Ant infestation in your home certainly no picnic

Ants are social insects that work together for a common good, but their food-seeking missions may not always be in your best interest — especially if such efforts take them into your home.

Of the 700 species of ants found in the United States, 20 find refuge in homes, schools and businesses. About two dozen are considered pests. Recognizing these pests for what they are can help you protect your home and family.

• Carpenter ants are an aggressive species of ants found nationwide. These wood-destroying insects hollow out wood for nesting, causing costly property damage.

• Fire ants, a native of Argentina, are an invasive, predatory species that instantly at-tacks any animal or human unfortunate enough to stumble on their mound-type nest.

• Odorous house ants commonly nest in basements, crawlspaces and adjacent struc-tures. The ant gives off a pungent odor when crushed.

Whatever their type, ants are the No. 1 pest problem that drives homeowners to look for professional advice. The National Pest Management Association offers these tips for keeping ants out of your home:

• Dispose of trash on a regular basis to prevent ants from becoming a problem in-doors.

• Thoroughly clean up grease and spills.

• Store sugar, syrup, honey and sweets in closed containers and wipe the outside of the containers to eliminate sticky residue. Also, rinse out empty soft-drink containers and store them away from the house.

• Seal cracks and crevices around foundations that allow entry from the outside as well as cracks and crevices inside the home.

• Inspect potted plants for signs of ant nesting and remove plants if infested.

• Reduce moisture in and around structures that may be attractive to ants by re-pairing leaking hose bibs and other supply lines, downspouts, drain lines and air-conditioner condensate lines.