HERE COMES THE ANT

HERE COMES THE ANT

HERE COMES THE ANT

Do you think you have too many ants in your house?  Are they stealing your apple pies, cookies, bread, or any other food you have been saving for your next meal?    We know how frustrating that can be. While ants outdoors can be beneficial to the ecosystem, ants inside homes is never a welcome sight.  If this is happening to you, it is time to act! How to get rid of ants in the house?  Read on.

Overview

Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, with a scientific name Formicidae.  There are more than 10,000 species of ants all throughout the world.  There are ants everywhere, save for Antarctica. They are actually close relatives of the bees and wasps but are more confused with termites in terms of appearance.  Their size range from .08 to 1 inch. They eat almost anything since they are omnivores. Most of their species are actually found in tropical forests, where they make up around half of the insect population there and are considered beneficial insects because of what they do for the ecosystem.

As far as their life cycle is concerned, ants go through different stages in their lifetime. 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. The larvae go through a series of 4 or 5 molts before entering the pupal stage. After this stage, they emerge as adults.  

What is inside the ant colony?

An ant colony consists of the queen, the males, and the workers.  All of them have specific roles to play that are vital to the survival of the entire colony, and each ant is dedicated to the advancement of everyone in the group. 

The colony is led by the queen.  The queen’s role is to ensure the survival of the entire colony by laying as many eggs as she can.   Sometimes she participates in the caring and grooming of her young. She can live longer than the rest of the ants in the colony and can lay as many as a million eggs in her lifetime.  Initially, the queen has wings, which she uses for flying in search of a place that is suitable for nest building. Once she finds the best place, she sheds her nest and quickly buckles down to work.  Once the nest is built, she lays her initial batch of eggs.  

The males’ only purpose in life, but just as important, is to mate with the queen.  Without them, the queen would be useless. After mating, the males die shortly. 

The workers are actually sterile female ants.  They look almost the same as the queen, only smaller.  Their functions include foraging for food, keeping the nest clean, protecting the colony, repairing the nest, caring for the young, and attacking other ant colonies.  They also steal the eggs, wait for them to hatch, and care for the young. When they grow up and strong enough to work, they will be used as slaves of the colony.  

Why are ants such pests?

According to the awesome pest exterminator near meAnts raid homes.  Ants break into the houses and build nests.  Then they send out patrollers to check for food sources.  Those solitary ants you see crawling around your desks and tables are the foot soldiers tasked to look for food.  Once they find something to eat, they call out the rest of the ants and soon there are hundreds of them. They use their pheromones to guide other ants.  This usually happens when we leave food on the table unsealed. 

Ants bite and sting humans.  Their stings are unprovoked and can be quite painful.  Suffice it to say that ants are very annoying. Some species can also kill humans because of their sting.  An example of this is the deadly fire ants. The ants themselves do not transmit diseases, but since they might have crawled on garbage, dirt, and even decomposing insects, they can be considered unclean and may carry germs and viruses. 

Ants can also cause more structural damage than termites can, believe it or not.  When they choose to nest under buildings, they can potentially weaken the foundation by removing soil.  They are also known to cause short circuits. Some species like the fire ants and the Asian super ants like to stay where there are electrical currents flowing.  This then causes fire risks. 

Ants also destroy vegetation and are thus a big threat to farmers.  Some ant species, like the leaf cutter ants, harvester ants, and black garden ants, are a serious concern for them, causing them to lose billions every year.  

The most common types of ants

Carpenter ants – Carpenter ants are considered more destructive than termites, as they can cause more structural damage than their look-alikes. They prefer to nest in wood inside houses and buildings.  They build nests inside the wood, specifically the damp and dead ones. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood, but rather they just chew on it. Outside our homes, they are ecologically helpful in the forests.  They have this capability to excavate wood, which helps in decomposition in the forests. They also turn and aerate the soil, making it more fertile.

European fire ants – The European fire ants are known to be the most invasive species of ants.  They are about 2.2 to 2.8 mm in length and are light to dark brown in color.  They have a powerful sting and usually do it simultaneously with the other fire ants.  They are known to kill small animals like kittens, but cases of death in humans caused by these fire ants have also been reported.  They nest in gardens, lawns, under the rock, or wood debris. Inside the house during the cold months, they are found in the bathroom, under the bathtubs, or in the heaters.  When disturbed, they sting. Inside the colony, there are multiple queens.   

Field ants – Field ants come in black, red, brown, or a combination of the three colors.  Sometimes they are golden yellow in color. They are ⅛ inch to ¼ inch in length.  Their nests can be found in yards, wooded areas, and fields. They are usually confused with carpenter ants but are not usually found indoors. You would know if there is a field ant in your yard when you spot a mound about 12 inches in diameter.  They also nest under stones, logs, under timber, and porch slabs. They are capable of stinging as well. 

Crazy ants – Crazy ants are also invasive ants.  They are about ⅛ inch in length. They travel long distances to look for food.  They can live indoors, but they can also build their nests outdoors. They can choose either dry or damp sites for their nests.  They can be found in hollow trees, rotten wood, under stones, under logs, among the rubbish, and in debris. Indoors, they are attracted to electric appliances like air conditioners, computers, and other devices.  This leads to short-circuiting of the appliances, and death by electrocution for the crazy ants. They are called crazy ants because they will move around crazily without direction when disturbed. Though they do not bite, they are considered pests.  They can sometimes be tough for exterminators to eradicate.  

Argentine ants – They come in light to dark brown in color.  They are about 1/12 inch to 1/8 inch long. Argentine ants are common household pests.  They enter a house in search of food and water and they prefer sweet foods. These ants will set up their nests on the ground, in cracks on the wall, and in holes in the house.  Outdoors, they live under rocks, or among leaf litter since they are not capable of digging deep in the ground to build nests. They also live in abandoned nests too.

How to get rid of ants in the house

Here are a few tips on how to get rid of these ants:

  1. Place your food in sealed containers so as not to attract ants.
  2. Keep your house clean.  WIpe off food particles and drink spills form the tables, kitchen sink, on furniture, and on the floor.  
  3. Regularly dispose of your garbage and place a cover on your trash cans. 
  4. Seal off cracks and openings that you could find around the house.  These could be used as possible entry points by the ants.  
  5. Use diatomaceous earth.  You can purchase this from a local gardening store near you.

Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized remains of diatoms.  They are like little shards of glass that can cause several cuts on the ants’ bodies when they crawl on it, causing them to bleed to death.  Sprinkle this around areas where you always find ants.  

If these tips still would not work, then it is time to get the help of the ant experts in North Carolina, Go-Forth Pest Control.  Just dial 336-841-6111.

Go-Forth Pest Control is a family owned exterminator company based in High Point, NC. The company covers The Triad, The Triangle, Charlotte, Hickory, Wilmington, Columbia SC.

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