Ants are the number one pest problem in the country. Ant control can be difficult, but there are some things you should know about how ants’ behavior can lead to big headaches for you and your home:
Entry: Ants can enter through even the tiniest cracks, seeking water and sweet or greasy food substances in the kitchen pantry or storeroom areas.
Scent trails: Ants leave an invisible chemical trail which contains pheromones for others to follow once they locate the food source.
Nest locations: They can nest about anywhere in and around your house; in lawns, walls, stumps, even under foundations.
Colony size: Can number up to 300,000 to 500,000 and whole colonies can uproot and relocate quickly when threatened.
Colony Lifetime: A colony can live a relatively long lifetime. Worker ants may live seven years and the queen may live as long as 15 years.
Do-it-yourself ineffectiveness: Most do-it-yourself ant control approaches only kill the ants you see. Some truly effective treatments can penetrate and destroy nests to help prevent these pests from returning. Also, home remedies don’t account for the fact that different kinds of ant infestations require different treatments.
Ants usually nest in soil; nest sites vary with species but are often found next to buildings, along sidewalks, or in close proximity to food sources such as trees or plants that harbor honeydew-producing insects. Ants also construct nests under boards, stones, tree stumps, or plants and sometimes under buildings or other protected places. The primary ant that nests indoors in AZ is the Pharaoh ant. In temperate climates, this species nests in warm, moist locations such as inside wall voids, under flooring, or near hot water pipes or heating systems, but is also found nesting outdoors in warmer climates. Food preferences vary among ant species but may include fruits, seeds, nuts, fatty substances, dead or living insects, dead animals, and sweets.Life Cycle
Ants often enter buildings seeking food and water, warmth and shelter, or refuge from dry, hot weather or flooded conditions. They may appear suddenly in buildings if other food sources become unavailable or weather conditions change.
Although there is some variation among species, a single newly mated queen typically establishes a new colony. After weeks or months of confinement underground, she lays her first eggs. After the eggs hatch, she feeds the white, legless larvae with her own metabolized wing muscles and fat bodies until the larvae pupate. Several weeks later, the pupae transform into sterile female adult workers, and the first workers dig their way out of the nest to collect food for themselves, the queen (who continues to lay eggs), and subsequent broods of larvae. As numbers increase, workers add new chambers and galleries to the nest. After a few years, the colony begins to produce winged male and female ants, which leave the nest to mate and form new colonies.
Argentine ants differ from most other ant species in that their nests are often shallow, extending just below the soil surface. However, under dry conditions they will nest deeper in the soil. In addition, Argentine ant colonies are not separate but linked to form one large “super colony” with multiple queens. When newly mated queens disperse to found new colonies, they are accompanied by workers rather than going out on their own as most other species do.
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