ANTS: SHOULD WE BE WORRIED?
How many times has it happened to you when after saving the very last piece of your favourite apple pie, especially baked for you by mom, you soon find out that an army of ants has gotten to it first? You are the type of person who saves the best for last, and seeing your prized possession being feasted on by something else would certainly not sit well with you. To me, it has happened countless times, and every time the ants do that to me, it always seems like they end up the winner, with me just grinning and bearing it.
Ants are among the most common household pests since time immemorial. Actually, they are not only found in homes, but in restaurants, offices, warehouses, and any other buildings where there are humans. Why? Well, where there are humans, there is food and water. They prefer sweet foods but are open to eating anything that we eat. They also unwittingly do damage to outdoor and indoor plants by protecting insects that produce honeydew, like aphids. Whiteflies, and mealybugs -some of the more common garden pests.
Ants can also cause huge structural damage to homes and buildings. In fact, they have caused more damage to structures than the much more hated termites.
There are more than 10,000 species of ants that can be found all throughout the world, except in Antarctica. They belong to the insect order Hymenoptera. They are actually close relatives of the bees and wasps but are more confused with termites in terms of appearance. Formicidae is their scientific name. Their size range from .08 to 1 inch and are omnivores. Though it seems like there are millions of ants already in our houses alone, most of their species are actually found in the tropical forests, where they make up around half of the insect population there.
Ants go through a complete metamorphosis all throughout their lives. They pass through the egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Only the queen can lay eggs. The rest of the female members of the colony are sterile. After the eggs hatch, they become larvae, which do not look like their adult counterparts at all. Larvae are not mobile and they look like worms.
Ants, if you still have not noticed, are highly social insects. They seem to communicate well with each other. I used to observe them when I was a child, forming a long line to and from their nests. Every time an ant crawls by another ant, both ants would nod heads before going on their way.
Ants form colonies. Each colony is led by a queen. The queen ant is the largest ant in the colony. She takes care of the reproductive functions of a colony. Her sole purpose in life is to lay the eggs to ensure the survival of the colony; sometimes she participates in the caring and grooming of her young, but that is usually left to the worker ants to do. The queen has wings, which she sheds whenever she starts a new colony. The colony can survive for only a few months if the queen dies. The rest of the female ants in the colony are sterile and are therefore not capable of laying eggs. The life of the colony ends once the queen dies, as there would be no more new ants to replace the older ants who would eventually die too. There are some ant species who have more than one queen.
The worker ants are sterile female ants. They are smaller than the queen, yet they have similar physical attributes. They have lots of tasks for the colony, including protecting it from enemies, foraging for food, feeding the colony, keeping the nest clean, caring for the newly hatched ants, protect the nest, and even invade other colonies to get food and even the eggs of the other ant colonies. These eggs will be kept until they hatch, and once they become adults themselves they would become slaves of the colony.
The male ants have only one purpose in life, and that is to mate with the queen. After doing this, they die.
Types of ants commonly found in households
Not all of the more than 10,000 species of ants are household pests. Most of them actually are in the forests minding their own business and helping the ecosystem. Below is a rouge’s list of ants that are common household pests.
Carpenter ants – The size of the carpenter ants is about ¼ to ½ inches in length, and they are black in colour. Opposite their name, these ants are capable of destroying structures by boring holes through wood. This type of ants is the most destructive among the house ants; they have caused more structural damage than termites did. They build their nests inside your home’s structural wood by chewing on it to dig tunnels, unlike the termites that eat the wood. They actually prefer wood that is damp and had been previously damaged by water.
Carpenter ants would always come from the outside, getting in your house to look for food. They prefer sweet foods and drinks. Once inside, they then look for the wood they can convert into their nests.
European fire ants – The size of the European fire ants are about 2.2 to 2.8 mm in length and are light to dark brown in colour. European fire ants are one of the most intrusive ants in the world. They can be found in the gardens, lawns, under the rock, or wood debris. During the cold months, they find their way inside the house and into the bathroom, under the bathtub, or in the heaters. They also sting, and their stings are very painful. European fire ants have multiple queens in their colony.
Argentine ants – The Argentine ants are common household pests that invade the house in search of food and water. Indoors, they set up their nests on the ground, in cracks on the wall, or in holes in the house. They live under rocks, or among leaf litter because they are not capable of digging deep in the ground. They sometimes also live in abandoned ants’ nests.
Crazy ants – So-called because when they are disturbed, they move around like crazy and with no direction. Crazy ants can build their nests both indoors and outdoors. They can travel long distances to look for food. They build their nests either on dry sites or damp sites and can be found in hollow trees, rotten wood, under stones, under logs, among the rubbish, and in debris. Crazy ants do not bite but are considered nuisance pests.
Field ants – Field ants are usually found outdoors, They are 4 to 8 mm long and come in black, brown, or red colours. They can sting and their stings are painful. They build their nests in yards, wooded areas, and fields. One sign of having field ants in your yard is the presence of a mound about 12 inches in diameter. They also nest under stones, logs, and porch slabs.
How to get rid of these pests
When ants get inside your home, they can really be annoying. You must always be on the alert because they can act swiftly when there is food. There are several ways to get rid of ants. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Seal off cracks and openings. These could be used as possible entry points by the ants.
- Place your food in sealed containers so as not to attract ants.
- Put some dishwashing soap and water in a spray bottle. Spray the ants with this combination. Dish soap stick to their bodies. This would dehydrate them enough to kill them.
- Use diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized remains of diatoms. They are like little shards of glass so it can cause several cuts on the ant’s body when they crawl on it, causing them to bleed to death. Choose food grade diatomaceous earth so that it will be safe around kids and pets. Sprinkle this around areas where you always find ants. You can purchase this from a local gardening store near you.
If you have ant infestation problems that is too much to handle already, then call the best ant exterminator company, Go-Forth Pest Control.
Why Go-Forth Pest Control?
Go-Forth Pest Control is a family-owned company with solid experience in the extermination of pests like ants, cockroaches, mice, mosquitoes, flies, spiders, weevils, moths, and wasps. Go-Forth Pest Control has a team of excellent professionals who are highly skilled and well-trained, using only the latest and most advanced equipment in the business. You can really say goodbye to these pests. They also use family-friendly and pet-friendly methods of extermination, so you can rest easy knowing that your family is safe. You may check their social media like Facebook and Google to see what our satisfied customers can say about Go-Forth Pest Control, as we are the company with the highest rating there.
Go-Forth Pest Control has earned the trust of residents and business establishments in North Carolina for more than 50 years. For more information, or to set an appointment, you may dial 336-841-6111. Our friendly operators are standing by.