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Ants (Family: Formicidae)

When you think of ants, very rarely do you imagine just one. No, when people talk about ants, they’re usually speaking of a colony¬†or an army of the pests. While some species of ants are little more than annoying, others can be dangerous.

Habitat and Diet

When it comes to building colonies, ants usually nest in soil. Nest sites often vary with species but are often found next to buildings, along sidewalks, or in close proximity to food sources. Trees, or plants that harbor honeydew-producing insects, are often targeted food sources. They also construct nests under boards, stones, tree stumps, and other protected places. In temperate climates, though, ants seek out warm, moist locations. Inside wall voids, under flooring, or near hot water pipes or heating systems are perfect climates for ant nests.Ant Infestation

Food preferences also often vary among ant species. Fruits, seeds, nuts, fatty substances, dead or live insects, dead animals, and sweets are usually the food of choice for most ants. When ants enter buildings, it’s because they’re seeking food, water, shelter, or refuge from weather conditions.

 

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Although there is some variation among species, a single newly mated queen typically establishes a new colony. After weeks or months of confinement underground, she lays her first eggs. After the eggs hatch, she feeds the white, legless larvae with her own metabolized wing muscles and fat bodies until the larvae pupate.

Several weeks later, the pupae transform into sterile female adult workers, and the first workers dig their way out of the nest to collect food for themselves, the queen (who continues to lay eggs), and subsequent broods of larvae.

As numbers increase, workers add new chambers and galleries to the nest. After a few years, the colony begins to produce winged male and female ants, which leave the nest to mate and form new colonies.

Damage

Inside buildings, household ants feed on sugar, syrup, honey, fruit juice, fats, and meat. Long trails of thousands of ants may lead from nests to food sources, causing considerable concern among building occupants. Outdoors ants are attracted to honeydew that soft scales, mealybugs, and aphids produce. This liquid excrement contains sugars and other nutrients.Red Imported Fire Ants

Frequently outbreaks of scales and aphids occur when ants tend them for honeydew, because the ants protect scales and aphids from their natural enemies. Ants can bite with their pincer like jaws, although most species rarely do. However, the velvety tree ant is an aggressive biter. A few ants sting, including native fire ants and harvester ants.

Monitoring and Inspecting

Regularly inspecting your home for ants or ant entry points is an important part of an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program.

Monitor for ants near attractive food sources or moist areas. Ants may invade kitchens, bathrooms, offices, or bedrooms. Inspect under sinks, in cupboards, and along pipes and electrical wires. Look for large trails of ants or for just a few stragglers.

Straggling ants are scouts randomly searching for food or nesting sites. When you spot ant trails, try to follow the ants to where they are entering the building and to the nest if possible. Look indoors and outdoors for holes or cracks in foundations or walls that provide entry points to buildings.

Ant Infestation

If you think your home or business is dealing with an ant infestation, call ASAP Operators! All of our operators are trained to not only identify the kind of ant that is infesting your home or business, but to deploy the best removal method. You’ll never have to worry about ants again after ASAP is done!

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