HOW MANY ANTS ARE IN THE WORLD
There are in excess of 12,000 ant species worldwide. Ants are amazing little creatures. They have the longest lifespan in the insect world and are insanely strong being capable of lifting over 100 times their body weight.
Other than bacteria, ants outnumber all other living organisms on earth. There is estimated to be more than a mind boggling one million billion ants among the over 12000 ant species that live on earth with. In light of this numbers don’t be worried when you see a few ants in your house and be glad they all can’t gang up on humans.
It is a well known fact that ants are super strong and can carry their own body weight many times over, an ability that is very useful when hauling food back to their nest. In this regard The Asian weaver ant beats all the other species hands down. It can carry 100 times the weight of its body. It can do this even hanging upside down. To put it into perspective, it is like a person weighing 80 kgs carrying eight fully grown African elephants while hanging upside down. That is how strong this ant is.
Ants have a longer lifespan than all other insects. This can be attributed to queens of some ant species that live for about three decades. During her life one queen can produce a number of daughter queens ensuring continuity of her colony for a long time.
Ants can achieve feats that are almost impossible to imagine. Argentine ants have built the biggest documented colony along the coast of the Mediterranean sea stretching more than 6000 kilometers. Another massive nest attributed to Argentine ants is in the United States, in California. It stretches for over 900 kilometers.
The bulldog ant despite its diminutive size is tagged as the most venomous ant species on earth. It has a short three week life span. This native of Australia over and above being venomous is aptly named for being aggressive, ferocious and ready to attack at the drop of a hat. Three people have died as a result of being attacked by this ant.
Ants are unique in that, they are the only species on earth that are known to farm and ranch besides humans. Leafcutter ants, for instance, harvest leaves, chew them and temporarily store them in one of their two stomachs, regurgitate the mixture and use it to grow a fungus that the colony feeds on.
Other species raise aphids for their honeydew. This is a sugary substance produced by the aphids. The ants keep predators away from them and even clip the aphids wings to ensure they don’t fly off.
Ants don’t have lungs. They have spiracles on their bodies that they breathe through. Due to this, ant species that cannot swim are able to survive under water for a whole day. Fire ants can swim and they make rafts using their bodies to stay afloat to escape floods.
As fascinating as ants are you don’t want to be sharing your space with them.
There are over 11,000 ant species in the world. Ants are social insects. They live in a colony and that functions harmoniously as a result of a strict hierarchy. The level of coordination and discipline with which an ant colony functions is nothing short of impressive.
When you see ant hills you might think that those are the nests but you would be mistaken. These hills comprise of dirt, sand, grass and wood debris that ants remove as they excavate beneath the ground creating chambers and tunnels which form the nest. These chambers and tunnels sink as far as 30 feet deep underground. Other ants burrow into rotting wood, others will only nest in trees. Their nests are engineered to create optimal conditions for larvae to thrive.
Ant colony hierarchy
Top of the pyramid is the queen ant which is the leader and founder of the colony. Her core purpose is to keep the colony populated by laying eggs. As a defense against predators the queen’s chambers are situated deep within the nest. The lifespan of the queen ants which is three decades is about thirty times more than the workers and drones who cater to her. The queen is way larger than the drones and workers.
Drones come in second. These are male ants and their one and only purpose is to make sure the queen lays eggs by mating with her. Soon after fulfilling this duty drones die.
Last but not least come in the workers. These are all female ants but they can’t lay eggs. Their most important duty is to feed the colony. Worker ants are also responsible for building and taking care of the nest and defending the colony from other marauding ants. Workers gather and allocate food ensuring that the next generation will continue to expand the colony. Members of a colony communicate with each other to coordinate their functions using chemicals which they smell using their antennae.
Members of the same nest identify each other through chemicals covering their bodies. A unique blend of chemicals coat the queen and announces her presence.
Ants process information as a cohesive group to solve knotty problems that a lone ant would be unable to deal with. Ants overcome by numbers when hunting. They bring down much bigger prey and will repel even mammals from their colony.
There are peaceful ants which gather vegetation to grow fungus which they feed on. Other ants feed off plants and dead insects.
Ants are loyal to their colonies to the death. Many ants will mark their territory which is off limits to any other ants as resources and food can be scarce. It is all out war when another colony invades. Workers will fight to the death in these territorial battles
Lifespan of ant Colony.
The lifespan of a colony is dependent on the species of ant. Colonies live as long as the queen is alive. Carpenter ant colonies can thrive for five to six years. Fire ants colonies which can number hundreds of thousands, with the queen laying a thousand eggs every day can flourish for about seven years.
