Portland’s Famous Sugar Ant Problem
Here in Portland, Oregon, we have our fair share of pests. Gophers, spiders, and other critters prompt homeowners across the metro-area to call pest control to evict their unwanted guests forcefully. However, the most insidious (and probably the most aggravating) pest in Portland is the sugar ant. Strangely enough, due to their unique ecology and biology, sugar ants are the hardest pest to get rid of, though homeowners may be more worried about carpenter ants.
The Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Sugar Ants
Homeowners have good reason to be fearful of carpenter ants. These insects are responsible for thousands of dollars of wood damage across Portland every year. Pest control experts estimate that a fully-formed carpenter ant nest results in up to $15 a day in damage to the home. Carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites. Instead, they chew through it to make room for their nests. They don’t swallow the wood shavings. Carpenter ants carry the wood shavings to a refuse hole to dump them. The pile of wood debris is known as “frass” and tends to be the first sign of a carpenter ant infestation.
While sugar ants don’t cause as much monetary damage as carpenter ants do, they are persistent little bugs. This persistence is the result of the sugar ant’s distinctive habits and behaviors, such as their extraordinary colony size. Each sugar ant colony can have a population of up to 15,000 individual ants. Sugar ants are also known as “odorous ants” due to the rotting coconut smell they emit when crushed.
Sugar ants are attracted to sugar, but their primary source of food is honeydew produced by aphids and other mealy bugs. They are active all day and all night, and they are more friendly than most humans. Sugar ants get along with many other ant species, which helps protect them from predators. Not only that, but they can produce multiple colonies with multiple queens. Sugar ants are not native to Portland, but, at this point, there’s no getting rid of them entirely due to their massive numbers.
Sugar ants start to move inside when outside food sources run low. That’s why Portland homeowners find themselves with sugar ant infestations in the dead of winter! High moisture areas of the home such as the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room attract sugar ants.
How To Tell the Difference Between Sugar Ants and Carpenter Ants
Sugar ants and carpenter ants are often confused for each other when seen in isolation. However, if a carpenter ant and a sugar ant stand side by side, it’s fairly obvious which is which. Sugar ants are tiny (sometimes less than 1/8″ long), while carpenter ants can be double the size of sugar ants (1/4″ long or more). Additionally, if no evidence of frass or wood damage exists, the ants are probably sugar ants.
What to Do About Sugar Ants in Portland
Sugar ants in Portland are a nuisance. Sometimes it seems that no matter what homeowners do, those pesky critters find their way back inside! Ultimately, the first step to ridding a Portland home of sugar ants is to call a reputable pest control service. The pest control service will likely do the following:
- Perform a thorough pest inspection. Pest control companies perform pest inspections to plan the best defense for the home. They’ll locate as many sugar ant trails as possible and determine if any sub-colonies exist within the home.
- Inject exterior walls (where sugar ants like to nest). If the pest control company locates any ant nests within the home’s exterior walls, they’ll inject pesticides into these areas to remove those sub-colonies.
- Spray the foundation and perimeter of the home. Most sugar ants come into the home from their colony outside. By spraying around the edge and foundation, sugar ants are prevented from making the journey into the house.
- Spray the baseboards in the home. Again, spraying the perimeter inside the home helps disrupt the sugar ants’ travel to and from their main colony outside. Even if the sugar ants nest in the exterior walls, spraying pesticides both inside and out can prevent sugar ants from growing in numbers.
- Treat the attic and crawlspace. A lot of homes here in Portland have attics and crawlspaces that don’t see much use. These oft-ignored areas are perfect real estate for a sugar ant sub-colony.
Make sure to keep up with pest control services, as sugar ants are a year-round problem here in Portland. Even with regular pest control, sugar ants may still be an issue. Many Portland homeowners have found relief between professional treatments by placing traps throughout the home. If there are any pets in the house, make sure to purchase traps made with borax and sugar, as borax is non-toxic to both humans and domestic pets. These traps work by introducing borax to the sugar ants, which they carry back to their nest. Borax is toxic to sugar ants, and this will help reduce the colony’s size until the home’s next pest control service.
How Can The Killers Help With Ant Problems in Portland?
Here at The Killers Pest Control in Portland, we have over thirty years of extermination experience. Whether the home is infested with sugar ants or mice, we have become experts in eliminating infestations and making Portland homeowners comfortable in their own space. If sugar ants are driving the family crazy, call today to explore pest control options. We have three different service plans, including our Silver Star plan, which is specific to ants and comes with a one-year warranty and three annual treatments. Our Silver Star plan includes:
- A complete pest inspection.
- Exterior wall pesticide injections.
- Exterior foundation treatments.
- Crawlspace and attic treatments.
- Interior baseboard treatments.
- Gel or granular bait placement in high-activity areas.
Our Silver Star plan includes an automatic follow-up every six months. Additionally, any problems that occur during the warranty period come with additional services at no cost to the customer! Call today to get started!