Pavement ants are an old enemy of many homeowners. They are commonly named after the very thing they love to ruin (pavers) and are one of the most common species of ants you can find in urban areas. So how can you get rid of them when they decide to make room under your brick patio?
They usually nest in the soil beneath bricks and pavers, but can also appear between concrete. They are not exactly dangerous from a health risk perspective, but they can invade homes and contaminate food.
It is important to develop some techniques to deal with those pavement ants, as well as some practices to avoid their proliferation, which is even more important. We will discuss some of those techniques, but first, let’s talk about the ants. Knowing your enemy is the first step to defeat them, right?
Getting Rid of Ants Under Brick Patio – About the Ants
The main problem with pavement ants is that they are really small. About 3mm (1/8″) small, to be precise. That allows them to nest under even the slightest space, which makes brick patios a perfect place for them, due to the abundance of crevices and small openings you’ll usually find on them.
They can be found everywhere around the world, and therefore everywhere around the USA. Albeit they can be a major problem in specific regions of the USA, like the west coast and the eastern states.
On the exterior, some of their most common nesting places are cracks on pavement or concrete, the space between curbs and under rocks. Their next is easily spotted, looking like a little “volcano” made out of dirt.
How to Get Rid of these Ants
There are two ways in which you can approach getting rid of the ants: using bait or pesticides.
Bait is easy enough. There are a lot of options around for you to choose from, the most common ones being granular bait and sweet gel bait. Here are a few recommendations:
They all work the same way. They attract the ants, tricking them into thinking the bait is food. After eating it, they go back to the nest, and that’s when the poison kicks in, affecting the entire colony all at once.
When using bait, it is important to place them in the correct spots. These spots are any entrances end crevices where you see signs of ants. Simply follow the instructions of your bait of choice, and be mindful to keep food as far as possible from the place where you end up placing the bait.
Pesticides are also easy to use, but they require a lot more care to handle. The ideal pesticide has as few chemicals as possible. In fact, if you look for it hard enough, you can even find something that is not considered a pesticide at all, and rather a “solution against ants” type of thing.
Be as it may, the application usually involves spraying the solution around the areas where you can find the ants. Again, focus on the crevices and small spaces, especially in the grout lines of pavers next to the nests. It goes without saying that the use of pesticides can only be done in external areas.
How to Prevent Ants from Nesting Under Brick Patio
Getting rid of ants is relatively easy, as you could see. The most important part of dealing with ants is not how to get rid of them, but how to avoid them from ever having a chance to make a nest.
Focusing exclusively on paver bricks for a moment, there are two things you can do at the moment of your installation to help you avoid ants. You can apply a long-lasting insecticide on the dirt under the pavers before installing them, and again on the pavers themselves after installation.
After the installation, these insecticides need to be applied to the grout lines. They can last from 2 to 3 months, depending on the weather effects on your pavers. This can help a lot with the prevention of ants.
Also, at the finishing line of installation, you will have to apply some joint sand between your pavers to lock them in place. At this moment, you can add borax to your joint sand of choice before sweeping it. The borax will prevent ants from being able to use the sand between pavers as a nesting place.
And, of course, the best thing to prevent ants is to eliminate any food source that they can reach. Always store food in airtight containers and never leave food exposed for a long period of time. Constant cleaning and sweeping of places that get in contact with food is also a must.
Protect Your Bricks from Pavement Ants
In most cases, the ants will not exactly damage your pavers directly. What they can do, however, is do damage your installation by affecting the earth under the pavers. That, in turn, is what can damage your paver patio.
Ideally, you’ll never reach such a catastrophic point, but in case you do, there are professionals that can help you with the remodeling of your paver patio and the fixing of your ant-consumed installation.
Some of the best professionals can be found right here, at S&S Pavers. For 10+ years we have been providing the Sarasota and Manatee Counties, in FL, with what’s best in paver installation and maintenance.