All about ants
Ants have become the primary pest infesting homes in recent years and are usually very difficult to control. Successful control of ant infestations takes some skill that is gained through knowledge of ant behavior and experience in dealing with ants.
With more than 700 species in the United States, ant identification can be quite a challenge. Start by looking for trails. Ants very rarely travel alone and are usually spotted when they’re hunting as a colony along paths that have been well established. When you've found a trail, look at the sizes of the ants. Are they identical or do they vary in size? Also observe when the ants are active—during the day or at night? Look for nests at the end of trails—especially in areas with soil. Soil nests have distinct shapes or patterns depending on the ant species.
Learn more about: Ant Identification Tips
Ant infestations tend to happen fast. Regardless of whether your ant problem is an annoyance or an all-out infestation, you may be surprised to learn how fascinating these little creatures actually are.
Here are some fun facts about ants:
- Ants can be hard to kill
- Ants farm aphids
- Some common ants are new to the U.S
- Ants live in complex cultures
- There are more than 12,000 types of ants
Learn more: 5 Interesting Facts About Ants
Ants are social insects that live in colonies and have several different types or castes of individuals. Each caste has a different function or job in the colony.
- Workers forage for food, construct the nest and care for the young and the reproductives.
- Reproductives include the original queen and the swarmers. The original queen’s job is to lay eggs. Swarmers are winged males and females that fly out to start new colonies and spread to new areas. These swarmers mate during the swarm, and the male dies soon after. The queen then locates a suitable nesting site, sheds her wings and begins to set up a colony.
Ants develop by complete metamorphosis, meaning the eggs hatch into larvae that must be cared for by the workers. The larvae pupate into adult workers or reproductives. After two or three years, the colony matures and begins to produce swarmers every year.
Learn more about: Ant Behavior
Ant life cycle
The lifespan of ants depends on the caste. Males live for only a few weeks and die after mating. Workers usually live for several months. Queens can live for decades under the right conditions. Ants are active all year long in tropical climates. In cooler climates, they survive the winter by going into a state of dormancy or inactivity known as diapause.
Learn more about: How Long Do Ants Live?
To get rid of ants, it is important to identify the ant species before attempting ant control. Some ant species, like Pharaoh ants, can be controlled using baits, while others cannot. To get rid of ants successfully, it is usually necessary to follow them back to their colony and treat the colony directly. Terminix® pest control professionals have the experience to correctly identify your ants and kill them.