One of the last things your restaurant needs is a line of ants marching through. Let’s face it, an ant infestation just isn’t appetizing for your customers or appealing to your workers. The presence of even a few ants can prompt customers to question your restaurant’s cleanliness and quality, which can harm your image and reputation. Because ants can be difficult to control, they can cause an ongoing disruption to your kitchen’s productivity. Ants can also spoil food products, which can put a dent in your profits.
Here are some facts that restaurant owners and managers should know about ants:
Identification is key
With hundreds of ant species found in the U.S., it can be hard to know which species you’re dealing with, even when you’re looking at a long trail of them. It’s important to identify the correct species that's infesting your restaurant because different species may be controlled with different treatment strategies. That’s why it’s often necessary to get help from an experienced commercial pest control professional to properly identify the pest you’re dealing with and determine the most effective control method. A knowledgeable technician can make an accurate identification by looking at the size and other features of the ant, the ant trail (if present) and the location and characteristics of the nest. This can all vary among ant species.
Ants That May Dine at Your Restaurant
With hundreds of ant species and different climate zones, it’s hard to predict which ant species you might encounter, but here are some common ones:
1. Odorous House Ants
Usually brown or black, and about 1/8th of an inch long, these ants like to consume sweets, and get their name from the odor they release when crushed (though the ant would have to be close to your nose for you to smell it). Odorous house ants are found throughout the United States.
2. Pavement Ants
Often brown and also about 1/8th of an inch long, pavement ants eat a variety of food items, including sweets and grease, as well as dead insects and seeds. They get their name because they commonly build nests in the soil near or beneath sidewalks and other pavement, as well as under foundations and inside walls. If you notice piles of soil around the baseboards in your restaurant, this may be a sign that pavement ants have set up shop.
3. Carpenter Ants
The most common carpenter ants are black, but they can also be a combination of brown and black, or red and black to light brown. These ants eat a variety of foods, including other insects. Carpenter ants need a steady source of moisture for their colonies to survive, and are often found outdoors in dead wood or indoors in wood near water leaks or poorly ventilated spaces.
4. Pharaoh Ants
These small, light brown ants are sometimes confused with other types. They nest in places that offer protection and moisture, including walls, furniture, appliances, sheet folds, curtain rods, small boxes, and under roofing shingles. Because they will split their colony if part of it is threatened, infestations can be hard to control and may spread throughout a building. For this reason, residual treatments are not effective and can actually make an infestation worse.
What You Can Do To Help Keep Ants Away
Here are some basic steps that you can take to help prevent an ant invasion at your restaurant:
- Regularly vacuum or sweep all crumbs and food particles from dining areas and kitchens, paying special attention to areas behind appliances and furniture as well as cracks and crevices in floors, along baseboards, and countertop corners. This should be done a few times a day. Also, make sure all spills are wiped up immediately.
- Have any plumbing, drainage, roof, or structural leaks fixed right away.
- Store wood away from your restaurant and trim dead limbs from trees and landscaping. Remove any stumps on your property.
- Get help with a regular inspection from a commercial pest control provider with experience in ant control as well as in treating restaurants. Terminix® Commercial technicians can accurately identify ant types and match effective treatment strategies to the species. They can also recognize conditions that may be conducive to ant infestations and help you identify preventive steps that you can take to help stop ant problems from starting.