Do you know that all ants live in colonies? Ant colonies consist of an egg-laying female (the “queen”), short-lived males, and workers (sterile females). The ants you see foraging in your garden or kitchen are workers. Workers that find food communicate with other workers by depositing a chemical message on the substrate as they crawl back to the nest. Although humans can’t smell it, this “trail” sticks to the substrate for a long period of time and helps other ants find the food at the end of the trail.
Fire AntIn the spring, ants develop wings and fly to new locations and often invade homes to forage for food or to establish a new nest.
The bodies of ants, like all insects’ bodies, are divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen, with three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae.
Fire ants can be particularly annoying in Texas and the Southwest. Fire ants are distinguished from other ants by their copper brown head and body with a darker abdomen. The worker ants are blackish to reddish, and their size varies from 2 mm to 6 mm. These different sizes of the ants can all be present in the same nest.
A typical fire ant colony produces large mounds in open areas, and feeds mostly on young plants, seeds, and sometimes crickets. Fire ants often attack small animals and can kill them. Unlike many other ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound, fire ants bite only to get a grip and then sting (from the abdomen) and inject a toxic alkaloid venom. For humans, this is a painful sting, a sensation similar to what one feels when burned by fire—hence the name fire ant—and the after effects of the sting can be deadly to sensitive people. The liquid is both insecticidal and antibiotic.
Red ants, sometimes called red harvester ants, defend their colonies vigorously against real or perceived attacks, whether by large or small animals. They bite ferociously and their stings are venomous and painful. The effect spreads through the lymphatic system, sometimes causing dangerous reactions, especially in animals sensitive or allergic to their venom. Over the years, their numbers of red ants have been declining. This has often been attributed to competition for food with the invasive fire ant. Their decline has affected many native species, especially those for which the red harvester ant is a chief source of food, such as the Texas horned lizard. Red harvester ants are often mistaken for fire ants, but are not related to any fire ant species, native or introduced.
As a group, ants have a wide food range, feeding on sweet foods, greasy materials, starchy substances, wood, and all kinds of plant and animal materials. Part of the reason that ants become a nuisance in our homes is that they often like the same kinds of food that we do.
The Misting and Control Systems offered by Stonecreek Solutions are designed to control most flying insects, but will control many type of ant problems in and around your patio, exterior door areas, etc. If you have ant problems as well as other forms of flying insect problems, call Stonecreek Solutions for prompt service.