Envirotrol Pest Management Multi-Family Housing Specialists Since 1978
   
Ants
The Envirotrol Program
- Interior Program of baits and/or sprays
- The Three Step Exterior Program

o Granulate the Perimeter of Buildings
o Liquid Sprays of Breezeways and Weepholes
o Placement of Ant Baits around Ant Mounds

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Dallas-Fort Worth (972) 263-2333
 
Argentine Ants
Description: The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr), is the major structural pest ant in southern California and a common pest species in the southeastern USA. It is about 1/8 inch long, light to dark brown in color, with a single segment (node) in the pedicel and monomorphic (all workers are approximately the same size). This ant, which is native to Argentina and Brazil, first arrived in the New Orleans area on trade ships sometime prior to 1891.

Habitat: Single colonies of Argentine ants are polygynous (containing many queens) and can have many thousands of workers. Often, numerous individual nests are interconnected to form enormous “super-colonies”. Worker ants from different nests within the super-colony are not aggressive toward one another. The formation of super-colonies occurs more often during the warmer months of the year. Nests are constructed under a variety of materials including stones, bricks, wood, mulch and concrete and are generally shallow (2 – 5 cm deep). New colonies are formed by a process called “budding” when one or more queens leave with a group of workers to a new nest site. Winged reproductives are produced in the spring but mating “swarms” do not occur. Mating takes place within the colony.

Foraging trails containing numerous workers are usually easy to find during the day. In exposed areas, ants will forage at temperatures ranging form 50º F to about 85º F. Foraging declines at higher temperatures except in locations not exposed to direct sunlight. When foraging outdoors, Argentine ants typically follow the edges of structural elements such as sidewalks, driveways, bricks and siding. Indoors, ant “freeways” often occur at the edges of counters and floor tiles and along baseboards. Foraging ants inside a building may either be from a colony located outside or, if there is ample food and no disturbance, a “satellite” colony established indoors.

Food Sources: Argentine ants will feed on a variety of foods but they are especially fond of sweets. A favorite food is the “honeydew” produces by aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects. The ants protect these insects form their natural enemies and may, in some crops such as citrus, disrupt the biological control of pest Homoptera. Ants will also feed on the fresh fruit and buds of certain plants and they will consume other insects.

Control: The Argentine ant ranks high in control difficulty. In areas where it is common, long term eradication of this ant from buildings is unlikely. An initial approach would be to modify or eliminate conditions favorable to ant growth. These include limiting water availability, keeping vegetation away from the foundation of the house, mulching with gravel rather than organic material and removing potential nest sites such as lumber and bricks.

This article is "Bugs R Us... Little Known Facts" by Dr. Steven R. Sims

Carpenter Ants

DESCRIPTION: Carpenter ants are from 1/4 inch (6.4mm) for a worker up to 3/4 inch (19.1mm) for a queen. They are back or sometimes red and black. Carpenter ants are active indoors during many months of the year, usually during the spring and summer. When ants are active in the house during late winter/early spring (February/March), the infestation (nest) is probably within the household. When carpenter ants are first seen in the spring and summer (May/June), then the nest is likely outdoors and the ants are simply coming in for food. The natural food of the ants consists of honeydew from aphids, other insects, and plant juices, but they will readily forage for water and food scraps within the house.

HABITAT: Under natural conditions, carpenter ants nest in live and dead trees and in rotting logs and stumps. However, they will also construct their nests in houses, telephone poles, and other man-made wooden structures.

LIFE CYCLE: The colonies of carpenter ants are often long lived. Each colony is founded by a single fertilized queen. She establishes a nesting site in a cavity in wood. She then rears her first brood of workers, feeding them salivary secretions. She does not leave the nest nor feed herself throughout this period. The workers which are reared first assume the task of gathering food with which to feed the younger larvae. As the food supply becomes more constant, the colony population grows very rapidly. A colony does not reach maturity and become capable of producing young queens and males until it contains 2,000 or more workers. It may take a colony from three to six years or more to reach this stage. Each year thereafter, the colony will continue to produce winged queens and males, which leave their nest and conduct mating flights from May through July.

TYPE OF DAMAGE: Carpenter ants rarely cause structural damage to buildings, although they can cause significant damage over a period of years because nests are so long lived. Some recent evidence indicates that they can also cause extensive damage to foam insulation. Carpenter ants do not eat the wood they remove during their nest-building activities, but deposit it outside entrances to the colony in small piles. The wood is used solely as a nesting site. The galleries of carpenter ants are kept smooth and clean, and are not lined with moist soil as termite galleries are.

