Ants are incredibly capable and intelligent creatures. Though harmless, they can be a nuisance when they get into your home or business premises. Their complex and cooperative societies allow them to survive and thrive in conditions that would be otherwise challenging to us.
Poor sanitation is the primary cause of ant infestations. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink, food residue on countertops, crumbs on the floor and trash not frequently emptied provide food sources for meal-seeking ants. What starts with a few foragers entering a home can become a major problem if ants establish colonies in walls, lawns, or under home foundations.
How Serious Are Ants?
One of the biggest problems related to ants in the home is food contamination. Ants carry bacteria on their bodies, which spreads when they crawl in pantries and across countertops. Only a few species are known to transmit diseases, but finding any type of ant in pantry goods or inside the home is an unpleasant experience that creates nuisances.
Some species, like carpenter and fire ants, cause additional problems. A carpenter ant infestation can do costly damage by chewing tunnels through wood beams. Fire ant stings that involve envenomation can cause pain and more serious symptoms that often result in allergic reactions to some people who are hyper-sensitive to ant stings.
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: Colonies 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 effectiveness: Most do-it-yourself ant control approaches kill only 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.
Here are some interesting facts that you may want to know about this small but amazing pest.
- The total weight of all the ants in the world is the same, if not larger than all humans added together.
- Ants are capable of carrying objects 50 times their own body weight with their mandibles.
- Ants communicate and cooperate by using pheromones that can alert others to danger or lead them to a promising food source.
- Foraging worker ants can travel up to 200 metres from their nest and find their way back to the colony by following scent trails left by others.
- Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the dinosaur period between 110 and 130 million years ago.
- Ants can survive underwater for 24 hours.
- Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera. They are close relatives of bees and wasps.
- Each colony can hold up to half a million ants. They can all get up and go very quickly if the colony is threatened.
- Worker ants can live for up to 7 years, while a queen can live for up to 15 years.