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ANTS (Fire Ant, House Ant, Crazy Ant, Carpenter Ant, Acrobat Ant, Pharaoh Ant)
Colonies - Control - Prevention

 
  DID YOU KNOW?
   
When an ant locates a food source, they leave behind an invisible pheromone trail for other ants to follow.
   
The average life expectancy of an ant is 45-60 days, but an ant colony can live a long lifetime. Worker ants may live seven years, and a queen may live as long as 15 years.
   
Whole ant colonies can uproot and relocate quickly when threatened.
   
Food preferences vary among ant species, but almost all ants are attracted to sweets.
   
One or more times a year, reproductive ants fly from the nest (swarming) to find a mate from another colony.
   
After mating, a queen ant loses her wings.
   
Although the queen may copulate with several males during her brief mating period, she never mates again.
   
The queen stores the sperm deposited by a male ant in a pouch, until she opens a valve to her reproductive tract to fertilize her eggs.
   
The queen ant controls the sex of her offspring. Fertilized eggs produce females and unfertilized eggs develop into winged males.
   
The queen produces workers by secreting a chemical that retards wing growth and ovary development in the female larvae.
   
Ants can lift 20 times their own body weight.
   
Ants cannot chew and swallow solid food. Instead, they squeeze juice from the food and then throw away the dry part that is left over.
   
When the queen of a colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months.
   
     
Fire AntAnts are the most common household pests in the country. They are difficult to control and are a major annoyance to humans. Ants invade your home seeking shelter, water and food. There are more than 700 ant species found in the U.S., although only about 25 species are known to commonly infest homes. Ants will create more calls to pest control companies than most other household pests combined.

They may be small, but they make up for their size in numbers; if you spot one ant, be certain there are many more ants close by. Ants can nest about anywhere in and around your home; in lawns, walls, trees, even under foundations. Outdoor ants may be located underground, in ground-level mounds, or in trees. Indoor ants find habitat within walls, cabinets or other void areas. Ants can damage lawns and landscaping as well as contaminate food and food preparation areas.

ANT COLONIES
Ants live in large groups or colonies and are considered social insects. Depending on the species, a colony can consist of thousands or even millions of individuals. Ants have three distinct members within each colony: workers which are sterile females, reproductive females known as queen ants, and males who exist only to mate with the queen.

The ants typically seen by humans are worker ants. Workers are wingless females that never reproduce, but instead forage for food, care for the queen's offspring, work on the nest, protect the community, and perform many other duties. Winged males ants, who do no work, exist solely to fertilize a virgin queen. The male ant will die shorly after performing its one and only duty, mating with a queen.

All ant communities are headed by a queen whose function in life is to lay thousands of eggs to ensure the survival of the colony. Queens live long lives in comparison with their workers and are prolific breeders. Some species of ants have one queen while others may have several.

ANT CONTROL / PREVENTION
Ants can enter through the tiniest cracks, seeking water and sweet or greasy food substances in the kitchen or food storage areas. Ants that find a food source, deposit an invisible chemical trail as they crawl back to the nest. This "trail pheromone" sticks to the substrate for long periods of time and helps other ants find the food by following the trail.

The first step to eliminating an infestation is to identify the ant species, which will help determine the necessary course of treatment. This can be a challenge for someone without proper training, so calling a pest control professional to assist with identification may be helpful. Ant infestations are not easy to control and different strategies should be used depending on nest location and food preferences of the ants. Insecticide sprays and baits can be used to kill foraging ants and destroy nests, but strategies designed to prevent further infestations should be used in conjunction with chemical treatment.

Most do-it-yourself ant control approaches kill only the ants you see and popular home remedies don’t account for the fact that different kinds of ant infestations require different treatments. Truly effective treatments can penetrate and destroy nests to help prevent these pests from returning. Ants should be controlled with a combination of good sanitation, removing pheromone trails, caulking entry points and eliminating active nests.
 
 
Fire Ant
RED IMPORTED FIRE ANT
The red imported fire ant species came to the United States from South America and has become a well known pest in our region. These fire ants favor warm, sunny, dry and flat conditions. They typically nest underground, often producing mounds with no visible entrance.
REVEAL / CONCEAL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
Fire AntThis species of fire ant is red and black in coloration and possesses an abdominal stinger. The red imported fire ant (sometimes referred to as RIFA) has no natural predators in North America and is a resilient species, capable of surviving dramatic temperature swings and severe weather. They are also capable of physically dominating and displacing other ant species.

Fire ants are far more aggressive than most ant species, and have a painful sting. Red imported fire ants will swarm and attack if their mounds are disturbed and can sting repeatedly. Some human deaths due to hypersensitivity to their stings have been attributed to fire ant attacks. The sensation of a fire ant sting has been described as an intense burning which results in red bumps and white pustules that may lead to scarring.

The average fire ant colony contains 100,000 to 500,000 workers, up to several hundred reproductive winged forms, and one to several queens. Queen ants can live 7 years or more, while worker ants generally live about 5 weeks, although they can survive much longer.
 
