up camp inside your walls for easy access to food in your home. While small, these tunnels threaten the integrity of wood by hollowing it out.
In fact, carpenter ants thrive in damp climates and require careful attention if you want to avoid structural failures that result from ants tunneling in homes, according to an article published by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Environmental Conservation.
You may even have fungal growths in the wood from an ant colony’s "waste dump."
They carry and transfer disease-causing organisms
Ants crawl on the ground and up counters, and thrive in wet environments, making them carriers of bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.
An article published by the University of California, Berkeley noted that some species of ants in developing countries carry E. coli, streptococcus, shigella, salmonella and staphylococcus — many of which are found in feces. While no significant risk has been found in the U.S., you wouldn’t want creatures who crawl along the ground to crawl in your food.
They protect harmful insects that infest gardens
Even if you have an ant colony in your garden, as opposed to in your house, it could be cause for concern.
Sure, ants help your garden by creating tunnels that aerate the land, eating other insects' eggs, transferring seeds and serving as food for birds and lizards. However, if the colony grows too large, the ants end up protecting honeydew-producing, sucking insects that cause damage to plants.
By controlling the population within your garden, you can have the benefits of ants without the negative side effects.
They come en masse
You may see a few ants trickling into your home from your front door or a crack in the wall, and think you have only a small problem. However, there isn’t such a thing as a small ant problem because all ants belong to a larger colony of thousands.
The ants you see are likely the ones designated to venture out to gather food for their 100,000-member colony, and no one wants that many ants anywhere near their home.
They’re a nuisance
If nothing else, having ants in your home is a nuisance. Odorous house ants are the most common in western Washington and, although they won't harm your health, they emit a foul smell when crushed and are annoying.
No matter the type of ant or your reason for not wanting them in your home, contact a licensed professional who can identify the type of ants, where they are coming from and how to control the population or eliminate the colony. This way you can rest easy, knowing you don’t have tiny, crawling insects quietly wreaking havoc in your home.