Ants can carry 20 times its weight and they are omnivores in nature. They can range in size from 0.8 to one inch depending on whether they are drones, workers or the queen ant.
The ant is a very social animal so they tend to live in colonies. This is one of the reasons getting rid of these little creatures can be easier than getting rid of other insects. There are more than 10,000 ant species and in most cases they make up half of the insect population of a place.
The anatomy of the ant
An ant is an anthropoid meaning it is a creature with segmented body parts. It belongs to the insect family which is characterized by three parts of the body and six legs. The ants body is made up of the head, thorax and abdomen.
Defining characteristics of an ants body include a tiny waist and a lager head with antennae on it that look like they have elbows. They also have well defined mandibles that they use to pick up food and carry it to their lair.
Natural ant killers
Ants can be destructive but with the right natural solutions one can be rid of them effectively.
A mix of vinegar and water can be used to effectively get rid of ants when they enter your house. Vinegar naturally repels insects because of its heavy scent which feels noxious to ants.
Essential oils are great at repelling most insects and they will effectively get rid of ants. These oils contain natural components used sometimes in insecticide. Oil like lavender is sweet smelling to humans but repulsive to insects like ants. Tea tree and peppermint are other oils used to repel ants. Just add a few drops to some water and shake well then spray on the ant’s nest.
This is a completely natural way of getting rid of ants and it is safe for pets and humans as well. You can use diatomaceous earth indoors and outdoors so find the source of the ants and sprinkle some earth there and find them inside and sprinkle there too.
Also sprinkle some in places they are likely to visit like the pantry and baseboards in the cupboards.
How to get rid of ants
To get rid of ants you need to have excellent hygiene.
Keep the garbage out
Ants look for a consistent supply of food and build a home around it. Your garbage could be their supply of food. By clearing your garbage you have no worries of ants finding food in the dust bins.
Clean pet food bowls
Ants live finding scraps of food in your pet’s food bowls. They will make it a habit to visit the bowl regularly to find food. Leave the bowls clean after every meal to prevent ants.
Ants will leave a scent to call their fellow ants to a source of food. Make sure to wash your space to wash away the ant’s scent.
Sugar ants in a home are a common occurrence because they love to come in and feed on scraps of food around the home. Most people often wonder where the sugar ants come from and how they find their way into the home.
Sugar ants have been gifted with more odor receptors that most other insects and this makes them exceptionally adept at picking up sweet scents and following them. These scents often lead to some scraps of sweet food left over in the kitchen, dropped behind the couch or left over on the dining table.
With odor receptors that are up to four times stronger than ordinary insects, it is of little wonder that this insect appears seemingly out of know where to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Where do they come from?
These types of ants often have their nest outside the house in the yard but in some rare cases they may have a nest in some hidden undisturbed part of the house. The good news is that other than being a nuisance, the sugar ant is not harmful to human beings. Often it is a single sugar ant that finds the food and hordes of others follow later.
This is a common phenomenon displayed by most sugar ants such the pharaoh ant, pavement ant and banded sugar ants. The sugar ant scout often follows a scent trail all the way from outside entering the home through numerous places such as under the door or tiny cracks on the wall and so forth. It leaves a pheromone trail that the other ants will follow and make their way to the stash of sugary treats. In no time the piece of delicacy will be swamped by the ants.
Why do they like sugar so much?
Most ants have a sweet tooth and will naturally gravitate towards sugary delicacies from time to time. That is because sugar contains a high level of carbohydrates which is an important nutrient for all animals.
However, you will be surprised to learn that ants that are typically attracted to sugar may also consume other things such as fats, proteins through devouring other insects and on occasion they are known to consume pollen.
How to rid your kitchen of Sugar ants
Sugar ants are primarily attracted to your home by sugary foods, left over foods as well unemptied trash in the home. A thorough clean up of the kitchen as well as ensuring that there are no food scraps on the floor will easily help get rid of sugar ants in the home. In case that fails and you seem to have an infestation despite maintaining high levels of hygiene, then you may want to seek the help of a professional pest exterminator.
