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Ants are certainly pesky little insects, particularly in the summertime when everyone wants to enjoy the great outdoors. What we may not realize; however, is the damage ants can cause to our homes and yards in addition to our summer fun.

There are actually more than 20 different varieties of ants that are present during the warmer months. One of these varieties is red fire ants. While these ants are most common during the summer they are quite capable of surviving even inside a building or home all year around provided there is adequate warmth.

Some varieties of ants, such as carpenter ants and fire ants can actually be destructive and that destruction can prove to be significant if not addressed quickly. Other ants, known as honey ants, primarily live outside but may venture inside if they are on a search for food; creating havoc in their wake. Pharaoh’s ants and the house ants live mainly on the inside.

The winged fire ant, hailing from Argentina, was first noticed in the U.S. beginning in the 1930’s. Since that time they have quickly, and quite easily, spread throughout the South and Southwest. They have recently become a particular problem in California where millions of dollars are spent each year to try to eradicate fire ants.

Fire ants stings, as many of us know, can be quite painful. What we may not know; however, is the depth of an ant’s viciousness. Each ant, and there can be an unknown number in a fire ant bed, contains the ability to sting numerous times. It is quite possible to receive hundreds of fire ant stings by accidentally invading a fire ant bed. There have been dozens of deaths in the U.S. alone contributed to allergic reactions following fire ant stings. Although one or two stings likely won’t result in death they can certainly cause sores and even swelling that can last for weeks.

Regardless of what kind of ant may have their sights fastened on your home it is important to know that these insects have the potential to be destructive as well as to contaminate your food. Therefore it is imperative to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Obviously, the need to eliminate these insects is important. The first step toward doing that is calling in a professional exterminator to identify the source of the problem. Since there are so many different varieties of ants this imperative in order to know how to properly treat them. The many different types of ants all prefer to eat different foods, therefore it is essential to properly identify them.

It is also important to understand there are some common sanitation guidelines you can make use of in order to keep ants to a minimum as well.

This includes making sure that all cracks and crevices around foundation areas are caulked as well as eliminating cracks on the inside as well, particularly around the kitchen and any other area where food may be stored. Make an effort to keep sweet foods such as sugar and honey tightly sealed. Be sure to rinse out drink containers and remove them immediately from the home. Keep an eye out for common nesting sites on the inside of the home such as plants. If you find ants present, remove the plants from the home. An over the counter insecticide purchased at your local nursery or garden supply store may be able to address small problems.

For particularly invasive infestations do not hesitate to contact your local exterminator to handle the problem before it becomes widespread and much more difficult to control.