The dynamic city of Pittsburgh is known as the “gateway to the west” because of its geographic location at the confluence of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela rivers. This was a significant factor in the development of many industries, especially steel and iron for which it is best known. It is also referred to as “Steel City” in honor of its more than 300 steel-related businesses, and as the “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges.
The problem for businesses of today, however, is it’s not only a gateway for humans, it’s also a gateway for every insect, rat and rodent who are chomping at the bit to find a home in your Pittsburgh-based commercial interior and wreak havoc on your bottom line. One particularly invasive insect is the ant, and within that species there is the pavement and carpenter ant, each of which have no compunction to have a heyday at your business’ expense.
So how do you as a business owner protect your Pittsburgh-based business from these pesky and potentially damaging eusocial insects from the Formicdae family? The following blog digs briefly into our rich historical PA industry, provides an explanation of each ant to be concerned about and explains a number of pest control and exclusion methods to employ to further protect your bottom line against these six-legged nuisances.
Read more below on about the two most prevalent ants affecting Pittsburgh businesses and how our pest management strategies can help, or contact our Pestco professionals with any ant-related issues — (412) 252-5200.
The Development of Pittsburgh Industry
The region became an ideal spot for early settlement both because of its proximity to the three rivers and its situation some 50 miles away from the end of the Allegheny Mountain range. This opened a passage for travelers heading west and to those returning from the northeast and became the perfect milieu for traders, explorers and military fortifications.
An economic focus on agriculture (turning corn into whiskey) and trade during the time after the Revolutionary Warsoon gave wayto the development of other industries. Boat building became vital to traders and pioneers who needed transportation for their goods. By 1792, the boatyard was building larger ships that could carry goods as far away as Europe. The industry flourished throughout Pittsburgh’s early existence.
In 1760, explorers discovered “Coal Hill” in what would become the Mount Washington neighborhood. It was believed to be one of the most valuable deposits of coal in the entire United States. The constant supply of coal became critical to the emergence of the steel and iron industries that would make Pittsburgh famous.
Fighting Ant Pests That Threatened Industrial Growth
A renowned ecologist named E.O Wilson once said: “Ants are among the little things that run the world.” There are more than 10,000 species scattered across the globe and about 1,000 types that are found in North America alone. Ants can create structural damage and cause problems with business operations.
Bayer Professional Pest Management Technical Service Lead, Joe Barile, states: “Ants enter structures primarily in search of food and water, and because they are so small, they can easily fit through any opening in almost any facility, even one as small as 1/64th of an inch. Examples of weak spots include: spaces around doors, windows or docks; damaged exterior veneers; utility, product, or component entry systems including electrical conduits, plumbing lines, gas, oil, or fuel lines, pneumatic transport lines, and cable lines; and drain or wastewater systems.”
Pavement ants came to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their tiny size made it easy to stowaboard in the holds of merchant vessels. These ships often contained European soil, which served as ballast during their lengthy voyages. The soil was removed upon arrival in port, and goods were then loaded onto the ships to carry back across the ocean. To this day, this ease of ingress for many tiny pests remains a problem despite modern bio-controls in shipping and airfreight.
Pest control during times past was an even more serious matter than it is today because there were no real weapons to fight the war. Pesticides did exist, such as Paris Green, and they were somewhat effective in controlling some pests that devastated crops, but commercial and industrial enterprises had little if any protection against pest invasions. Even the grandparents of skilled technicians, such as those at Pestco, weren’t yet born. The pest control and management industry as we know it today did not exist and would not appear for many years to come.
Food Processing and H.J. Heinz
Food processing in western Pennsylvania generally, and Pittsburgh specifically, was slow to start, but eventually became an enormous industry. From the 1720s until the 1840s, Pennsylvania led first the American colonies and then the states in the production of food. The state’s great wheat fields sustained a flourishing flour milling industry along streams that provided the waterpower for gristmills. Pennsylvania farmers grew a huge variety of crops, and created many processed products as well.
It was a proud German immigrant named H.J. Heinz who lived in Pittsburgh and whose invention of a product called ketchup, almost single-handedly transformed this burgeoning city from an industrial hub for coal mining and steel production into a lucrative and world renowned food processing center. He founded The Heinz Company in 1869, armed with the foresight to utilize supply-side innovations such as improved transportation and dynamic canning technology. The rise of canned food and the frozen food industries after 1920 provided state farmers with other new markets and the Heinz Company became a huge buyer of tomatoes, sweet corn, green peas, and other “canning crops.”
The Important Shift from Commerce To Industry
There was a distinct shift from commerce to industry in the early 19th century. Completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 marked the end of trade growth in Pittsburgh and this economic void permitted the ingress of new industries that flourished such as iron and steel. From 1870 to 1910, Pittsburgh’s population exploded and it was a time period often dubbed the ‘golden age of industry’ inspired by the minds of great industrialists such as steel magnate Andrew Carnegie; prolific inventor George Westinghouse and the financiers and bankers of the Mellon family.
In the early 20th century, Pittsburgh’s overspecialization in steel became a weakness and by 1930 the city’s population was nearly 700,000. The Great Depression and the reforms of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal allowed labor unions to become powerful in Pittsburgh and the city’s economy was immersed in steel production. But eventually over the course of the next forty years, 29 steel companies went bankrupt. Although some Pittsburgh steel companies grew thanks to appliances and automobiles, more than 75 percent of the steel-making capacity in the western PA region was no more.
