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Keep ants from marching all over your parade

For homeowners, few opponents are as pesky and problematic as ants.

No matter where you live, no homeowner is immune to the problem of ants. Whether they're parading across your kitchen counter or simply ruining your backyard barbecue, ants are an unwelcome houseguest across the country.

The key to successfully controlling ants is to lure worker ants -- those that you see out marching around -- to bait, which they carry back and feed to the rest of the colony.

But while the insecticide in the bait should ultimately kill the worker ant, it must work slowly enough that the worker has time to get back and share the bait with the colony. That is the only way to get rid of both the ants you see and the thousands you don't.

Many indoor ant problems are actually linked to a colony that is outside. Often the most effective solution, therefore, is one that addresses the problem outside the home.

Outdoor baits work especially well because they allow you to put bait closer to the colony itself, making it significantly easier for worker ants to transmit the bait.

For further help in addressing the pesky problems that ants pose to your home, follow these tips.

* Follow the ants home.

To defeat the ants, you first must find one of your pesky invaders. When you do, instead of killing the ant, follow it. Since worker ants are sent out from the main colony in search of moisture and food to bring back, following an ant is a sure way to find out how they are entering the area.

Look for ants that are carrying small bits of food -- for this, a bright flashlight and a bit of patience are needed.

* Put the ants on a liquid diet. Although they do eat some solid foods for protein, in nature, ants prefer sweet nectars.

* Seek help if necessary. Because of the sheer volume of ants in a single colony, it can be difficult to get rid of every last ant.

If ants are still present, it may be helpful to determine what species they are.