We all have those days when we wake up on a chilly, winter morning and all we want to do is go to the kitchen to make a pipping cup of hot coffee. As our coffee is brewing, we decide to go into the cupboard to grab some sugar only to find that whoever used it last did not seal it properly. That delightful cup of coffee has come to a screeching halt only to see that ants have infested your sugar! Many of us only know of ants as those insects that infest our homes and ultimately cause a nuisance. However, did you know that there are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world? Or did you know that ants do not have lungs or ears so they “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet? This blog will not only help you identify different species of ants, but it will help you prevent an infestation.
In a colony, there are three types of ants: The queen, the males, and the female workers. The workers do not have wings, but the queen and the males do. When the queen of the colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months since workers cannot reproduce and the queen is not replaced. Despite being a nuisance to humans, ants actually do help the environment. Let’s learn a little bit about the different types of species that we may encounter here in the United States.
Argentine ants are native to Argentina and Brazil, but they can be found in southern states and in California, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington. These ants prefer to eat sweet substances, but will also eat anything including meats, eggs, oils, and fats. You can find these types of ants in colonies that are located in wet environments near a food source. These species of ants do not pose a health threat. However, they can contaminate food by leaving their bodily waste behind. In fact, Argentine ants tend to crawl over sewage, trash, and dead animals as they are looking for food, so if you see an Argentine ant on your food, it may be wise to dispose of it immediately and avoid consumption!
Carpenter ants are another species of ants, which are a little more destructive. They can cause quite a bit of damage to your home. Each colony is established by one fertilized queen. She raises workers and then they have the job of gathering food to feed the next generation. These species do not eat the wood they remove. Their food consumption includes insects whether they are living or dead, meats, fats, and sugary foods. Their homes can be found in water and moldy or damp wood like tree stumps, firewood, or plants. Carpenter ants do not care diseases, but if they end up in your home they can damage the wood inside your home!
The last species we are going to discuss are the Odorous House ants. Their name speaks for themselves. When they are crushed, they give off a strong, rotten cotton-like smell. They also get their name because they tend to have nests in or around houses. They eat dead insects and sugary sweets. You can find these ants typically in exposed soils, under stones, logs, mulch, debris, walls, and floor cracks.
We have been talking a lot about different types of ants, but how can you prevent them? Make sure you eliminate standing waters, keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house, be aware and seal any cracks/openings around the bottom of your home, and lastly make sure that firewood/building materials are not stored next to your home. Inside your home, make sure to empty and wash your trash cans regularly and clean up any crumbs and spills. Also, make sure you keep your food in hard, sealed containers. If you see ants, vacuum them up and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. Despite following all of these tips, you may notice you may have an infestation. ATCO is just a short phone call away, and you can be assured that we will take care of your pest concerns.