Growth And Vulnerability of Other Important Industries
The modern Pittsburgh economy has expanded far beyond steel and many successful companies have emerged in the computer software, biotechnology, manufacturing, health care and retail sectors. These businesses can be vulnerable to structural damage from pest infestations because ants are often attracted to electrical equipment.
No one can say for sure why this is so, but educated guesses conclude that they are either attracted to the magnetic fields that surround live wires or they perhaps prefer the warmth produced by resistance to the currents in the wires. In either case, they chew through the coatings protecting the wires, which can result in possible costly short circuits, which in turn a damage a company’s bottom line.
The expert technicians at Pestco are often called in to address this type of situation because they know exactly what to do and have been pest management specialists since 1948.
Ants and The Food Processing Industry in Western PA
Ant species that threaten food-processing facilities will vary by region and time of year. The class of ants that invade food plants and facilities enter from outdoors, and are more active in the warmer months of the year. According to Patricia Hottel, McCloud Technical Director. “The most common species that invade facilities are pavement and carpenter ants. Different species can enter in different ways. Pavement ants often come up through cracks in the floor while carpenter ants will follow lines, including tree branches and wires to access buildings.”
A facility invaded by insects can destroy a hard earned reputation and cause severe structural and product replacement costs. Reputable pest control and management companies like Pestco are ready and able to address these serious issues effectively.
The Two Most Prevalent Ant Types In Western PA
As is the case with many pests, the sight of a few ants means there are many more hidden from view. Most ants are attracted to food, especially sweets, and this is why it is so important for facility managers to make sure to eliminate their food and water sources by keeping all food items properly sealed.
The two most common types in western PA and Pittsburgh are the Pavement and Carpenter Ant. While all ants fall within the same general species, they differ greatly in the damage they incur. Below are some of the more important differences between the two and suggested pest control management and solutions offered by the expert technicians at Pestco.
The Pavement Ant And Its Threat To PA Businesses
Known technically as Tetramorium caespitum(Linnaeus), the Pavement Ant is not native to America although it is quite commonly found in Pennsylvania. Its name derives from the fact that colonies in North America usually make their homes in pavement. … In summer, the ants dig out the sand between the pavements to vent their nests. While the presence of pavement ants in the United States has been acknowledged for decades, the extent of their invasiveness and severity as a pest in various industries is not well characterized.
Entomologists know very little about pavement ant colony biology. Most of what they do know is gleaned from observations of their behavior above the ground. They make their nests in the cracks of pavement, building slabs, and large rocks, and although they will eat almost anything, they prefer a wide variety of sweet foods including: sugar, nectar, fruits, and syrups.
In their nests, they collect and store grease, dead insects and nearly any drop of food that falls on the floor. They find ingress via cracks in sidewalks, foundation walls and interior slabs. While sometimes pest management can be accomplished via the use of baits and pesticides, they are usually in the long run ineffective because the ultimate elimination of these ants requires continuous professional applications with superior pest control product solutions such as those provided by Pestco, a company that has been servicing commercial spaces in Pittsburgh and Western PA for more than seven decades.
Carpenter Ants And The Structural Damage They Cause
Carpenter ants cause serious structural damage to all types of commercial and industrial facilities. This insect classification is common throughout North America, and despite its name, these ants do not actually eat wood. Instead, they create secondary or satellite nests from damp or mold-damaged wood inside a facility that serve as outposts for the much larger parent colony, which is always situated outdoors. These secondary nests can be very active during the colder months of the year and their food sources are often the wooden platforms that have been stored outside warehouses and then brought back inside during the warmer seasons.
There are nine types of carpenter ants throughout the United States. According to Missy Henrikson, vice president of public affairs for National Pest Management (NPMA): “The extent of the damage caused by carpenter ants depends on the number of nests inside the structure and how long they have been active.
Once the presence of carpenter ants is confirmed, it’s important to find and eliminate the nests immediately.” Industries plagued with carpenter ants can prevent further infestations by employing an Integrated Pest Management System (IPM), such as those offered by our family-owned and 5-star reviewed company and provides regular inspections and diverse pest control and management strategies to businesses throughout Greater Pittsburgh and all Western Pennsylvania counties.
Employing Effective Strategies
The number one priority in dealing with an ant infestation must be the identification and remediation of risk factors. It is a most serious issue, as some pests are known to carry human pathogens, and, if they are not strategically managed, they can cause the contamination of covered produce, food contact surfaces and/or food-packing materials.
Tactics such as: storing waste properly, sealing holes, gaps and other entry points in addition to inspecting all incoming shipments of food stuffs can help to maintain a pest free facility, although outside professional help from the experts at Pestco is likely to be needed in order to completely manage the situation on an ongoing basis.
Let Our Complete Facility Care Program Come To Your Rescue
Our facility hygiene program is available under the cost-effective blanket of one highly respected company that has been in continuous operation for seventy years.This three-pronged initiative that offers the ultimate in pest control and management, environmental odor and air freshening services supplied by Air Scent all in one bundled package ensures peace of mind to all commercial and industrial facilities. Ultimately, this program is a diverse collection of cost-effective, professional services all under the umbrella of one trusted company.
All industrial and commercial facilities must transform themselves into a well-armed fortress equipped with potent IPM weapons that can stand their ground against a common enemy; namely, destructive ants that invade businesses and cause structural damage. Pestco can customize services to adapt to any industry requirement and their bundled services initiative with its many helpful services is fairly priced.
Final thoughts on ants: Ants are successful creatures because they know very well that the mind of the team is superior to the mind of the individual! ~ MehmetMurat Ildan