The numerous over the counter chemical remedies that can help get rid of ants. However introducing poising into the house can be a dangerous affair and is best to employ the service of professionals for safety purposes. They will assess the sugar and situation in home or yard and provide you with the safest and most effective solutions.
Ants are known for their unrelenting industriousness and incredible strict social system that seems flawless. It must be because their numbers never seem to dwindle, if anything it is hard to find a spot on earth that doesn’t seem to be crawling with this indomitable insect.
Their strict hierarchy system often ensures that everyone knows their role and the colony grows from strength to strength.
Ant populations on earth
According to the British entomologist known as C.B Williams, his calculations on the number of insects on earth at any given time led him to an estimate of one million trillion insects. If that estimate were true, then his bold claim is that all insects in the world would weigh as much as the entire human population
That sounds outrageous until you read or hear Edward O Wilson a Harvard professor and the German biologist Bert Hoelldobler claims on the subject in their book titled ‘Journey To The Ants’ published in 1994. Their argument seems to pick from and advance the British entomologist C.B Williams theory. The two professors suggest that a single worker ant weighs about 1-5 mg. If Williams estimated world insect population are ants, such a calculation would put earth’s population of ants at ten thousand trillion. That being the case, then indeed all the ants in the world put together would weigh the equivalent or perhaps even more than the total weight of all human kind on earth considering that an average human weighs about 62 kilograms.
Ant queen and the colony
But what does do all the above figures have to do with a queen bee? Well, it goes to show that the importance of the queen bee in multiplication of colonies. Her role in increasing and preservation of ant populations is indispensable. The Ant queen is the cog that keeps the population wheel of the ants spinning, take the ant queens away and the population of ants would be decimated. The various ranks of the ants know this and therefore instinctively perform their roles with military precision and discipline. The female worker ants dutifully forage for food and feed the colony as well as the queen in addition to making sure that the colony is clean. The other members of the colony are soldiers who ensure that everyone else in the colony is protected from harm. Then there are the drones who are essentially royalty because they are the princess and princesses of the colony.
Once the princesses become of age, they will mate with the drone and then move out to start new colonies of their own as queens. The primary role of an ant queen is laying eggs, and ant queens can live well beyond a decade and can lay up to a million eggs in a lifetime. When her colony population is healthy and robust, she will then switch gears to birthing more drones (princes and princesses) in order to extend the royal lineage and ensure continuity. The drones will then grow mate and leave the nest to start colonies of their own and so the cycle goes on and on.
The ant bee is noticeably bigger than the rest if the ants. That is not because she is pampered, but because the musculature is necessary to become an efficient egg laying machine to fill the earth with little ravenous ants.
The black carpenter ant is one of the common pests that invade our homes apart from mice, roaches and other insects. These ants usually invade the house in droves and are considered to be harmful to the wood of the house.
But, how do you know for sure that they have infested your place? It’s easy. When you see an ant or two, there is no reason to panic.
The problem occurs only when a colony of ants makes your home as their dwelling.
Homeowners can look for the following indications to find out if their house is infested by carpenter ants or not:
Worldwide, there are over 900 species of carpenter ants. These ants are long-legged, fast-moving ants that are capable of inflicting a painful bite. They are among the largest of ants and do invade homes to forage for food and build nests.
Carpenter ants are large reddish-brown to black ants from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. Their abdomen pedicel consists of one segment. The black carpenter ant, most common in the northeastern states is a dull black color and has yellow hair covering its abdomen.
The red carpenter, most common in the gulf coast states, has a red head and thorax with a black abdomen.
Ants develop from an egg to larva and pupa, to an adult worker or reproductive. They make new nests by sending out winged reproductives that mate and start a new colony.
The mating flights take place in spring and depends on temperature and other environmental conditions. Winged reproductives fly at night during the rainy season.
Following the flight, the queen drops to the ground and begins searching for a suitable nest site. Nests are often constructed under loose tree bark and in wood that is on the ground.
