Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in a PCT e-newsletter titled “Targeting Ants,” which was sponsored by Rockwell Labs.

While there are numerous species of ants with varying habits, many ants’ primary nesting places can be found in outdoor spaces underneath stones, logs and soil. However, these insects become major pests when they make their nests in the foundations of homes, primarily in walls, floors and foam insulation. Many ants also forage for food indoors, and some can damage electrical wiring and sting.

Whether ants are already occupying your customer’s space, or you want to prevent an incoming invasion, there are strategies and tips to help defend your customer’s home against these small but bothersome enemies.

Michael Burks, owner of Eco Pest Solutions, Cleveland, Tenn., said that it’s always better to have a proactive approach to ant control rather than reacting to a later ant infestation.

“Being proactive is a little different, you have to think...like an ant,” said Burks. “The ants aren’t there, but you have to pay attention to areas they may show up.”

When inspecting a home for potential ant problems, it is important to look for anything that could promote ant activity in the house structure and the surrounding environment, Burks said. Structural flaws such as cracks in the foundation, gaps in walls and floor voids provide ants with easy access to your customer’s home. It is also necessary to locate sources of moisture outdoors, such as gutters, mulch beds and leaking A/C units that could damage wood and form a perfect spot for ants to set up shop and dish out some of their damaging behavior.

“These areas should be caution school zones, like flashing lights, for a PMP,” Burks said. “If I was a betting man, that’s where I’m putting my money on where a potential ant problem could show up.”

If you’re reacting to an existing ant problem, you will want to use pesticides that provide quick knockdown. Keep in mind reactive ant control typically involves using increased volume of products to get rid of existing ants.

Once those ants are removed, it’s important to locate the weak spot where ants were entering and correct it. However, ironically, your reactive approach isn’t complete until you set some proactive strategies in motion. In addition to fixing the initial entry point of the ants, it’s vital to inspect and fix all other potential structural or environmental deficiencies, so as not to allow ants in a second time. In doing this, Burks added, “That’s when you are a proactive pro.”