March 20, 2024

Do Ants Carry Disease?

Ants—they're everywhere, tirelessly going about their business, from our gardens to our homes. But can these pests cause more harm than we think? Do ants carry diseases whenever they sneak into our homes for shelter and food?

In this blog, we’re uncovering the hidden dangers of ants—from how they invade to any potential pathogens they may introduce indoors. Keep reading to learn how to keep these pests at bay and keep yourself sage!

Understanding Ant Behavior

Ants are fascinating social insects, organizing themselves into highly structured colonies comprising of a queen, worker ants, and soldier ants. The queen spends her days laying eggs while workers forage, repair the nest, and care for larvae. As their name suggests, soldier ants keep watch for intruders and attack anything that invades.

Communication in ant colonies is intricate and valuable for successful foraging. But these pests don’t talk— they rely on pheromones to convey information and coordinate activities.

Ants are natural foragers, with worker ants regularly scouring for food and resources to sustain their colonies. Their diverse diet includes everything from dead insects to plant matter and sugary treats, leading them to different environments like natural habitats, urban areas, and even your home!

Do Ants Carry Diseases?

While ants aren't major carriers of human diseases, they can still pass on pathogens like bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These pathogens pose risks by contaminating food and surfaces, potentially leading to serious health hazards.

For example, ants scavenging for food might come into contact with contaminated substances like decaying organic matter or sewage, which can harbor Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli). When ants transfer these bacteria to food or food preparation surfaces, you can become ill after consuming tainted food.

ants crawling on a yellow plant

While uncommon, ants can also carry pathogenic fungi like Aspergillus and Penicillium species, potentially leading to respiratory infections or allergic reactions for individuals allergic to penicillin. They can also transmit viruses, although direct transmission is less likely compared to other vectors, like mosquitoes or ticks.

Apart from disease transmission, ant stings pose their own risks. While most stings result in mild symptoms like pain, swelling, and itching, others may experience severe allergic reactions like swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing. Anaphylaxis demands immediate medical attention and can even be life-threatening if left untreated.

So, can ants carry disease? Absolutely!

In fact, pharaoh ants are a major headache in healthcare settings. One of the main concerns with these ants is their potential to transmit harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and Staphylococcus, to vulnerable populations as they forage for food.

Their small size allows them to access hard-to-reach places, including medical equipment, patient rooms, and food storage areas, increasing the risk of contamination. Plus, pharaoh ants often establish satellite colonies near their central nest, making it challenging to keep these pests gone.

Unfortunately, pharaoh ants are resistant to typical store-bought bug sprays, so DIY options may not always be practical. That’s when you should call your trusted pest control partner for expert advice.

How to Mitigate Ant Health Risks

Dealing with ants is manageable with simple steps! Start by focusing on your home, looking to areas most prone to ant infestations— kitchens, bathrooms, pantries, and other food preparation areas. We encourage you to regularly wipe down surfaces after cleaning, sweep up stray crumbs on the floor, and keep your dishes squeaky clean to prevent an ant infestation from taking foot.

two people sweeping the floor

To keep your pantry safe and pest-free, invest in airtight containers. Instead of leaving food in its original, flimsy packaging, place items like sugar, flour, cereal, sweets, and grains in tightly shut glass or plastic containers. This will keep ants from stealing your groceries and protect against other pests, too!

Want to keep them from coming in completely? Seal up any cracks, gaps, or crevices around doors, windows, or walls. Remember, ants are tiny and can slip in through seemingly minuscule spots. While we recommend contacting a repair specialist to seal these entry points, you can try DIY solutions with caulk or foam sealants.

For persistent ant problems, try using storebought or DIY ant baits and traps. These devices lure ants in with tasty bait, eliminating and destroying the nearby colony. Each product will work differently and vary in effectiveness, so try a few on for size to see which option works best for you.

And if all else fails, it's wise to call in the professionals. Pest control experts have the knowledge and tools to tackle even the toughest ant infestations, giving us peace of mind and ensuring an ant-free home. Sometimes, leaving it to the experts is the best course of action.

That’s why we’re here to help! At Zunex Pest Control, we’re proud to be pest control providers within the Greater Puget Sound, servicing areas around Auburn, Washington. Contact us if you’re struggling with ants or any other pest infestation!

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