We here at Western Exterminator spend a lot of time educating the public on residential ant problems – what to do when carpenter ants take over your home, or how to avoid getting those little sugar ants. We also want to talk to you about working in an office with an ant problem, and how you can help control or eliminate the issue.
First, if you haven’t already, ask your employer (or if you are the employer, ask your maintenance manager) what you are currently doing to control the problem. Are you on a proactive pest control program, using green products? Great! If you’re still seeing ants, then someone probably needs to contact your pest technician and let them know. If you’re not using pest management services, then there’s a few things you can do to help minimize the problem while you start shopping around for one.
- Make sure everyone is storing their food in airtight containers: In the Seattle and Portland area, we’re great about bringing in, and sharing, all the tasty organic treats we whip up in the kitchen. The practice of leaving out candy, cookies, and other delicious snacks is ubiquitous along the I-5 corridor, and goodness knows I’m thankful for it. It can, however, also attract ants to the workplace, especially if those snacks are left out overnight. I’m in no position to tell people to stop sharing their goodies, so make sure they’re stored in some sort of sealed container when they’re not being passed around. This also pertains to snacks left in the desk for that 2 p.m. nosh.
- Don’t let coworkers treat the problem themselves: Here in the Pacific Northwest, we love home remedies. Home remedies for colds, for headaches, for ants… unfortunately, they don’t always work, and in a few cases, can actually make the problem much, much worse. This is particularly true for pest control home remedies (and we’ve heard a few of them). The best thing you can do is wipe down the ant scent trails with Windex, which leaves the ants confused and unable to relocate the delicious cookie they were carrying home. The worst thing you can do is start applying over-the-counter products labeled “rapid kill” or “quick kill”. This can cause the ants to panic and start creating multiple nests throughout your office. Ask your coworkers to be patient.
- Get a pest control company and work with them: Office buildings are complex, and the pest problem can be coming from many different places. If you share your building with other businesses, your office may not be the source of the problem. This is where a pest control professional comes in – they can track down the problem and facilitate conversations with the offices around you. They can also help to educate your coworkers, as well as collect information about the infestation across departments. You want to make sure that you let your coworkers know it is okay to talk about the ant problem, or any other pest problem, with your technician. If your coworkers keep your technician informed, you can start controlling the problem much faster.
Overall, an ant problem in the office can be challenging, but with the right information and tools, it can be resolved quickly. We encourage you to have open conversations with your coworkers, employers, and employees to identify any problems that may be occurring and to document any concerns raised so that when you do contact a pest control technician, you have enough information for them to get to work right away.