Homes: Don’t let unwelcome guests ruin summer
Spring and summer are wonderful times of the year to welcome guests to your home. Unfortunately, they’re also the time of the year when some unwanted guests like to visit as well.
When it comes to summer visitors, nobody wants wasps and ants dropping in. There’s nothing like a wasp nest to ruin a good barbecue on the back deck, and nothing like ants – particularly carpenter ants – to ruin that deck, or your house in general.
Josh Lower of Aggressive Pest Control confirms that ants and wasps are the two main reasons he stays so busy during the spring and summer months. It’s this time of the year when wasps start building their nests, and when ants starting leaving their nests looking for food and new places to build homes.
“We’re definitely kept busy during the summer with wasps and ants,” says Lowe, who notes that he’s already getting lots of wasp calls, even though such calls don’t usually start coming until later in June.
“We tend to get lots of ant calls right now because they’re busy, but we’ve also been getting lots of wasp calls already. I think it’s probably because we didn’t get much of a freeze this winter.”
If you’ve noticed ants or wasps, Lowe says you need to act on them before they become a bigger problem.
For wasps, he says homeowners can tackle small nests themselves if they’re confident enough. But he cautions that if you know you’re allergic or are worried you might be allergic to a wasp bite, or if the nest is bigger than a few inches across, you might want to call an expert and not take any chances.
With ants, Lowe recommends going straight to an expert who knows how to track them, and how to destroy the nests.
“You can’t just kill a few ants … you need to destroy the whole nest or they’ll just keep coming,” he says.
In order to kill the nest, it’s best to use the professional grade insecticides available only to licensed pest control experts.
Lowe says the ant baits available off the shelf in retail outlets really aren’t that effective at taking out possibly tens of thousands of ants in a nest.
To do the job right, he says the ants have to be tracked to their nest, then the right chemicals must be used to take out the whole nest.
The best way to tackle ants or wasps from a homeowner’s perspective, says Lowe, is to prevent them from getting access to your home in the first place. Therefore, sealing any entry points – small holes, cracks in the concrete, gaps in the siding or soffits, and so on – is the surest ways to avoid ant or wasp incursions.
If you notice any damaged areas of the building that are a result of moisture, it’s best to fix and seal these as ants, particularly house-munching carpenter ants, love such spots.
If you’re worried about odorous or sugar ants coming into the house, the best way to prevent that from happening is to make sure all sugary foods are stored properly, and that all spills are wiped up immediately.
Outside of the house, ants love rotten stumps and woodpiles, in particular, so removing such spots from near the house will help reduce the likelihood of ants building secondary nests in your home.
With wasps, Lowe recommends wasp traps set away from the back deck or barbecue area. By putting traps – homemade or store bought – at a distance, the wasps are less likely to home in on your delicious, expensive steak.
Wasps and ants are mostly a nuisance unless you’re allergic to the former, or unless the latter are carpenter ants. Nobody really wants them around, so Lowe says it pays to be vigilant, and to take some preventative measures.
Robert Prince is a freelance writer who lives in Maple Ridge.