If you see ants around your home it most likely means that there is a nest somewhere close by. Call a pest control professional to help eliminate them before they invade your home for food.
The pavement ant, or sugar ant, can be a huge concern for people, whether inside the home, in the garden, or on a picnic.
Once you know how ants work, you can understand a little better the ways in which you can get rid of them more naturally. Ants will follow each other in a trail, using the scent of pheromones to accomplish this.
You can follow the ant trail to find out where they are coming from and where they are going. These paths are what you will want to treat. The worker ants are the ones you will see most often. These workers will bring food back to the colony. They cannot actually eat the food themselves.
The first step is to determine the reason they are drawn to the premises, either indoors or out. For instance, many people who recycle their soda cans or plastic bottles will leave them uncovered until they return them to the grocery store or place them on the curb for pick up.
Baits are the most effective and safest way to kill ants but before you buy bait, you will want to see what the ants are eating.
Whatever the case, the sugar in these containers attract all kinds of ants, bringing armies to the particular site and thereon.
Next, it is of the utmost importance to keep a clean house with regards to foods. Once meals are completely, quickly clean up crumbs and throw any unwanted leftovers away in sealed bags and covered garbage cans, preferably placed outdoors and away from the home.
Make sure that sugar, cereals, and other foods are placed in tightly sealed containers. Often, people place their sugar in hand sugar bowls for easy access, but this practice must be stopped immediately until the problem is completely resolved.
Kitchen cabinets and drawers should also be cleaned thoroughly to remove any crumbs, grains of sugar, and other spills which will undoubtedly draw these insects to the location.
Check your home carefully for any cracks that allow for their easy access to enter. These cracks can be repaired by silicon caulking.
As well, use natural products that will deter them completely, such as hot paprika or red hot chili pepper, a ground of course along their trails.
In the garden, they could be damaging beautiful and somewhat costly shrubs, plants, and flowers. If some plants are being damaged, it is recommended if possible, to uproot the plant and place it in another location temporarily.
In this case, the anthill is usually close by and should be located and destroyed. It is important to be ready to act swiftly when this task is to be undertaken.
When the anthill is located, it should be dug out with a shovel and boiling water should be poured into its depths to drown all the insects, eggs and especially, the queen. Make sure that several gallons of boiling water are on hand to complete the task.
They can be found in every nooks and cranny of home and office, both inside and outside the building and this range from tiny ants, harmless sugar ants to the dangerous fire ants.
However, regardless of the type of ants invading your house, one important thing is that these unwanted visitors can be very difficult to control and get rid of.
It is strongly advised that people should always try to put the necessary measures in place to prevent an invasion of ants rather than searching for a solution when they invade your house, especially your yards, being the most vulnerable, due the presence of plants and vegetables.
Keeping your yard as landscaped and neat as possible is one of the most important preventive measures that help to refrain ants from your yards.
It is of extreme importance for you to be familiar with the latest techniques on how to kill ants in your yard. This will not allow you to enjoy your yard and keep your garden free from the menace of these creatures, but will also go along way to protect your plants and vegetables and allow them to grow to maturity.
You will need to be cautious of the method, as choosing a wrong approach can be at the detriment of your garden.
But first, you will need to be specific about the type of ants invading your yard, before you can be sure of the best method of getting rid of them. Organic treatment options are possible to control and get rid of ants from your yards organically.
This has been tested and the result was successful.
There are several organic treatment options that are available, which are highly effective in combating the invasion of ants from your yards.
Organic control products containing spinosad are available as baits and as liquid drenches and which can be used to terminate the life of these unwanted creatures in your yard.
With granular baits, though you will need to be wary of the type of chemical you apply to your yard because some of these chemicals can be harmful to your veggies.
However, the use of granular baits has been tested and trusted, provided you are able to follow the standard safeguard rules of applying it.
All you will need to do is to apply the baits two or three times a year onto your yard and close to, but not in, the garden. Please note this. Getting rid of ants from your yards can be a little difficult, especially if you are not sure of the type of ants invading your yard.
But if you are not able to get rid of them through the organic method and use of granular baits, then it will be a good decision to consult a professional pest control agent.
These are team of experts who specialized in getting rid of insects and pests from home and their wealth of experience with the use of high tech equipment will help to find a long-term resolve solution to the issue.
