May092014

"Ants in Virginia"

Springtime is ant time as ants march into homes in search of food. With more than 700 species of ants in the U.S. and about two dozen classified as pests, many homeowners will likely encounter these unwelcome visitors.

"Ants are more than a nuisance. They can contaminate food, bite when threatened and damage our property," noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. "However, which species of ant invades can depend on geography."

Here are some species homeowners should lookout for this spring:

Odorous house ants 

Odorous house ants get their name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed. Odorous house ants like sweets and are found in exposed soil and wall cracks in every region of the U.S.

Habits

Odorous house ants like to eat sweets and are especially fond of honeydew. They are known to move their nests every three months or so in response to rain.

Habitat

Indoors, odorous house ants nest near moisture sources, such as in wall voids near hot water pipers, in heaters, beneath leaky fixtures and inside wood damaged by termites. Outside, odorous ants are often found in exposed soil or under stacks of firewood.

Threats

Odorous house ants do not pose a public health risk, but they can contaminate food and should be avoided. If you notice odorous ants in your property, contact an ant pest control specialist.

Carpenter ants 

Carpenter ants typically tunnel into soft wood to build their nests and need a constant water source to survive. This species is found across the U.S. and can cause significant property damage.

Habits

All species of carpenter ants mainly attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold. Even though these ants first invade wet, decayed wood, they may soon begin building paths through dry, undamaged wood. They usually come into buildings through cracks around doors, windows, or through holes for wires. They will also crawl along overhead wires, shrubs, or tree limbs that touch the building far above the ground.

Habitat

Carpenter ants build their nests outdoors in various wood sources, including tree stumps, firewood or landscaping. They need a constant water source to survive. Carpenter ants will enter the house through wet, damaged wood.

Threats

Carpenter ants damage wood through their nest building. If they gain entry to a structure, they pose a property threat.

Pavement Ants

Pavement ants get their name because they make their nests under cracks in pavement.  These dark brown to black ants can also infest structures.

Habits

These black ants will eat almost anything. Pavement ants have been known to consume insects, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts and cheese. They forage in trails for distances of up to 30 feet and are known to climb masonry walls that enter into occupied areas.

Habitat

In buildings, pavement ants are most likely to be found in ground-level masonry walls, but they also nest in walls, insulation and under floors. Outside, these black ants typically nest under stones, pavement cracks and next to buildings.

Threats

These black pavement ants do not pose a public health risk, but they can contaminate food and should be avoided. If you notice pavement ants in your property, contact an ant pest control specialist.

 Red Imported Fire Ant

Red imported fire ants get their common name from their ability to inflict painful bites and stings.  These dark reddish-brown ants are an invasive species found throughout the southern part of the U.S.

Habits

These red ants build large mound nests that are flattened, irregular in shape, and between two and four square feet in size. They are commonly introduced into new areas through potted plants, shrubs and trees.

Habitat

Red imported fire ants usually nest in soil near structural foundations or in landscaping. Although these fire ants are often found outdoors, they can gain access to buildings through HVAC systems and AC units. 

Threats

Fire ants will sting humans who disturb a nest. The sting of a red imported fire ant is painful and often results in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. Often, a person stung by red imported fire ants will receive multiple stings from more than one of the ants. Persons allergic to insect stings will react more severely to red ant stings.

Argentine ant

Argentine ant colonies can grow to monumental size. A single colony can contain several hundred thousand workers with the colony borders sometimes cover entire habitats. These dark brown to black ants give off a musty odor when crushed. 

Habits

Argentine ants deposit trails of food continuously, instead of just from nest to food source. This habit ensures they do not waste time revisiting the same area for food. Argentine ants prefer to eat sweets, but they will eat almost anything including meats, eggs, oils and fats.

Habitat

Argentine ant colonies are located in wet environments near a food source. Outdoors, they usually build shallow nests under boards or stones, beneath plants or alongside sidewalks. Argentine ants may seek shelter indoors when it becomes too wet or too dry outside. 

Threats

Argentine ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food.

Please visit the PermatTreat Pest Identification Library to view more information.

Getting Rid of Ants Safely and Effectively is PermaTreat's Specialty.

Contact PermaTreat today for all your pest control needs: 866.737.6287