As similar as they seem to the human eye, ants come in numerous different species, shapes, and sizes. There are over 10,000 different species of ants, and most of them have distinct habits, behaviour, and characteristics. For their small size, these little creatures seem to thrive in Australia. In a publication from 1999 it’s estimated that 1275 species live here and the number seems to be increasing. It looks like ants love it here, because 15% of all discovered species can be found on the continent.
Avid social insects, ants populate most of the world. It’s estimated there are 10 quadrillion ants walking on Earth right now. These industrious pests can easily turn into a problem for the common Australian home owner. They tend to expand their numbers at a staggering rate and before you know it, they’ll transform your home into their new permanent residence, unless you do something about it. But don’t worry, we specialise in ant infestation control and we are here to help. We’ll present 5 common types of ants you might have to deal with, and pest proofing tips so you won’t have to.
Facing a black ant infestation can be a nuisance you would want to avoid by any means. Although black ants don’t carry diseases themselves, they can cross-contaminate when they march across food or your kitchen.
Black ants almost always nest underground, under stones, or in rotten wood. If you stumble across on one of their nests you can identify it by the look of their eggs. The black garden ant eggs are white and kidney-shaped. Noticing objects conforming to this description on the premises of your home is a certain sign of an infestation.
It takes up to 6 weeks for an egg to hatch but that period also depends on the weather. Once they hatch their bodies go through several different stages of developments before they become fully developed black ants.
When they become adults, you can easily identify the black ant by its appearance. When you first notice ants around or inside your property, there is a big chance you will come across workers. These are the ones gathering food for the colony and they leave the colony most often.
They are around 5 mm in length and have a dark glossy appearance. Keep in mind that if the colony is old enough, the ants will be bigger since worker ants tend to increase in size throughout the generations.
Male black ants are smallest at around 4.5 mm. They have wings and are black in colour.
The queen is the largest in size. She is a hulking colossus compared to her loyal subjects. The black ant queen comes around 9 mm and can be with or without wings. The queen is glossy black and has brown stripes on her bottom.
If you are an avid gardener you would want these little creatures away from your plants. Black ants farm aphids and scale for the honeydew they excrete. Thus they will move them from plant to plant, inexorably spreading diseases.
Most ants have one queen. That’s more than enough for a colony to produce thousands of ants. But what happens when a colony of ants can have numerous queens at the same time?
Nothing much really.
The colonies of the pharaoh ants aren’t any bigger than other species. The reason why they look so big is that they are pretty dense. Normally, pharaoh ants have around 2000 worker ants. What this results in is swift changes in the nests. This is the reason pharaoh ants can make new colonies pretty fast.
Pharaoh ants are very social with other colonies of pharaoh ants. They are unicolonial, meaning they are not aggressive towards other colonies.
A reason why you might end up with pharaoh ant infestation is that you leave sweets all over your house. They feed on all kinds of junk food and like many of us, they have a sweet tooth. Pharaoh ants love eating sweets.
If you ever find ants around your house it’s pretty easy to know if they are pharaoh ants. Usually tiny at around 2 mm in size, their bodies have a brown or yellow tint and are almost transparent.
Pharaoh ants have a stinger but there is no need to worry. The little buggers can’t harm you at all. Their sting is non-functional. It only serves the purpose of producing hormones.
First discovered in 1842, this bug has been bugging (pun intended) homeowners ever since. If untreated long enough, sugar ants can ruin any wooden furniture and fittings. It’s more likely that you will come across the little creatures at night while you are having a healthy snack because of their nocturnal nature.
Sugar ants are considered a large species among the ant world. You can find them ranging from 5 to 15 mm. It’s fairly easy to distinguish the sugar ant with their black heads, orange thorax and orange-brown band around their gaster.
Unlike our little ‘friends’ above, sugar ants almost always have one queen per nest. Although, there are some rare cases showing it’s possible for these bugs to have multiple queens. If you come across the males they are all black with wings on their back.
Sugar ant nests can be found in a variety of places including in wood, among rocks, trees and shrubs, in the soil and even under paving stones. Because they can adapt their nesting place this makes them a perfect pest to infest your home.
The name, bull ants, is no coincidence. The main thing you should remember about bulldog ants is that they are extremely aggressive, ferocious and have a very painful sting. That’s right! Bulldog ants can leave a nasty memory if you encounter them.