Ants are almost everywhere and you are likely to spot one specie or another every so often. One of the many ant types that you may have come across is the black ant. Unless you are conversant with various types of black ants, you may not be able to tell them apart. Some of them have the ability to bite or sting, while others do not. What they all have in common though, is that they are quite bothersome when they enter your home to look for food or nest in the structural timber of your home.
Types of black ants
Let’s take a look at two common black ant species you might have come across. Being able to identify the type of black ant that invades your home, puts you in a position to know how best to get rid of them.
- Carpenter ants
Carpenters are considered to be big in size by ant standards as they measure between 6 -13 millimeters. Carpenter ants prefer wood that is moist. So if you have a moisture problem in your home, carpenter ants are likely to settle in. As their name suggest, theirs ants have the ability to make holes and tunnels on timber and are therefore considered to be structural pests. Contrary to what most people think, these ants do not eat wood but excavate to make their nests.
With time this weakens the structural integrity of your house. They prefer living in the roof where there is fewer disturbances and on any wood near moisture.
Their preference in terms of food can range from sugars such as honeydew or granulated sugar in the house to any form of syrup. They also feed on protein such as morsels of left over meats. Shrubs and numerous plants form part of their diet.
Some species of Carpenter ants are known to be aggressive and will bite or sting if their nest is interfered with.
- Little black ants
As the name suggests, these fellows are quite small as their workers measure 1.5 mm while their queens are slightly bigger. The little black ant has a stinger and will often sting if their nest is disturbed. But their stinger is too tiny to have any effect on humans. The little black ants prefer to feed on greasy or oily foods, honeydew, veggies, sweets, insects and plant secretions.
Are black ants harmful?
Like most ants, black ants can be generally bothersome when you find them all over your food and ingredients in the kitchen such as in your cooking fat and sugar dish. The carpenter ant has a destructive side to it that can cause huge costs in repairs.
As far as their bite goes, it can be quite painful because of their size. The bite is more painful as a result of the ant spraying a defensive chemical of formic acid.
The bite of a carpenter ant is fairly painful. Because of their complex nesting habits and the damage they can cause to structural timber, it is best to have a licensed pest handler exterminate them from your premises.
The little black ant is a nuisance, but an infestation can be a cause of headache as they tend to invade your kitchen and mess with food. Seeking assistance from your pest controller should solve that problem for you in no time.
Little black ants are also scientifically known as monomorium minimum. As their name suggests, they are fairly small with workers measuring one eighth of an inch in length. The have only one caste and therefore possible for the colonies to have multiple queens. These ant’s bodies are black or jet-black in color. Their queens are often thrice to four times the size of the workers.
Little black ant behavioral patterns
These ants live in colonies and prefer moist habitats such as wet logs, tree stumps, dead tree limbs, tree holes as well as bricks, rocks and lumber. They are easy to spot as they will often make a visible trail as they look for food or water. One can also locate their nest with relative ease because their trail will often be from their nest to a food or water source.
The workers are particularly fond of eating honeydew produce by aphids. Aphids will often be found on Fruit trees, roses and numerous shrubs. It is therefore not surprising to find that an infestation in your home of black ants may be as a result of the roses, shrubs and fruit trees surrounding your home. They are a feeding haven for black ants because of aphids and the honeydew they produce. Other sources of food for black ants include:
- Corn meals
- Greasy or oily foods
- Plant secretions
These black ants may make their way into your home through the small spaces under your door or get into your house through cracks and crevices in the wall, window seals or floor. They do so in search of food and water.
Interestingly, males and females often shed their wings soon after mating. But the males will not only shed their wings, but will go on ahead to die shortly after.
Black ants can be prevented from entering your home in several ways. Sealing any crevices and cracks and limiting or pruning the number of fruit tree, roses and general shrubbery around the home. Ensuring the yard is clean from piles of lumber and rotting wood is also a good place to start.
If you have a sprinkler system, you want to make sure that they do not spray directly onto the foundation. That is because a moist foundation is an ideal habitat for most bugs including black ants.
If the Infestations of ants is unbearable, you may have no other choice but to engage a professional pest handler on how to get rid of them. Depending on the actual cause of a black ant infestation in your property, the answer may lie in re-landscaping your yard and around the foundation to ensure that the soil around your foundation is less moist. A choice in plants that are less prone to aphids and similar insects will also help.
Blackants are not harmful in any way, however they can be a nuisance when you always see them crawling in your kitchen, food and bathroom area.
How do you know you have red ants on your compound? You will likely spot a trail of red ants marching in a very orderly fashion. If you are in a place that has no ground cover they are easy to make out because of their reddish brown color. In an area with ground cover it might be impossible to see them physically as they hug the ground and are often obscured by the foliage of grass blades and other plants or weed.
