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How to remove pesky harvester ants during monsoon season in the Valley

Posted at 10:49 PM, Sep 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-09 00:10:36-04

During monsoon season swarms of black and red unique insects -- known as harvester ants -- can plague Valley properties. 

"They're like an ant on steroids," said Brad Olsen, founder of Urban Desert Pest Control. 

Olsen said his calls for service triple during summer from homeowners trying to eliminate the ants from their property. 

A single harvester ant mound can house up to 100,000, experts told ABC15. They're able to form massive nests up to 8-feet below ground.

"It just looks like the ground's moving," said Max Black Crow, who recently dealt with an infestation outside his Wittman home. When Black Crow tried wiping out the colonies himself, he was bitten. 

"They're really violent ants," he said. "You can feel a little bit of a sting but then all of a sudden -- a dull pain -- it starts to throb -- then you can feel the poison kind of moving up your arm." The bites and stings can cause swelling and allergic reactions. 

University of Arizona entomologist Dr. Shaku Nair said the ants use pheromones lay tracks to and from food sources. That can potentially bring millions to your yard and inside your home. 

So how do you wipe them out? 

Olsen said he's seen people try using cement and gasoline to close or torch them to death. Store bought sprays are only a temporary fix, he said. The key is to kill the reproducer with bait. 

"If you kill the ants too fast it never gets to the queen," he said. 

In most cases, Olsen said effective extermination takes around 48 hours.

He recommends having a pest control expert revisit problem properties every few months to check for new colonies.