Ants are among the most successful insects. Experts estimate that there could be 20,000 or more species of ants in the world. They have evolved to fill a variety of different ecological niches as predators, herbivores, leaf-cutters, seed-harvesters, aphid- tenders, and fungus-growers. They are found in deserts and rainforests, mountains and valleys, and throughout Charleston, S.C. They are interesting organisms that should be studied to better understand their unique behaviors and their roles in the earth's ecosystems.
They can also be pests, however. Fire ants and others may sting or bite people and animals. Pharaoh ants get into wounds and dressings in hospitals. House-infesting ants can become pests by their presence in kitchens and living areas. Carpenter ants tunnel into structural wood. Mound-building ants mar the appearance of lawns and landscaped areas. Sometimes ants must be managed to suppress a pest problem.
The Ant Colony and Life Cycle. Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, which also includes the wasps and bees. Ants are distinguished from many of their nearest relatives by two characteristics: a narrow "waist" (the slender free-moving portion of the abdomen called a pedicel) and elbowed antennae.
Ants also differ from most other insects in that they are social, similar to termites and certain bees and wasps. This means that ants live in large cooperative groups called colonies. 2 or more generations overlap in the colony; adults take care of the young and are divided into castes, specialized groups that take care of certain tasks. Ants have reproductive castes, the queens and males, and nonreproductive castes, the workers.
Ants develop through a complete life cycle of egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The egg is tiny, almost microscopic in size. The larva is legless and grub-like, very soft and whitish in color. It is also helpless and depends totally on workers for food and care. The pupa looks somewhat like the adult but is soft, unpigmented, and cannot move around. Some are enclosed in a cocoon, some are not. A newly-emerged adult requires several days for its body to harden and darken.
New Colony Formation. Once a colony of ants matures, it can establish new colonies through various methods, depending on the species. The 2 most common are budding and swarming. The appropriate management strategy depends on how a colony spreads, so it is essential to correctly identify the ant species before deciding how to manage it.
Budding. Budding is the breakaway of a group of ants from a mature colony to form a new colony. The group usually consists of one or more queens and some workers carrying larvae. Budding is common with species of ants that have multiple queens, such as Pharaoh ants and Argentine ants. Residual insecticides should not be used for ants that undergo budding because they can stimulate this process.
Swarming. Most ants establish new colonies through swarming. Every now and then, particularly in spring or early summer, mature ant colonies generate large numbers of winged forms. These are the young queens and males, going off to mate. An inseminated queen then rids herself of her wings and attempts to start a new nest in a cavity, under a stone or a piece of bark, or by excavating a hole in the ground. She rears her first brood alone, feeding them with salivary secretions and infertile eggs. If successful, the first brood opens up the nest and brings in food for themselves, the queen, and subsequent broods, and the colony grows. However, the percentage of queens that successfully begin new colonies is thought to be very small.
Seasonal Abundance. Most outdoor ants increase in population and activity from spring into summer months and then decline from fall into early winter as the temperature drops and the ants' natural food supplies dwindle. Other ants, such as the Argentine ant, may increase in numbers in the fall as various colonies aggregate together to overwinter. Some ants, such as the Pharaoh ant, which may live entirely indoors, exhibit little seasonality.
What can you do to manage ants? Carolina Exterminating will devise a plan to assist you in ant management along with helpful tips.
Article courtesy of Greensmiths
Accidentally imported from South America in the 1930s, the fire ant (RIFA, or "Red Imported Fire Ant") is an aggressive breed that causes nasty stings and can wreak havoc on homes, animals, crops, and even small children.
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Here are some fire ant remediation tips:
- Avoid using ant sprays, which will not reach the queen to finish off the mound.
- Fire ant bait can take a couple days to be effective, so keep pets and children away from the mound to ensure the treatment has time to work.
- Keep an eye out for fire ant colonies before they get out of control. Colonies are typically created in damp areas near a water source, and fire ants are happy to build their homes anywhere in your yard ... even inside your house! Fire ants tend to build their homes near hard surfaces, like concrete walkways, brick fences, and the side of our homes.
- Contact Carolina Exterminating and let us solve all of your pest control needs. Allow our experience and professionalism make your home comfortable inside and out.