In such a case, you are likely not to see them and if you are unfortunate enough, you will feel them all over your pants without warning. Their sting is uniquely painful. Several red ants biting at your skin is not a pleasant experience. The bite is akin to a small burn which has earned them nick name ‘fire ant’.
Most other ants tend to bite and then spray acid on the wound. Fire ants on the other hand bite on you to get a good hold and then sting from their abdomen. With the sting, they inject toxic alkaloid venom known as piperidine.
If you are lucky, they will just be passing through. But more often than not, if you happen to spot them, they are out hunting for food to take back to their colony. And usually, that means that their nest and colony is just somewhere nearby.
Red ants nest
In case you are wondering where red ants live, they have preference to build mounds in all manner of soils, provided it’s in an open sunny area such as such as parks, fields and lawns.
Fireants can build their mounds as high as 18 – 24 inches in height if the soil is favorable and not crumbly like sand. These ants live in colonies that comprise of at least one queen and several hundred thousand ants. A colony can total anywhere between 100,000 – 500,000 thousand ants.
What does a red ant look like?
The ants themselves don’t look like much with a paltry length of roughly 1/8 to 1/4 inch inches. They have a reddish brown color hence their name red ants. If you have been bitten by a red ant before and you happen to see their nest or an army of them marching through looking for food, they will often strike fear in you because of their force in numbers and their destructive ability.
What do they eat?
Fire ants are omnivorous and consume just about any type of meats, sweet and greasy food. They live under a caste system consisting of a queen, drones and workers.Their diet will include carrion (dead animals) ranging from insects, earthworms, spiders ticks, spiders and honeydew.
The workers form search parties and go out looking for food. The scent of of food may often lead them into you kitchen. They leave a trail marked by the hormone pheromone so other and can follow once they find food.
Getting rid of fire ants is often a challenge, as their nest may have one or more queens buried deep in their mound. A pest official will help you find their nest or mound and formulate the best approach on how to destroy the redants’ colony effectively.
Between termites and ants it is hard to say which one causes the most damage. Although both of them operate differently, it is fair to say that whatever they choose to attack, they do so voraciously and can cause massive losses if left unchecked.
Termites are known to chew on wood and are therefore a dangerous pest that can wreak untold havoc to timber and the structural integrity of structures built from wood.
While there are about 45 known species of termites in the US, they will all tend to fall under three categories as follows
The termites in this category live in the soil and are from the family Rhinotermitidae. These types of termites are the most destructive and are to be found in pretty every state in the US with the exception of Alaska.
They build their mounds and nest in the soil. The mounds consist of elaborate systems of mud tunnels that lead to food sources such as structural timber in house, fencing posts and trees.
Subterranean termites are the most destructive of the three groups because their colonies are larger and can build bigger homes in the soil with thousands of termites within a small area.
Kalotermitidae is the name of the family in which this category of termites belongs to. As the name suggests, this type of termite lives in dry wood and can be found in homes on the hardwood floor, ceiling, structural timber and dead trees.
Since they do not require contact with the soil and live in dry wood, their colonies are much smaller and therefore tend to cause less damage and at slower rate owing to their numbers.
- Damp wood
Damp wood termites belong in two families, that isHodotermitidae and Kalotermitidae. Although some of this termites do require contact with the soil. A majority of them do not. They live and feed off wood with mositure and are therefore less likely if at all to be found on homes or any other manmade structures.
A modest estimate of damage caused by termites annually in the US alone is about $5 billion.
Ants also have numerous species and can be very destructive in various ways. Some pesky ants that are commonly known to us include:
- Sugar ant.
Whilethey may not be very destructive, they can be anuisance by crawling all over your food.
- Carpenter ant
This one is quite a destructive ant specie because of the ability to make tunnels and nest in wood. They can weaken and damage structural timber and insulation foam in the home. A carpenter ant infestation will often mean a moisture problem in your home.
- Imported fire ants
Imported fire ants (Solenopsisinvicta and Solenopsisrichteri) are perhaps the most invasive ant species there is. That is because they can destroy crops,livestock and are a menace to human beings. This ants cause $6.7 billion in annual losses in the United States alone.
Termites are more specialized in destroying wood and homes, while ants will cause discomfort while destroying plants and livestock. Both pest are clearly very destructive and can cause massive losses.
Should you suspect an infestation of either on your premises, calling a pest official for an inspection and treatment if there is a need is a good ideas. An official will also help you in future preventative measures that help avert unnecessary losses from either of these pests.
