When you see a cluster of ants, whether that’s inside your home or outdoors, they may all look the same. But, with a closer look, you’d see that they have physical differences that help them do the unique jobs they have in their well structured colonies. Some males, for example, have reproducing duties (those ants have wings), to keep the colonies growing. Others have manual labor jobs, while others become taste testers to determine if food is safe for consumption.
Here’s more about these roles, and how they can affect the Jacksonville pest control services we offer homeowners.
When thinking about a queen in the insect world, you might first picture a queen bee. Like the queen in the bee world, a queen ant is usually larger than the others in the colony and her waist can be thicker. Her job is to lay thousands of eggs to keep their nest thriving, and so she mates with the reproductive ants. Those males may be larger than the worker ants, with large eyes on small heads. Sometimes, these male ants die after doing their reproductive work.
In some ant species, the queen can live for a decade, giving birth to thousands of eggs. And, although many of the species of ants are monogyne (only one queen per colony who lays eggs), some are polygyne (Yes. This means there would be more than one egg-laying queen per colony). At any one time, a colony can contain multiple generations of ants.
Most eggs contain ants destined to become workers, because this role is needed in the largest of numbers. Here’s more info about this ant caste.
These ants can grow to about half an inch—and they aren’t always black. They can also be brown or red, even yellow. These ants collect food for the colony, maintain their physical nest, protect their colony from harm, and watch over the babies. Because they are sterile, they can’t help with reproduction tasks.
Older ants can take on food management tasks. They test food before the queen and reproductive males eat any, regurgitating it and then sharing it with the colony. If there are harmful substances in the food, they have been diluted before they reach the queen. This is why DIY poison bait traps are not as successful as a Jacksonville homeowner might hope.
Once ants get into a home, they use their well-developed sense of smell to build and enhance their community. A substance called pheromones helps them to find food, keep track of nesting places, protect their home, communicate with others, and more.
They can recognize pheromone molecules through the tiny hairs on their antennae, called sensilla. In response, the sensilla creates proteins that enter the ants’ nervous systems. Electrical impulses then travel to their brains, engaging behaviors, perhaps to find food in your pantry.
Ants are not simple creatures, by any means. To make matters more complicated, there are more than 700 types of ants in our country, each with their own unique quirks. So, what can you do for ant pest control?
As noted in our Ultimate Guide to Pest Control, two species of ants can cause the most problems in the state of Florida: fire ants and carpenter ants. When looking just at the fire ant, there are two types in our state: imported and native. The imported variety arrived in the United States in the 1940s, traveling from South America.
The imported variety lives in mounds, and will defend them quite aggressively if they feel under attack. They’ll even defend the areas around their mounds, working in groups to attack people and pets. To make matters more challenging, fire ants can continue to sting—with these often painful stings causing problems for days.
If someone gets stung, and has an allergic reaction, the results can be fatal. So, if someone is having or has had an allergic reaction to fire ant stings, get medical help immediately. If there isn’t an allergic component, try to relieve pain and itching with hydrocortisone cream, antihistamines, cold compresses, and oatmeal baths.
You may have heard of people pouring boiling water on ant mounds or even setting them on fire. These methods can be dangerous and, on top of it, aren’t entirely effective. Instead, the best way to kill fire ants is to call in the professionals.
These critters excavate into the wood of Jacksonville homes to create nests, digging to the point that structural soundness can be seriously compromised. That’s why they’re included in the top five pest problems in the United States today.
Carpenter ants gravitate to moisture, including sinks, dishwashers, tubs, and places where plumbing leaks exist. They also seek out spilled sodas and other sources of sugar. Outdoors, they head to rotting logs, tree stumps, even live trees.
Carpenter ant control actions you can take include to:
If these strategies aren’t enough, contact a professional ant exterminator.
We’ve been making our clients’ lives and our communities better since 1971, including with our carpenter and fire ant treatment plans. Technologies continue to evolve and improve, while our commitment to serving our neighbors remains rock solid.
Turner Pest Control is now one of the fastest growing companies in Florida, serving more and more customers. We’re ranked in our country’s Top 100 pest control companies and a QualityPro Certified company; the latter designation is something that fewer than three percent of our country’s pest control providers can say.