There are close to 1000 different species of ants in North America ranging in size and habits. From large carpenter ants to small, winged thief ants, they can all potentially be harmful to businesses in their own ways.
While red harvester ants typically do not enter homes or other buildings, running a business with outdoor space means you're open to the inconvenience of outdoor pests. Here's what you should know about red harvester ants.
What are red harvester ants?
Also referred to as red ants, red harvester ants are usually between 4.5 to 13 mm long and orange to red or brownish black in color. Native to the Southwestern United States, they are foraging insects that spend all their time collecting seeds to bring back to the nest to use for food. Not all ants bite, but harvester ants are aggressively protective of their nest and will sting humans and animals that get too close.
For businesses with an outdoor area such as a restaurant patio, hotel garden, or a warehouse with an outdoor shipping and receiving area, red harvester ant nests can be a problem for both customers and employees on your property.
Related: Commercial Pest Guide: Ticks
Signs of red harvester ants
Red harvester ants will usually go about their business until something threatens their nest. The sting of a harvester ant usually results in a burning sensation that subsides after a couple hours but can lead to anaphylactic reactions in some people (Medical News Today).
Nests usually have one central opening and worker ants will clear vegetation in a circular area from 3 to 6 feet around that entrance. If you spot a red harvester ant nest, it's best to steer clear of it and call an ant exterminator.
Red harvester ants are most active in warm climates and mating swarms can occur anywhere between June and October. Usually after a rainfall or heavy storm, red harvester ant mating swarms gather at more elevated heights like treetops, chimneys or towers. It's possible for winged ants to accidentally invade buildings during a swarming period.
If you notice nests or swarming around the outdoor areas of your business, consider calling a professional for ant pest control advice.
How to get rid of red harvester ants
Just like any species of ant, it can be difficult to fully eliminate an infestation of red harvester ants. Colonies are often times made up of thousands of ants, consisting of workers that live for several months and a queen that can live and continue to reproduce for decades.
To fully eradicate ants in your business, it's usually necessary to follow them home and treat the colony directly. A professional ant exterminator like Terminix Commercial can do a full assessment and determine the best course of action.