For businesses such as hotels, offices, and other commercial properties, landscaping can be an important part of the ambiance, brand distinction, and curb appeal. Unfortunately, just as people can be drawn in by beautiful plants, flowers, and shrubbery – so can pests. Ants, in particular, can be highly attracted to landscaped areas, bringing them closer to your building, where they can make their way inside.
Why are ants attracted to landscaping?
Ants are attracted to landscaped areas for several reasons. Like most living creatures, they are driven by a need to eat. But most ants aren’t looking to feed on your plants.
Many plants used in landscaping can attract two types of small insect pests known as aphids and scales. Aphids and scales feed on plants to survive. In the process of feeding, these insects secrete a sugary liquid known as honeydew.
Many ant species prefer sugar-rich foods, so honeydew is highly attractive to them. When aphids and scales are present in your landscaping, the likelihood of having an ant problem increases.
How to protect landscaped areas from ants
Protecting your landscaped areas from ants can help reduce the chances that your structure will be being invaded by ants. But what can you and your team do to keep ants away from your landscaping?
Here are a few guidelines to help you keep ants out of your landscaped areas:
- Select plants that do not support aphids and scales. Your landscaping professional should be able to recommend plants that don’t support aphids and scales. If you are managing your own landscaping, try reaching out to a local extension expert for plant and vegetation recommendations.
- Keep plants healthy. Ailing plants are more likely to attract aphids and scales. Routine care to keep your plants healthy, along with replacing damaged plants, are simple and easy ways to keep your landscaped areas free of ants.
- Do not overwater plants. Overwatering can lead to unhealthy plants and conditions ripe for ant attraction. Be sure that your watering schedule is appropriate for your plant and vegetation mix. Additionally, be sure to check automatic watering systems regularly for leaks.
- Keep vegetation trimmed back at least 18 inches from structures. Vegetation that touches or comes close to buildings creates the perfect roadway for trailing ants to climb from plants to your building. Creating a “vegetation free” space between structures and plants helps to deter the ant highway from your building. Don’t forget to look up! Many ants use tree branches as a bridge to buildings.
- Replace mulch annually. Mulch is an ideal hiding place for ants because it is often moist and goes undisturbed for long periods of time. The deeper the mulch, the more likely it is to serve as an ant hotbed (and a popular hiding spot for many other pests, as well). That’s why it’s important to replace mulch annually – that means removing old mulch and replacing it with new mulch. Don’t just place fresh mulch on top of old mulch.
- Use rock instead of mulch, pine straw, or natural ground cover, if possible. While mulch, pine straw, and natural ground cover can provide a specific aesthetic, they are much more likely to support pest activity than mulch alternatives, like rock. Consider this alternative if pests are a frequent problem for your property.
Need to distribute this information and additional tips for pest-free landscaping to your team? Get Rentokil’s Landscaping Best Practices Card.
What NOT to do if you find ants on your property
Seeing ants on your property can be concerning and for in-house maintenance, housekeeping, or engineering staff members. Their first instinct might be to grab an over-the-counter insect spray to quickly solve the problem…
Except that is the LAST thing you should do. Here’s why:
Most insect sprays readily available at general merchandise, hardware, and home improvement stores are repellents, meaning that they are designed to “repel” insects from the area where they are congregating.
By spraying ants, you may indeed kill a few pests on contact, but what you will likely do is force the pests into other directions than what they would naturally trail. This spreads the problem to new areas as the ants move away from the repellent.
What you should do if you find ants on your property
If you see ants in an interior room or office, reach out to your pest management professional immediately. They will be able to properly identify the ant species and recommend the best course of treatment or action to eliminate the problem. Don’t have an ant management plan in place? Contact Rentokil today to keep these pests off of your property and away from its inhabitants.