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Ants | Ant Pest Control

Whether you have annoying house ants or carpenter ants that are very destructive, your home may need to be treated by an ant pest control professional.  Learn more about control and different types of ants below:

Ants – Did you know?
General Ant Information
Common Ants in The United States
Argentine Ants
Carpenter Ants
Odorous House Ants
Pavement Ants
Red Imported Fire Ants


Ants – Did you know?

Did you know that there are more than 12,000 all over the world! Ants are pretty strong too, since they can lift 20 times their own body weight. Think about that, if you weigh 100 lbs and could lift like an ant, you would be able to lift 2000 lbs!  When ants forage, they leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been. This guides them back to the nest without getting lost.  This is not good if their nest is in or near your home.

Queen ants have “wings”, which they shed when starting a new nest. When the queen ant dies, the colony can only survive for a few months. The queen is rarely replaced and the workers are unable to reproduce.

Some queen ants can live for many years, and during those years they can have millions of “babies”.  Ants do not have ears either, but they “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet. When they fight with each other, it is usually to the death.

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General Ant Information

Ants, are classified in the family . These insects are native to nearly all terrestrial habitats and all parts of the globe except for Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, some parts of Polynesia, and a few remote Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean islands, and are often extremely abundant locally. Though there are over 8,800 species known (and perhaps over 11,000 more that have not been described, ants generally have a distinctive body structure: while they have, like many insects, a head, thorax (the midsection), and abdomen (the rear section), their “waist” connecting their thorax to the main part of their abdomen is unusually thin and pinched.

Most ants are also characterized by the presence of a metapleural gland, an organ that produces a chemical called phenylacetic acid that is used for fighting bacteria and fungi; this gland may have helped ants colonize the moist environments where most ant species now live. Like only a few other groups of insects, ants have evolved a complex system of social interaction that qualifies them as “eusocial” insects.

Ants live and work together in multi-generational colonies that are generally organized in “castes” of queens and males (who reproduce) and worker females (who cannot reproduce, communicating via a chemical communication system that may be more complicated than that of any other kind of animal. In addition to these extraordinary social structures, ants have complex and extremely important relationships with many other species, giving them a central role in ecosystems across the globe. Some ants have partnerships with fungi. Some ants defend plants from herbivores, help plants reproduce by pollinating their flowers and spreading their seeds, and help plants grow by turning over the soil (which keeps it rich and healthy. In fact, many plants depend on ants for their survival. On the other hand, some ants are the primary plant-eaters in their environments, and in many cases ants are major predators of small animals. Although some ant species can be pests themselves, some are beneficial to humans by feeding on harmful crop pests and by serving as subjects for a wide range of scientific studies

Sources:

  1. “Ant Information.” Center for Insect Science Education Outreach, University of Arizona. 1997. 29 Jul. 2011. http://insected.arizona.edu/antinfo.htm

  2. Hölldobler, Bert and Edward O. Wilson. The Ants. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990.

  3. Roof, Jennifer. “Family Formicidae: Ants.” Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. 2001. 1 Sept. 2011. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Formicidae.html

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Common Ants in The United States

Although there are more than 12,000 species of ants in the world, here are a few that reside here in the United States:

Argentine Ants

Size: 1/16”-1/4”
Shape: Segmented, Oval
Color: Dark brown to
black; shiny
Legs: 6
Wings: Varies
Antenna: Yes

 

This species of ant can typically be found throughout the southern states, as well as California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Maryland, and Missouri.

They prefer sweet substances but will eat almost anything including meats, eggs, oils and fats. Also, when they forage for food, they leave pheromone trails everywhere, not just from their nest to their food source. This allows them to eliminate going to the same locations twice, where they may have exhausted the food source. Unlike other ant species, the Argentine ant queens assist with foraging for food.

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Carpenter Ants

Size: 5/8”
Shape: Segmented, Oval
Color: Range in color
from red to black.
Legs: 6
Wings: Varies
Antenna: Yes

 

Carpenter Ants actually do not ingest wood, but they do build their nests in wood, which can cause damage in your house. As they build their colony inside the wood, they deposit it outside entrances to the colony in small piles. The diet of carpenter ants includes living and dead insects, meat fats and sugary foods of all kinds, including honeydew and nectar from plants.

A single, fertilized queen establishes the colony; she starts her nest in a cavity of the wood and begins raising her first brood of workers. She never leaves the nest, and feeds the offspring with saliva.

When the workers are ready, they then get the job of gathering food to feed the next generation. Once mature, this first generation of worker ants work to increase the food supply for the colony. A colony can eventually produce 2,000 or more workers.

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Odorous House Ants

Size: 1/16”-1/8”
Shape: Segmented, Oval
Color: Brown or Black
Legs: 6
Wings: Varies
Antenna: Yes

 

This ant gets its name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smells it gives off when crushed and the fact that they commonly nest in or around houses. Native to the United States, these ants are very social - living in colonies of up to 100,000 members.

Odorous house ants like to eat dead insects and sugary sweets, especially melon. They typically live for several years and commonly make their homes in exposed soil, under mulch, debris, logs, stones and many other items. They can also nest in wall and floor cracks.

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Pavement Ants

Size: 1/8”
Shape: Segmented, Oval
Color: Dark Brown to
Black
Legs: 6
Wings: Varies
Antenna: Yes

 

Although these ants can live inside, they get their name because they make their nests in or under cracks in pavement. They are typically found in the eastern half of the United States, California and Washington. Pavement ant colonies average 3,000 to 4,000 members and have several queens.

They will eat almost anything, including insects, grease, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts and cheese.

This ant gets its name because it most commonly nests in soil next to and beneath slabs, sidewalks, patios, and driveways. Indoors, pavement ants nest under a building’s foundation and within hollow foundation walls.

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Red Imported Fire Ants

Size: 5/8”
Shape: Segmented, Oval
Color: Dark Reddish
Brown
Legs: 6
Wings: Varies
Antenna: Yes

 

Red Imported Fire Ants are more aggressive than other ant species and have a painful sting. They and their telltale mound nests should be avoided.  Fire ants can adapt to many climates and conditions in and around their environment. For example, if the colony senses increased water levels in their nests, they will come together and form a huge ball or raft that is able to float on the water!

Red imported fire ants will build their nests in mounds of soil outdoors, in landscape areas or near a building’s foundation. They occasionally enter buildings through holes or cracks in walls and foundations.

Red Imported Fire Ants primarily feed on vegetation.

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