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Ant activity in the natural environment is essential for maintaining a well-functioning ecosystem, and without the insects, the world would be lacking in plant life. For example, ants tunnel through the ground soil, allowing oxygen and water to reach plant roots, and they directly contribute to the growth of new plants by carrying seeds below the ground surface. While ant activity allows humans to thrive on this planet, nobody wants to encounter ants indoors, but due to their natural preference for dwelling in soil, ants are often present on the house plants that many people bring into their home before the winter season arrives. Once indoors, many ants seek human food sources, which can lead to infestations in kitchen cupboards and pantries. In addition to hitchhiking into homes on potted plants, ants often infest firewood that people bring into their home during the winter season. Carpenter ants are especially common on firewood, and these ant pests are well known for establishing nests in inaccessible indoor areas, particularly within structural wood located in wall voids, attic spaces, and beneath flooring.

The ant pest species that are found on house plants most frequently in Massachusetts include odorous house ants, thief ants, pavement ants and it is not uncommon for potentially dangerous European fire ants to establish a presence with potted plant soil. Before bringing potted plants indoors for the winter, residents should carefully check the underside of leaves and the soil’s surface for an ant presence. During the fall and early winter, ants, as well as spiders, boxelder bugs and wood-infesting beetles, nest in stacks of firewood on residential properties for warmth. Residents can avoid winter pest issues within a home by keeping outdoor firewood covered with a tarp, or storing firewood within a shed or garage. Inspecting firewood before bringing it indoors is especially important in Massachusetts where the destructive tree pests known as emerald ash borers are abundant, and are often found nesting in stacked firewood.

Have you ever experienced issues with insect pests in houseplants?