When a suitable nest is found the queen lays eggs, which will mature into adult ants within 50 to 70 days. A carpenter ant colony can reach several thousand workers.
Feeding And Foraging Habits
Ants forage at night, from just before sunset to two hours after sunset. They have loose, not very well defined trails. The ants are found feeding on sweets such as honeydew on shrubbery, and nectar from flowers. These ants will also eat live and dead insects when young ants are being reared in the colonies nest.
How To Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
Direct treatment or removal of the nest is recommended. However, finding the nest site can be very difficult. Sealing gaps in your house’s exterior, removing tree stumps, woodpiles and chemical treatment will provide effective control of your ant problems.
To find a nest inside your house, follow foraging ants in the evening hours as these ants will lead to the nest.
When the nest is found, treat it with a labeled insecticide for carpenter ants. Insect baits are also available and should be placed according to the product label, where they are foraging for food.
With the combination of a bait application, nest removal or chemical treatment and excluding openings outside your house, you will be able get rid of carpenter ants like a professional.
One of the largest ants marching in homes that are commonly found in the United States is the carpenter ant.
They are well known for invading and infesting homes and if they are not discovered early, they may cause expensive damage to the building structure.
Although there are many different species around, the two most commonly found in the country are the black carpenter ants and Florida carpenter ants.
Carpenter ants can eat a wide source ranges of food, depending on the location and places where they nest. When indoors, they can feed on most sweets, meats, and other foods rich in sugar and protein.
And, when they are in an outdoors environment, they will eat living and dead insects. One important point to note is that although carpenter ant damage wood, they don’t eat wood.
Carpenter ants prefer to build their nest in the moist wood environment. Indoors, they are likely to nest in decayed wood, bathroom tiles, tubs, walls, behind siding, in the attic, insulation, sink, attic beams, showers, and dishwashers or hollow spaces such as wall voids, curtain rods, and doors.
Outdoors, they will found rotting trees, tree roots, tree stumps and logs buried or lying on the ground as the best places.
There might be serious damage in the building structure if carpenter ants invade as they will tunnel through the wood and create galleries.
Don’t wait for the carpenter ants to invade your home before you take action.
Prevention is always the best way. To effective prevent carpenter ants from invading your home, regular visual inspections is necessary and to enforce that, you will need to have a list of steps and plans. Check out some of these action plans:
1. Reduce or remove any possible ‘doorways’ for carpenter ants to enter your house. If any trees touch your house roofing or siding, trim it so that there is no direct contact between them.
2. Focus on all openings where pipes, wires or anything that connect and enter the house. Make sure that they are tightly sealed. Repair any plumbing or outdoor water taps leak as well as check out roof edges, attics, door, window frames.
3. Don’t delay the repairing of any cracks to the foundations as somehow, these insects are able to found it faster than we do.
4. If you need to bring the firewood into your home, examine them and make sure that they are carpenter ants risk-free. Never store firewood on the ground or stack against the sides of the home. Stack them up off the ground with non-organic material.
5. The nature of carpenter ants is that they are very attracted to moist, soft or rotting wood. So, regular checking of your house surroundings is necessary. Remove any moist, soft or rotting wood, log stumps, and waste wood will greatly help to minimize the risk factor.
Above everything else, ants play a vital role outside our homes. They ventilate the soil, manage the insect population and beak the nutrients present in the soil composition.
So, it is fair to think of a goal that will not destroy the ants but have control over them out of the perimeter of your house.
In short, it is best to practice ant control rather than kill them altogether.
Ants build their colonies wherein the scouts are being sent outside the colonies to look for their food and water. For the other ants to know if these scouts are able to look for resources, they leave a scent that signals their way back to their colonies.
Other ants in the colony have a task to follow the path of scent by the scouts and bring the found resources to their colony. There are also subcolonies that will later on established as a new autonomous colony depending on the kind of ants led by queen ants from the mother colony.
You can notice heavily passed scent paths from different varieties of ants because of their going in and out of the colony. There are also other types of ants that seem to like a less traveled trail like the ordinary wandering ant.
