Ants

Ants have one of the greatest evolutionary success stories in history - they represent more than 10% of the entire biomass on land! They have been around for more than 100 million years and they have outlived reptiles and mammals, alike. Having gone through very subtle changes over such a long period of time and always working together for their common good, ants are a really impressive biological achievement.

Their numbers, resilience, and industriousness are what makes them such a formidable pest, too. So let's delve in a bit deeper and see what makes these hardworking arthropods tick!

Australian Ant Species

Green-head ant

Green-head ant

Green-head ants (Rhytidoponera metallica) are a species of ant native to Australia. They have a distinct metalic look and get up to 5-7mm in size. All the females are fertile, which makes their colonies more resilient.

Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Meat ant

Meat ant

Meat ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus) is a dominant native Australian ant species. They are characterized by their red head, dark body, and mean attitude. At 6-12mm, they are mid-sized ants, but their sheer numbers make them impressive.

Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Carpenter ant

Carpenter ant

Carpenter ants (Componotus spp) are dark brown or black, spanning anywhere from 3 to 12 mm. It's a popular misconception that they have a hueg appetite for wood, but that is incorrect. They create their colonies inside of wood, but throw the debris outside rather than eat it.

Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Jack jumper ant

Jack jumper ant

Jack jumper ant (Myrmecia pilosula) is a venomous native Australian ant. Despite their relatively large size at 12-14mm, they have the ability to jump long distances.

Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Ants live in colonies based on a caste system. Generally speaking, there's one or several fertile females (the queens), males (the drones), and the rest are sterile females (workers and soldiers). Queens live a lot longer than workers, but drones have the shortest lifespan because their only purpose is reproduction. There are also gamergate colonies where all females are fertile and the queen caste is all but nonexistent.

Ants feed predominantly on sugary and fatty foods. They mostly go for liquids since they incapable of consuming solid foods. If they need to process solid foods, they feed it to their larvae and the larvae produce a protein-rich edible goo adults can later consume.

If you have ants inside, they're looking for one of two things - food or water (possibly both). Let's round up the usual suspects:

 

  • Sugary foods left out in the open is the number 1 perpetrator. Ants love this!
  • Spilling a sugary drink and not cleaning it properly. See above!
  • Food traces or crumbs. Bread is carbs, and carbs turn into sugar.
  • Ants are more active in the summer due to collecting more food for the colder seasons.
  • Leaky faucets can be a big one. This is why you may find ants in the bathroom, for example.
  • Your house is just too hospitable - warm, damp. Some species like the carpenter ants build their nests in wood, so your house might provide a great ground for base of operations.
  • Some species like the jack jumper ants are particularly venomous. So venomous, in fact, that they are the prevalent cause for allergic reactions due to ant stings in Australia. They are responsible for about 90% of the cases of allergic reactions.

 

  • The likes of carpenter ants can deal just as much damage as termites to your wooden foundations. Your home might be the perfect place for their new colony.

 

  • They can damage wiring and electronics. If they find their way into your computer, they may cause serious damage.

As much as 3% of people can be allergic to ants in some areas that are overrun with these venomous buggers. If they get stung, they will go into anaphylaxis. Their sting can be quite painful even if you're not allergic. To make matters worse, once you get stung, the ant usually leaves a chemical trail warning its brethren you're a threat, so you might get a lot more if there's lots of ants around.

There is strength in numbers! No one proves that better than ants. They affect the environment around them in very profound ways, despite their small size.

When they create their nests and go about their daily business underground, they inadvertently affect the nutrient content of the soil. They can also help to remove detritus and manage natural waste.

Another distinct characteristic is their predatorial behaviour toward some species. Because of this, they are also a natural form of pest control and control the populations of certain species that might be dangerous for your garden. In high enough numbers, they have no problem hunting down larger prey.

Ants are relatively easy to detect. If you see a lone ant, that means it's probably a scout. That's good - no infestation yet. If you see many, you will definitely see where they're going and the reason why they're there, too.

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Clean your place thoroughly. This is one of the ways to keep many pests away. While this is a given, it's also not that simple. If you have a piece of bread in your cupboard and your entire place is spotless, you might still get ants. They're constantly on the lookout for food, so make sure they can't find any. 

What can you do if you have an ant infestation

Pest controller preventing crawling pests1. Keep all food sealed away in plastic containers.

2. Look for the source of the infestation - if it's food or a leaky faucet, deal with this problem first.

3. Thoroughly clean the floors - this will eliminate their chemical pathways.

4. If the problem persists, you can always count on professional ant control.