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Carpenter Ant
CARPENTER ANT
Carpenter ants vary greatly in size, measuring 1/8 to 1/2 inch long. These ants may be totally black, combinations of red, orange, yellow and black, or completely red or brown. Carpenter ants do not have a stinger. However, larger ants can inflict a painful pinch using their jaws.
REVEAL / CONCEAL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
Carpenter AntCarpenter ants are prevalent in our region and are not only a nuisance, but can also cause structural damage to your home. These ants are relatively large and black in color. They burrow into wood to make their nests, and the only evidence of their existence are the piles of sawdust that they leave behind. Carpenter ants and termites can often be confused because they have similar appearances.

Carpenter ants prefer to nest in moist wood or structures already damaged by other insects. As a result, most carpenter ant nests are found in decaying wood in areas such as windows, chimneys, sinks, door frames or bath traps and in hollow spaces such as wall voids, hollow doors, and foam panels. While the surface of the wood may appear undamaged, carpenter ant galleries can be identified by telltale window holes. Unlike termites and beetles, carpenter ants do not eat wood.
 
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Acrobat Ant
ACROBAT ANT
Acrobat ants, when disturbed, raise their heart-shaped abdomen well above their head in a defensive posture. This small light brown to dark brown-black ant is is also called valentine ant or cocktail ant because of its unique abdomen raising habit.
REVEAL / CONCEAL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
Acrobat AntIn the outdoors, acrobat ants feed on live and dead insects as well as on aphid and mealy bug honeydew (an excreted sugary waste.) Acrobat ants will actually ensure the production of honeydew by protecting aphids from other predators. Acrobat ants are typically found under rocks, or in logs, firewood, and trees. These ants prefer nesting in moist wood softened by decay or fungi. Occasionally, acrobat ants will strip the insulation from electrical or telephone wires causing short circuits.

Occasionally acrobat ants become pests by invading homes where they are known to nest in woodwork and foam insulation. Acrobat ants will often nest in wood that termites or carpenter ants have previously damaged. Damp areas such as in foam sheathing behind siding or in roofing near a leaky skylight are also known nesting spots. If acrobat ants enters a home, they will quickly infest household foods - usually preferring sweets and meats or other high protein foods.
 
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Odorous House Ant
ODOROUS HOUSE ANT
Odorous house ants are small ants about 1/8th inch long and dark brown to black in color. Their name comes from the odor similar to the smell of rotten coconuts, that is given off when the ants are crushed. This smell is a defense mechanism alerting other ants of danger.
REVEAL / CONCEAL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
Odorous House AntsOdorous house ants are opportunists, nesting both indoors and outdoors. They nest outdoors in the soil under stones, logs, mulch, debris and other items. They nest indoors in wall and floor voids, particularly in moist or warm areas. If only a few ants are observed in the home it is an indication that they are nesting outdoors and entering the house in search of food. If antsare consistently seen in great abundance, it likely indicates they are nesting within the house. Odorous house ants are most likely to invade structures during rainy weather.

Odorous house ants forage for food night and day. Outdoors they prefer honeydew from aphids and mealybugs. When the honeydew supply is reduced in autumn, they may move indoors for food. Indoors, they eat meats, sugary foods, dairy products, pastries, cooked or raw vegetables and fruit juices.
 
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Crazy Ant
CRAZY ANT
Crazy ants, also known as Tawny crazy ants, are so named because of their frantic jerky movements and erratic behavior while foraging for food. These ants are dark brown to black in color and measure approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length.
REVEAL / CONCEAL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
Crazy AntCrazy ants are highly versatile, living in both moist and dry habitats. They nest in rotten wood, soil, the cavities of trees and plants, trash and under rocks and buildings. Crazy ants cannot survive extremely cold climates and may infest houses and buildings when weather changes. Known for congregating around electrical equipment and wiring, where they seek warmth, the crazy ants can cause malfunctions and do massive electrical damage.

Crazy ants may be more difficult to control than other ant species because they dwell both indoors and outdoors and multiply quickly. In addition, crazy ants forage long distances from their nests, making it difficult to identify their colonies. Though crazy ants do not pose a human health threat, if they gain entry to a structure they can become quite a nuisance.

Crazy ants are omnivorous, feeding on both dead and live insects, honeydew produced from insects, fruits, plant secretions, seeds and a variety of household food items such as sweets, meats, grease and liquids.
 
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pharaoh Ant
PHARAOH ANT
Pharaoh ants are very small, about 1/16 inch in length, and are know as a major nuisance pest due to their ability to survive indoors. They are light yellow to reddish brown in color with the tip of their abdomen being darker than the rest of their bodies.
REVEAL / CONCEAL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
Pharaoh AntAlso called the sugar ant or piss ant, the pharaoh ant can take advantage of artificial heating in buildings to survive the winter. They often nest in inaccessible areas, such as inside wall voids or behind baseboards in kitchens and bathrooms. Infestations commonly occur in food service areas.

Pharaoh ants can be difficult to control because colonies have multiple nests in inaccessible areas. Insecticide sprays and dusts should not be used to control these ants because these repellants will cause the colony to scatter and divide, creating new colonies worsening the infestation. Pharaoh ants have multiple queens and are able to move their colonies from place to place when disturbed. Pharaoh ants begin new colonies by budding. This means that a small group of workers and a single queen migrate from their colony to start a new colony.
 
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