As the weather warms, many homeowners find themselves with unwanted guests in the form of tiny ant invaders. While it may be tempting for homeowners to purchase their own bait to control these ants, controlling an ant infestation is not a “one size fits all” process. Each type of ant has specific behaviors and habits that make them difficult to treat. Here are a few common ant types.
Acrobat ants get their name from their habit of acrobatically raising their abdomen above their head, especially when they are disturbed. From above, their abdomen is heart-shaped. There are several different species of acrobat ants in the United States, and many emit an unpleasant odor when startled.
Acrobat ants typically live outdoors in nests made of decaying wood, but may find themselves in homes through foundation pipes or gaps around pipes. For colonies living in trees, branches close to the home can provide the perfect point of entry. Once inside a home, acrobat ants look for moisture and food sources. Homeowners may notice these ants in lines travelling to and from these sources, or in mating swarms.
Argentine ants are one of the most invasive and difficult species for homeowners to deal with. Argentine ants have multiple queens per colony, and there can be as many as 300 queens for every 1,000 workers. In normal colonies, the goal would be to eliminate the queen, but with Argentine ants, this is not an effective strategy.
Argentine ants are attracted to decay and waste, and spread harmful bacteria wherever they walk. These ants kill other pests and invade human homes. Some Argentine ant colonies can span entire city blocks. Because of this, Argentine ant control is an ongoing process, not a one-time fix.
Carpenter ants are indigenous to many forested areas of the world. They build nests inside wood, which they chew with their strong mandibles. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not ingest the wood they chew. When carpenter ants find their way into a wooden structure, they can cause significant damage.
Homes with moisture leaks are prime candidates for carpenter ant invasions. Unsealed gaps around pipes and tree branches close to homes provide optimal entry points for these ants. When carpenter ants are present, homeowners may notice rough wood shavings, rustling noises inside walls or swarming ants.
Crazy ants earned their name from their frantic, erratic movements. They have a strange attraction to electrical equipment, and it is estimated that every year, crazy ants cause more than $146 million in electrical damage. Crazy ants do not excavate their own nests, unlike most other ants, and prefer to settle in whatever viable, enclosed container they can find.
Crazy ant colonies are small, but contain a large number of queens. One square foot colony can have up to 20 queens at one time. The number of queens, in addition to their erratic patterns for searching for food, can make them extremely difficult to bait and control.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants, also known as sugar ants, stink ants and coconut ants, get their name from the strong, rotten coconut like smell they produce when crushed. These tiny black ants love to eat sweets, and are especially fond of honeydew.
Kitchen pantries are common targets for these ants once they have found their way into a home. Once there, they can contaminate food with the bacteria on their bodies. Any food products that have been invaded by odorous house ants should be thrown away.
Pavement ants prefer to live under sidewalks, patios and driveways and in close proximity to human dwellings. From their nests, they will scavenge houses for sweets, meats and dead insects. Pavement ants typically find their way into homes through cracks in foundations or basements, but are repeatedly attracted by scattered crumbs and trash receptacles. They are especially attracted to leftover pet food. Controlling pavement ants can be difficult for homeowners as these ants live deep within the ground.
Pharaoh ants are small, yellow and known for being a major indoor nuisance, especially in hospitals. These ants feed on sweets, proteins and oils and are attracted to commercial food handling areas. Once inside, they create nests in inaccessible areas such as inside walls, behind baseboards and under floors. They will use wires within walls as a “highway” system to move around the space.
Pharaoh ants can only be controlled through careful, meticulous baiting done by a professional. The foraging workers will take the bait back to their queens, resulting in elimination of the infestation.
Red Imported Fire Ants
These ants get their name from their ability to inflict painful bites and stings. They usually nest in soil near the foundation of buildings, and gain access to homes through HVAC systems and air conditioning units. Fire ants will sting humans when provoked. Their stings are extremely painful, and often result in a raised white pustule. Often, one fire ant will sting multiple times, resulting in multiple wounds. People who are allergic to other insect stings are likely to have a strong reaction to fire ant stings.
Red imported fire ants nest in distinct mounds, which should be avoided. Please contact a professional to handle a fire ant colony.
If your home has unwanted ant invaders, contact your local Dodson office. Our team of trained professionals will provide a free inspection to identify the ant species in your home and create a treatment plan just for you.