The sound of marching armies has begun echoing across the greater Milwaukee area. No, it is not members of the Armed Forces. It is that time of year when those tenacious, determined and organized armies of ants begin marching onto your property and into your homes.

Ants need a certain level of heat to really function at their fullest potential. It is estimated that almost all activity with the ant population ceases once temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees. Ants living in Wisconsin adjust to the decreasing temperatures in the fall and early winter by burrowing deep in the soil or finding indoor locations that offer consistent temperatures and humidity levels in which they can operate and survive. But springtime is ant-time. As the temperatures begin rising and the sun heats the soil, ants begin emerging from that long winter sabbatical.

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While there are more than 700 species of ants found in the United States, residents of Wisconsin mainly experience infestations of 5 species. This includes carpenter ants, field ants, pavement ants, pharaoh ants and thief ants. All ants are social insects. This means that when you see one ant appearing on your kitchen counter, you can be assured that many more are on their way.

Even though they are quite small in stature and appear harmless, ants carry with them a considerable amount of risk and danger. Take, for example, the carpenter ant. The largest of ants found in Wisconsin, the carpenter ant can cause considerable damage to the structure of your home. Unlike the termite, carpenter ants don’t eat wood but rather chew their way inside the wood, creating galleries and tunnels in which to build their nests. This demands expensive repairs as well as the need for professional pest control services.

The field ant, due to its color and size, is often confused with the carpenter ant. However, the field ant is rarely found inside homes but will often be seen on wooden decks as they forage for food. They nest in the ground, creating small mounds pushing up through the grass. While the field ant does not sting like a fire ant, they will bite when disturbed.

Pavement ants are one of the most prevalent household pests in the greater Milwaukee area. Normally nesting outdoors under sidewalks, large rocks and driveways, the pavement ant has been known to nest inside walls, insulation and even under flooring. They are quick to invade homes as they forage for food.

Pharaoh ants are very small, measuring barely 1/16th inch long. They love very warm temperatures, making them frequent home invaders. You will often see them in kitchens and bathroom faucets where they can have access to water. They forage on sweets and fatty foods.

The thief ant, often confused with a pharaoh ant, is very small but can be found outdoors as well as in cracks and cupboards inside kitchen areas. They love greasy foods and foods rich in protein. Their tiny size makes it easy for them to get inside food packaging. This is not only an aggravation, but also contaminates food items.

The invasive behavior and preferences of food make it easy to see the importance of pest control. Ants can quickly contaminate food items as they forage and work their way into packages. The waste from tiny ants can’t be easily seen yet their very presence in the kitchen and cupboards lets you know contamination is highly probable.

Contact your pest control specialist for safe and efficient removal of these pesky creatures.