In the same way, these ants are still following the scent path made by the members of the colony who traveled before them.
Ants’ preferred food is the honeydew made by different insects like aphids found outside your house. If you control the production of honeydew you can reduce the supply of food for the colony of the ants by choosing plants that are not known to aphids.
It is good to use ant trap, a type of pest control, to lessen the usage of insecticides and also more preferred than sprays. But on the other hand, baits for ants have disagreeable side effects to the attraction of new ants.
Ant baits have a taste that can attract and poison ants. The ants bring it to the colony and start o die.
But, some colonies usually send scouts outside their colony who are able to know the ant bait and colonies that are far from this bait forward their workers as food collectors.
Ant baits are effective if being placed in the pathway on the ants’ scent trail and taken away the bait after the activity of these ants is done. Baits for ants use many kinds of attractants, and so if in any chance that it will not work, you may actually try other kinds of ant bait. Another reason is that ants can taste change with regards to their colony’s need. An ant bait that did not function before can work in your present time.
You can also utilize sticky barriers to maintain ants from their travel up the plants and trees. The branches of prunes that touch your house or fences make a bridge that will able ants to cross
When you think of a bullet you think of devastation, destruction, pain and of course death. According to scientists the sting of a bullet ant is equal in pain to being shot with a bullet. The good news is that apart from an extremely potent and painful sting, the bullet ant’s sting has no lasting effect. It would take roughly 2, 250 stings from a bullet ant to kill a human being weighing about 165 pounds.
But don’t underestimate the level of pain one would suffer at the hands of these little monsters. They are the largest ants in the world with a length of 1.2 inches and their sting is thirty times more excruciating than a bee’s.
The sting is located in into abdomen and it releases a neuro-toxic venom which attacks the human nerves causing temporary paralysis and unbearable pain. The pain gets worse in the following hours after the actual sting with stinging and burning sensations. This pain can take up to 24 hours to dissipate depending on how many ants stung you.
Where do you find bullet ants?
Bullet ants typically inhabit humid rainforest areas in lowlands like the rainforests of Nicaragua, Paraguay and Honduras. It is also prevalent in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Venezuela. Their diet is smaller insects and nectar. Is there something about nectar and stinging insects?
They live in a colony which they build at the base of a tree. This provides them with camouflage as well as hides them from prey so they can forage easily in the canopy. Bullet ants have a reddish brown color and distinctly larger pincers. The sting is also clearly visible on the abdomen.
The Bullet ant sting
When one bullet ant stings, it releases a chemical that prompts other ants to start stinging repeatedly. The sting, according to the Schmidt Pain Index, is not only electric it is blinding and invasive. It has been compared to the sting of a warrior wasp and tarantula hawk wasp. Both are just as excruciating but last for a shorter period compared to the bullet ant’s sting.
How to treat a bullet ant sting
The main toxin found in a bullet ant is poneratoxin which is a neurotoxic peptide that blocks synapse transmission within the central nervous system. This is what causes the uncontrollable shaking and temporary paralysis. Accompanying symptoms include the cardiac arrhythmia, fever, nausea and vomiting.
The best way to treat a bullet ant sting is to use antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream. Begin by placing a cold compress on the stung area to alleviate the swelling and lessen tissue damage to the area. Taking pain killers will help to lessen the overall pain.
Prevent bullet ant sting by wearing protective clothing like over the knee boots and stay away from ant colonies that are attached to trees.
Contrary to popular belief bullet ants are non-aggressive. Usually the ants sting as the last resort when threatened. First they will release a warning scent that is extremely stinky. If they continue to feel threatened they bite first and latch on for a while before finally using the sting.
Flying ants really get a bad press, but most of us just misunderstand what they are doing when they sprout wings and fly.
These ants with wings only sprout wings to get from one place to a new colony. Once they have found a place to live, the wings will drop off the creature and it becomes just another of those tiny creatures that we all love to hate.
There are dangerous varieties of course and these include fire, bullet and army varieties that we should avoid at all costs.
