Ants are the most frequent and persistent pests encountered around homes and buildings. Besides being a nuisance, ants contaminate food, build unsightly mounds on our property, and cause structural damage by hollowing out wood for nesting. Species such as fire ants inflict painful stings, which can be life-threatening to hypersensitive individuals.

To most householders, all ants look pretty much alike. In truth, dozens of different species occur around homes and buildings, each having unique characteristics which may influence the method of control.

Ants are social insects which live together in cooperative, intermingling colonies. The colonies may range in size from hundreds to millions of individuals, depending on the species. Within each colony are different types of individuals, each with a specific function. All ant colonies contain one or more queens, whose primary role is to lay eggs. The eggs hatch into white, grub-like larvae that later transform into adult "worker" ants. The workers feed and care for the queens and developing brood, and are the ones seen foraging for food and water, often at great distances from the colony. Ants lay down invisible odor trails, which the workers follow between food and the nest. In many species, the trail of ants is distinct enough to be followed back to the nesting location, or to where the ants are entering from outdoors.