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How to Locate Ant Nest by Following Trail

Foraging ants have been seen entering homes along telephone wires or along branches touching the roof or even from ground trails that come under a door. In such cases, the house may be a nesting area. Do not disturb any trails until you locate the nests. The ants will just get sneaky and reroute the trail which may take much longer to locate.

Ants follow natural contours. They will cross lawns and flower beds but often prefer the cover afforded by moving along the edges of things.

Activity Along Ant Trails
  • Ants are generally active along ant trails in from April to mid-October.
  • Hours of greater activity are from 8 p.m.-4 a.m.; although some ants can be found at all hours.
  • A sudden increase in activity occurs 5-10 minutes after sunset and is greatest from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Temperature or rainfall doesn't seem to influence this activity.
Trail Locations Outside Structures
  • Edge of driveway or sidewalk, mowing strips
  • Under patio blocks, wood steps in landscape or wood planks
  • Edge of foundation or planters or sidewalk
  • Edge of lawns or flower beds
  • Fence stringers
  • Excavate along tree roots (easy access to crawl space via roots of trees or stumps which extend under the house)

Ants returning to nests are either:

  • Larger with full (stretched) stomach so they look somewhat banded
  • Carrying food such as insects.
  • Some ants will be going to the feeding areas (usually trees). They are not stretched or banded. Some will be engaged in trail building (at night mostly).

If several nests are found, it is important to determine if they are from the same colony (therefore one parent nest) or 2 or more different colonies (therefore several parent nests). Place 2 ants, one from each trail or nest, in a jar:

  • Ants from the same parent colony coexist peacefully.
  • Ants from different colonies fight.

Ants will generally be going to and from:

  • Feeding areas
  • Parent nests
  • Satellite nests

Banded ants or ants with insects will be going from feeding grounds to parent (or satellite) nests. The young growing larvae and queen need the most food, so more ants will take food toward the parent colony, with fewer moving toward the satellite. Ants carrying larvae or pupae (papery cocoons) are moving from the parent to satellite colony.

Activity, therefore ease in following a trail, is greatest after sunset (roughly between 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.). A red light disturbs ants less than white light.

Trails may be difficult to locate since they may disappear under boards, sidewalks or go underground.

You have time. Keep watching for clues as you work in your yard or house. Don't get trigger happy and spray the trail, or you will have to start over if you want to find the nest.

Finding both the parent colony in the surrounding landscape and the satellite colony (or colonies) in the structure is crucial to successful control of carpenter ants.

For more helpful ideas or assistance on control, check our main page here:

auckland ant controlHealth Fitness Articles, west auckland ant control

Article Tags: Parent Colony

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Graeme Stephens has been running the largest owned carpet cleaning company
in new Zealand for 24 years. IICRC qualified "master restoration technician"

Home Repair
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