All About Ants

At one time or another, we’ve all seen these tiny insects marching across our floors or foraging on our counters.  These insects are common invaders of homes and are a real nuisance for homeowners and businesses as they can poise the below risks to people, including:

  • Infest and contaminate food and food-serving areas.
  • Spread bacteria and disease-causing organisms.
  • Contaminate sterile areas like hospitals and food processing facilities.
  • Damage reputations of businesses and brands.

 

Why are there Ants in my Home?

No one wants to discover an ant infestation in their home. Some of the common reasons for their invasion are:

  • lack of good cleaning
  • cracked foundation
  • vegetation growing too close to your home
  • excess moisture

 

Ant Infestations: What to Look For

  • Ant trails: Worker ants will lay down a pheromone in their trail to a food source in order to lead other ants to the food.
  • Ant mounds or nests: The appearance of nests can vary between species, but generally look like small piles of soil or dirt.
  • Live Ants: If you’re seeing large numbers of live ants then you may well have a problem.
  • Ant Nest: A nest site can look like a small pile of soil or dirt. Some species of ant like to make their home in walls or other quiet, dark places, which are more difficult to spot.

Ant Life Cycle

The Lifespan of ants depends on the caste. Males live only for 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 "Dispause".

 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more notorious ants common to the U.A.E

 

Samsum Ant (Brachyponera sennaarensis)

APPEARANCE

1) Samsum ants are typically 0.098-1.1 inches.
2) Females are divided up into three castes; large workers, small workers, and queens.
3) Large workers or soldiers do most of the colony defense and incapacitation of large prey, they have an enlarged head to house powerful serrated mandibles, small workers  are lighter colored than their larger relatives and lack the large protruding jaws, the queen is the largest female, her abdomen is enlarged,the last leg segments (tarsi) of queens are mutilated and greatly reduced, which hinders their ability to locomote without assistance from workers.
4) While males possess a pair of wings, and are covered in short hairs.

 

HABITS

1) This is the only species of subfamily Ponerinae that eats seeds in addition to carnivorous habits. Diet varies seasonally and geographically: in humid tropical regions of Africa, both seeds and insect prey are collected during the rainy season. In dry tropical regions however, foragers react to the absence of seeds in the rainy season by adopting a 100% animal diet.
2) They are an aggressively invasive species of ant, which is also known as the African stinging ant, and its bite could be fatal to many people. When stung, a person who is allergic to the formic acid secreted by the ant will experience swelling of the tissue around the breathing system that will continue to enlarge if not treated.
3) When handled or disturbed, they will move their abdomen in a sudden, jerking thrust towards whatever is threatening them. This mimics the stinging behavior of the night wasp which they closely resemble, serving as an effective deterrent towards would-be predators.

 

Sugar Ant (Camponotus consobrinus)

APPEARANCE

1) Sugar ants are typically 1/16 -⅛ of an inch.
2) Females have orange colored bodies while males are completely black and winged.
3) Sugar ants cannot sting but the larger species do have very powerful jaws and can deliver a painful bite.

HABITS

1) Sugar ants get their name from feeding on sweet items, normally seen around a home kitchen, sometimes in bathrooms.
2) These ants are attracted to moisture, so any room in the house where there is a high water content, like bathroom or kitchen sinks, will be subject to sugar ant infestation. If you have any type of sugar in your kitchen, chances are it will attract sugar ants. While most sugar ants feed on nectar, most will find solace in any form of sugar like agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.
3) While not harmful, sugar ants can easily infest your property if you do not take the proper precautions.

 

Pharaoh's Ant (Monomorium Pharaonis)

 

 

APPEARANCE

1) Workers 1.5-2 mm long, yellow-brown with brown abdomen.
2) Males 3 mm long, black, winged.
3) Queens 3.5-6 mm long, dark red in color with wings.
4) Black eyes, 2 small segments at the pedicel.

 

 

HABITS

1) Feeds indoors on high protein foods — meat, fats, blood, dead insects, etc.
2) When foraging worker ants are killed by residual treatments, the colony will fracture or split into two or more colonies to ensure part of the colony survives. If such treatments are continued, the infestation is spread throughout the building.
3) Each queen produces up to 3,500 eggs in its lifetime.
4) Pharaoh ants will nest in virtually any site that provides protection. Colonies have been found nesting in walls, furniture and appliances, but they have also been discovered in unique locations such as between the folds of sheets in closets, hollow curtain rods, inside irons, in small boxes and under roofing shingles. They are extremely opportunistic in their selection of nesting sites.

 

FIRE ANT (SOLENOPSIS INVICTA)

APPEARANCE

1) Queens 5/8" long.
2) Workers 1/8"-1/4" long.
3) Coppery–brown on the head and body, with a darker abdomen.

HABITS

1) Nest locations can be a mound of up to 40 cm or next to objects found on the ground, e.g. logs.
2) If aggravated, these react aggressively and can inflict a painful sting, resulting in a pustule some 48 hours later.
3) These ants are a major agricultural and urban pest, destroying crops and invading residential areas both outdoors and indoors.
4) Foraging workers diet consists of dead animals, including insects, earthworms, and vertebrates. Workers also collect honeydew and forage for sweet food, proteins, and fats.

CARPENTER ANT (camponotus pennsylvanicus)

 

APPEARANCE

1) Workers - 1/4" long.
2) Queen - ½” long.
3) Varies from black, brown and black, red and black to light brown depending on the species. The two most common pest species are black in color.
4) 6 legs.

 

 

HABITS

1) Locations - both moist and dry wood, but prefer moist, especially wood dampened by water leaks. In the outdoors they sometimes hollow out sections of trees and in dead wood. And they make satellite colonies indoors in any suitable void (e.g., hollow doors, curtain rods, shower rods).
2) Carpenter ants feed on a wide variety of foods, especially other insects. The favored food of adults is the sweet honeydew.
3) They hunt for food mainly at night.
4) Despite the name, they do not eat wood.
5) Rarely come into contact with people, but if they do will try to escape. They cannot sting.

 

ANT CONTROL

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 and require control through a surface spray. To get rid of ants successfully, it is usually necessary to follow them back to their colony and treat the colony directly.Desert Pest Control professionals have the experience to correctly identify your ants and kill them.