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Mounds of trouble: Keeping ants at bay and out of the way
Beth Hyatt | July 27, 2017

With a perfectly manicured lawn comes the temptation to enjoy it. Naturally, you want your customers to enjoy every bit of their lawn, so this is a justified temptation, but what happens when a fun day of play ends with unexpected ant bites?

small part of an ant hill

Photo: Pixabay

Lawn ants, while not a hazard to your customer’s actual home, are a nuisance to customers who want to walk and play freely on their lawn. Not only are they annoying once your customer’s foot has found a few, they are a bit of an eyesore when their mounds begin to pop up.

While it’s easy to simply live with these insects in the lawn, many customers will not want them interrupting the freshly designed landscape they now have.

Here are the types of common lawn ants and a few methods to keep them from making your customer’s yard a permanent living space.

Types  

There are several species of ants that are common around lawns, and they tend to nest in places that have suitable soil types and drainage, sheltering rocks or logs and convenient food sources. Three main types of lawn ants are yellow ants, pavement ants and field ants.

Yellow ants are larger and are sometimes called foundation ants. They typically go unnoticed until it’s time for mating season and the mating flights begin. These mating rituals are usually during late summer afternoons and can occur after it rains.

While the sight of flying ants can be alarming, they are not interested in stored foods and do not nest in structures. Yellow ants can be found in nests built in the soil, under rocks, along or around foundations and in open areas in yards.

Pavement ants are small and dark, and they prefer to nest under large rocks, building slabs and sidewalks. They will carry available food back to their nest, and this species will enter structures through cracks and crevices in search of food.

Field ants resemble carpenter ants, but they nest in the soil rather than in moist wood. Worker ants can vary in color from red to black and other shades in between. They will forage all over for food, so they can be found on decks, sidewalks, patios and more. They will occasionally find their way indoors. Their mound profiles can range from 8-10 inches in diameter.

Managing  

Few may know that some types of ants are notorious for “farming” mealybugs and aphids in order to keep an ample supply of honeydew around. Honeydew is the substance that aphids and mealybugs secrete, and this can spell trouble for ornamental plants and vegetables. Controlling the ant population is a good way to help minimize the population of these other pests.

Colonies can be exterminated by spraying or drenching the nest with a liquid insecticide, and larger colonies will require greater amounts of liquid to move the insecticide throughout the entirety of the underground network.

Be sure to follow instructions carefully when applying insecticides, and keep customers in the know about what you used and where in case they have small children or pets that frequent the treated areas.

Granular bait products can also be used if your customers are not fans of having liquid sprayed in the yard. Be sure to sprinkle the granules along sidewalk paths, pavement cracks, beside and around the mound and in other areas where the ants are sure to travel.

For customers who want to try a more natural approach to ant removal, talk to them about making their own concoction. Using a three percent solution of water and dish soap can also help get rid of troublesome ants in the yard, and it’s safe to use around pets and children.

For customers who may not have a large problem with ant mounds, talk to them about the possibility of simply raking the mounds down and away. For low population mounds, it will take regular maintenance to keep them at bay, but raking will scatter the population and reduce hardened mounds from forming.

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