Ants 101: All you need to know

Ant

There are a lot of ants out there in the world, roughly 13000 different species with trillions and trillions of individual ants. In fact, some biologists estimate that the collective weight of ants outweighs the combined weight of humans. While this is most likely a bit of an overestimate, especially since the human population is knocking on the door of 8 billion, the notion that this can even be entertained highlights just how numerous ants are.

In South Carolina, there are roughly 200 species of ants and of those 200, thankfully there are only about a dozen that are considered pests.

Identification:

You’re probably pretty familiar with ants but let’s do a quick refresher. 

Ants are in the same family as bees and wasps and therefore have a pinched waist however unlike bees and wasps they have one or two small little joints (nodes) connecting their abdomen to their thorax (the body section that has their legs).

Also, ants have bent or elbowed antennae that differentiate them from many other insects.

Biology:

Just like many bees and wasps, ants are social. 

In fact, all species of ants are truly social and have overlapping generations in the nest(s). They all care for the young of the colony, and they have a division of labor. i.e. some ants are workers and bring in the food and defend the colony and some are reproductives, which produce eggs and new colonies. 

Ants go through a complete metamorphosis starting at eggs and then hatching into legless larvae. The larvae develop and grow and help the colony as they chew up solid foods and feed it to the workers and queen(s). 

Larvae will spin a cocoon and enter into it to pupate and become adult ants.  As mentioned earlier, some ants are reproductives. This type of ant is winged and is often confused with reproductive termites.  They swarm out frequently after rains on warm spring days. These ants will mate and start new colonies and the whole life cycle will begin again. 

Control:

So now you know more than you’ve probably wanted to know about ants. Most likely the whole reason you care about ants at all is how to get rid of them.

So how would one go about doing that? Well, the key tenant to pest control is to keep the bugs out before they become established. 

Make sure your house is in good repair e.g. caulking or sealing cracks or holes in the foundation, utility penetrations, etc. Cut back overgrown shrubbery and trees in close proximity to your home (a tree limb touching a clogged gutter can become a major highway for ants onto or into your house). 

Furthermore, by reducing excessive amounts of bushes around your home you can limit plant-sucking insects that supply ants with honeydew. 

Finally, keep the kitchen clean. While this is by far easier said than done, try to keep crumbs off the floor and counters, keep food items stored tightly in containers, and don’t leave out dirty pots and pans overnight or for long periods of time.

Ants are extremely efficient foragers. If you leave out food for long and they’re in close proximity, they’ll find it.

Ant control can be complex. 

Argentine ant colonies can reach millions.

Fire ants don’t care if your house is clean or not they’ll still invade your lawn and can inflict painful stings.

Carpenter ants will find the water leak around your chimney and make a satellite nest in your attic. 

Moreover, the ants that you’re seeing are just the tip of the ant “iceberg”. Ants foraging for food only account for 10 percent of the colony. 90 percent of the colony is located elsewhere and will cause persistent problems if not controlled. 

Make a complex issue simple by calling Spencer Pest Services. Our professional technicians will identify conducive conditions, make recommendations to fix them, and eliminate the ant colonies troubling your home and property.

 
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