However, most of them only want to find food and water for the colony and this is why we see them invading our own space since we leave enough of this around for them to have easy pickings.
Flying Ants: Are They Termites?
One of the most misunderstood varieties of this creature is the carpenter variety. Everyone thinks that this creature eats the wood in our homes, much like termites.
However, the carpenter is only after a place to live and merely burrows into the wood to make a home for the colony. Termites, on the other hand, eat the cellulose in the wood causing it to collapse and get weak over time.
In fact, having the carpenter variety in residence will probably keep the home in good condition since they eat termites at every given opportunity.
If they are eating up these destructive little creatures at every turn, the home should stay in good condition for longer, right?
This surely is a green way of keeping termites at bay while allowing these creatures to live in peace.
Colonies of these creatures rarely exceed four thousand members so this is really not a huge amount to have in one house.
However, there are many people who just cannot stand the thought of them burrowing away deep in the fabric of the building so they either try homespun methods of killing them off, or they call in the experts to do the work for them.
Getting Rid Of Flying Ants
To start the process, householders should wash down all surfaces, in the kitchen in particular, with hot water and bleach.
Make sure no crumbs are left around the place and mop up water spills as soon as they occur. It is crumbs and water droplets that these creatures are looking for so if there is none, they have to go elsewhere for sure.
Sprays and powders are available to try to rid the house of this critter, but unless the nest is found, it is probably a waste of time. Tiny holes in wood should show where they entered the wood to build the gallery which houses the colony but sprays cannot get right inside to where they are.
Pest control professionals will surely know how to rid the home of any kind of pest for sure so it may be a good idea to call them to for assessing your home.
By getting someone local, call-backs or follow-up visits are easier to organize and they are always there to advise the householder on other pest infestations too.
Having the black ant, or carpenter ant in the house is one of the most common pest problems faced by the people living in woody areas and damp climate zones.
There are several types of carpenter ants that burrow inside the wooden crevices of your home; some of them are black ants while the others are red in color.
The black carpenter ants are often known by the name Camponotus pennsylvanicus, and red carpenter ants are scientifically known as Camponotus sayi.
Usually, red ants are smaller than the black ones though they happen to have the same kind of physical resemblance.
Irrespective of the color and type, these ants feeding habits and nesting places are the same. The usual diet of the carpenter ants includes honey, dead bodies of pests and insects, fatty bodies, sweets, etc. There is a popular misconception that these ants feed on the wood or barks of trees which is not true.
Carpenter ants simply burrow inside the rotten wood, moist places, and damp zones and try to chisel away the wood from inside making it hollow, brittle and useless.
Summer months are the time when you are likely to find Black carpenter ants in the house. Red ants are most commonly found during the winter months.
Breeding habits, the way these ants procure food, store them, form colonies, all such aspects are the same for both the red and black carpenter ants. One should resort to some type of treatment procedures to eliminate both types of ants from their home.
Though the concentration of both the type of ants varies from state to state, the same amount of damage can be expected whenever there is an ant’s nest nearby. One can surely find heaps of sawdust, holes in walls, rustling sounds from inside the walls, trails on the walls, wires, electric sockets, etc.
Wherever there is moisture inside the home or drenched wood or rotten mulch, you are likely to find an infestation.
One should be cautious while using chemicals to eliminate the carpenter ants in a house. Some of the chemicals are considered to be harmful to pets and kids and should not be used within their proximity.
Chemical ingredients used in some of the aerosol sprays have been banned legally in several states. Before buying these products, go through the label and find out what all chemicals have been used in it.
Some of the ant-killers come loaded with harmful chemicals that should be applied by the professionals alone. In such cases, seek the assistance of a professional pest controller who is licensed and has proper registration to deal with this job.
If anybody in the family experiences nausea, giddiness or any other kind of discomfort while using the pesticides to kill the ants, discontinue their use and consult a doctor immediately.
If there are asthmatic children or pregnant ladies in your home, seek guidance from a health professional to find out what type and what amount of pesticides can be used within their vicinity.