Unlike other ants, these guys have a very well developed eyesight. Something like the Hubble telescope of the ant world. It’s known Bulldog ants can spot a human from 1 meter. That 1 meter might not be very scary, but when you take into consideration how aggressive they are towards humans things aren’t looking very pleasant. Bulldog ants can be dangerous to adults, imagine how dangerous they can be to children.
The bulldog ant is a huge species. Their size varies from 8 to 40 mm. That’s one thing separating them from the other ants we have discussed so far. You can recognise the bull ant from the elongated mandible and large eyes. It’s fairly hard to know which is male and which female. We would suggest acting fast if you notice one in your property because they are all venomous. People are known to have allergies towards their venom.
We bet you have heard about these bad boys before. Also known as Fire Ants, these guys are the nightmare that you don’t want to have. Their venom is so strong, in some cases, you’ll need medical attention.
Among all the species that we talked about, these guys have the largest colonies. Consisting of up to 250 000 different individuals they can become a serious problem really fast. Having such a dense population a queen should be able to support the colony with newer generations. A red ant queen can have a lifespan of 7 years while producing 1 600 eggs a day!
An easy way to identify red ants is by their appearance. They have a brown coloured body. Pretty small, you can see fire ants from 2 to 6 mm in size.
The reason they live in such great numbers is because of their complicated social structure. A typical colony consist of a queen ant, male ants, soldier ants and worker ants.
These ants make their nests underground, but there are cases where it rises up to 18 cm above ground. That’s a skyscraper in the ant world.
Ant Pest Proofing Tips
Ants can be more than a mere annoyance, as we’ve already demonstrated above. Some of them can be quite dangerous and would require Herculean efforts to get rid of once they’ve established their colony in your home. The pain from being bitten by the species on the list can range from a minor irritation to sharp, protracted agony. To make matters worse, you don’t always catch an infestation in time. That’s why we’re here to provide some proofing tips in order to give you a fighting chance. As doctors often say, prevention is the best cure, so we’ll try to give you some ant pest prevention tips, so you can get ahead of the curve. Here’s how to prevent ants in your home:
- Find all possible entry points and seal them.
This is how any ant prevention should begin. Ants are minute creatures so you can be sure they will use all sorts of cracks, crannies, breaks, breaches, gaps, and space-time rifts to enter your home. Some of us have the theory they also have the ability to teleport, but it hasn’t been proven yet. At any rate, they’re exceptionally adept at breaking into places like a reverse version of Michael Scofield. Don’t make it too easy for them. Examine your living space and ensure you’ve sealed as many of the possible entry points as you can find. If you block the way for the scouts, then you won’t have an infestation on your hands.
- Sprinkle cinnamon or peppermint oil.
Ants have an extremely well-developed olfactory nerve. They use their sense of smell to navigate the world, communicate with each other, and create chemical (more precisely pheromonal) trails to indicate points of interest for their allies. Thus, using an invasive scent like cinnamon or peppermint confuses them and even if they leave their nasty pathways, the others will find it difficult to follow.
Detailed domestic cleaning. This doesn’t seem like an ant pest proofing tip, but it’s one of the best we can give you. Ants can’t find a reason to infest your home if there’s nothing to find. Even if some scouts make their way into your home, vigorous cleaning will destroy the pheromone trails they leave for their friends. This way other ants won’t follow and you’ll avoid having a full-blown invasion on your hands.
- Pick up and throw away food scraps around your house.
It’s a relatively bad idea to leave food scraps around. On one hand, it attracts all sorts of pests – rats, roaches, mice, ants, and more. On the other hand, you can count the fact that some of the pests will end up fighting each other for the prize. If you have rats, mice will probably stay away. Roaches would stay away from mice. Ants don’t get scared that easily, so they will probably attack anything that’s in their way. So, you can let the pests fight, waiting so you can eliminate the victor, or you can try to avoid having pests altogether by breaking this (honestly harmful) habit.
- Put food in plastic containers.
This one is a natural continuation of the one above. Keeping your food in plastic, vacuum containers are far more hygienic than leaving it on a plate, for example. This way the scent of the food doesn’t spread and doesn’t indicate there’s something worth finding at your place.
- Hire a professional pest control technitian.
Ant pest prevention doesn’t always help. Despite your best efforts, ants sometimes still appear. In case you already have an infestation on your hands, you can try to deal with it on your own, or you can call in the cavalry. The choice is yours, but keep in mind the earlier you call a professional pest control company, the earlier the problem will be dealt with.