While there are many ant species, most of them have a different physiological make up and behavioral patterns. They also differ on what they prefer for their lunch. In this post, we check out a few species that show us how different ants can be and why they love to raid your kitchen so much. It is fascinating to think that not all ants have the same palate.
- Carpenter ant
This one is considered top of the list amongst the destructive types of ants. True to their name, carpenter ants love to feed on the cellulose in dry wood. This can be anything for a fence post, structural timber to dried pieces of wood on the compound. They bore tiny tunnels into the wood which will eventually weaken it . They also eat dead insects and honey dew.
2. Fire ants
Also called red ants, they are omnivorous and will eat anything from meats that are left over in the house the carrion of dead animals outdoors. They also love greasy foods as well as sugars. They derive their name fire ant from the burning sensation their sting illicits on your skin when they sting.
- Sugar ant
While sugar ants seem to have a preference for sugary foods and substance, they will also consume bits of meat and dead insects whenever they can find them.
- Pavement ant
These fellows eat just about anything that is sugary or fatty. They will also consume dead insects when they come across them. They are considered to be omnivorous.
You will see these ants quickly congregating on spilled juice to get a sip if the sugary drink. That because they love sweet foods. They also feed on proteins such as other dead insects or left over morsels of meat and greases.
The bullet ant loves the outdoors and for good reason because most of its delicacies can be found there. Their food includes tree sap, and dead insects for protein. Insects they feed on can include anything from termites to mealworms.
As the name suggests this ant loves to spend time in your garden foraging high protein foods such as seeds, cricket, roaches and worms. But it will also venture into your kitchen in search of sweet foods.
Nearly all ant species have a sweet tooth, some more than others. But they also need to maintain a healthy diet that includes some element of protein. This is what allows them to keep their frantic energy up. Have you ever wondered why ants do not seem to get tired despite all their activity? The craving of sugar is an indicator that they need it as fuel for their active lifestyle.
Having a good idea of what different ants love to eat, makes it possible to bait and poison them easily when you want to get rid of them. Their varying diet also explains why ants cannot resist raiding your kitchen all the time. It is because of the greasy foods and any remnants of sweet foods or beverages.
One of the prerequisites of getting rid of ants successfully from your kitchen is impeccable hygiene. That means emptying the trash can frequently while maintaining clean surfaces.
They are not native to the Americas and are thought to have come from the Caribbean Islands.
The reason so many experts are afraid of this pest in because it reproduces very quickly and in huge numbers. A typical colony will have thousands of egg-laying females and will contain millions of insects.
Some experts estimate the numbers could reach upwards of one Billion per acre. If the entire colony lives on your property it may be possible to gain control but, if they live somewhere else and are only feeding or crossing your property, complete eradication is impossible at this point.
Discovered in 2002 in South Houston, today they have spread over several Texas counties. This rapid and unusually fast spread is the direct result of man.
We are moving them around in hay bales, potted plants, mulch, timber, and debris, etc. Every time we purchase and relocate an infested item we spread the problem.
The ants are reddish-brown to black and about the size of a fire ant. The name “crazy” comes from their movement which is erratic and fast.
You will never see them moving in a straight line like other ants. They prefer to live outdoors but can be found within structures looking for food and water.
They do not make mounds, like fire ants, but instead nest in and under rocks, pots, debris, mulch, and voids, etc. These ants have no stingers, but, are very much capable of biting.
Their main defense is a chemical they excrete from their acidopore at the end of their abdomen.
Because they are not native to the Americas they do not have any “natural” enemies here. They, like the imported fire ants, have spread un-checked but unlike the fire ants which can be controlled with baits and or liquid chemicals, there is no cure for the tawny crazy ants.
When an infestation invades your property they will eat or run off virtually every living thing. This includes fire ants. They will even attack and kill ground-nesting birds and newborn animals.
When treating for tawny crazy ants you must make your chemical application over the entire property. You may also need to treat in every room within your home or office and even the attic.
These ants have even been known to infest the upper reaches of multi-story buildings. Every tool in your box will be needed to combat these pest. Pest control companies will typically apply two granular products and put down ant baits over the turf and bed areas.
Special attention must be made to treat under every pot, stone, paver brick, mulch, the dog and playhouse, etc.
December to April is the best time to start your tawny crazy ants’ treatment program as many of the ants will die off during the winter. Treating before their populations have grown so large as to be unmanageable is the key to year-long control. If you live in an ant-infested area a monthly service program is probably going to be necessary.