In our Ants of Arizona blog series, we’ve been talking about some of the most common types of ants you’ll find in the state of Arizona. We’ve talked about the Carpenter and Harvester ants, and in this entry we’d like to talk all about the ant that may have the fanciest name of them all – Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus), or the Pharaoh ant.
But why are they called Pharaoh ants? One theory is that these ants were mistaken as one of the plagues that hit ancient Egypt. They certainly are one of the most difficult household ants to control!
WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?
Pharaoh ants are about 0.05 to 0.07 inches, or 1.5mm to 2mm long. Like all insects, they have 6 legs, and 2 antennae. They are yellowish, light brown, or red in color and typically have a darker-colored abdomen. If seen up close, these ants would appear slightly transparent.
Pharaoh ant workers have non-functional stingers that they use to generate pheromones. Males are slightly larger at about 0.11 inches or 3mm and are winged but they do not fly. Queens are dark red in color, and are larger at about 0.14 to 0.19 inches or 3.6mm to 5mm long.
WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?
A Pharaoh ant colony consists of multiple queens, males, workers, and their young – eggs, larvae, pre-pupae, and pupae. Because they have multiple queens, a single colony can grow very large to as many as 300,000 ants.
Outside, Pharaoh ants like to nest in dark or shaded areas such as under piles of organic debris. Inside homes, they like to nest in warm, humid areas close to food sources. Not only are they able to nest under baseboards, behind wall voids, under floors and such places like most pesky ants do, but they may also nest in furniture, light fixtures, folds of clothing, and even between sheets of paper.
If a colony is disturbed, these ants will often disperse to establish other colonies in the home or surrounding area.
WHAT DO THEY EAT?
Pharaoh ants are omnivores and will consume almost any type of food. Their diet includes nectar, seeds, nuts, sweets, meat, greasy foods, or other insects. While a Pharaoh ant colony may nest indoors, they have been observed to forage close to windows, which may indicate a preference for outdoor foraging.
In a lot of other ant colonies, queens may essentially be waited on hand and foot – but with Pharaoh ant queens, they may “ask” for food from a returning scout that has brought food, and the scout may refuse. This scenario happens when food is scarce, and the scout prioritizes its own survival. I guess being a queen isn’t that special when there are a lot of other queens around.
ARE THEY DANGEROUS?
Pharaoh ants have a non-functional stinger. They’re capable of biting, but this presents no danger except in cases of very large infestations and a person suffers numerous, consecutive bites.
The bigger danger is that these ants may also carry and transmit a number of diseases including salmonella, staphylococcus, and clostridium. They are known to infest hospitals and transmit over a dozen pathogens.
They’re able to nest virtually anywhere inside the house like light fixtures, sockets, insulation – and may wreak havoc inside your house (especially since they will have multiple nesting sites). When they manage to build large nests in indoor structures, they may cause structural damage too.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
Pharaoh ants are one of the most difficult pests to control. They tend to create multiple colonies in one area, and when a single colony is disturbed those ants scatter and create new, smaller colonies that will grow large again very quickly (they can populate a large office block in as little as six months). This is called budding, and is a major nuisance even for pest control professionals.
They may prefer to nest near food and water sources like kitchens and bathrooms, but are also able to travel long distances to forage so their nest may not be nearby. They have been known to use electrical wirings behind walls as bridges to travel so their nests may be difficult to locate.
Insecticide sprays or dust only kills the ants directly affected and not their nests. Any sprays or dusts on the nest would cause the ants to disperse and scatter. Because they have multiple nests that are hard to locate – and because of ant budding – ant bait would be the most effective means to control their population if you’re doing your own pest control.
Be sure to use slow-acting bait, and remove all other food sources to maximize the number of foragers carrying the poisoned bait back to their nests. Use a protein, fat, grease, sugar, or carbohydrate based ant bait. Depending on the nutritional needs of the colony, you may need to change what the ant bait is based on if they’re not being baited by it.
Having an ant problem, especially a Pharaoh ant problem, is a huge headache. If they’ve infested your property, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional pest control company for assistance.