Ants

  • There are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world.
  • An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight.
  • Some queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies!
  • Ants don’t have ears. Ants “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet.
  • When ants fight, it is usually to the death!
  • Foraging ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been.
  • Queen ants have wings, which they shed when they start a new nest.
  • Ants don’t have lungs. Oxygen enters through tiny holes all over the body and carbon dioxide leaves through the same holes.
  • When the queen of the colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months. Queens are rarely replaced and the workers are not able to reproduce.

Although ants are frustrating when they get into your home or when you’re having a picnic, ants do help the environment. They are social insects, which means they live in large colonies or groups. Depending on the species, ant colonies can consist of millions of ants.

There are three kinds of ants in a colony: The queen, the female workers, and males. The queen and the males have wings, while the workers don’t have wings. The queen is the only ant that can lay eggs. The male ant’s job is to mate with future queen ants and they do not live very long afterwards. Once the queen grows to adulthood, she spends the rest of her life laying eggs! Depending on the species, a colony may have one queen or many queens.

Ant colonies also have soldier ants that protect the queen, defend the colony, gather or kill for food, and attack enemy colonies in search for food and nesting space. If they defeat another ant colony, they take away eggs of the defeated ant colony. When the eggs hatch, the new ants become the “slave” ants for the colony.

CARPENTER ANTS

Carpenter ants get their name because they build their nests in wood. This pest can cause significant damage to your house. There are many types of carpenter ants throughout India measuring in size from one-quarter of an inch for a worker carpenter ant to three-quarters of an inch for a queen carpenter ant.

Each colony is established by a single, fertilized queen. She starts her nest in a cavity in wood, where she raises her first brood of workers. She feeds them saliva and does not leave the nest or feed herself during this time.

When they are ready, those workers then get the job of gathering food to feed the next generation. Once mature, this first generation of worker ants work to increase the food supply for the colony. The colony population grows very rapidly. A colony can eventually produce 2,000 or more workers.

Food:
Carpenter ants do not eat the wood they remove during their nest-building activities, but deposit it outside entrances to the colony in small piles. The diet of carpenter ants includes living and dead insects, meat, fats and sugary foods of all kinds, including honeydew and nectar from plants.

Habitation:
Carpenter ants build nests anywhere they can find water and moldy or damp wood, such as tree stumps, firewood or in the plants around your house. Carpenter ants also build nests inside, usually entering buildings through wet, damaged wood, although it isn’t uncommon for them to adapt to drier environments.

Impact:
Carpenter ants don’t carry disease, but when building a nest inside a home, Carpenter ants dig smooth tunnels inside the wood. These tunnels weaken the wood and potentially damage the wood that keeps the house standing. This kind of damage can be very expensive to fix.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

ODOROUS HOUSE ANTS

This ant gets its name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smells it gives off when crushed and the fact that they commonly nest in or around houses. These ants are very social, living in colonies of up to 100,000 members.

Food:
Odorous house ants like to eat dead insects and sugary sweets, especially melon.

Habitation:
Typically living for several years, these ants commonly make their homes in exposed soil, under stones, logs, mulch, debris and other items. They will also nest in wall and floor cracks.

Impact:
Odorous house ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food by leaving waste behind.

Prevention:

  • Avoid using other individuals’ combs, hats, towels, etc.
  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

PAVEMENT ANTS

Although these ants can live inside, they get their name because they make their nests in or under cracks in pavement. They are typically found in the eastern half of India. Pavement ant colonies average 3,000 to 4,000 members and have several queens.

Food:
These ants will eat almost anything, including insects, grease, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts and cheese.

Habitation:
This ant gets its name because it most commonly nests in soil next to and beneath slabs, sidewalks, patios, and driveways. Indoors, pavement ants nest under a building’s foundation and within hollow foundation walls.

Impact:
Pavement ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food by leaving waste behind.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

RED IMPORTED FIRE ANTS

Red imported fire ants (RIFA, for short) are more aggressive than other ant species and have a painful sting. These ants and their telltale mound nests should be actively avoided. Red imported fire ants can adapt to many climates and conditions in and around their environment. For example, if the colony senses increased water levels in their nests, they will come together and form a huge ball or raft that is able to float on the water!

Food:
They primarily feed on vegetation.

Habitation:
Red imported fire ants will build their nests in mounds of soil outdoors, in landscape areas or near a building’s foundation. They occasionally enter buildings through holes or cracks in walls and foundations.

Impact:
The sting of a red imported fire ant is painful and often results in a raised welt that becomes a white blister. Persons allergic to insect stings will react more severely. They are frustrating, not only because of the physical pain they can inflict, but because their mound-building activity can damage plant roots and lead to loss of crops.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.