Ants can become nuisances when they invade homes, and negatively impact a business’s reputation when they are present in a commercial business. Beyond that certain types of ants, like carpenter ants, should be promptly addressed and controlled as they are wood destroying and can compromise a building structure.
Pest professionals control ants using insecticide baits, in either granule or liquid form. Bait is gathered by the ants as food and brought back to the nest where the poison is spread to other colony members through trophallaxis. Boric acid and borax are often used as insecticides that are relatively safe for humans. Bait may be broadcast over a large area to control ant species.
Below is a look at the most common types of ant problems to impact us here in the Southern Florida area.
Carpenter Ants are of great concern because they are a wood destroying insect. Carpenter ants will damage the wood within and around your home by hollowing out the inside to build their nest. They can nest in wood that is dry or moist but tend to prefer the moist wood. In fact, carpenter ant infestations most typically occur near areas of moisture around a home like a bathroom or kitchen.
Carpenter ants swarm in the spring, although they can be spotted at any time of the year. They are very large, black ants. Finding sawdust or excavated wood with insect parts in it or discovering hollowed out wood is a sign that carpenter ants may be present. Carpenter ants are best identified by a pest professional and one should definitely be called in to address an infestation from any wood destroying insect.
These are some of the most common areas that Carpenter Ants can be found – and remember, Carpenter Ants are nocturnal, so they move around mainly at night.
- Dead limbs of living trees
- Under attic insulation
- Hollow trees
- Interior wall voids
- Under exterior siding
- Supports in crawl space
- Exterior wall voids
- Wood pile
- Sill plates
- Between insulation and sub flooring
- Roots of dead trees
Points of Entry for Carpenter Ants
- Clogged drains and gutters
- Edges of fireplace brick
- Door frames
- Vines and plants touching home
- Edges of siding
- Mulch around home
- Crawl space vent
- Wood in contact with soil
Argentine Ant species will typically set up a colony on the outside away from humans, however, occasionally they can be found indoors inside the soil of a plant and are commonly found inside of cars. They are light brown to brown in color and range in size from 1/10 inch to 1/8 inch in length. Argentine ants generally are not antagonistic toward each other but when they move into new territory, they drive out and/or kill all of the native ants.
Outside, they travel quickly in distinctive trails along sidewalks, up the sides of structures, along branches of trees, baseboards, and under carpets. Workers sometimes emit a musty smell when crushed or stepped on.
Argentine ants live in rather large colonies, with hundreds of thousands of workers and multiple queens. They often live in smaller subcolonies which they combine to form one huge colony that can span several properties and contain millions and millions of ants. Outdoors, they live in soil, under wood, slabs, debris, mulch, or in branches and cavities of trees, or in shallow, 2” deep mounds in open, often disturbed habitats.
Argentine ants are extremely fond of sugar, especially from the sweet honeydew secreted from insects like aphids. The argentine ants often protect them on the plant they eat, killing any nearby predators in an effort to secure a constant supply of the precious honeydew.
To reduce Argentine Ant populations, it helps to keep sheets of plywood, stones and other debris from piling up to lessen the chance of nesting. Using caulk or any other sealant to fix cracks or holes in the buildings exterior helps keep ants from entering, as well as keeping lawns and shrubs maintained and away from buildings. Repair leaks to lessen excess moisture and adjust any sprinklers that come in contact with your home.
Odorous House Ants
If you live in a wooded area you are at risk of an Odorous House Ant infestation and these species of ants are known to re-infest year after year. Just as their name suggests, odorous house ants will give off a strong odor when they are crushed. This ant is small, about 1/8 inch in size, dark in color and form distinct trails. They are one of the most difficult ant species to control, a pest professional is most always needed for long-term solutions.
Odorous house ants are often confused with the common pavement ant. Differentiating between the two is best left to a pest professional, however, one way of telling the difference is to note an offensive pine or coconut odor when the ants are crushed. They will nest just about anywhere and relocate quickly when necessary. If an infestation occurs indoors you will often find your kitchen counter quickly covered with this type of ant, they feed on most any kitchen matter.
The Pavement Ant is a common household pest, as their name suggest they most commonly make their home in the pavement. During early spring, pavement ant colonies try to conquer new areas and often attack nearby enemy colonies. These attacks often result in massive sidewalk battles, which can sometimes leave thousands of ants dead. In summer, they dig out the sand in between the pavements to ventilate their nests.
The pavement ant is dark brown to blackish in color, and usually 2.5–4 mm in length. Similar to other ants, there are workers, drones, and a queen. The drone’s only job is to mate with the queen, and reproduction peaks during the spring and summer. Workers continue helping in the colony until they are about one month old. Older workers hunt and defend the colony. Pavement ants will eat almost anything, including insects, seeds, honey, bread, meats, nuts, cheese and ice cream. This ant species does not pose a public health risk, but can contaminate food and all efforts should be made to avoid them.
Professional grade pesticides prove to be most effective when managing a pavement ant infestation.
Acrobat ants vary from 1/8-inch to more than a 1/4-inch in length
and have very shiny bodies that vary in color from light red to dark brown or black. They have a heart-shaped abdomen, and get their name from the odd habit of running with it bent up and over their thorax when agitated, and as a result, they may sting or bite. They get their name from their curious habit of bending their heart-shaped abdomen up over their body when disturbed, giving the impression of an acrobat walking on his hands
Acrobat ants eat a wide variety of foods, including sweets, especially those contained in the honeydew produced by sap-feeding insects. They sometimes feed on termites or other ants. Acrobat ants will trail along tree limbs, utility lines, and fences and they can enter structures by simply crawling through cracks or open windows. They are found both indoors and outdoors, and will often emit a foul odor when disturbed.
Acrobat ants prefer nesting in dead or decaying wood. They are rarely found in above ground mounds. They are exceedingly territorial, and only one colony will exist in a tree. When nesting in structures, acrobat ants live in moist or rotting wood.
Amco Pest Services can protect your home and those who live in it from the dreaded fire ant! The fire ant is an invasive ant species coming to the U.S. from South America, but has become a widespread pest particularly in the southern United States. Fire ants are known to have a surprisingly strong, painful, and persistently irritating sting that often leaves pustules on human skin.
Fire ants nest in the ground and can be more aggressive than most other ant species. They can be quite dangerous to have on your property, particularly to children, when someone inadvertently steps on one of their mounds, which causes the ants to scurry up the individual’s legs, in an all-out attack. They respond to pheromones which are released by the first ant to attack. The ants tend to sting in unison, which often leads to death in small animals by overloading their immune systems.