CONTROL: Control of carpenter ant infestations requires that the nest be found. Once this is done, the infested wood can be removed or treated chemically, and causes of moisture damage to the wood can be corrected. The best procedure is to inspect all possible locations-and to select these locations on the basis of potential water exposure. Once the nest is located, control can be achieved by the use of an aerosol insecticide labeled for the purpose.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE CARPENTER ANTS:
Correct Moisture Problems
Correct roof leaks, roof drainage, damaged downspouts, clogged gutters, missing splashblocks.
Repair "weepy" basement walls, poor grade (water puddles against house), poor ventilation in attic or crawlspace. Add sump pump, if needed.
Fix leaky pipes, damaged grout in tubs and showers, leaky dishwasher or clothes washer.
Repair poorly sealed windows (especially bay windows), doors, and leaky skylights.
Block Ant Access into House
Do not let tree branches touch the roof. Trim shrubbery and trees away from the house.
Caulk or otherwise seal openings around windows and doors.
Repair damage to siding and foundation walls.
Limit Ant Nesting Sites
Store firewood away from the house, bring in only wood that will be used quickly.
Remove stumps, dead trees, and woodpiles from areas near the house (worker ants travel far from their nest). Repair damaged trees.
Replace water-damaged or decayed wood in and around your home. Only treated wood should be used for decks and edging.

Fire Ants

Description: Workers are polymorphic (more than one size) and range from 1/16 inch to 1/14 inch in length. The following characteristics distinguish the fire ant from other ant species: a 10-segmented antenna with a two segmented club, no spines on the thorax, two nodes on the pedicel, and a prominent stinger. The red imported fire ant differs from other fire ant species by having four teeth on the inner surface of the mandible and the absence of a tooth on the ventral side of the petiole.

Distribution of the red imported fire ant is primarily limited to the tier of states ranging from central Texas up the East Coast into North Carolina. They are often introduced into new locales, including northern states, through potted or balled shrubs and trees imported from infested areas. This ant species not only stings humans, but also pets, livestock, and wildlife. In addition, they can damage crops by feeding on and destroying seedlings.

Biology and Behavior: Single-queen colonies commonly average 40-150 mounds per acre, with 80,000 to 250,000 workers per colony. In contrast, multi-queen (20 to 60 queens) colonies average 200 to 800 mounds per acre, with 100,000 to 500,000 workers per colony. A queen typically produces 2,000 eggs each day. Developmental time for workers averages 20 to 45 days. Mature colonies produce as many as 4,500 swarmers. Mating flights occur six to eight times per year from spring through the fall. Workers live 30 to 180 days depending on size, while queens live six to seven years.

Red imported fire ants typically nest outdoors, however they can infest structures by using exposed soil around plumbing penetrations. They frequently build nests adjacent to foundation walls. Fire ants are attracted to electrical junction boxes and use utility penetrations to gain access to structures.

They prefer foods with high protein content, but feed on virtually anything of plant or animal origin. Foraging occurs up to 100 feet from the nest and continues 24 hours per day if the food supply is abundant.

Control: The four strategies currently employed to manage this pest species are broadcast baits, individual mound treatment, a combination of the previous methods, and barrier-spot treatments. Baits are primarily formulated with abamectin, or one of the various insect growth regulators. Individual mounds are treated using baits, drenches, granules, dusts, aerosols, liquid fumigants, hot water, and excavation. While natural and introduced biology controls are continuously sought and used, their effectiveness is limited.

Regardless of the pest management strategy utilized, most methods require several repeated applications for control to be effective

Pharoah Ants
Characteristics:
Also called the "sugar ant"
Body length 1/12 to 1/16 inch long (monomorphic)
Body coloration varies from golden yellow to reddish brown
Has 12-segmented antennae that ends with a 3-segmented club
Feeds on sweets (jelly, sugar, honey, etc) cakes and breads, and greasy or fatty foods
Distribution: The origin of the pharaoh ant, Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus) is uncertain, but various authorities have suggested that is originated in the Afro-tropical region. It is now cosmopolitan in distribution having been spread throughout the world by human commerce. They are found throughout the United States, and are generally found only in heated structures because they usually cannot survive outdoors all year. However, they can be found nesting in the soil outside buildings in subtropical areas such as Hawaii, Florida and southern Texas.

Biology: Pharaoh ants form large colonies consisting of many nests, which colony members move freely between, without any antagonism. Colonies vary greatly in size. Some colonies may have only a single queen with a few hundred workers, whereas other colonies may have hundreds of queens with several thousand workers. Queens may live for a year and lay up to 35 eggs per day. Workers develop from egg to adult in 36 days. Winged males and females require about 44 days to develop. The life span of workers is about 70 days. Pharaoh ant workers are monomorphic, and 1/12 to 1/16 in. long, have twelve segmented antennae with a well-defined, three segmented club. The abdominal pedicel is composed of two segments, the petiole and postpetiole. A stinger is present but not always visible. They do not sting humans.

Control: Pharaoh ant infestations rapidly occur if the colonies are not completely eliminated. Liquid or dust formulations are repellent insecticides are not recommended indoors because they typically cause colony budding, which exacerbates the problem. Currently, the most successful control procedure to control this species is to strategically place bait stations extensively throughout structures along trails where these ants are active. It is important that members of the colony, including queens and brood. Exterior treatments may be necessary during warm months; baits should be placed outside where the ants are observed. Depending on the magnitude of the problem, a baiting program may take several months to a year to complete.

 
For more information about ants and how to control them call Envirotrol.

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Dallas - Fort Worth 972-263-2333